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Health & safety

Dangers & annoyances

Be aware that all top-range hotel rooms are bugged, as are many offices, restaurants and anywhere foreigners meet. Reserve sensitive conversations, especially any with Turkmen citizens (who are far more likely to get into trouble than you) for safe places, preferably outside. Also take care when photographing public buildings, ask the nearest police officer for permission first.

The most common problem encountered by foreigners is abiding by the 11pm curfew. Foreigners caught breaking the curfew can be arrested and things get worse if you happen to be drunk. Foreign men will also have to explain themselves if they are walking with a local woman late at night (police will assume she is a prostitute). If you are arrested, your tour guide (if you are on a tourist visa) should be able to help, but don’t count on it. Take taxis after 11pm to avoid problems.

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While you're there

Medical services

The main medical provision in Ashgabat is the vast Central Hospital (45 03 03, 45 03 31; Emre köçesi 1). Foreigners have to pay for their treatment, so insurance is essential. Among the staff is Dr Yahya, a Jordanian doctor who speaks English and is recommended by both the British and US embassies. The facility also includes a dental clinic. There is also the International Medical Centre (51 90 06, 51 90 08) in Berzengi. In the city centre is Lechebnii Hospital (39 08 77; Shevchenko şayoli), which is less well equipped.

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