Turkmenistan New Year Tour

Dec 30, 2023
Jan 5, 2024
7 days

Is Turkmenistan Open for Tourism?


Read more about it here!


New Year in Ashgabat! Woo! What better place to bring in the new year than the white and gold capital of Ashgabat, famous for its excessive and colourful lights.

Taking out the record for tallest New Year/Christmas tree among the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), Ashgabat is full to the brim with magnificent monuments and statues, and their fair share of unusual world records . And we'll see them all!

We'll then drive into the desert where we'll see, you've guess it, the Gates of Hell, before heading to the east of the country to visit the regional capital of Mary, and the ancient city of Merv.

View the full itinerary

Ashgabat New Year/Christmas Tree
Wedding Palace, Palace of Happiness, Ashgabat, Turkmenistan

If you like the look of this tour but the dates don't work for you, or you'd like to do part of the tour, please get in touch and let us know. All our tours are able to be split into smaller sections, we're always scheduling new tours and your dates might work for one of them, or we can always organise an independent tour.


Letter of Invitation

Accommodation in twin share at roughly 3 star hotels (breakfast included)

Transport as per itinerary, beginning and ending in Ashgabat

Entrance fees to all sites mentioned in the itinerary, including Independence Day events

SAIGA guide and local guides



Visa fee (can be paid on arrival at the airport or land border, or at an embassy beforehand)

Meals other than breakfast at hotels

Transport to and from Ashgabat at the beginning and end of the tour

Accommodation and any other services before or after the tour

Personal expenses such as souvenirs or any optional activities

Any COVID related expenses

Merv, Ancient city, Turkmenistan
Gates of Hell, Darvaza, Turkmenistan


See in the New Year in the brighly lit marble city of Ashgabat

Watch the sun set over the spectacular Gates of Hell

Wander the site of the ancient city of Merv

Day 1Sat Dec 30
  • Our first day in Ashgabat, you’re going to be in awe of everything that the capital has to offer. We’ll spend the day taking in all the main sites of Ashgabat, including all those crazy monuments you’ve probably seen pictures of, as we begin explaining all the weird and wonderful aspects of Turkmenistan that make it such a special place.
  • We’ll start with a driving tour of Ashgabat's main sites, including Independence Park and Independence Monument, the Monument to the Constitution, the Arch of Neutrality, Lenin Park, and a drive-by of the Olympic Complex which was built for the 2017 Asian Indoor and Martial Arts Games. The complex is home to the famous Horse Stadium (the largest structure in the shape of a horse in the world – you’ll hear plenty more of these records! ), but unfortunately is closed to the public.
  • A highlight of the day will likely be the Alem Centre, which is the complex in which the Wheel of Enlightenment is, the largest indoor ferris wheel (yes, there’s another one). And YES, for just $1, you can even take a ride!
  • Stop for lunch at Berkarar Shopping Centre, where you can go ice-skating, play in the games centre, ride a miniature double-decker bus, and even have a cappuccino in a hipster café – bet you weren’t expecting that!
  • In the afternoon we’ll visit the university bookshop, a great chance to pick up some very cool, unique Turkmenistan swag, including where you can find amazing coffee table books written by and about the president, Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedov, as well as ones about Ashgabat and Turkmenistan. You can even get them in English! They also have postcards and posters, and if you're lucky they might even have a copy of the Ruhnama, the book written by Turkmenbashy.
  • In the evening, we’ll take a night tour of Ashgabat. With the white marble buildings lit up by brightly coloured neon lights, Ashgabat is a truly spectacular place after dark.
  • Spend the night at the Ak Altyn Hotel.
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Day 2Sun Dec 31
Nisa, Turkmenbashy Mosque, Kow Ata, New Year's Eve in Ashgabat
  • Happy New Year's Eve!
  • Today we’ll start off by leaving the city, to visit Nisa, a UNESCO site which was once the capital of the Parthian Empire.
  • We’ll then continue on to Kipchak to see the resplendent Turkmenbashy Mosque and Mausoleum, where Turkmenbashy is buried beside his mother, father and two brothers in their white marble mausoleum. There aren’t too many Turkmenbashy related sites still around, but this one is truly spectacular.
  • We'll continue on to Kow Ata, an underground thermal cave lake which is said to have many medical attributes, but is also used by locals as a swimming hole and makes for a very fun and relaxing swim.
  • After a refreshing swim in the cave lake, we'll sit down and chill for a while with some shashlik from one of the restaurants just outside the entrance to the cave.
  • Heading back to Ashgabat, we'll have a chance to have a little rest in the afternoon before heading out to soak in everything that New Year in Ashgabat is! There will be the massive, record-breaking New Year tree at the Wheel of Enlightenment which we'll definitely check out, but we might end up at one of the smaller trees, such as the one in front of the circus, where there's bound to be a party!
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Day 3Mon Jan 1
New Year's Day, Gates of Hell, Ashgabat
  • Happy New Year! How about that? Seeing in the new year in Turkmenistan, and waking up for the first time in 2024 in Ashgabat!
  • We'll have a slow morning to recover from our festivities the previous night, before heading off to Berkarar Shopping Centre for lunch, where you can go ice-skating, play in the games centre, ride a miniature double-decker bus, and even have a cappuccino in a hipster café – bet you weren’t expecting that!
  • Here we will go to the supermarket to pick up supplies for the rest of the day and dinner that night.
  • After lunch we’ll drive 250km north to Darvaza, The Gates of Hell.
  • One the way we’ll make a few stops – including to see a salt lake, two other craters (one full of mud, one full of water), and of course maybe for a toilet (not a luxurious one!).
  • Crossing the sand dunes to get to Darvaza, we’ll arrive in time to watch the sunset over the fiery crater and experience dusk turn to dark at this breathtaking site.
  • After sunset we'll jump back in our cars and head back to Ashgabat.
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Day 4Tue Jan 2
Ashgabat, Train to Mary
  • Free time in the morning. During this time you might like to explore some more of Ashgabat by yourself, or we can point you in the direction of any specific activities you might have in mind.
  • We'll meet back up and make sure that everyone's stocked up and ready to go, before getting on the 3pm train to travel east to Mary.
  • Arriving in Mary at 10pm we'll transfer to the hotel, and overnight in Mary.
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Day 5Wed Jan 3
Merv, Mary
  • In the morning we'll drive to Merv. Just half an hour's drive from the modern city of Mary, and now a UNESCO world heritage listed site, Merv is the oldest and best preserved ancient oasis city along the Silk Road. At one point during the 12 th Century it was possibly even the largest city in the world.
  • We'll spend the morning exploring the shrines, temples, towers, city walls, fortresses, castles and mausoleums, the most notable of which is that of Sultan Sandzhar Dar-al-Akhir which reaches forty metres into the sky, topped by an almost completely intact brick dome.
  • Returning to the modern city of Mary in the afternoon, we'll visit the Mary Museum, where a lot of the artefacts from Merv along with the other ancient sites in Turkmenistan are kept.
  • We'll have a chance in the evening to go out for some dinner, and get a feel for this Turkmen regional city. There's plenty of likeness to Ashgabat with the same white and gold architecture, wide boulevards, and pristine parks, but it just has a very different fell.
  • Overnight in Mary.
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Day 6Thu Jan 4
Fly to Ashgabat
  • This morning we'll fly back to Ashgabat on Turkmenistan Airlines (an experience in itself!).
  • We'll spend the rest of the day doing a couple of our favourite quirky things in Ashgabat, starting with a ride up the Kopetdag mountains in a cable car. It reaches almost all the way to the Iranian border and at the top you’ll get spectacular views over the city, the health path and the tv tower.
  • We’ll then do a bit of a drive around this mountainous area on the outskirts of the city. We’ll visit the outside of the TV tower, the largest building in the shape of a star in the world. The building itself is off limits, but you can drive almost right up to the entrance for a great view of the tower and spectacular perspective over the city.
  • Serdar Yoly, the “health path”. Stretching 28km along the Kopetdag mountain range, this fitness project was instigated by Turkmenbashy, but being a keen health fanatic himself, Gurbanguly continued to encourage people to make the trek. You won’t have time to walk much of the path, but we can just soak in the atmosphere in the park at the bottom. If you would like to arrange to walk all or some of Serdar Yoly, let us know and it can be planned for before the tour.
  • For dinner this evening we’ll go to the Yyldiz Hotel – the newest and most expensive hotel in Turkmenistan, where you can have a real 5 Star restaurant experience for 1 Star prices, complete with 360 degree views of the city.
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Day 7Fri Jan 5
Ashgabat, End of Tour
  • Last day of the tour.
  • Transfers to the airport for your flights, or if you'd like to spend longer in Turkmenistan let us know and we can help you arrange something.
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