Budget and shopping
Turkmenistan has very low living expenses, especially for the cyclist who will mostly be free camping or staying in rooms offered by roadside cafes while transiting through the country.
Setting aside $10 U.S. a day should allow you to live in reasonable comfort, paying for a room once or twice, seeing the ancient city of Merv, eating out in cafes at least once a day and enjoying a few beers along the way.
Some typical costs in April 2008 are listed below. When we were in Turkmenistan, there was still a thriving black market for money exchange but shortly afterwards the government tried to erradicate this and the dollar-to-manat rate went to 14,000 manats per dollar instead of the 20,000 manats we were getting!
For the prices below, where a range is given expect to pay more in small villages compared with towns like Mary and Turkmenabad:
Bottle of Efes or Baltika beer – 30,000 Manat
Bowl of mutton soup in a cafe – 20,000 Manat
Kilogram of tomatoes – 30,000 Manat
Large bottle of water – 6,000-10,000 Manat
Litre of petrol – 3,100 Manat
One egg – 2,000 Manat
Pot of tea for two – 10,000 Manat
Round of hearty Turkmen bread – 6,000-10,000 Manat
Tin of corn or peas – 18,000 Manat
We found food prices to be generally fair and didn’t feel we had to question prices very often. Of course you should expect to bargain if you’re shopping for souvenirs in the markets and it’s always worth trying to knock a dollar or two off the price of hotel rooms.