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Transport in Ashgabat


Air - Ashgabat's airport, Saparmurat Turkmenbashy International Airport, lies at the northwest edge of the city, some 5km north of Magtymguly Shayoly. All international flights to Turkmenistan arrive here, and Ashgabat is also the point of arrival/departure for every domestic flight, except one route between Dashoguz and Turkmenbashy. From Ashgabat, there are five flights daily to Dashoguz, two to Mary, four to Turkmenabat and three to Turkmenbashy. There is also a thrice weekly (Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays) flight to Balkanabat. All internal flights currently use Boeing 717 aircraft.

To/From the Airport - The best way to get into central Ashgabat from the airport is to take a taxi. They are both plentiful and cheap, especially if you choose to go with a shared one. You should expect to pay 10M, but agree before getting in, as drivers are likely to try their luck and ask for much more.

Rail - The railway station sits at the northern end of Turkmenbashy Shayoly. It is a distinctive building, with a central spire topped by a crescent and five stars. Its domed central hall features a design heavy on five-pointed Soviet stars and bunches of wheat. Two trains a day head westwards towards Turkmenbashy. Three trains head east: to Atamurat, Serhetabat, and the long journey to Dashoguz via Turkmenabat. There is also a twice-weekly departure to Serakhs. Ticket prices are inexpensive, though vary considerably depending on class of travel. The real cost of rail travel in Turkmenistan is measured in time more than distance: around nine hours to Balkanabat, 13 to Turkmenbashy or Turkmenabat, and 24 to Dashoguz.

Public Transport - A fleet of new, white buses now serves the local populace, making this a quick and cheap way to get around. Tickets cost 0.2M and can be bought on board. There are however no maps or lists of routes, so you’ll need to ask locals which bus to take wherever you want to go. As with almost every other city in the former Soviet Union, you can just hold out your arm on the street and a car will soon stop and give you a lift to wherever you need to go. Short hops in the city cost 2M, rising to 3M for longer journeys. Agree a price before you get in, or hand over the money with supreme confidence when you get out. To order an official taxi call. Ashgabat has no metro or tram system.

Intercity coaches - Long-distance taxis, minivans (known as marshrutkas) and less frequent private buses leave from several points around the city, depending on their destination. The government intercity bus station however is outside the old airport terminal. To get there, head northwards on Atamurat Niyazov Shayoly, towards the modern airport. After passing through the underpass beneath the railway line, turn left at the second set of traffic lights onto 2103 Kochesi. You will see the old airport building, now used for cargo flights, beyond a large square at the end of the road, The bus terminal is a green-painted building just to the north, adjacent to a large expanse of tarmac, which stands mostly devoid of buses. The terminal building is open 06.30-14.00, and most departures are in the mornings. Tickets are cheap, but buses are far from plentiful. There are three departures daily to Mary, four to Tejen, one to Balkanabat and one to Serakhs. In an enclosed area at the southern end of the square stand the private taxis and minibuses taking passengers to Balkanabat and Turkmenbashy. The liveliness of this area as against the deserted aspect of the government bus terminal gives a good indication of the relative importance of the two sectors. A place in a taxi to Turkmenbashy (at least six hours) is around 150,000 manat; to Balkanabat (four and a half hours) about 100,000 manat. Minibuses charge a little less.

For Mary and Turkmenabat, the point of departure is the car park immediately to the west of the railway station. A minibus will get you to Mary in around four and a half hours. The journey to Turkmenabat takes around eight hours.

For Dashoguz Region, the place of departure is currently a bazaar in the eastern part of town, known officially as Bazaar number 6, or the Azatlyk Bazaar, but more widely as Dashoguz Bazaar, since this is the place at which traders from Dashoguz Region concentrate. The future of this bazaar is, however, currently uncertain, so arrangements for departures to Dashoguz may change. Dashoguz Bazaar is located on 1916 Kochesi, about 300m south of the intersection with Atamurat Niyazov Shayoly. A ride to Dashoguz will be about 12 hours. In a minibus the journey time some two hours longer. There are also departures available to other towns in Dashoguz Region.

To get to towns just to the west of Ashgabat, the departure point is the western side of the Tekke Bazaar. The main destinations served from here are Bagyr, Abadan and Geok Depe. For Anew, buses leave from a remote spot known as the Awtokombinat at the eastern end of Atamurat Niyazov Shayoly, close to the Coca Cola bottling plant. This place is also the terminus for several municipal bus routes, including trolleybus number 1, which will bring you here from Magtymguly Shayoly in the city centre.