The official language of Turkmenistan is Turkmen. This is spoken by about 70 percent of the population. Sine Turkmenistan was a part of the Soviet Union until 1991, around 50 percent of the population also speaks Russian. Hardly anyone in the country speaks English, but if you travel with a tour guide, all you communication needs will be taken care of.
The official currency of Turkmenistan is the manat. The US dollar is widely accepted by large hotels and at airports, but otherwise you will need to make purchases in the local currency. Taxis may accept US dollars in small denominations. If you exchange money into manta, ensure that you change it back to US dollars before leaving Turkmenistan since the local currency is unlikely to be accepted by exchange outlets outside the country. There are official foreign exchange counters at airports and banks, although black market money changers operate in tourist areas. You can use these unofficial changers at your own risk; they are known to provide a better exchange rate than banks. Credit cards are accepted in large hotels of Ashgabad. ATMs are virtually non-existent in Turkmenistan, so do not rely on them to withdraw cash. Cash advances are possible at major banks in the capital while Western Union bureaux are also available.
The time zone in Turkmenistan is GMT +5. Daylight savings time isn’t followed in Turkmenistan.
Electricity in Turkmenistan runs at 220-240V/50Hz variable. You may need a transformer if your electrical appliance differs from this standard (most North American appliances run at 110-120V). The country uses round, two-pinned European style plugs. Some sockets require a grounding pin. You will need an adaptor if your plug does not meet this standard.
The international calling code for Turkmenistan is +993. The landline network is adequate and has around 500,000 users. Cell phone usage has now reached over one million users. Mainly you will get coverage in large towns and cities, although do not expect any coverage in rural areas. Mobile communication networks are provided by BCTI and Altyn Asyr; you will need to check with your provider if you wish to gain international roaming in Turkmenistan. High-speed internet is available in Ashgabat, although elsewhere internet is slow or unavailable.
Duty-free goods can be purchased at Ashgabat International Airport. If you are traveling to the US you are allowed to import: one liter of alcohol and 200 cigarettes, 50 cigars, or four pounds of tobacco. Travelers entering Turkmenistan can import the following duty free: 200 cigarettes or 200g of tobacco; 1.5 liters of spirits and two liters of wine; a reasonable amount of perfume and film for personal use; gifts in reasonable quantities; and unlimited amounts of currency.
Turkmenistan does not have an official tourist office.
Consulates in Turkmenistan
American Embassy, Ashgabat: +11-993-1235 0045 British Embassy, Ashgabat: +11-993-1251-0616 German Embassy, Ashgabat: +11-993-1236-3515 French Embassy, Ashgabat: +11-993-1236-3550
Emergency services: 03