A country roughly the size of Spain, with five million inhabitants, Turkmenistan is arguably the least explored area of Central Asia. This may be due partly to the country's terrain, much of which is barren desert, but don't be fooled as there is still plenty to see and do inside and outside of the capital, Ashgabat. One thing to note is that the government has a tight grip in Turkmenistan and its repressive, autocratic regime dictates that all tourists must have a guide beyond Ashgabat. Should you take the plunge and head to some of the more remote parts of Turkmenistan, you will be richly rewarded with a host of UNESCO listed World Heritage Sites located on the fringes of the Turkmen desert, notably the Parthian Fortress of NIsa, Kunya-Urgench and Merv. As Turkmenistan is situated in the Central Asian desert, you'll need more than just your sun block. In the thick of summer, temperatures in the Karakum desert can reach upwards of 50ºC, making it almost impossible to get about and explore for too long.