Still largely untouched by mainstream tourism, Turkmenistan is rich in ancient and natural wonders, and is the kind of country where you can truly appreciate great scenery or works of art without crowds of tourists. For direct flights to Turkmenistan, you can fly to Ashgabat Airport, which is ten kilometres from the capital city, Ashgabat, and is served by destinations such as London, Paris, Istanbul, Dubai and Mumbai. Turkmenistan has significant variations in annual temperatures, with particularly hot, sunny, dry summers and fairly cool, slightly wetter winters.
Established in the late 19th century, Ashgabat is the home of the National Museum of History, where you can find out about the development of Turkmenistan and see some of its most treasured artefacts. See the impressive 95-metre-tall Neutrality Monument, which was built in 1998 to celebrated Turkmenistan's new position of neutrality and offers fantastic views of the surrounding landscape from its observation deck. You could also spend some time at the Turkmen Carpet Museum, which houses more Turkmen carpets than any other exhibition gallery in the world. For comfortable accommodation in Ashgabat, you can stay at the stylish Hotel President or the charming Hotel Nissa.
Dating back to at least the 3rd century BC, Nisa is a fascinating ruined ancient settlement that is now on the coveted UNESCO World Heritage Site List. Although it was devastated by an earthquake in the 1st century BC, it is nevertheless a spectacular sight, featuring an enormous fortress and the remnants of various shrines, buildings and artwork.
Another striking ancient attraction, Gonur Tepe was inhabited as far back as 2,500 BC, and was once the home of Indo-Iranian tribes.
The Repetek Biosphere State Reserve
See this awe-inspiring desert wilderness, which is known for its unique bird species and contains sand dunes that are up to 20 metres high.