Searching for locations to go to in Kazakhstan? Look no additional than this complete information to the world’s ninth-largest nation.
From the ultra-modern capital Nur Sultan (previously generally known as Astana) to alpine Almaty, desert Aral and the Caspian resort of Aktau, there is sufficient to preserve avid adventurers occupied for a while.
In addition to being a mecca for out of doors fans, Kazakhstan provides loads for these looking for extra fascinating locations alongside the outdated Silk Highway and in Central Asia.
The nation is residence to the Baikonur Cosmodrome the place manned area missions begin off, a former Soviet nuclear testing web site at Semipatalisnk, and the gulag advanced at Karaganda.
Learn on to search out out extra.
Present Journey Restrictions for Kazakhstan
Kazakhstan’s land borders opened once more on eleventh April 2022. This implies touring Central Asia and exploring the Silk Highway is sort of again to its pre-pandemic routines (apart from a PCR take a look at or proof of vaccination).
From eleventh April it’s attainable to cross from Kazakhstan into Kyrgystan, Uzbekistan, and Russia and vice versa.
Nonetheless, if you’re planning on touring to/from Kazakhstan and neighboring international locations, make sure to verify the final updates on the land borders.
- Almaty (Kazakhstan) to Bishkek (Kyrgyzstan)
- Almaty (Kazakhstan) to Tashkent (Uzbekistan)
The land border with China stays closed as China has not reopened for tourism and can seemingly not achieve this till 2023.
Replace September 2021: Kazakhstan has reintroduced its pre-pandemic visa-free journey regime for residents of most international locations.
About Kazakhstan Tourism
Kazakhstan tourism is in its infancy by worldwide requirements, however with its extraordinarily hospitable folks, meals to die for and diversified Silk Highway panorama of steppe, desert, and mountains, this former Soviet republic can’t keep a secret eternally!
The nation’s infrastructure is continually bettering with new roads and high-speed trains slicing touring occasions significantly. For instance, the journey from the Chinese language border used to take over ten hours on horrible roads however now takes simply six hours on a brand-new freeway.
Nonetheless, exterior of the cities, transport to points of interest and scenic spots could be tough. One of the simplest ways to see the nation is to rent a automotive. Though it’s attainable to get round with shared taxis and marshrutkas, it’s not simple when you don’t converse Russian or Kazakh.
Locations corresponding to Huge Almaty Lake, the Kolsai Lakes, and Charyn Canyon usually are not linked to Almaty by common public transport, so it would take a bit of work to get there (however can be completely value it)!
Prime Locations to Go to in Kazakhstan
Prime Aktau Points of interest
- Caspian Seashores
Chances are you’ll be shocked to be taught that Kazakhstan has its personal seaside resort! Aktau is a small metropolis on the shores of the Caspian Sea (actually a big inland saltwater lake). An important place to chill off in summer season!
As Aktau is a really (VERY) good distance from anyplace, it’s only value visiting when you plan on exploring the area, such because the landforms at Mangistau, or you’re touring throughout the Caspian to or from Baku in Azerbaijan.
Prime Almaty Points of interest
- Zhenkov Cathedral
- Kok Tobe
- Zhibek Zholy
- Medeu Ice Rink
Almaty is the mountainous former capital and beating coronary heart of Kazakhstan. A winter playground and residential to Central Asia’s premier ski resort, leafy Almaty is certainly top-of-the-line locations to go to in Kazakhstan!
The structure of downtown Almaty is much more Russian than Central Asian, with brightly coloured picket homes, Soviet statues, and Orthodox church buildings.
The middle is residence to an unlimited array of trendy bars, cafes, and eating places serving all the things from conventional Kazakh to French, Georgian and Japanese!
Almaty makes the right base for heading off into the wilderness of the Ile Alatau Nationwide Park for mountain climbing, tenting, snowboarding, and extra. The primary mountain trails are solely a twenty-minute bus trip from the middle of city!
For extra data see this Almaty Journey Information
Huge Almaty Lake
- Journey time from Almaty: approx 40-minute drive
A stupendous alpine lake excessive above town. The proper place for mountain climbing and summer season picnics. There’s a close by observatory too. Remember that the lake may be very near the border with Kyrgyzstan so heed all warning indicators and border guards (nothing to fret about).
Learn how to get there: take a taxi, or bus and hike.
- Journey time from Almaty: an approx three-hour drive
Charyn Canyon is situated within the desert near the Chinese language border. The 154-kilometer canyon follows the Sharyn River and kinds a part of the Charyn Nationwide Park. At its deepest, the canyon is 300m (nearly one thousand toes) deep.
Learn how to get there: self-drive, be a part of a tour or take a shared taxi from Sayahat Bus Station in Almaty.
Shymbulak Ski Resort
- Journey time from Almaty: approx one hour (30-minute bus and 30-minute cable automotive)
Shymbulak (Chimbalak) is a ski resort within the mountains above Almaty. It is vitally simple to get there by bus from the middle of town stopping on the backside of the Shymbulak cable automotive.
Learn how to get there: take bus 12 from Dostyk Avenue (reverse Resort Kazakhstan), then a Cable automotive from Medeu to Shymbulak.
Prime Aralsk Points of interest
- Rusting Boats
As soon as a thriving fishing port, the small city of Aralsk has seen higher days. You will notice extra camels than ships right here now because the Aral Sea has moved some 40km away on account of Soviet damming.
Aralsk is likely one of the extra fascinating locations to go to in Kazakhstan for many who are interested by darkish tourism. There isn’t a terrific deal to see, and the lodging choices are frankly horrible, however if you need actual “off the crushed path” journey, then give it a go!
Prime Karaganda Points of interest
- Soviet Murals
- Karlag Gulag
- Russian Structure
Karaganda is a small metropolis within the north of Kazakhstan just a few hundred kilometers south of the capital Nur-Sultan. The town is residence to some fascinating structure, artwork, and residential of the Karlag gulag advanced.
Kazakhstan’s shiny new capital Nur-Sultan (previously Astana) is the enterprise and monetary middle. Because of its northern location, Nur Sultan is the second coldest capital on the earth (after Ulaanbaatar).
Laidback Shymkent is a small metropolis near the border with Uzbekistan.
Turkistan is residence to a few of Kazakhstan’s most spectacular medieval Islamic structure from the Timurid empire, making it one of many prime locations to go to in Kazakhstan.
Picturesque Zharkent is a small village on the border with China. Right here you will see picket cottages harking back to Siberia sitting within the shadows of the close by Tian Shan Mountains.
Getting round Kazakhstan
Kazakhstan is a really giant nation and the distances between cities could be big. The nation advantages from a complete rail community.
Trains in Kazakhstan
The outdated Soviet-era trains are step by step being changed by sooner extra fashionable wagons, full air-conditioned carriages, bar, and eating vehicles.
Costs are typically low cost by western requirements however tickets can promote out so it’s at all times finest to guide just a few days prematurely. You should purchase tickets on the station or on-line on the official Kazakh Railways web site.
Pattern fares and journey occasions for Kazakhstan Trains
- Almaty to Nur-Sultan (Astana) 15 hours 9,000₸ ($20)
- Almaty to Shymkent 11 hours 8,000₸ ($18)
- Nur-Sultan (Astana) to Karaganda 4 hours 3,000₸ ($7)
- Nur-Sultan (Astana) to Aktau 30 hours 14,000₸ ($32)
- Shymkent to Aral 14 hours 8,000₸ ($18)
- Shymkent to Aktau 28 hours 10,000₸ ($22)
Buses in Kazakhstan
Buses are one other nice approach to journey and are barely cheaper than trains. Because the roads usually are not all paved, the journeys can take for much longer.
Taxis in Kazakhstan
It’s additionally attainable to take taxis lengthy distances and you will see folks at transport hubs providing rides to different cities.
You’ll discover taxis ready at practice stations and long-distance bus stations corresponding to Sayram in Almaty. To hail a cab on the road, merely maintain out your hand towards the site visitors. Any automotive is usually a potential taxi and it’s essential to agree on a worth earlier than getting into.
You too can use the Yandex Taxi app (much like Uber) when you converse Russian or Kazakh.
Attending to and from Kazakhstan
To get to and from Kazakhstan and neighboring international locations, listed below are three of the most typical methods:
- Almaty to Bishkek (Kyrgyzstan)
- Almaty to Tashkent (Uzbekistan)
- Almaty to Urumqi (China)
Cash and Prices in Kazakhstan
Kazakhstan is a reasonable nation by world requirements and ranks 334th out of 376 cities worldwide (which is 70% decrease than the USA).*
Lodging and transport (if touring between cities) are the 2 largest prices related to a visit to Kazakhstan, however with an abundance of low cost lodges, hostels and transport strategies, it’s attainable to journey the nation on $30 to $50 per day.
Kazakhstan Journey Ideas
Kazakhstan has loads of hostels within the bigger cities. Within the smaller cities, it’s attainable to get a lodge room for c5,000 tenge ($12.00). In Zharkent I had an entire suite for this worth.
The outdated gradual trains can value as much as 60% lower than a ticket on the brand new quick trains and are completely snug for an in a single day journey exterior of the summer season (no air-con).
Lengthy-distance buses make a superb different to the trains and ply lots of the similar routes.
Meals and Drink in Kazakhstan
Kazakh delicacies is strongly influenced by the nation’s nomadic previous. Kazakhstan’s nationwide dishes are meat-heavy with horse, mutton, and lamb, however there are many vegetarian choices within the bigger cities.
Dishes corresponding to beshbarmak (boiled horsemeat or mutton) are very talked-about, however it’s the ubiquitous shashlik (grilled chunks of meat served with dill and onions), that you will see nearly in every single place.
Eating out in certainly one of Almaty’s many street-side eating places or cafes is the spotlight of any journey to the nation and the standard of the meals may be very excessive. Within the bigger cities, you will discover cuisines from world wide together with Chinese language, French, Georgian, Italian, and Japanese to call just a few.
Consuming out in Kazakhstan is cheap by western requirements and a superb meal with drinks can value lower than $10. Head to one of many many bazaars corresponding to Inexperienced Bazaar in Almaty or Ayna Bazaar in Shymkent for an actual style of Kazakh substances at their freshest and most colourful.
The Kazakhstan climate can differ enormously relying on the place on this huge nation you’re. The inside is an arid land consisting of desert and steppe.
As a result of geographic location removed from any seas (the Caspian and Aral are technically lakes), the nation has sizzling summers and really chilly winters.
The capital Nur-Sultan (Astana) is the second coldest on the earth after Ulaanbaatar in Mongolia and sees common winter temperatures of round -14c. The typical winter temperature for Almaty is round -4c.
Nur-Sultan sees milder summers resulting from its northern location, and Almaty has sizzling and sunny summers with the occasional thunderstorm.
Security in Kazakhstan
Kazakhstan is a really protected nation with little or no crime reported in opposition to foreigners.
Nonetheless, the cruel landscapes throughout the nation imply that you have to be well-prepared earlier than setting off. Learn extra about Central Asia journey and, as at all times, guarantee you’ve gotten correct Journey Insurance coverage when touring.
Steve Rohan is a author from Essex, England. In 2015 he moved to China to show English the place he lived for over six years. He has lived and taught within the cities of Harbin, Luoyang, Sanya, and spent just a few months in Hong Kong, earlier than returning to England in 2022. He has visited over 60 international locations so far and often opts for overland journey. Steve has traveled extensively throughout Europe, Central Asia, and East Asia, and is now residing the digital nomad life on the street.