The Silk Road

This ancient trading route was used by silk merchants from the 2nd century AD until its decline in the 14th century, and is open in parts to tourists, stretching from northern China, through bleak and foreboding desert and mountainous terrain to the ports on either the Caspian Sea or Mediterranean Sea. For further details of the route, see The Silk Road in the China section.

Among the many silk route attractions worth seeing in Turkmenistan are the vibrant Sunday Tolkuchka market in Ashgabat (selling such wares as traditional carpets, camels and pistachio nuts), the historical silk road cities of Konye-Urgench and Merv (including Kyz-Kala, a windowless castle known locally as the ‘House of the Maiden Tears’ and the mausoleum of Mohammed Ibn-Zeida) and the Kugitang Nature Reserve which reportedly bears impressions of hundreds of dinosaur footprints. Travel along the silk road can be quite difficult due to the terrain, harsh climate and lack of developed infrastructure. Visitors to the region are advised to travel with an organised tour company or travel agent.

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Information provided by Turkmenistan Tourism Board.


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