Trains in Turkmenistan are good value for money and overnight trains are an excellent way to save up on accommodation for travelers on a budget. Turkmen trains are clean and modern, and present an opportunity to have long chats with locals.
If you are looking to go fast, shared taxis, airplanes and buses are a better way to travel. Trains are slow and frequently delayed. Questions and reports are welcomed in our Turkmen trains forum topic.
Timetables, prices and seats
Timetables of the trains might be available on the website of the Turkmen Railway company Turkmendemiryollari. You can also book tickets online here, but so far, no foreigner has succeeded.
Taxi drivers might tell you that foreigners pay for train tickets in USD, unlike locals who pay in manats. This is not true. Average price for a seat is around 20 manat, a bargain.
Since prices for kupe are almost the same as for platzkart, we recommend you pay the extra 3 manat and go for kupe, which has AC: not a luxury in summer. SV/Lyux seats (2 beds in a coupe instead of 4) are not available as far as we know.
If you do not know what kupe or platzkart is, see the train overview page.
To buy tickets, go to the train station with your passport. It opens at 7am. If you are on a tourist visa, your tour company will handle things for you of course.
The train experience
Before, trains were old and sheets could be dirty, but since 2012, reviews have been overwhelmingly positive about the experience of riding a train in Turkmenistan.
All Turkmen trains are prepared to be sleeper trains (1m80 beds), and if you have an overnight journey, you will get sheets, a pillow and a blanket. Luggage storage is under the bottom bunk. A samovar provides hot water, but bring a cup. Toilets are surprisingly clean, but bring toilet paper.
Getting drunk on the train is no longer allowed, so pesky neighbours are hardly an issue. Smoking is also strictly forbidden.
As elsewhere, you will be invited to share food brought on the train in copious amounts. You cannot buy food on the train, but you can buy food during stops on the platform.
Bicyle on the train
You are able to put your bike in the train in the special luggage wagon for 15 or 20 manat per bike. It’s wheeling and dealing.
Like elsewhere in Central Asia, all major train stations have a luggage room open 24/7 where you can deposit your luggage for a small fee. In Russian, it’s called a “kamera khraneniya”.
There are no cross-border passenger trains.
Mary: 5 trains daily head west to Ashgabat (fast – 8 hrs, slow – 12 hrs), 4 head north to Turkmenabat (5-6 hours) and 1 south to Serhetabat near the Afghan border.
There is also a Mary-Serakhs train (not pictured on the map above). You cannot buy a ticket beforehand because there are not tickets. You just pay 10 manat on the train itself. It takes 4 hours and leaves twice a week.
Ashgabat: 4 trains per day to Mary (fast – 8 hrs, slow – 12 hrs) and Turkmenabat (fast – 14 hrs, slow – 17 hrs), 1 to Balkanabat and Turkmenbashi (14 hrs – 2 trains in summer) and one to Dashoguz (Tashauz – 17 hrs).
Turkmenbashi: An overnight train runs to Ashgabat in about 14 hours, stopping in Balkanabat (Nebitdag) along the way. In summer, there is a second train which is faster.
Turkmenabat: 4 trains daily to Mary (5-6 hours) and onwards to Ashgabat (fast – 14 hrs, slow 17 – hrs) and Turkmenbashi (23 hours). On the Turkmen Railways site, Amudarya is listed separately from Turkmenabat, but know that all trains to Amudarya go to Turkmenabat as well.
There is also 1 intriguing train per day going to and from the border town of Gazadzhak, near Khiva. There is a border crossing there as well, but we have not had any reports yet of people crossing there.
Dashoguz (Tashauz): 1 train a day connects to Ashgabat (17 hours).