Turkmenistan — Transportation
Turkmenistan Taxis and Car Rental
Taxis exist in Turkmenistan; however, are all private vehicles which are not regulated. However, most drivers are regular ‘taxi’ drivers, so they are used to taking passengers and knowledgeable regards common destinations. Travel by taxi is economical since gasoline is very cheap in Turkmenistan. However, you will need to negotiate the fare before stepping in to get the best price. Taxis driving around seeking custom in busy areas so just flag one down.
The government of Turkmenistan has made it difficult for visitors to self-drive when in the country so no commercial car rental agencies exist here. There are some hotels in Ashgabat which provide rental car options although they insist on providing a driver as well. Even with a local driver, you cannot take a car very far from Ashgabat. It is best to use other modes of public transport or the services of a tour company to get around Turkmenistan at large.
Passenger boats travel along the Amu River, which is a waterway that skirts the northeast of the country, part-forming the border with Uzbekistan before filtering into the Aral Sea. These services can be used to reach Turkmenabat. There is also boat transport around the Caspian from the port town of Turkmenbashi, although such transport consists of mostly cargo ships.
Turkmenistan Trains and Buses
Rail travel is possible in Turkmenistan via Turkmendemiryollari, although the system is outdated since it is virtually a relic of the Soviet Union. However, if you are seeking to gain an insight into the by-gone days of the Soviet era, then experiencing rail travel in Turkmenistan is for you. The major cities are all connected, so it is possible to travel between Turkmenbashi-Ashgabat-Mary-Turkmenabat. Services are slow, so expect long travel times, with the journey between Turkmenbashi and Ashgabat taking around 16 hours. Yet, if you have enough time, it can be a great way to take in the views of the countryside. On the main routes, you have the choice of soft or hard seating, with sleeping and dining cars also provided. Tourists are expected to pay higher charges than locals, and you may be asked to pay for your ticket in US dollars or euro.
Turkmenistan is well served by buses. Between the major cities of Ashgabat, Dashgouz, Mary, Turkmenabashi, and Turkmenabat, transport is provided in modern and comfortable vehicles. Between other places, services are generally provided in older, less comfortable buses, or you can use private mini-vans or taxis. In all cases, road travel is quicker than rail travel; for example, the journey between Ashgabat and Turkmenbashi takes half the time by bus than it does by train. In addition, the big cities have cheap urban bus systems for getting around.