This year many Turkmenistan residents go on holidays to the seaside towns of Cheleken or Esenguly rather than Avaza, which is heavily publicized by the authorities. There are several resorts owned by oil and gas enterprises there with rooms accommodating 2 to 3 persons. The room rate is 50 manats.
The resorts feature several cafes and no other tourist infrastructure is available in these seaside towns. There are almost no toilets.
Those, who are reluctant to pay 50 manats per bed, prefer to travel as backpackers, i.e. holiday makers stay overnight in their vehicles and cook outside.
According to one of the holiday-makers, he and his family spent four days in a place called Quay located in Esenguly etrap. The family stayed in the backyard of a local resident and slept on the couch, which cost 50 manats per person per night.
People bring groceries with them as prices in the local bazaar are twice as much compared to Ashgabat. For instance, a kilo of rice in the capital costs 8 manats whereas in the Quay market it is sold at 13-15 manats. The price for a kilo of onions amounts to 2-3 manats whereas it is sold at 5 manats in the recreational area.
The beach on the coast in cleaned on a regular basis but due to a big influx of holiday-makers and a shortage of garbage containers, the sanitation conditions of the area leave much to be desired.
Holidays in Avaza are much more expensive. The minimum rate for a room with breakfast in the cheapest hotels is 250-300 manats. At the same time, the hotel staff say that they are fully booked. There might be a shortage of vacancies indeed but it is often done to extort the bribe, which is twice the room rate. In this case hotel staff can find vacant rooms.
Only high-ranking government officials and wealthy entrepreneurs can afford holidays in Avaza. Others wishing to go on vacations to the Caspian Sea head to Cheleken or Eseguly in their own cars.
Source: Chronicles of Turkmenistan