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Health & safety

Dangers & annoyances

Health-wise it’s best to be a cautious eater in Turkmenistan, which means avoiding salads and other cold foods – typhoid is not uncommon. Avoid drinking tap water, which contains traces of metal that can cause long-term health problems. Bring along Imodium for stomach bugs.

The biggest annoyance you’ll experience is the officialdom, which mainly manifests itself in roadblocks every 50km to 100km, pointless document checks, army posts and registration each time you enter a new welayat (province). These usually take just a few minutes and your guide will probably do all the work. Take care when photographing public buildings, especially in Ashgabat. Local police take this very seriously and you may have your documents checked even if simply strolling near the Presidential Palace with a camera in your hand. There are no ‘no photo’ signs anywhere, so you’ll need to ask the nearest policeman if it’s OK to take a picture.