Turkmenistan: its Millenary history, its Darvaza gas crater, its Caspian Sea resorts, its authoritarian regime, its heavily restricted internet and its new VPN ban… Turkmenistan could well be one of the most beautiful countries you’ve never heard of, but unfortunately as things stand, you are likely to continue not hearing about it. Not only do they have one of the most ubuesque authoritarian leaders for president, but the regime has also always drastically restricted, censored and monitored the internet. On January 17 of this year, Turkmenistan took a step further in its fight against privacy and freedom of information and declared a total ban on VPNs. If anything, now is the perfect time for a Best VPN for Turkmenistan list.
In 2015, Turkmenistan launched its first telecommunication satellite, only to ban the use of satellite dishes within its territory one month later, in effect denying access to external TV programs to its population.
Gas-rich Turkmenistan gained access to the internet back in 1997 but poor telecommunication infrastructures, practically nonexistent development policies and above all, the government’s constant battle against freedom of speech meant that the majority of the population has been forbidden access to outside news channels – let alone torrenting, streaming and other somewhat harmless joys of the World Wide Web. Need another example of how paranoid the Turkmen regime is? In 2015, Turkmenistan launched its first telecommunication satellite, only to ban the use of satellite dishes within its territory one month later, in effect denying access to external TV programs to its population.
With Russian telecommunication giant MTS withdrawing from the country in 2017 due to constant friction with the government, the small portion of the population that is still allowed access to portions of the internet is left with no other option except 4G technology. 4G is currently only available via Altyn Asyr (the “Golden Age”) network, the state-owned telecommunications operator.
The use of a VPN was already a sternly frowned upon activity in Turkmenistan and could get you an “invitation” to visit the Ministry of National Security. But that didn’t stop parts of the population from installing this “evil application” in an attempt to reach social media sites and messengers that are otherwise inaccessible in the country.
First block social media, then VPNs
As if blocking Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, WhatsApp, Instagram and outside news outlets was not enough, in an effort to stop people from installing VPNs on their device the authorities have recently blocked access to Google Play Store.
Moreover, reports have recently emerged that activating a VPN app on your device will block your SIM card, leaving you with no choice but to go buy a new one if you wish to continue surfing the web… or rather what little of it remains accessible. And in Turkmenistan, where privacy is far from a well respected right, that means having to enter a state post office and using your passport to register for a new SIM card. You may well be asked a few questions while you’re at it. And the Ministry of National Security is apparently still very generous when it comes to distributing invitations to their somber VPN seminars.
It is not entirely clear how the regime monitors the activity on your phone, but Deep Packet Inspection (DPI) seems like a likely candidate. Turkmen president Berdimuhamedow, who is at the root of internet censorship in Turkmenistan, has reportedly met with cybersecurity companies to secure the provision of the kind of equipment needed for such monitoring.
Ashgabat has cut down its military collaboration with the US last year and turned to new partnerships with the two giants – both well-known internet censors and users of DPI technology to try and track the use of VPNs and other activities deemed unlawful on their respective networks.
China and Russia also became closer to the Turkmen government in recent years. Ashgabat has cut down its military collaboration with the US last year and turned to new partnerships with the two giants – both well-known internet censors and users of DPI technology to try and track the use of VPNs and other activities deemed unlawful on their respective networks.
Though the picture may be bleak, worry not. The VPNs we list here as our Best VPNs for Turkmenistan have all proven to reliably work in restricted countries. Even China’s Great Firewall couldn’t stop them, which makes us confident in saying that they will manage to bypass Turkmenistan’s watchdogs as well. But remember to keep quiet about it, if those VPNs will manage to hide your internet traffic as well as their own existence, they can do nothing against curious eyes and ears that surround you.
What is the Best VPN for Turkmenistan?
1. NordVPN ‣
- Location: Panama
- Pricing: starts at 2.99
- Features: strongest security suite on the market, very mindful of privacy, good speeds, 6 simultaneous connections
In a Best VPNs for Turkmenistan review, we must grant extra points to the most secure service. The reason is that the prime goal of using a VPN in Turkmenistan may not be ease of torrenting or top streaming speeds but perfect privacy as well as affordability. This Panama-based VPN service has nothing to prove anymore when it comes to reliability and concern for user privacy. Additionally, it happens to be one of the cheapest premium VPNs on the market.
NordVPN uses military-grade AES-256 data encryption, has no leaks and an awesome set of security features. This includes two types of kill switch, DNS leak protection, IPv6 leak protection, a browsing safety tool, Double VPN (multihop), and Onion over VPN, a stealth protocol (“Obfuscated servers”) to bypass firewalls. The whole shebang!
NordVPN has 5200+ servers in 62 countries over the world, making sure that the extra security features it offers will not slow your connection to the point of annoyance. And if you needed more insurance that you are safe with NordVPN: the service keeps zero logs (as has been proven by an independent audit last year), doesn’t require any personally identifiable data, allows anonymous payments and is already securely protecting millions in China, Russia and other restricted countries. Users in Turkmenistan need look no further for complete confidentiality.
2. VyprVPN ‣
- Location: Switzerland
- Pricing: starts at 5.00
- Features: excellent security, audit-proven no-logs policy, speeds, and support
VyprVPN is a trusted and acknowledged defender of privacy. Based in Switzerland, it benefits from the fact that the country has no data retention laws and is otherwise privacy-friendly. GoldenFrog, the company behind VyprVPN, markets its product as one that is perfect for VPN-restricted countries. It also owns all of its 700+ servers in 70 different countries, making VyprVPN a very fast and secure provider.
This VPN will provide you with 256-bit AES encryption, DNS leak protection, an automatic kill switch, and a zero-logging policy. Their signature “Chameleon technology” cloaks data packets, making sure DPI is rendered ineffective.
VyprVPN can break through censorship walls effortlessly in China, Russia and Iran, which should make users in Turkmenistan confident it might be the right choice of VPN for them.
3. ExpressVPN ‣
- Location: British Virgin Islands
- Pricing: starts at 8.32
- Features: very versatile VPN, top security and privacy, stealth protocol, great speeds
On checking pretty much any Best VPNs review on the web, you are more than likely to find
ExpressVPN in the top three. This is pretty much the industry standard. It benefits from the same standard of encryption as our two contenders above, no DNS leaks, a kill switch, a bagful of protocols and good app design.
When Turkey, a country often heard partnering with Turkmenistan, seized ExpressVPN servers
while investigating the murder of a Russian ambassador in Ankara, it found nothing at all. This is because Express keeps no data about its users or their activity.
Like other VPNs on the list, ExpressVPN offers stealth protocols that will guarantee you to
bypass DPI and even the toughest firewalls in Turkmenistan, the same way it already does in
Russia, China and Iran. The cherry on top is that it has some of the best server dissemination on the market (2000+ in 94 countries), meaning there should always be a server not far away from you to allow good connection speeds.
Unfortunately, ExpressVPN does come at a price and this is why it could not pretend to the top
spot of our Best VPN for Turkmenistan list.
- Location: Seychelles
- Pricing: starts at 8.33
- Features: very fast, stealth protocols, great security, some logging
Astrill VPN is fast, astrally fast even. And in a country marred by reputedly slow internet speeds, that may count for double. This is the main reason we placed it on our list of the Best VPNs for Turkmenistan.
But Astrill VPN is not just crazy fast. As with NordVPN, it’s also practically impenetrable, relying on the same AES-256-bit encryption cipher and DNS leak protection that makes it a great choice for safe surfing. Astrill is registered in Seychelles, a country that also has no data retention laws and resides far beyond the grasp of Turkmenistan.
Unfortunately, Astrill is also far from being the cheapest premium VPN on the market, and that is why it ranks 4th on our Best VPN for Turkmenistan overview. It also offers less server choice than its present competitors (Astrill has 327 servers in 65 countries). But that does not impede its speed and it arguably may be worth paying a little extra for higher speeds with those hyper-secure VPN servers that Astrill VPN offers.
- Location: Switzerland
- Pricing: starts at 8.95
- Features: super-strong security features, no-logs policy, may be a little slow
With Perfect Privacy the name really says it all. This VPN is all about encapsulating your internet activity in as many top-notch security features as technically possible nowadays, so as to keep your navigation safe and secure. It may quite simply be the best VPN on the market for security, offering the same features as NordVPN and adding Neurorouting among the other little extras.
It also has no connection limit, meaning you can connect many devices at once with one subscription, where NordVPN offers six – which frankly is plenty for most users.
That said, Perfect Privacy is far from being the fastest or the cheapest VPN provider on the market, which could be a drawback of all these security layers. It also has a very outdated 90s GUI that does not evoke the good kind of nostalgia. Because of its security features though, it really deserves a spot on our list.
6. ProtonVPN ‣
- Location: Switzerland
- Pricing: starts from 4.00 but offers a free version
- Features: great security credentials, user-friendly, support, best free VPN on the market
ProtonVPN earns a Bonus spot for being the best free VPN option on the market, making it
affordable to all. This might make it the best choice for some Turkmens.
With that said, the ProtonVPN free version only allows you to reach a limited number of servers, all of which are based in Japan, the Netherlands or USA. Three countries that are pretty remote from Turkmenistan. This means you will not enjoy the greatest connection speed with ProtonVPN.
The free version does not limit your bandwidth, which all other free VPNs do. ProtonVPN will also not limit the number of server switches nor how much you can download. But some of its premium security features will not be available with the free version.
And the best VPN for Turkmenistan is…
NordVPN. This VPN has the strongest security credentials and ensures that no evil government authorities can find out what you are doing online. Additionally, it will easily unblock most streaming platforms, protect you while torrenting, and offer very good speed, provided your base internet connection is not too slow to begin with.
NordVPN users in Turkmenistan will also appreciate the low price point – the lowest on our list. The cost of subscription starts at 2.99 for three years.
And if you are still not convinced that this may be the best VPN in Turkmenistan, you can have a look at all our other VPN reviews and maybe find something that fits you better. Maybe…