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Turkmenbashi, formerly known as Krasnovodsk, is a beautiful coastal city of 68,000 people (2015) on the Caspian Sea in Balkan Province. It serves as Turkmenistan's main access to the sea and has much of the country's oil refineries.


In 1717, Russian Prince Alexander Bekovich-Cherkassky landed and established a secret fortified settlement on this location, where the dry bed of a former mouth of the Amu-Darya River once emptied into the Caspian Sea. His intent was to march an army up this dry riverbed and conquer the Khanate of Khiva. The expedition failed, and the Russians abandoned the settlement for over 150 years.

In 1869, the Russians made a second and latest attempt. They named their fort Krasnovodsk (Красноводск), which is the Russian version of the original name, Kyzyl-Su (Red Water). Krasnovodsk was Imperial Russia's base of operations against Khiva and Bukhara, and the nomadic Turkmen tribes. It fell to the Red Army in February 1920.

In 1993 Krasnovodsk was renamed "Turkmenbashi" Many would assume that the city was renamed on behalf of Niyazov's self-proclaimed title "Turkmenbashi" meaning "The leader of Turkmens" yet the rationale behind renaming is to denote that Turkmenbashi is the place from where Turkmens spring. Turkmen meaning the Turkmen and bashi - the start, spring.

Get in[edit]

By plane[edit]

Turkmenbashi is connected by Turkmenistan Airlines flights to Ashgabat, capital of Turkmenistan. The airport is 8 km out of town. Flights to Ashgabat and Dashoguz cost US$11-12.

By train[edit]

Turkmenbashi is the western extent of the Trans-Caspian Railway.

Turkmendemiryollari (Turkmenistan Zeleznice)[dead link] runs trains from Ashgabat to Turkmenbashi, leaving Ashgabat at 19:30 some days and arriving at Turkmenbashi at 06:30 the next day, or alternatively at 23:30 and 10:20 the next day. In similar fashion, trains leave Turkmenbashi at 15:10 certain days, arriving in Ashgabat next morning at 02:00. or at 18:00, arriving in Ashgabat next morning at 05:17 on others. A seat (second class, kupe) costs US$15.27. Rail service information has phone +993 (12) 383275. Refer to website for most current information.

By car[edit]

From Kazakhstan[edit]

See also Turkmenistan#By car. From Zhanaozen in Kazakhstan it is a two-hour drive to the border. From there it is a drive of 40 min on a dirt road (possibly much more, depending on the condition of the road) to the city of Karabogas/Garabogas (formerly Bekdash). From Karabogas on to Turkmenbashi you have a good road with fine views on the Caspian Sea.

Within Turkmenistan[edit]

Turkmenbashi is about 560 km from Ashgabat.

By bus[edit]

Shared taxis to Ashgabat and Balkanabat leave in front of the railway station, Atamurat Noyazov köcesi. The trip to Ashgabat takes 6 hours and costs about US$8 per seat or US$25 for the whole car. Shared taxis go north to the Kazakhstan border. They stop at Zhanaozen (Novy Uzen). The trip takes 7 hours and costs approx. US$40 per car.

By boat[edit]

See also: Turkmenistan#By boat, Ferries in the Caspian Sea

There are freighters across the Caspian Sea from Baku, Azerbaijan. The journey takes 12 to 18 hours and a seat costs about US$50. There are several boats weekly, but there is no fixed timetable – and the ship may have to wait several days before getting a slot at the quay; your visa could expire in this time. Bring along you own food and water.

Get around[edit]

The local bus station is at Balkan köcesi, about 500 m west of the Museum of Regional History.

Taxi drives within the town cost about 3000 manat and 5000 manat to Awaza (10 km north of Turkmenbashi).


  • Museum of Regional History, Rylov köcesi. Tu-Su 09:00-18:00. exhibits of the nomadic life of the Turkmen people US$0.10.
  • 1 Church of Archangel Michael, 28 Orazova St.
  • Japanese Memorial (near the airport). Memorial for thousands of Japanese prisoners of war who constructed roads and buildings here during the Second World War


  • swimming at Awaza (8 km north of the city).
  • Awaza Resort, Awaza (Awaza). Awaza is resort place which hosts tens of hotels and sea beaches. In the evenings laser shows are held to entertain the populations and guests.


  • Bagtygul Bazaar, Magtymguly sayoli. Buy caviar for US$22 per half kilo.



  • Altyn Balik Restaurant, Bahri-Hazar köcesi, +993 243 77405. 12:00-23:00. US$1-2.
  • 1 Zemin Cafe & Restaurant, +993 243 7-19-19. Daily 09:00-23:00. Nice patio dining with view of the harbor and kebabs, pizza, dessert, not to mention coffee.
  • 2 Tolkun, Sagadem köcesi, +993 6 326 20 83. Daily 08:00-23:00. Dining with more views of harbor.







  • 1 Hotel Turkmenbashi, Hazar köcesi (2 km west of the railway station), +993 2 432 13 08, fax: +993 243 21317. Higher rates from Jun to Sep. US$50-75.



Turkmenistan Airlines office, Rylov köcesi, near Hotel Hazar, +993 243 24549

Stay safe[edit]


Go next[edit]

This city travel guide to Turkmenbashi is a usable article. It has information on how to get there and on restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please feel free to improve it by editing the page.