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.
Turkmenbashi is connected by Turkmenistan Airlines flights to Ashgabat, capital of Turkmenistan.
Turkmenbashi is the western extent of the Trans-Caspian Railway. Turkmendemiryollari (Turkmenistan Zeleznice) runs trains from Ashgabat to Turkmenbashi. Train 606 leaves Ashgabat at 20:10 daily, arriving at Turkmenbashi next morning at 09:15. Train 24 leaves Ashgabat at 20:40 every second day, arriving at Turkmenbashi next morning at 06:55.
It is a two hours' drive from Zhanaozen to the Turkmenistan border and another 40 minutes drive from the border on a dirt road to the city of Karabogas (formerly Bekdash) (approx. US$50 per car). From Karabogas there is a good road to Turkmenbashi with fine views on the Caspian Sea. About 60 km south of Karabogas the road crosses a bridge over the channel connecting the Caspian Sea with the inland gulf.
Turkmenbashi is about 560 km from Ashgabat.
There are boats across the Caspian Sea to 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. Consider that ships might be delayed and that your visa could expire in this time. Bring along you own food and water. See warning on the Turkmenistan page!
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.
- Deniz Patisserie Cafe, Azadi köcesi, ☏ , . 08:00-22:00. Turkish cafe, about 1.5 km from the Hotel Hazar. US$1-2.
- Altyn Asir Kafe, Gahryman Atamurat Niyazov köcesi, ☏ . 12:00-23:00. Russian restaurant. US$1-2.
- Altyn Balik Restaurant, Bahri-Hazar köcesi, ☏ . 12:00-23:00. US$1-2.
- 1 Hotel Turkmenbashi, Hazar köcesi (2 km west of the railway station), ☏ , fax: . Higher rates from Jun to Sep. US$50-75.
Turkenistan Airlines office, Rylov köcesi, near Hotel Hazar, ☏or ☏ .
Turkmenbashi is the western terminal of the Trans-Caspian Railway. Turkmendemiryollari (Turkmenistan Zeleznice) runs trains from Turkmenbashi to Ashgabat. Train 605 leaves Turkmenbashi at 16:05 daily, arriving in Ashgabat next morning at 05:50. Train 23 leaves Turkmenbashi at 19:30 every second day, arriving in Ashgabat next morning at 05:20. A seat (second class, kupe) costs US$1.20. Rail service information has phone ☏ .
Go north from Turkmenbashi to Karabogas on a good road with fine views on the Caspian Sea. The last part is a 40-minute drive from the border on a dirt road to the city of Karabogas (formerly Bekdash). From the Turkmenistan border it is a two-hour drive to Zhanaozen in Kazakhstan.
Turkmenbashi is about 560 km from Ashgabat.
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.
There are boats across the Caspian Sea to Baku, Azerbaijan. The journey takes 12 to 18 hours and a seat costs about US$50. There are several boats daily, but there is no fixed timetable. Consider that ships might be delayed and that your visa could expire in this time. Bring along your own food and water.