When is the Best Time to Visit Turkmenistan?
Turkmenistan is a country of extremes when it comes to climate and weather. The summers are some of the hottest in Central Asia resulting from the country being located mostly at sea level and comprising largely of desert landscapes. The extreme heat of summer in Turkmenistan is contrasted with bitterly cold winters despite mild and temperate springs and autumns. As the country is relatively flat and arid, there is little to impact the climate and seasons in Turkmenistan tend to be fairly consistent year on year.
Summers in Turkmenistan are brutally hot with temperatures occasionally exceeding 50°C. During the summer months, much of Turkmenistan is inadvisable to visit as the treeless desert provides no shelter from the baking hot sun and after a few hours, the temperatures will be unbearable, if not dangerous. However, that being said, during the summer months the areas around the Caspian Sea tend to be cooler than inland areas and can be visited. There are plenty of resorts dotted along the Caspian coast where you can enjoy an array of water activities on the sea. This area is also the only part of the country that will experience rainfall during the summer despite it being a rare occurrence.
Alternatively, you can head up into the Turkmenistan mountains where the temperatures are not as severe, allowing you to trek during the mornings and evenings. In August, a new holiday was recently formed celebrating a special kind of melon grown in Turkmenistan and is one of their most important products. Taking place on the second Sunday of August, there are plenty of events and festivities put on to celebrate the beloved muskmelon.
Autumn in Turkmenistan is one of the best times to visit, before the cold of winter sets in. During autumn, the heat lets up and visiting the desert becomes feasible. During this time, you can take tours to the ancient ruins of Merv that are located in the middle of the desert. One of the best things to do during the early Autumn in Turkmenistan is to camp out in the desert overnight, a unique experience where you will feel close to nature and a different way of life. However, be warned that at night, the temperatures significantly drop and you will need to pile on the layers to keep warm. Traveling across the desert is possible during this time but another great alternative activity is to visit a remote village for a homestay and experience how those in rural Turkmenistan carry out their lives. During autumn it is also a great time to visit the mountains in the south of the country where you can enjoy beautiful hikes as the surrounding nature changes from vibrant greens to warm autumnal colors.
Winter in Turkmenistan sees the arrival of bitterly cold Siberian winds that bring the temperatures crashing down with lows of -20° not being uncommon. Much like summer, this causes much of the country to be closed off as the desert provides no protection against the cold and traveling around can be hard, although there is very little actual snowfall in the country. However, during this time, it is possible to visit the futuristic capital of Ashgabat and witness the surreal architecture that is dotted around the city. Sites close to the main cities may be reachable during milder days. In the southern mountains that border Iran, there is a ski resort that frequently suffers from a lack of snowfall. The areas along the Caspian Sea remain somewhat temperate and can be visited during this time easily.
As winter transitions into spring in Turkmenistan, the country once again opens up as the biting cold gives way to pleasant, warm days. In fact, spring may be the best time to visit Turkmenistan. On March 21st, the country celebrates the dawn of the Persian New Year and there are plenty of festivities and celebrations throughout the country. The desert also becomes hospitable during spring and traveling vast distances is much easier meaning you can visit many of the interesting sites contained within or camp out in the wilderness. During spring, the desert, for a few fleeting moments, becomes a colorful land as flowers bloom and vegetation grows in the life-inducing climate. In the Kopet Dag mountain range, spring is a wonderful time to trek with lush, green vegetation reappearing after the cold winter and temperatures remaining more temperate for longer than the flatter regions of the country where spring comes and goes quickly.