Asia is a country that is a must-see for every non-Asian character. Turkmenistan is located in Asia’s south-central area, sharing borders with Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan in the North, and Afghanistan and Iran in the south. Some would ask themselves whether or not Turkmenistan is a dangerous country to visit, due to the fact that it’s so close to Afghanistan – but surprisingly, it has a very low terrorist rate.
So, want to make your vacation as successful as possible? You can do that by reading this Turkmenistan safety guide that warns you of all the dangers that might befall you.
Highest Risk You Expose Yourself to When Visiting Turkmenistan
Overall Risks in Turkmenistan: MEDIUM
Generally speaking, Turkmenistan is a country that is fairly safe to visit. The reason behind this is that the police there is highly organized – and are very good at keeping the situation out of control.
Granted, however, exceptions may occur. The police cannot be anywhere at all times – so there are instances when crime happens. Most of these crimes, however, are scams – and they happen before the victim has the chance to realize what has happened. By that time, it is already too late to do anything about it.
So, is Turkmenistan safe to visit? Generally speaking, yes – but it wouldn’t hurt to keep an eye out on your surroundings.
Pickpocketing and Theft Risks in Turkmenistan: LOW
As mentioned, the police force in Turkmenistan is fairly active, which is why pickpocketing is not such a significant issue there. Granted, there are pickpocketers in Turkmenistan – no country is devoid of them – but compared to other countries in Europe, their numbers are very low.
Most of these incidents happen on crowded busses or on dark alleys. However, considering that the capital has a 11pm curfew, pickpocketers and muggers do not really have the chance to resort to petty crime.
Pickpocketers generally avoid public squares, since there is a high chance that the police will intercept them. For this reason, directly or not, tourists are generally safe from the hands of pickpocketers.
- How to avoid pickpocketing and theft in Turkmenistan?
While we did mention that pickpocketing is an uncommon occurrence, it is not impossible to happen. Ideally, you may want to stick to the public areas, since the police for is likely to activate there as well. It would not hurt to read some Turkmenistan safety travel tips either before going on a trip there.
Furthermore, you should also keep a close eye on your belongings – and never take more with you than you actually need. Take only as much cash as you believe you need with you – and the rest leave it at home with you. It might also be a good idea to invest in a travel pocket or bag that you can hide underneath your clothes. This way, in case of an emergency, you should be able to access it.
Scam Risk in Turkmenistan: MEDIUM
Even if the Turkmenistan is under tight police control, there will still be people who will try to take advantage of unknowing tourists – making them pay more than they were supposed to.
These incidents are mostly common with cab drives, where the drivers try to scam the driver into paying more than they originally should. Accommodation scams are not that common – but they can still happen if you do not choose your host carefully.
Diversion scams can also happen. In these situations, one individual will distract you while the other will steal from you. These situations are, however, not that common – mainly because the police force is almost everywhere.
- How to avoid getting scammed in Turkmenistan?
To avoid any scamming incidents, you might want to consult at least at least with one Turkmenistan safety guide. Ideally, you should avoid booking from untrustworthy hosts or websites that have not been verified. Only seek accommodations from reliable sources, and always double check before packing your bags.
You might also want to keep an eye out for strangers wanting to talk out of the blue with you. The “stranger” might actually be part of a group planning to rob you. Be careful of any suspicious people lurking around you. Similarly, you might also ensure that the meter of a taxi is turned on before going on a ride. If the driver does not do so, then it means they are planning to overcharge the trip.
Kidnapping Risk in Turkmenistan: LOW
So, how safe is Turkmenistan for tourists? Generally speaking, when it comes to kidnapping risk at least, the situation is very safe – but only as long as you practice common sense. Try to steer clear of deserted areas that have no law men around. Similarly, you might also want to read some Turkmenistan safety travel tips before embarking.
The more common sense you practice, the safer you will be. Since the law is fairly tight in Turkmenistan, no one will go out of their way to break it. The punishment is severe, which is why you should be safe by just paying attention.
- How to avoid getting kidnapped in Turkmenistan?
In order to avoid any sort of problems while traveling through Turkmenistan, we recommend you to stick to populated areas - in short, avoid the remote areas of the locations you plan to visit, the city slums, and the dim lit/ shady alleys.
Also, don't rely on shortcuts - you can get easily lost in a new city if you try to get faster to a certain location; doing so might also endanger you, especially if you happen to pass through a dangerous area.
Terrorism Risk in Turkmenistan: LOW
It may be sharing borders with Afghanistan, but the terrorism risk is actually fairly risk in Turkmenistan. There have not been any recent attacks there – but considering that the terrorism risk is globally widespread, you should always be vigilant regarding your surroundings.
So, how safe is Turkmenistan for tourists? It is fairly safe – at least when it comes to terrorists. These groups generally conduct their activities in public busses or plazas – so these are the places where you should be most careful.
- How to avoid terrorism in Turkmenistan?
Given the fact that the risk of terrorism in this country is low, one should only rely on the basic protection measures when it comes to such issues - namely, avoid places of prayer, official buildings, and areas that are highly populated, as it is likely for those areas to be targeted in case of a terrorist attack.
Increased precaution is not mandatory, but keeping an eye on your surroundings and on suspicious people will definitely help you tell whether something is wrong or not.
Risks for Women Traveling Alone in Turkmenistan: MEDIUM
We’ve established that Turkmenistan does have a particular rape rating that prevents women from walking alone at night. But generally speaking, is Turkmenistan safe for solo women travelers?
- How to avoid crime as a solo woman traveler in Turkmenistan?
Indeed, it is – but only as long as the women practice decent common sense. Unless absolutely necessary, you should avoid walking alone at night or in dark areas. If you really have to get somewhere, call a cab – but do it from a certified company.
Rape Risk in Turkmenistan: MEDIUM
Generally speaking, the risk of women being raped in Turkmenistan is no higher than in your average country. The risk is actually fairly low, considering the country’s police force.
- How to avoid getting raped in Turkmenistan?
But is Turkmenistan safe for solo women travelers? Generally speaking, it should be – but only as long as you practice common sense. As a woman, you might want to stick to the general dress code of the country and avoid wearing anything that is too revealing.
Similarly, you might also want to be careful when you are visiting. The chances of getting raped in broad daylight are close to zero; however, if you walk alone on the streets during nighttime, the chances are suddenly getting higher. Do avoid dark alleys as well, since that is where danger might lurk. This, however, might not be anm issue considering the 11pm curfew.
Risks for People Traveling with Children in Turkmenistan: LOW
Turkmenistan is as safe as it can be for children, particularly considering the tight police force there. You might, however, want to be careful in public areas with a big crowd. The problem is not that your child might get kidnapped; it’s that they might get lost. Children have the tendency of walking off – and it might get difficult to find them in a big crowd.
- How to avoid unwanted scenarios?
As mentioned before, the only thing that might happen to your children while in Turkmenistan is them getting lost - in this respect, we recommend you have someone keeping an eye on them at all times.
That's all you have to do to keep them save - keep them under surveillance so that they don't wander off while you are buying souvenirs or such.
Natural Disaster Risks in Turkmenistan: MEDIUM
The risk of natural disasters in Turkmenistan is not so high – at least compared to other countries. However, considering that Turkmenistan is located in an actively seismic zone, there might be the occasional earthquakes and earth tremors.
Transportation Risks in Turkmenistan: MEDIUM
In terms of transportation and travel, you should be aware of the fact that the country's borders may be closed occasionally, without any warnings - moreover, some borders, such as those with Afghanistan and Iran, might be labeled as restricted, case in which you'll need special permission in order to pass through
When it comes to road travel, most roads are limited to 60kmh - namely, in much of Ashgabat. Here you can expect static and mobile speed cameras monitoring the roads. However, given their poor condition, it is quite unlikely that anyone would cross this limit, as the car could get damaged.
You should be really careful if you are traveling by train, as this type of travel is really slow in Turkmenistan - naturally, this also makes it dangerous. If you travel during the night, it is recommended that you keep your valuables close and refrain from leaving the compartment and, thus, leaving your luggage unattended.
Night-Clubs, Pubs, and Bar Risks in Turkmenistan: LOW
As you may have noticed so far, the cities of Turkmenistan are being watched by police officers, especially during the night. In short, the authorities patrolling around the city will become more careful and suspicious after midnight.
In this respect, you are also less likely to be caught in some unpleasant situations - however, you should pay attention while in a night-club, pub, or bar. Namely, you should not leave your drink unattended, so to speak, as it might get spiked.
The basic safety measures apply in this case - avoid talking with strangers or accepting drinks from them, stick to your routine, and don't drink too much. In a foreign country, a clear mind might keep you out of a lot of trouble, as potential criminals can figure out whether you are a tourist or not - and if you are, your chances of becoming a victim increase.
Health Risks in Turkmenistan
When it comes to health, it is well known that the medical facilities and staff in Turkmenistan are in a poor condition/ poorly trained. Moreover, if you are far away from the capital city, you should only rely on the basic treatment offered by such facilities and staff - minor injuries, bruises, cuts.
Furthermore, make sure that your inoculations are up to date, especially in the case of hepatitis A and typhoid, as they are endemic in Turkmenistan.
Also, in case you need medical care and decide to call the ambulance service (03), be aware of the fact that the personnel handling your call might only speak Turkmen or Russian.
List of Vaccines You Need in Turkmenistan
There are certain routine vaccines that you will need to have when traveling to Turkmenistan, such as influenza, measles, tetanus, and so on. However, considering that these vaccines are common with every country, it is likely that you have already gotten the shot.
Aside from that, here are some particular vaccines that you might want to get when traveling to Turkmenistan.
- Hepatitis A
- Hepatitis B
Some of these vaccines are recommended for most travelers – but other vaccines may be recommended only for some travelers. This is why you ought to discuss with your doctor before getting a certain shot.
Most Dangerous Areas in Turkmenistan
- Koshi District
- Gazha District
- Hitrovka District
Concluding Remarks: Is Turkmenistan Safe to Visit?
So, how safe is Turkmenistan for tourists? If we were to look at the facts, it is surprisingly safe – but that is mostly because of the tight police force. Some tourists may find the lack of nightlife and the 11pm curfew fairly troublesome – but thanks to this, the reported incidents have gone down significantly. Do not be surprised is a policeman will stop you randomly and ask you for documents; it is how they keep thing in order.
However, while the crime rate is relatively low, this does not mean that it is nonexistent. To be on the safe side, you might want to keep your eye out regarding your surroundings – particularly if you are a woman. The streets are generally safe for solo women travelers – but if you have the possibility, you should opt for going accompanied.