Darvaza Gas Crater (Door to Hell)

The Darvaza gas crater, also known as “the Door to Hell”, is a natural gas field located in Derweze, Turkmenistan. It is in the middle of the Karakum Desert. 

In 1971, a group of Soviet engineers visited the site with the thought that it was a large oil field site. They set up a drilling rig and a camp for operation. When they found natural gas, the ground where the drilling rig and camp were located collapsed into a crater. To avoid poisonous gases from releasing into nearby towns, the engineers decided to ignite the crater. They estimated that the gases would burn out within a few weeks, but the result was negative and the gases have been burning until now.The crater covers an area of 5,000 square metre. With the scene of dancing fire and boiling mud resembles the way to hell, it is also called by the locals “the Door to Hell”.

While many tourists enjoy visiting the crater and taking pictures, some also go for desert camping on the south side of it. As the crater is in the middle of a desert, however, no major roads are connected to it, nor are there any road signs nearby. You are therefore advised to join a tour group or hire a guide.

Awaza Resort

After Gurbanguly Berdimuhamedow has become the new president, he abandoned the closed-door policy of his predecessor and decided to develop the tourism industry to revive the economy. He aimed to make Turkmenistan, the only permanent neutral country recognised by the United Nations, to become the Switzerland of Middle Asia and hold different international conferences to attract tourists around the world. Awaza Resort was built under such an idea.

Nearby the traditional industrial town Turkmenbashi and next to the Caspian Sea, you can enjoy the great scenery of the lake. Lots of luxurious hotels, resorts and yacht clubs have been set up and aiming at turning Awaza into the Las Vegas of Turkmenistan. Awaza Conference Centre is one of the largest conference centres in the world. It has not only two main halls holding over thousands of people, but also with three conference rooms for summits of government heads of different countries, government delegates from around the world, and a special room for signing declarations. A banquet hall and a press conference room are also available for state dinner and press conference. Just wait and see when Awaza become the next city of international conferences.


Merv was once a metropolis on the ancient Silk Road attracting merchants all over the world to stop by and trade their goods. This trade post, with a name as Mu Lu as the capital of Menqi, once welcomed Ban Chao, a Chinese military general and diplomat. This city was once the home of 200,000 citizens and an important transportation hub for merchants. But after the invasion of Mongolian troops, this trade post became an empty quarter left with the ruin of walls. Though many kings and generals passed by this place, none of them could revive the city.

Ruins of Merv has been discovered in recent years. Ruins of the city wall and traces of Persians have been found out. This makes the old city of Merv and the nearby city Mary become a must-see for tourists travelled to Turkmenistan. You can find the history of Persians, Mongolians and Turks inside the ruins, and feel the glory of this ancient Silk Road trade post.

Turabek Khanum Mausoleum

Turabek Khanum Mausoleum is located in the northern part of ancient Kunya-Urgench. It is nicely decorated with a mosaic of geometric tiles and has a very exquisite interior layout with visual aesthetics and spirituality. The mausoleum is considered as the pioneer of Islamic architecture.

The most remarkable architectural feature of the mausoleum is the circular dome covering the main hall. The surface of the dome is covered with colourful mosaic which forms patterns of flowers and stars. The patterns are said to be creating a visual metaphor for the heavens.

The mausoleum is named after Turabek Khanum, the wife of Kutlug Timur, as well as the beloved daughter of Uzbeg (Öz Beg, khan of the Golden Horde). However, it is still uncertain whether the body in it belongs to Turabek Khanum.

The mausoleum is believed to be built during Turabek Khanum’s lifetime, around 1330 AD. Its advanced and sophisticated architectural features, including its decorations, structure and layout, were incomparable in the Islamic world at that time. It was until several decades later in Timur’s period that these techniques were found in Central Asia.


Kunya-Urgench was once the capital of the Khwarazmian dynasty, which was later destroyed by the Mongol Empire led by Genghis Khan. In Kunya-Urgench, Genghis Khan initiated one of the bloodiest massacres in history.

Despite the devastation, Kunya-Urgench underwent rapid reconstruction. The minarets, mosques, madrasas and fortresses rebuilt became the models of later Islamic architecture. The talents of the craftsmen and architects were appreciated by Timur’s Empire, which spent much money to recruit them to build the landmarks in Samarkand.

Today, the old city of Kunya-Urgench has been lost and only certain monuments remain, the most famous of which is the 60m Kutlug-Timur Minaret. Kutlug-Timur was an important official and the son-in-law of Uzbeg (Öz Beg, khan of the Golden Horde).

The minaret rises above a huge plain, with a wide body and a narrow tip. Whether you are looking from a distance or next to it, you can enjoy a breathtaking view of the minaret.