Travelling in Turkmenistan

BBC radio 4 documentary Excess Baggage about Turkmenistan

When Marco Polo travelled the Silk Road through what is present day Turkmenistan, he wrote of his encounter with “Turcomans… a primitive people speaking a barbarous language,” but who deserved praise for their horses and carpets.

Since its independence from the former Soviet Union in 1991, Turkmenistan has opened up considerably.  Travellers and intrepid tourists are discovering its Bronze Age relics, ancient Silk Road cities, and the white marble palaces of its capital, Ashgabat.

Turkmenistan travel guide – Wikitravel

Turkmenistan is one of just two Stalinist countries in existence (the other being North Korea) and the government is in firm control of nearly everything, although, surprisingly, tourism is welcomed as long as you don’t discuss politics or omnipresent police/military. The cult of personality the previous president created for himself is truly amazing and reminders of the Turkmenbashi’s legacy are everywhere.

North Korea may get all the press, but even Kim Jong-Il’s cult of personality fades when compared to the surreal totalitarian state set up by Turkmenistan’s former all-powerful President for Life Saparmurat Niyazov.

Turkmenistan travel advice

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