Turkmenistan Nowruz Tour

Mar 17, 2025
Mar 24, 2025
8 days


This tour is your chance to see Nowruz, but Turkmen style. And everything is more fun Turkmen style! Although Nowruz is originally a Persian holiday, marking the start of spring and the start of their new year, it has been well and truly commandeered by Central Asia. You'll find Nowruz celebrations all throughout Central Asia, with differening extents of extravagance and authenticity, but Turkmenistan has really taken it to the next level and made it their own.

We'll start off this tour by heading out of Ashgabat, visiting the ancient ruins of Nisa, and the Turkmenbashy Mosque and Mausoleum, before swimming in Kow Ata, which is one of the few chances you'll have to see locals relaxing a bit. Venturing into the mountains we'll visit the village of Nokhur, famous for its unique cemetery, before going all the way to the west of the country to the Caspian Sea coast. Here you'll have the chance to explore the resort town of Avaza, built in the same over the top glamorous white marble and gold as Ashgabat. Next we'll drive out into the desert to see Yangykala Canyon, an old ocean, now a vast canyon with striped coloured walls. Finally we'll fly on Turkmenistan Airlines (an experience in itself!) back to Ashgabat to explore this bizarre sparkly city, and be part of all the Nowruz events.

View the full itinerary

Anau ruined mosque, Turkmenistan
Nowruz yurt, 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.

There is also a shorter budget version of this tour available, for anyone who would like to see Ashgabat, the Gates of Hell and Nowruz, but doesn't have time to explore the rest of the country.


Letter of Invitation

Accommodation in twin share at roughly 3 star hotels (breakfast included), camping at Gates of Hell

Transport as per itinerary, beginning and ending in Ashgabat

Entrance fees to all sites mentioned in the itinerary

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

Selfies with locals, Ashgabat, Turkmenistan
Yangykala Canyon, Turkmenistan


Join in the vibrant and oh so photogenic Nowruz celebrations

Explore the white marble city of Ashgabat

Swim with locals in the underground cave lake of Kow Ata

Day 1Mon Mar 17
Kow Ata, Nokhur, Serdar
  • Lunch at Kow Ata, Turkmenistan We're going to start by leaving Ashgabat, to begin heading west. Our first stop will be at 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.
  • We’ll continue driving west, away from Ashgabat, to the village of Nokhur, situated in the Kopet Dag mountains. Nokhur Cemetery, goat horn graves, Turkmenistan Unlike the rest of Turkmenistan, even during the Soviet Union and the era of Turkmenbashy, this village were largely left to their own devices and as such live a much more traditional lifestyle than most Turkmens.
  • Here we’ll visit Nokhur Cemetery, where each grave is adorned with the horns of a mountain goat and a small market next to a wishing tree where you can buy all sorts of natural teas and potions.
  • Keep driving to the town of Serdar where we’ll spend the night in a local hotel.
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Day 2Tue Mar 18
Balkanabat, Avaza, Turkmenbashy
  • Today we’ll complete the drive towards the Caspian Sea, arriving in Turkmenbashy in the late afternoon.
  • We’ll stop in Balkanabat on the way for some lunch and a quick look at a monument to the caravans of the Silk Road.
  • Arriving in Avaza in the afternoon, this is the epitome of bizarre modern day Turkmenistan. Although the facilities are extravagant and the buildings futuristic, the town is somehow best described as a ghost town.
  • We’ll have dinner at the one café that will be open, and from there you can explore the amusement parks, beaches, and hotels of Avaza, and if you’re game, take a swim in the notoriously cold Caspian Sea.
  • Overnight in Turkmenbashy.
  • Avaza is currently closed to foreigners, as of April 2023. We are working on the assumption that it will open before the time of this tour, however there is a chance that it won't. If it is unavailable we will change around the itinerary accordingly and as always we will work with the situation on the ground at the time to ensure that the tour is as well-rounded as possible.
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Day 3Wed Mar 19
Yangykala Canyon, Turkmenbashy, Ashgabat
  • Yangykala Canyon, Turkmenistan Today we’ll visit Yangykala Canyon. Until recently most Turkmens didn’t even know that this place existed, and still not many have been there. Wide and vast, the area was once a seabed, and scattered with all sorts of fossils, it stretches as far as the eye can see. In 4x4s, we’ll drive over the canyon walls, through the canyon itself, and up the other side, stopping at a couple of different viewpoints along the way.
  • We will take a packed lunch with us so we can enjoy it whilst taking in all the shapes and colours of this spectacular natural phenomenon.
  • Leaving the canyon behind we'll head to Turkmenbashy, where we'll stop for dinner, before jumping on a plane back to Ashgabat.
  • An experience in itself, we will of course be flying Turkmenistan Airlines, from the bizarrely ornate Turkmenbashy Airport.
  • We'll arrive back in Ashgabat in the late evening.
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Day 4Thu Mar 20
Ashgabat, Gates of Hell
  • No trip to Turkmenistan is really complete without a day spent exploring Ashgabat. Arch of Neutrality, Ashgabat, Turkmenistan
  • 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. Wheel of Enlightenment, Alem Centre, Ashgabat, Turkmenistan 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! Gates of Hell, Darvaza, Turkmenistan
  • 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!
  • 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.
  • Set up tents near the Gates of Hell and camp near the fiery crater.
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Day 5Fri Mar 21
Gates of Hell, Ashgabat
  • Gates of Hell, Darvaza, Turkmenistan We'll wake up this morning at the Gates of Hell. What a place to wake up!
  • Make sure you get your fill of fiery pits over breakfast, before we drive back to Ashgabat, arriving around lunchtime.
  • We'll check into the hotel and have free time for the rest of the afternoon.
  • Most people will probably want to head to one of our favourite bazaars in Central Asia – the Russian Bazaar. Here you'll have the opportunity to get some super cheap, local food for lunch, do some souvenir shopping, or if you’re in the market for a Turkmen carpet we can show you a good place to get them.
  • This is also where one of the main shops for buying the famous Turkmenistan tracksuits is, so if you've made it to this point in the tour without one, and you're a bit jealous of your tracksuit-adorned fellow travellers, this is your chance to get one.
  • Yyldiz Hotel, Ashgabat You also might like just to go exploring, whether it's a walk to the psychadelic Ashgabat Mall, or to Tashkent Park, or to the alabay (dog) statue, or you could simply walk through one of the areas of new white marble buildings. And of course we'll be there to help you figure out what to do with your time.
  • 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 6Sat Mar 22
Nowruz, Ashgabat, Nisa, Turkmenbashy Mosque
  • Today our main focus will be on Nowruz celebrations, interspersed with some more sight-seeing in Ashgabat, and depending on the exact itinerary of Nowruz events, we will visit Nisa and Turkmenbashy Mosque either today or tomorrow.
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Day 7Sun Mar 23
Nowruz, Ashgabat
  • Today we will experience more of the Nowruz celebrations, and also continue exploring Ashgabat.
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Day 8Mon Mar 24
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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