Stay Safe in Turkmenistan
Turkmenistan is a safe and welcoming nation as long as visitors avoid political discussions. Politics is still a highly delicate subject, and it is your duty to avoid becoming involved in or speaking out against the government, since doing so is a felony. Do not, under any circumstances, criticize the President, the nation, or its people for the sake of safety and respect. Since Turkmenbashi’s death, things have calmed down a little, but the nation remains a closely regulated police state. Suparmurat Niyazov’s work The Ruhnama, written for Turkmens, is still published and taught in Turkmen schools. As a result, it is advisable to refrain from criticizing the previous President as well.
Turkmenistan, like any other Central Asian nation, has a high level of corruption. Corrupt officials and authorities may demand bribes; thus, if you are stopped for whatever reason, just pay the money. It is also conceivable that police may want papers from you. This is uncommon, but it may occur at any moment and they have the legal right to do so. You should bring your passport and visa, but it is preferable to produce a color scan of the first two pages of your passport and visa before you arrive. Carry the color copies with you when you go out, and keep the originals in the hotel safe. Also, make a duplicate of your visa page upon arrival. Scanned papers are nearly always sufficient. If not, inform the cops that he will need to come to your hotel to view the originals. Nonetheless, cops will want a bribe for this. Always be courteous, yet forceful, while dealing with the police. Although it is uncommon, cops may take visitors/locals to remote locations to beat up individuals for extra money, so be wary. Police are the most common issue you will encounter, and be advised that they are usually quite aggressive, particularly at night, so anticipate some harassment from them. The authorities regularly bug many hotels, including some of the best. Do not sign any papers given by the police if they are written in a language you do not understand, since they may attempt to rip you off for extra money. Just be nice to them and tell them you don’t understand.
A curfew prohibits individuals from leaving after 23:00, and this rule applies to both inhabitants and non-residents. You will be arrested if you go out. Taking cabs or hiring private drivers may help you avoid difficulties, but don’t become too reliant on this choice, since it may not save your life.
Photographs may be taken quite freely in Turkmenistan. However, while photographing anybody in uniform or government facilities, you should proceed with care. Every every corner in Ashgabat has a uniformed police/military officer. Play it safe at the start of your visit to give yourself a sense of what is acceptable. There aren’t many ‘no photo’ signs. Whether you are unsure, ask the next police officer if you are permitted to snap photographs.
If you choose to leave your hotel and go exploring, your guide should not be required to follow you. If you are a man, avoid strolling with a female companion; authorities may mistake this for walking with a prostitute and arrest you.
The majority of cabs are not controlled by any government licensing body, and drivers are often ordinary individuals seeking to earn a living. The majority of vehicles will lack seat belts and other safety features, and drivers may lack proper driving training. Visitors should definitely consider renting a private vehicle and driver via their travel agency or hotel for safety concerns.
The consequences of violating the law may be severe. Homosexual acts, prostitution, and sexual relations with prostitutes are all banned; homosexuality, for example, is punished by two years in jail.
Stay Healthy in Turkmenistan
Diphtheria, tetanus, polio, and hepatitis A and B vaccinations are suggested. A typhus vaccine is also advised if you remain in unsanitary circumstances, and a series of three rabies vaccinations is recommended for long-term stays and regular contact with animals, or if you are unable to travel to a clinic to be treated within 18 hours after being bitten.
Medical supplies do not meet American or European norms. Bring any medications you need for personal use, since they will be unavailable outside of Ashgabat. It is strongly advised to get travel insurance that includes hospitalization and an emergency trip back to your home country.
Drinking tap water should be avoided. Turkmen tap water is known to contain levels of harmful metals, which may cause long-term health issues.
Before eating fruits and vegetables, they should be peeled. Dairy products should be avoided since they are not pasteurized.