Explor the bustling Tolkuchka Bazaar (open on Thursday, Saturday, Sunday), a market that sprawls across acres of desert just outside the city, making it one of Central Asia’s greatest and most colourful sight and a firm reminder of the city's glorious trading past. Visit the remains of Nissa, founded in the 3rd century BC and the thriving capital of the Parthians until the 13th century, when the Mongols, again, razed it to the ground.

Also enjoy a tour of the city's highlights. Once the small capital of a marginal Soviet desert republic, Ashgabat was transformed by vast oil and gas wealth into an extravagant and somewhat bizarre monument to the vast ego of the late President Niyazov (or Turkmenbashi – ‘Leader of the Turkmen’). Continue to Turkmenbashi spiritual mosque; National Museum of History – Ashgabat’s pride; Park of Independence, Ruhnama statue, Earthquake monument, Palace Square, Arch of Neutrality.

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