Q&A: Door to Hell

All about Turkmenistan
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Re: Q&A: Door to Hell

Post by AlbertoBoero »

MerijnM wrote:Hi there!

The town of Kunye-Urgench looked a bit depressed and we made a good choice to not sleep there.
We checked the hotel there (Urgench Hotel, 130 TMT per person) but it was not clean and the atmosphere was very bad.

We got an other taxi we brought us to the border for one pack of cigarettes (seems that they are very happy with it).
Yeah we had the same feeling about the hotel and the town. The ruins outside of town can easily be seen in 1 hour. Afterwards we also immediately went to the border and continued to Nukus.

Good price for the taxi! And smart to take the cigarettes from Iran:)
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Re: Q&A: Door to Hell

Post by MerijnM »

FRT15 wrote:Another nice post MerijnM. What kind of rate were you getting? Meaning how much was 500 TMT? Thanks
Thanks! We changed Euros to Manat in Ashgabat (Russian Bazar) for 1 EUR = 18 TMT.
It’s better to change US Dollars since this is the same rate, so I would recommend to bring Dollars.

500 TMT is € 27,77!
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Re: Q&A: Door to Hell

Post by sleil »

My experiences with visiting the door to hell:

After staying 2 days in Asghabat, I bought a train ticket at Asghabat train station to Ichoguz. Price is now 22 Manat!
Departure was 15:40 and scheduled arrival was 20:53. Actually the train arrived there 21:45.

Make sure to have a powerbank with you, as the outlets in the train are not working. The only option to charge a device in the train is the outlet located at the toilet.
Be aware: During my trip a local smoked a cigarette at the toilet and got arrested for that!

After arriving in Ichoguz, the crater is about 8km far away and to walk there takes approx. 2hours.
There was a motorbike guy, who hardly spoke any english, offering to take me to the crater and back for 10 USD.
I declined and started to just walk to the main road.
As it's been already night, the heat was gone and I was ready to walk all the way to the crater.

After 10 mins of walking, the bike guy caught up with me and now offerend to bring me to the crater for 20 Manat.
I agreed on that as it was only 10% of the original fare!
Therefore, I definetily advice you to negotiate properly, just by walking away the price for the ride will drop!

Arrived at the crater 22:20 and got a Yurte for myself for 20 USD (Initially the guy asked for 30). Toilet and shower facilities are available!
Sleeping outside I wouldn't recommend although it would be possible regarding the temperature (summer times).

Inside the yurte, its pretty warm! But at least I had a place which I could lock and some kind of "bed" to sleep in.
The same night, I met some Swiss guys travelling with their own car, who took me with them to Konye Urgench the next morning.

Yes, the Urgench-Hotel is unfortunetely the only option to stay in this town.
Price as already mentioned is 130 TMT for foreigners. As it was already too late to cross the border the same day, I basically had to stay there for the night.
Some curiosity:
The owner-lady wanted to keep my passport (at her office) during my stay:
It took me 10mins to convince her that I wont agree on that.
My knockout-argument was that I will be going out now and police is most likely to control a forgeiner so I need my passport to identify myself!

She showed me my room but as I tried to close the door, the door itself didnt fit into the crossbeam! The door was too tall and/or the crossbeam was to low.
I called the lady again and she tried closing it but of course it didnt work out.
I said: either new room or I get 50% discount.

Thus, finally I got a new room (after she had declined my requests for a different room prior to the above mentioned incident).
Generally, in this hotel you can lock the door from inside but when you leave, they won't give you any key.
Given that the crime rate is almost non-existend in Turkmenistan, it still could be safe to go out to the city and leave the door unlocked.
I didnt do so, instead charged my phone at the one and only available outlet in the room and went to sleep early.
Furthermore; I'd highly recommend not to take a shower in this hotel! You will understand why if you are there...

Border Konye-Urgench / Nukus opens at 9am. It's a very short ride with a taxi, but as I run out of TMT, I offered 1 USD to a taxi driver and got there on time.
A shared taxi inside Konye-Urgench is 1 TMT.

Border crossing was quite hassle free, didnt get searched and either while exiting Turkmenistan nor entering Uzbekistan. Just the regular bag screening and my temperature was measured before entering Usbekistan by a "doctor". Took 30secs and with 36,0*C I was good to go.

As I was the first one to pass that morning, I decided I would wait a little and see how the local ppl leave from the border.
There was a young guy waiting offering a ride in his car for 20USD. Also a money exchanger who offered 8000Som for 1 USD.
Both I declined.
The driver offered then 15USD. I still didn't think it would be worth it, as it's quite a short ride to Nukus.
As the next passengers were exiting the border zone, I offered the driver 5 USD to get me to Nukus.
He accepted and I finally arrived in Nukus before noon that day.

Total costs for 5 days Turkmenistan: 101 USD (including all taxes and fees) + 35€ for the Visa, which I got in advance at Frankfurt consular.
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Re: Q&A: Door to Hell

Post by FRT15 »

Nice post sleil. Sounds like your trip was very inexpensive. You had a transit Visa? Do you have a us passport?
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Re: Q&A: Door to Hell

Post by sleil »

yeah, I was travelling with a transit visa! with german passport..

My complete travel route was:
Aserbaidschan (3rd visit), Iran (4th visit), Turkmenistan (1st time), Uzbeksitan (1st) and Russia (1st)
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Re: Q&A: Door to Hell

Post by robert »

Here's how we visited Derveze:
We crossed the border at Konye Urgench (from Uzbekistan), then went to Dashoguz. In Dashoguz, we first bought train tickets for the night train from Dashoguz to Ashgabat. There's two trains per night. Tickets were 101 TMT per person in first class (2 beds per compartment).

We then went to the Ashgabat Taxi Terminal (near the Bazar) and hired a taxi to drive us to Derveze, wait a few hours while we visit the crater, and then take us to the train station. We paid 500 TMT for this and hired a driver with a 4x4 vehicle. We left Dashoguz at around 5pm and arrived at the crater at around 8pm. At 1am we drove to the train station, expecting our train to arrive at 2:39am. However, the train table in the internet seems to be incorrect, the train arrived two hours later (which was also the time stated at the station). We then boarded and arrived a bit after 10am in Ashgabat. Waiting at the train station was OK, staff was friendly and offered tea.
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Re: Q&A: Door to Hell

Post by hiwybi »

Crossing from bajgiran to dashoguz through asghabat and darvaza in 4 days with bicycles.

Day 1:
- we exchanged rial for manat at the border taxi/bus office at a good rate (not so good for dollars ~ 15 ).
- we crossed the border in one hour, passports and visas looked at, entry fee paid, fingerprints and photo taken and bags x-rayed. Only one bag was randomly asked to be opened and asked about guns, drones and narcotics.
- waited for mandatory bus where we put bikes and bags. 30min drive to other border point, show passport again and off cycling into asghabat.
- Tried to buy 15h40 train ticket but sold out, so bought for next day to get to darvaza and for the day after that to get from darvaza to dasgoguz . You have to buy the whole ticket from asghabat to dashoguz, there is no option to buy a ticket from darvaza
- found nearby cafes with internet (Dag Lezzeti and Ammar)
- Tried to exchange dollars in Russian bazaar but failed to do so, so went to hotel kuwwat where we got 15 manat per dollar (the same we refused initially at the border, could probably get better rate if you were staying).

Day 2:
- finally get the train which arrived 40min before departure. Found our wagon and with our best smiles show the ticket. Some confused faces, met with even friendlier smiles resulted in being shown the cargo wagon at the end of the train where we could put bikes and bags. train man confirmed that he would be there when we got out. Arrived at darvaza late at around 22h.
- two guys with a jeep approached us. Managed to reduce initial offer of taking the two of us, plus bikes there and back the next morning, from 700 to 200 manat. Bumpy ride to gas crater taking about 15min.

Day 3:
- met by the same jeep driver at arranged time to bring us back to main road. Only paid then.
- Hung out most of the morning in restaurant with chai and some food and the remaining time in the train station where we cooked for ourselves.
- Train arrived at around 22h like before, but this time they told us to put the bikes in the wagon. They helped get the bikes on board at each end of the wagon and our bags in their own private tea making room.

Day 4 (morning):
- sleeper train arrived at 5h30, the sun about to rise.
- we spent our last manat and then headed to border. There were loads of people in the entrance but they told us to go ahead and enter.
- had to show passport a million times, x-ray our bags and fill a form saying we enter with our own vehicle and how much cash we had, but in fact they didn't look at the paper at all. We were just asked if we had any turkemenistan rug?!? Sure, a few more kilos on our bags to have a carpet in our tent floor...
- Crossed to the Uzbekistan side (on bicycle), show passport again a few times (was 8 in total), got a slip about registering and we could pedal into the country.

And that was that...
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Re: Q&A: Door to Hell

Post by noahdich »

The reports here are really really helpful so thank you everyone for the effort.
I'm going to Turkmenistan soon and of course don't want to miss the crater.
Does anyone have any idea what's the best way to get from the crater to Turkmenabat?
I did some google search but the result wasn't really to my satisfaction. :(
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Re: Q&A: Door to Hell

Post by PolyP. »

We started our stay in turkmenistan in Ashgabat (5 days transit) and stayed there for two nights. Checked out of our hostel around noon and headed to the intercity taxi station which is just about 3km north from the bus terminal. To the bus terminal you can take bus 33, costs 0,5 manat per person. People at the bus terminal were a bit confused about where we want to go. Repeating "taxi parking Dashoguz" worked out eventually. Got to the taxi stand with bus number 47. You will probably encounter at least 5 men who want to drive you to darvaza. We got different price offers, but since the taxi drivers compete with each other, you should have no problem bargaining. Prices about 150manat per person are alright, we even got offered 120 per person. You should be able to arrange another trip with the same driver. Our driver got us to darvaza and picked us up the next day for konye urgench (30$ on the first day, 40$ for the second day in total).
As for August 2018, you won't need any 4x4 vehicle anymore for the last 7km. The path to the crater is still a dirt road but our car, being a usual taxi, had no problem and we saw many normal cars passing this road (even some shitty Mongol Rallye cars ;)).
The staff at the yurt camp also offered us to call a taxi to konye urgench for 500manat per vehicle (but we already had our driver for the next day).
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Re: Q&A: Door to Hell

Post by Bethany »

Our experience going Southbound as most reported here seem to be Northbound. Definitely possible independently and could have been done pretty cheaply if necessary.

Day 1
9am arrived at Khojeli Konye Urgench border.
11.45am clear border and get a driver to take us around Konye Urgench sites and drive us to Dashoguz. Price $10 for 2 ppl (could probably have negotiated down more but we had no manat yet and there was nowhere at this border to get manat)
2pm set off for Dashoguz
3.30pm driver takes us to change money in Dashoguz.
3.45pm Dashoguz train station. Aim was to buy ticket for that night from Icoguz to Ashgabat so we didnt need to stay overnight at crater. Unfortunately chaos at station and no tickets to Ashgabat were being sold to anyone. We decided to still head to Darvaza and will just figure it out there.
4.15pm new driver takes us to Darvaza directly for 150 manat per person. Normal car managed just fine to get whole way to crater. No need for 4x4.
7.30pm arrive at crater. Went to yurt camp at back right as only one with multiple yurts. 1 yurt available luckily. Price $15 pp inc 2 course dinner, water and breakfast. Could have paid $10pp for just yurt and no food or shower use! But we hadnt eaten since breakfast.
Guys at camp said they will drive us to teahouse on main road next day. Initially asking $10 but agreed $5. There were also 2 younger local guys on motorbikes seeing if anyone wanted to go to Icoguz train station at 1am or main road next day.
Day 2
7.25am head to main road. Back up plan was to get a bus to Ashgabat. We were told it would be there about 10am. We saw buses heading north while driving to both Dashoguz (would have been at Darvaza c. 10am) and Konye Urgench (probably 11am).
Instead we decided to hitchhike so we wouldnt have to hang around.
7.40am after c. 15 mins the 5th vehicle to pass us Southbound stopped. It was an old lorry with space in cab. No expectation of payment and he stopped at water crater to show us. Really nixe guy :) It was slow but all the cars we saw were full or private tourist jeeps.
12.30 get dropped off at shared taxi station North of Ashgabat. Paid driver 100 manat (so 50 each) as thank you. He seemed very happy.
12.45 got bus from stop outside station. Both that go from there terminal at Teke Bazaar. Route 47 and 53.
Walked to some hotels.
Not Plan A but a pretty good Plan B :)
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