Last updated on 04.03.2015
To/From Afghanistan - Serkhetabat (formerly known as Gushgi) is the border town with Afghanistan. Crossing here is now a fairly hassle-free prospect, although be prepared to be thoroughly searched by both Turkmen and Afghan border guards. If you arrive late it’s OK to overnight with a local family as there are no hotels in town. The border post is 3km south of Serkhetabat. Leaving Turkmenistan, there’s a 1.5km walk to the first Afghan village of Torghundi and it’s a two-hour taxi journey onwards to Herat. If you are coming to Turkmenistan, you’ll need to catch a ride from Herat to Torghundi (US$20 in a shared vehicle). Here you need to pay a US$12 to US$14 customs fee at a bank in town (1.5km south of the border), or you might be able to pay an extra US$4 to the border guard to do this for you. The Saparmurat border crossing (called Imam Nazar) near Atamurat (also known as Kerki) is used by UN staff, but was not recommended for independent travellers at the time of writing.
To/From Iran - The simplest exit point is Gaudan/Bajgiran, due south of Ashgabat and a corridor between the Kopet Dag into Iran. From Ashgabat, take a taxi (40M to 50M) for the 20km ride to Yablonovka checkpoint. Here you’ll have your passport checked, after which you take a marshrutka shuttle to the border. Once through, it’s a taxi (US$2.50) across some 20km of no-man’s-land to Bajgiran where you can get buses or taxis (US$20, four hours) to Mashhad. There are also borders with Iran at Saraghs (there is a Mashhad–Saraghs train, but no international trains into Turkmenistan) and Gudurolum (which is reachable by car or taxi only).
Mashhad-border to Turkmenistan: The quickest route is to take a bus from Mashad to Quchan or closer to the border still, at Bajgiran, (if Quchan you might need to get a taxi the remaining 60km). Once at the border it is likely to be about 2 hours+ waiting/queuing/filling in visa paperwork. Once across the border a taxi is the only option for the 50km to Ashgabat.
Possibly a more interesting route is to take a train from Mashad to Sarakhs, same 2hr+ bureacracy to cross the border and then a 6 hour bus or taxi journey to Ashgabat. Both border crossings are only open during daylight hours and due to dealy at crossing best to get there in the morning.
Turkmenistan via the Iran-Sarakhs border: The border road is the first right as you ride into town, with a big hotel on the corner. If you’re looking for accommodation, this hotel isn’t too expensive and the food decent, however the Red Cresent is more than happy to take tourists in, and won’t charge you a cent. Crossing Turkmenistan side of the border can be very lengthy, so keep patience.
To/From Kazakhstan - Shared taxis (120M/480M per seat/car) go from Turkmenbashi, via Karabogas, across the Kazakh border and on to Zhanaozen (Novy Uzen), where there is further transport to Aktau. From Karabogas to the border the road’s a rough dirt track. Delays at the border can occur when caravans of traders appear together. Note that there is absolutely nothing on either side at this remote border – do not try to save money by paying for a taxi to the border post alone, as you’d be extremely lucky to find any onward transport from here.
To/From Uzbekistan - There are technically 3 border crossings between Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan: Khojeli (near Nukus), Konye-Urgench (near Khiva) and Farab (near Bukhara/Turkmenabat). Each crossing requires a walk of about 10 to 20 minutes across no-man’s-land. Shared taxis are usually available to shuttle travellers across, the cost of which is approximately US$0.30 (1 TM Manat/1000 UZ sum). Whether they are operating or not when you visit is a matter of luck. When you apply for your Turkmen visa, you will have to mention which border crossing you hope to use. You may or may not get this border crossing. The entry/exit points are usually printed on the visa itself.
The Farab crossing is closest to Bukhara (Uzbekistan) and Turkmenabat (Turkmenistan). The 45km taxi ride to Farab from Turkmenabat should cost 15-20M for a taxi (or 5M for a seat in a shared taxi). From the border, take a taxi (US$40, or 15$ for a shared seat) to Bukhara (120 km), or hire a taxi as far as Uzbek Olot (or Karakol), where you can change to a shared taxi. The road is in bad condition but they started slowly to modernise it. Crossing the border from one country to another will take you roughly 1 hour. Keep in mind that Turkmen border is closed for lunch (from 1 to 2 pm). On the way from border to Turkmenabat you will cross Amur Daria river over the ponton bridge (1 Manat fee for the vehicle). See the pictures below. In the rest the road is not quite interesting, just desert sands all the way to Turkmenabat. The rough road from Turkmenabat to the border is about 40km despite looking very close on a map. It is not that easy to find your way to Farab from Turkmenabat, as there is absolutely no signage or main road making the way obvious. Ask around to get to Farab, then continue riding until you hit the river. You’ll need to take the west bank north along the river to the border. To make this easy for you, check out map for the route.
Turkmenistan, Koneurgench - Uzbekistan, Nukus road is in terrible state. The Dashogus crossing is best if you are headed for Khiva or Urgench. A taxi from Dashogus to the Uzbek border is no more than 5M. From the border to Khiva expect to pay around US$10. Less used is the Hojeli crossing, a 10-minute taxi ride (6M) from Konye-Urgench. Once across the border it’s a half-hour drive to Nukus in Karakalpakstan, Uzbekistan. From the border, take public transport to Hojeli (US$2) or a taxi all the way to Nukus (US$10).
To/From Azerbaijan - You can enter Turkmenistan by boat from Azerbaijan. This border is an experience. It can take you literally the whole day to cross. As Mongol rally participant reported: 'It took 7 hours with no ques! We went to 16 different windows for 9 different stamps!' Cost for the car: $160 for numerous random taxes + $12 for a passport stamp. Road from Turkmenbashi to Ashgabat is in awful state, the worst in all C. Asia as motorists report. It took one Mongol rally team 20 hours to do the journey!