Getting there & away
Bus stands in Ashgabat are organised by destination, and are also used by shared taxis and marshrutki as much as buses. Fares for private cars fluctuate by demand and the make of the car.
Transport for Balkanabat and Turkmenbashi leaves from the Old Airport (stary aeroport). There are marshrutki and shared taxis to Balkanabat (4¼ hours, both US$4) and Turkmenbashi (six hours, both US$6.25). Near the private taxi lot is an official bus station, which runs three buses per day to Mary (4½ hours, US$1), four to Tejen (2½ hours, US$0.80), one to Serakhs (four hours, US$1) and one to Balkanabat (five hours, US$1.20). These buses depart early in the morning and by 2pm the bus station is locked up.
Transport for Dashogus and Konye-Urgench leaves from the Dashogus Bazaar (also called Azatlyk Bazaar). A marshrutka to Konye-Urgench costs US$4 (10 to 12 hours), while a seat in a shared taxi is US$6. Chartering a whole taxi will cost US$24. Prices to Dashogus are slightly higher: Lvov buses will take 18 hours for the trip (US$3.50) including a two-hour stop for lunch on the way. Ikarus buses (15 hours) are faster, while marshrutki (US$5) make the trip in 12 to 14 hours. A place in a taxi will cost US$9 and the trip takes 11 to 12 hours.
Short-distance destinations west of Ashgabat (eg Old Nissa) depart from the western side of Tekke Bazaar. A spot in a minibus to Bagyr (for Old Nissa) costs US$0.20.
The Ashgabat train station (39 38 04) is at the northern end of Turkmenbashi şayoli, a short taxi ride from downtown. There are two trains per day to Turkmenbashi (11 hours, US$2), three departures for Mary (8½ hours, US$1) and Turkmenabat (15 hours, US$1.50) and one incredibly slow train to Dashogus (24 hours, US$2). Trains are the slowest way to travel around the country and are not particularly comfortable either. Prices quoted above are for kupe/2nd-class.
For information about flights from outside Central Asia see the Transport in Central Asia chapter. Within Central Asia, Turkmenistan Airlines and Uzbekistan Airways both link Ashgabat and Tashkent (one way US$140).
Domestic Turkmenistan Airlines flights are heavily subsidised to make the ticket prices amazingly low. Consequently, demand is massive and flights need to be booked in advance as far ahead as possible. Timetables also change regularly but there are approximately five daily flights to Dashogus (US$11), three daily to Turkmenabat (US$12), two daily to Mary (US$11), two daily to Turkmenbashi (US$12), as well as regular flights to Kerki (Atamurat; US$10, via Turkmenabat) and three weekly to Balkanabat (US$11).
The following airlines fly to/from Turkmenistan (except where stated) and have offices in Ashgabat.
Armavia (39 05 48; Turkmenbaşi şayoli 15) Weekly flights to/from Yerevan.
British Airways (51 07 99; www.britishairways.com; Grand Turkmen Hotel, Görogly köçesi 7) British Airways doesn’t fly to Ashgabat, but this office is useful as a travel agency.
Turkmenistan Airlines (domestic 35 26 43, international 39 39 00; www.turkmenistanairlines.com; Magtymguly şayoli 82) From Ashgabat to Abu Dhabi, Amritsar, Bangkok, Birmingham, Delhi, Frankfurt, İstanbul, London and Moscow.