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Kazakhstan travel guide - Travel S helper

Kazakhstan

travel guide

Kazakhstan, formally the Republic of Kazakhstan, is a landlocked nation located in northern Central Asia and Eastern Europe. Kazakhstan is the biggest landlocked nation in the world and the ninth largest overall, with an area of 2,724,900 square kilometers (1,052,100 sq mi). Kazakhstan is Central Asia’s economic powerhouse, accounting for 60% of the region’s GDP, mainly via its oil/gas sector. Kazakhstan has enormous mineral resources.

It is bounded by Russia, China, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan, and also shares a significant portion of the Caspian Sea with these countries. Kazakhstan’s landscape is diverse, including flatlands, steppe, taiga, rock gorges, hills, deltas, snow-capped mountains, and deserts. Kazakhstan’s population was projected to be 18 million in 2014. Given its vast geographical area, Kazakhstan has one of the lowest population densities in the world, at fewer than six people per square kilometer (15 people per sq. mi.). Astana is the capital, having been relocated from Almaty, the country’s biggest city, in 1997.

Kazakhstan’s land has traditionally been populated by nomadic tribes. This began to alter in the 13th century, when Genghis Khan conquered the area and incorporated it into the Mongolian Empire. After internal conflicts among conquerors, authority ultimately returned to the nomads. By the sixteenth century, the Kazakh had established themselves as a separate people, split into three jüz (ancestor branches occupying specific territories). In the 18th century, the Russians advanced into the Kazakh steppe, and by the mid-19th century, they officially controlled all of Kazakhstan as part of the Russian Empire. Kazakhstan’s territory has been restructured many times after the 1917 Russian Revolution and subsequent civil war. In 1936, it was incorporated into the Soviet Union as the Kazakh Soviet Socialist Republic.

Kazakhstan was the last Soviet country to declare independence when the Soviet Union disbanded in 1991. Since then, the nation has been led by the current President, Nursultan Nazarbayev, who is described as authoritarian, with a history of human rights violations and repression of political dissent. Kazakhstan has made strenuous efforts to improve its economy, particularly its thriving oil sector. According to Human Rights Watch, “Kazakhstan severely limits freedom of assembly, expression, and religion,” and other human rights groups often criticize Kazakhstan’s human rights status.

Among Kazakhstan’s 131 ethnic groups are Kazakhs (who account for 63% of the population), Russians, Uzbeks, Ukrainians, Germans, Tatars, and Uyghurs. Islam is followed by about 70% of the population, while Christianity is practiced by 26%; Kazakhstan officially recognizes religious freedom, but religious leaders who criticize the government face repression. Kazakh is the state language, but Russian is equally official at all administrative and institutional levels.

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Kazakhstan - Info Card

Population

19,122,423

Currency

Tenge (₸) (KZT)

Time zone

UTC+5 / +6 (West / East)

Area

2,724,900 km2 (1,052,100 sq mi)

Calling code

+7-6xx, +7-7xx

Official language

Kazakh - Russian

Kazakhstan | Introduction

Native Kazakhs, a mingling of Turkic and Mongol nomadic tribes that arrived in the area in the 13th century, were unified as a single country in the mid-16th century. In the 18th century, Russia seized the region, and Kazakhstan became a Soviet Republic in 1936.

Soviet people were urged to assist develop Kazakhstan’s northern pastures with the start of the agricultural “Virgin Lands” program in the 1950s and 1960s. This flood of immigrants (mainly Russians, but also some other deported ethnicities, such as Volga Germans) skewed the ethnic balance, allowing non-Kazakhs to outnumber locals. Many of these immigrants and their descendants have emigrated since the country’s independence.

Kazakhstan today is a neo-patrimonial state marked by significant nepotism and President Nursultan Nazarbayev’s control over political and economic matters. However, in comparison to neighboring Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, and China, it is not a very autocratic regime, and opposition is seldom fired or imprisoned. Since the country’s independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, the Kazakh government has encouraged international investment in the capital’s development. The discovery of substantial oil and gas deposits, especially in the north and west, has resulted in a considerable amount of riches for the nation, but the money is concentrated in the hands of a few individuals. Nonetheless, Kazakhstan is currently classed as a middle-income nation with a high human development index. Corruption is prevalent in Kazakhstan, although not as prevalent as in other nations in the area.

Current issues include: developing a cohesive national identity; expanding the development of the country’s vast energy resources and exporting them to global markets (an oil pipeline to China has been built; the gas pipeline is under construction); achieving long-term economic growth outside the oil, gas, and mining sectors; and strengthening relations with neighboring states and other foreign countries.

Geography

Kazakhstan is one of just two landlocked nations in the world that contains territory on both sides of the Ural River, which is regarded the dividing line with the European continent (the other is Azerbaijan).

Kazakhstan is the world’s ninth-biggest nation and the largest landlocked country, with an area of 2,700,000 square kilometers (1,000,000 square miles) — about the size of Western Europe. Kazakhstan lost some of its land to China’s Xinjiang autonomous region and some to Uzbekistan’s Karakalpakstan autonomous republic when it was a member of the Soviet Union.

It shares borders with Russia of 6,846 kilometers (4,254 miles), Uzbekistan of 2,203 kilometers (1,369 miles), China of 1,533 kilometers (953 miles), Kyrgyzstan of 1,051 kilometers (653 miles), and Turkmenistan of 379 kilometers (235 miles). Astana, Almaty, Karagandy, Shymkent, Atyrau, and Oskemen are among the major cities. It is located between the latitudes of 40° and 56° N, and the longitudes of 46° and 88° E. While Kazakhstan is mostly in Asia, a tiny part of it is also in Eastern Europe, west of the Urals.

Kazakhstan’s geography stretches west to east from the Caspian Sea to the Altay Mountains, and north to south from Western Siberia’s plains to Central Asia’s oases and deserts. The Kazakh Steppe (plain) covers one-third of the nation and is the world’s biggest dry steppe region, covering about 804,500 square kilometers (310,600 square miles). The steppe is distinguished by extensive grasses and sandy areas. The Aral Sea, Lake Balkhashand Lake Zaysan, the Charyn River and canyon, and the rivers Ili, Irtysh, Ishim, Ural, and Syr Darya are among the major oceans, lakes, and rivers.

The climate is continental, with hot summers and cool winters. Precipitation differs between dry and semi-arid environments.

The Charyn Canyon is 80 kilometers (50 miles) long and runs along the Charyn River valley in northern Tian Shan (“Heavenly Mountains,” 200 kilometers (124 miles) east of Almaty) at 43°21′1.16′′N 79°4′49.28′′E. The steep canyon sides, columns, and arches reach heights of 150 to 300 meters. The canyon’s inaccessibility offered a safe refuge for a rare ash tree, Fraxinus sogdiana, which survived the Ice Age and is now growing un other places. Bigach crater, located at 48°30′N 82°00′E, is an 8 km (5 km) diameter Pliocene or Miocene asteroid impact crater that is believed to be 53 million years old.

Demographics

The current population of Kazakhstan is 15,460,484, according to the US Census Bureau International Database, although UN sources such as the UN Population Division estimate it to be 15,753,460. According to official estimates, Kazakhstan has a population of 16.455 million people as of February 2011, with 46 percent living in rural areas and 54 percent living in urban areas. According to the Kazakhstan Statistics Agency, Kazakhstan’s population increased by 1.7 percent over the previous year in 2013 to 17,280,000.

The 2009 population estimate is 6.8 percent greater than the population recorded in the January 1999 census. The demographic decrease that started after 1989 has been halted and may be reversed. Men make up 48.3 percent of the population, while women make up 51.7 percent.

Ethnic groups

Ethnic Kazakhs make up 63.1 percent of the population, while ethnic Russians make up 23.7 percent. Other ethnic groups include Tatars (1.3%), Ukrainians (2.1%), Uzbeks (2.8%), Belarusians, Uyghurs (1.4%), Azerbaijanis, Poles, and Lithuanians. In the 1930s and 1940s, Stalin deported to Kazakhstan certain minorities such as Germans (1.1 percent), Ukrainians, Koreans, Chechens, Meskhetian Turks, and Russian political opponents of the government. The country was home to some of the biggest Soviet labor camps (Gulags).

During the Khrushchev period, significant Russian immigration was also associated with the Virgin Lands Campaign and the Soviet space program. In 1989, ethnic Russians made up 37.8 percent of the population, while Kazakhs dominated just 7 of the country’s 20 districts. Prior to 1991, there were about 1 million Germans in Kazakhstan, the majority of them were descendants of Volga Germans transported to Kazakhstan during WWII. Following the disintegration of the Soviet Union, the majority of them moved to Germany. The majority of the Pontian Greek community has moved to Greece. Thousands of Koreans were transported to Central Asia by the Soviet Union in the late 1930s. Koryo-saram is the name given to these people.

Many of the country’s Russians and Volga Germans emigrated in the 1990s, a trend that started in the 1970s. As a result, indigenous Kazakhs have become the biggest ethnic group. Higher birth rates and immigration of ethnic Kazakhs from China, Mongolia, and Russia are also contributing to the growth in the Kazakh population.

Religion

According to the 2009 Census, 70% of the population is Muslim, 26% Christian, 0.1 percent Buddhists, 0.2 percent others (mainly Jews), and 0.5 percent did not respond. Kazakhstan is a secular state, according to its Constitution.

Article 39 of Kazakhstan’s Constitution guarantees religious freedom. According to Article 39, “Human rights and liberties must not be infringed upon in any manner.” Article 14 bans “religious discrimination,” and Article 19 guarantees everyone the “freedom to decide and identify or not to declare his/her ethnic, political, and religious membership.” The Constitutional Council recently confirmed these rights by finding that a proposed legislation restricting some people’ religious freedom was unconstitutional.

The majority religion in Kazakhstan is Islam, followed by Orthodox Christianity. After decades of religious repression by the Soviet Union, the arrival of independence saw a rise in ethnic identity expression, partially via religion. The free exercise of religious beliefs and the creation of complete religious freedom resulted in a rise in religious activities. Hundreds of mosques, churches, and other religious buildings were constructed in a few years, and the number of religious organizations increased from 670 in 1990 to 4,170 now.

Some statistics suggest that non-denominational Muslims outnumber denominational Muslims, while others show that the majority of Muslims in the country are Sunnis who adhere to the Hanafi school of thought. This includes ethnic Kazakhs, who make up about 60% of the population, as well as ethnic Uzbeks, Uighurs, and Tatars. Sunni Shafii Islam is practiced by less than 1% of the population (primarily Chechens). There are some Ahmadi Muslims as well. There are 2,300 mosques in Kazakhstan, all of which are connected with the “Spiritual Association of Muslims of Kazakhstan,” which is led by a supreme mufti. Unaffiliated mosques are being forced to shut. Eid al-Adha is a national holiday in Saudi Arabia.

Russian Orthodox Christians make about one-quarter of the population, which includes ethnic Russians, Ukrainians, and Belorussians. Roman Catholics and Protestants are two more Christian denominations. There are 258 Orthodox churches, 93 Catholic churches, and more than 500 Protestant churches and prayer houses in all. Kazakhstan recognizes Russian Orthodox Christmas as a national holiday. Judaism, the Bahá’ Faith, Hinduism, Buddhism, and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are among the other religious organizations.

Language

Kazakhstan’s official languages are Kazakh and Russian. Both languages are taught in all schools, and the majority of people are fluent in both. As a result, if you are acquainted with any of them, you should be OK. However, in certain areas, they favor Kazakh, while in others, they choose Russian. For example, Shymkent and the western areas mostly utilize Kazakh, while the northern portion of the nation is predominantly Russian-speaking. If you know another Turkic language, Kazakh will be somewhat familiar, and Russian will be relatively familiar if you know another Slavic language.

Many individuals under the age of 20 will know some English, as will many customs officers and airport personnel.

It is difficult to travel about the nation without any Russian or Kazakh language abilities; although, it is simpler in the more developed cities. If you become lost, write down your address on a card and call a cab (you might be somewhat overcharged by the taxi, but it is better than being lost).

Economy

Kazakhstan boasts Central Asia’s biggest and most dynamic economy. Kazakhstan’s economy expanded at an average of 8% per year until 2013, before slowing down in 2014 and 2015. Kazakhstan was the first former Soviet republic to repay all of its debt to the International Monetary Fund, 7 years ahead of schedule.

Boosted by high global crude oil prices, GDP growth rates were between 8.9 percent and 13.5 percent from 2000 to 2007, then falling to 1–3 percent in 2008 and 2009 before increasing again in 2010. Kazakhstan’s other significant exports are wheat, textiles, and cattle. Kazakhstan is a major uranium exporter.

In 2014, Kazakhstan’s GDP increased by 4.6 percent. The country’s economic development slowed beginning in 2014, owing to declining oil prices and the impact of the Ukrainian conflict. In February 2014, the country’s currency was devalued by 19%. In August 2015, the currency was devalued by further 22%.

The budgetary position in Kazakhstan is steady. The government has maintained a cautious economic strategy by limiting budget expenditure and conserving oil income in its Oil Fund – Samruk-Kazyna. Kazakhstan was obliged to expand its public borrowing to sustain the economy as a result of the global financial crisis. The public debt rose to 13.4% in 2013 from 8.7% in 2008. Between 2012 and 2013, the government earned a 4.5 percent total budget surplus.

Kazakhstan has been attempting to handle large inflows of foreign money without causing inflation since 2002. However, inflation has not been strictly controlled, reaching 6.6 percent in 2002, 6.8 percent in 2003, and 6.4 percent in 2004.

Kazakhstan was awarded market economy status under US trade law by the US Department of Commerce in March 2002. This change in status acknowledged substantial market economy reforms in the areas of currency convertibility, wage rate setting, foreign investment openness, and government control over the means of production and resource allocation.

Entry Requirements For Kazakhstan

Visa & Passport

Visas are not required for citizens of Argentina, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Georgia, Hong Kong, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, Mongolia, the Russian Federation, Serbia, South Korea, Tajikistan, Turkey, Uzbekistan, and Ukraine.

For stays of up to 15 days until December 31, 2017, citizens of Australia, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Monaco, the Netherlands, Norway, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, and the United States do not require a visa.

Citizens of Australia, Austria, Belgium, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Latvia, Liechtenstein, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Malaysia, Malta, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Oman, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Korea, Spain, Swede

Citizens of Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Croatia, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Liechtenstein, Malaysia, Monaco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, Slovakia, South Korea, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, UAE, United Kingdom, and the United States of America (Aug 2010) with a valid Kyrgyz tourist visa can also travel to However, if you hold a two-entry Kyrgyz visa and cross the border from Kyrgyzstan to Kazakhstan, you cannot return to Kyrgyzstan on this visa. Most customs officials are unaware of this arrangement, which may result in lengthy delays at border crossings. (November 2011 Update) NO authorities are aware of this arrangement, and you will be sent away with a no-entry stamp on your Kyrgyz visa).

For further information, contact a Kazakhstan diplomatic post in your region or visit the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan’s website. As of June 2012, the Kazakhstan Consulate General in New York said that it exclusively takes money orders, although they also accept cashier’s checks.

Although the Kazakh government has regulations stating which nations’ nationals do not need “Letters of Invitation” (LOI), this information does not always reach the embassies. Be prepared for the worse and to face an official who will flatly refuse to issue you a visa without a LOI. This is a problem at Kazakhstan’s embassy in Moscow (Australian Passports).

How To Travel To Kazakhstan

Get In - By plane

Air Astana is the most significant airline, with flights from Abu Dhabi, Moscow, Delhi, Beijing, Istanbul, Bangkok, Hannover, London, Amsterdam, Baku, Kuala Lumpur, Frankfurt, and Seoul to Almaty and Astana.

By restricting which airlines may fly to Kazakhstan, Air Astana maintains a monopoly on certain international routes.

Lufthansa also offers daily flights to Almaty, from where you may go anywhere in Kazakhstan through local airline SCAT, which serves the majority of the country’s cities. British Airways and KLM currently fly to Heathrow and Schiphol many times each week, respectively. There is also a nonstop link from Prague twice a week, provided by Czech airlines. Turkish Airlines is a reliable passenger airline that operates flights to Istanbul (ask a travel agent about the student fares, which can be a great deal).

There are two flights each week from Seoul to Almaty, one with Asiana Airlines and one with Astana. Airbaltic also flies to Almaty; if you book ahead of time, you may get there for €130. (from Riga).

Etihad Airways operates a weekly flight from Abu Dhabi to Astana. Flight time is about 4.5 hours. Taxis from the airport to the city cost between KZT2,000 and KZT3,000.

Get In - By train

Kazakhstan’s trains are sluggish yet pleasant and clean. Almaty to/from Moscow (77 hours), Novosibirsk (35 hours), and Ürümqi, China are all popular routes (34 hours). Expect a 3–4 hour wait at the Russian border and a 6–8 hour stay at the Chinese border. Train tickets in Kazakhstan may also be purchased online.

Get In - By car

Many of the border crossings on the country’s major highways allow you to enter Kazakhstan by automobile. However, be prepared to wait in line for up to 24 (twenty-four) hours, with very inadequate amenities.

Get In - By bus

Traveling by sleeper bus from Ürümqi to Almaty is quite simple, particularly if you are not in a rush and don’t mind sleeping on a bus for 24 to 36 hours. The border crossing is a bit of a walk, and you may be forced to carry all of your things with you for quite a distance in very hot weather. The bus ride and “baggage costs” are about US$45. You may also pick up your Kazakhstan visa at the embassy in Ürümqi, but expect to wait at least a week, and be sure you obtain a copy of your passport before giving it over.

Get In - By boat

Freighters sail between Baku and Aktau on a regular basis, and it is feasible to catch a ride. However, it is typical for ships to be held up for days, if not weeks, before arriving port, so you should stock up on food and water before boarding.

How To Travel Around Kazakhstan

Depending on your budget and needs, you may travel inside the nation via cab, bus, rail, or aircraft. Renting a vehicle is more expensive than other modes of transportation.

A minivan costs KZT35 in Semipalatinsk (Semey), while a big bus costs KZT35-40 (in Astana, it varies about KZT60-65), and a typical taxi price is KZT300 (in August 2013, approximate currency rates were €1 = KZT200, GBP1 = KZT240, USD1 = KSD150).

Get Around - By public buses

Public transit is widely used in major cities. Buses, trolleys, trams, and minibuses are all available. One major disadvantage of all of them is that they never arrive on time and are very packed during peak hours. Furthermore, there is no strategy in place with bus stops and schedules. Taking the bus if you don’t speak Russian will be difficult, but not impossible.

Get Around - By taxi

Taxis are inexpensive (€2 to €6 inside the city). In most places, you are not required to utilize licensed taxis; instead, you may stop virtually any vehicle on the street by raising your hand. It works well in Almaty and Astana, but the easiest method to get about Karaganda is to call a cab. It is less expensive and quicker than hitchhiking.

A word of caution: traveling to the Almaty airport may be costly. The cost of a taxi to the airport varies significantly. Any foreigner will be quoted an extremely high fee, but most drivers will come down once they realize they won’t be able to collect that much. USD50 is ludicrous. Accepting the initial price will result in you getting overcharged. It should cost less than USD10, however there is no assurance that a foreigner would get that price. Minibuses and buses to the airport are a better choice. The words “airport” are almost same in Russian and English.

Unofficial taxis are a popular mode of transportation. Just wave your hand and someone will come to a halt at any time of day. This is something the locals do all the time. Before you agree to travel, negotiate the fee and the location. A ride inside Almaty’s center should cost about USD2-4. If your Russian is poor or non-existent, you will be charged much more than locals; to prevent this, try to utilize public transportation as much as possible and don’t be afraid to inform the driver how much you are willing to pay (do this before he tells you how much he wants). To be safe, avoid getting in a vehicle if more than one person is driving. Also, do not use these cabs for long trips or anyplace that passes through rural regions, since thefts, particularly of foreigners, are common.

Always attempt to have the correct amount of money in cash (the price you agreed with a taxi driver), since they will not typically offer you change. So, if the price is KZT350, give the driver KZT350, not more (since he or she may not provide change).

Get Around - By rail

The train is the most common mode of transportation for traversing the vast distances between Kazakhstan’s major cities. The principal railway stations are in Astana, Karaganda, and Almaty, although there are stations in virtually every major city.

The rolling equipment, train classes, ticketing, and reservation procedures were all inherited from the old Soviet Railways and are therefore extremely similar to the Russian railway system.

Tickets are somewhat less expensive than in Russia. Kazakh Railways has an e-shop, however it only accepts Kazakh and Russian credit cards and does not take many non-CIS credit cards, so you’ll probably just use it for pricing comparisons.

Kazakhstan is a vast nation. For example, it will take you about 24 hours to go from Almaty to Astana. Traveling by train, on the other hand, is a lot of fun since trains are a fantastic way to meet new people. A lot has been written about the dangers of joining a vodka drinking party on a train, but for the most part, your other passengers are pleasant and eager to learn about you (“why aren’t you married?” and, if you are, “why don’t you have children?” and, if you do, “why don’t they have children?”!). Most travelers bring food for the trip since restaurant car service is intermittent (and they want you to share yours as well!). If you don’t have enough to survive the journey, the trains usually stop for 15–20 minutes at each station, and there are always people on the platform offering food and drink at all hours of the day and night.

There is also the Talgo railway, which can travel between Almaty and Astana in 9 hours. The ticket costs about KZT9,000.

Get Around - By long distance bus

They’re a popular alternative to trains, and although they’re quicker, they’re less pleasant. Similarly to rail travel, you must purchase your ticket in advance and will be assigned a seat number. Be cautious when the bus stops for a bathroom break; the driver does not check to see whether all passengers are on board before driving away!

Fares are quite inexpensive; for example, a single trip from Almaty to Karaganda (14 hours) costs KZT2,500, which is much less than the cost of a flying ticket.

Get Around - By plane

Air Astana has offices in a few large hotels in major cities; for those who can afford it, it is the quickest method to travel inside the city. The planes are completely new and meet European quality requirements.

Get Around - Marshrutka

Taking a “marshrutka” is a fun and inexpensive way to get about. These are the run-down vehicles that ply the streets of town. They typically have a sign (in Russian) with the destination listed on it, and the driver will usually shout out the destination. They are, however, not available in Almaty.

Destinations in Kazakhstan

Cities in Kazakhstan

  • Astana (formerly Aqmola) – Kazakhstan’s second biggest city and capital since 1997. Worth seeing, however you just need a couple days to see the highlights. This metropolis is brand new and being developed at a breakneck pace. If you want to see what Akmola (Astana’s former name) looks like, you should go immediately since the ancient city is quickly vanishing.
  • Atyrau is Kazakhstan’s oil capital, with major onshore Tengiz and offshore Kashagan oilfields nearby. Almaty was the country’s biggest city and capital prior to December 1998. It’s definitely a must-see. Aside from the Soviet-style city, you may wish to visit the Medeu and other locations in the surrounding mountains.
  • Aktobe Pavlodar – Kazakh city in the country’s far north, established in 1720, closed until 1992 due to its military importance in tank manufacturing, and home to one extremely magnificent mosque, as well as several notable Orthodox churches and monuments.
  • Shymkent — Kazakhstan’s third biggest city, extremely packed with Uzbek people, it is an ancient market town situated near Tashkent and some magnificent mountains; currently growing with oil development,
  • Turkestan — another ancient city, long a border town between Persian and Turkic nomadic cultures to the south and north, today majority Uzbek and home to many significant cultural-historical sites.
  • Ust-Kamenogorsk is a mining city in the Altai Mountains with a Russian-speaking population.

Accommodation & Hotels in Kazakhstan

There are many hotels, ranging from the extremely inexpensive (€10 per night) to the luxury. You won’t discover the cheapest ones on the internet; the only way to book them is to phone personally, but you’ll need to know Russian at the very least.

Except for Burabay/Borovoe in Kazakhstan, there are practically no camping areas. Due to the vast number of deserted areas, you may, nevertheless, camp virtually everywhere. The landscape is stunning, but due of the very hot heat, bring lots of water with you since you might easily spend several days without seeing anybody. If you are camping near a nomadic tribe, ask for permission to remain nearby; you will not be denied.

Things To See in Kazakhstan

Baikonur is the renowned cosmodrome where Yuri Gagarin launched the first human orbital mission. Baikonur, the contemporary town, was constructed near the existing hamlet of Tyuratam.

Because Russia rents the cosmodrome land (6000 km2), no Kazakh visa is required if you fly in straight from Moscow.

  • Lakes of Köl-Say
  • Astana’s contemporary architecture stands in stark contrast to the majority of Kazakhstan.
  • In most of the land, there is nothing but desert and steppe.
  • The Altai Mountains in eastern Kazakhstan, as well as other mountain ranges near the country’s southern border.

Sauna. Visiting saunas with friends is extremely common in Kazakhstan because to the cold and windy weather. Saunas (Russian banyas or Finnish steam rooms) are a great location to talk about business or simply hang out with friends. It is common to have parties (birthdays, New Year’s Eve, etc.) at saunas. In reality, many contemporary sauna complexes in Almaty and Astana are completely equipped with karaoke, billiards, swimming pools, rest rooms, massage rooms, and other amenities. Some saunas serve as a front for sex services.

Food & Drinks in Kazakhstan

Food in Kazakhstan

Meat, potatoes, rice, and pasta are all options. And plenty of it. If you’re a vegetarian, be cautious since if it doesn’t include meat, it was almost likely cooked in beef stock.

Here are a few suggestions:

  • Beshbarmak – “five fingers,” a meal of horse meat and pasta with potatoes and onions. Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan’s national traditional cuisine is often offered on important occasions. This dish may also be prepared with beef or lamb. Most places that offer it will provide enough for two or three individuals.
  • Kazy – a handmade horse meat sausage that may be prepared and served with Beshbarmak, but only if you ask for it on the preorder menu. If you do not, it will be served as a cold meat appetizer among other cold meat appetizers (Zhaya, Basturma, Shyzhyk). A separate fee would be levied. Kazakh cuisine.
  • Laghman is a thick noodle dish with beef, carrots, and onions that is often served as a soup.
  • Other vegetables may be included as well.
  • Manty are huge steamed dumplings stuffed with meat and onions. Onions or pumpkin are sometimes added. Uighur cuisine at its finest.
  • Plov is a delicious meal made of fried rice, pork, carrots, and sometimes additional ingredients like as raisins or tomatoes. Uzbek cuisine at its finest.
  • Shashlyk or Shish Kebab – skewered, roasted pieces of marinated meat eaten with flatbread (often lavash) and onions. Various marinades may be utilized, as well as various methods of cooking, like as over an open fire.
  • Baursaky is a kind of bread that is best served hot. It’s similar to an unsweetened doughnut. Kazakh.
  • Pelmeni are boiling dumplings prepared from several types of meat or potato. Russian.

If you’re a vegetarian, you’re probably thinking that Kazakhstan has nothing for you. And you are correct if you eat out. However, if you prepare your own meal, you will be more than pleased. Kazakhstan offers several great goods accessible in little marketplaces all across the country. You will be astounded by the flavor and availability of fresh organic vegetables at such a cheap cost! Govinda’s, a wonderful vegetarian Hare Krishna restaurant, is a must-visit in Almaty. Malls feature food courts that provide vegetarian choices. Even tiny Kazakh restaurants can create vegetarian dishes for you if you specify it (for example, “byez myasa” (without meat), “ya vegeterianetz” (I [male] am a vegetarian), “ya vegetarianka” (I [female] am a vegetarian) in Russian). Vegetarian manty prepared with pumpkin is also available in certain restaurants (for example, smak).

Because of the heritage of Korean migration in Kazakhstan, Korean foods, especially salads, are extremely popular. Look for the Korean women selling them in the country’s numerous bazaars (independent food and products marketplaces). They will wrap a variety of tasty, typically spicy and garlicky salads in plastic bags for you to take home. If you’re a vegetarian, this may be the only good item you can eat while in the nation.

On the other side, you can get whatever cuisine you desire in Kazakhstan, although Chinese and Japanese dishes are extremely costly. The most delectable is caviar, which is extremely inexpensive; you can purchase 1 kg of caviar for less than USD300 at Almaty Zyeloniy Bazaar, but you can’t export or take it home; you’ll be detained at the airport and fined heavily.

Eating out is very inexpensive; you just order the main dish and then add rice, potatoes, and so on. Each component is priced separately, so you may purchase just meat or only rice. Prices range from KZT500 for chicken to KZT1,000 for beef and up to KZT1,500 for horse, a local delicacy. Of course, the greater the price, the nicer the restaurant. If you don’t know Russian, things are a little more difficult since the majority of eateries don’t offer English menus (with the exception of some hyped places in Almaty).

While most Kazakhs are not religious, they do not consume pig. If you’re going out to eat with Kazakhs or preparing a meal at home, keep this in mind. Many foods that are traditionally prepared with pig (such as dumplings or sausage) are also made with beef or mutton in this country.

Drinks in Kazakhstan

  • Kumiss – fermented mare’s milk with up to 6% alcohol concentration. Consider tangy lemonade combined with semi-sour milk.
  • Shubat (Kumyran)– fermented camel’s milk
  • Kvas – characterized as comparable to root beer, it may be purchased in a bottle in a shop or by the cup from individuals on the street with large yellowish tanks of it.
  • Tan. Fizzy drink produced from mare’s milk.
  • Every tiny corner store sells cheap alcoholic beverages (called the astanovka). These establishments are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week; just knock on the door if the shopkeeper is sleeping. Kazakhstan’s specialty is cognac, but shops sometimes offer vodka for less than bottled water. However, some of these astanovka sometimes offer alcohol of questionable origin; for the sake of your stomach, you should purchase your beverage at a supermarket, though the price will undoubtedly be higher.
  • Karaganda produces a variety of high-quality, flavorful beers. Becker, Staut, Tian-Shan, Derbes, Irbis, and Alma-Ata are some of the names in this list. Almaty’s local brands are very excellent.
  • Juices in cartons are popular and tasty, particularly peach juice.
  • Water. The municipal water is more or less drinkable, with no significant contaminants, but if feasible, boil it. Bottled water is inexpensive and widely accessible. In restaurants, ask for “Sary-Agash” (of the Asem-Ai brand) or Borjomi. In restaurants and shops, you may find a variety of different well-known water brands.
  • Tea is readily accessible, usually of high quality, and frequently very strong. If you’re on a tight budget, this is the dish you have with your meal. Tea is culturally significant in Kazakhstan, and “shai” time is one of the most essential activities a tourist may participate in to learn about the culture.
  • Coffee. Modern coffee shops and western-style cafés are popping up. They make excellent coffee. Coffeedelia (Kabanbai batyr and Furmanov) is well-liked among expats and serves decent coffee. 4A Coffee, where they roast their own coffee everyday, serves some of the finest coffee in Almaty. Gloria Jeans and Marone Rosso are also available.
  • Wine. Try the local selection. A decent one may be obtained for less USD4 per bottle. “Bibigul” is perhaps the most constant excellent wine, and it is available in semi-dry red or semi-dry white. Wine should not be consumed in restaurants. It is typically prohibitively costly.
  • Vodka. At USD8–10 a bottle, this is a good vodka. In restaurants that do not usually cater to foreigners you get 20(!) cl if you order a vodka, smaller servings not available. Buy a bottle of “Kazakhstan” vodka to take back. It comes in a lovely bottle depicting Kazakh hunting with a falcon viewed through a “window.” Try Edil vodka, which is made with the pantacrene of local deer antlers.

Money & Shopping in Kazakhstan

Prices in Kazakhstan

Kazakhstan is somewhat more costly than Uzbekistan, although it is still less expensive than Turkmenistan. A street snack will cost you between USD0.30 and $0.70. In major cities, a night in a dorm costs between USD15 and USD20. A more pleasant double room costs between USD60 and USD80.

Currency in Kazakhstan

Tenge (KZT, Cyrillic: тeне, and sometimes symbolised as or T) is the national currency. In late September 2015, the following currency rates were in effect: €1 = KZT301, £1 = KZT410, and US$1 = KZT270.

Even if you’re not a huge shopper, the wonderfully made felt goods will appeal to you. They are extremely lightweight and cheap to ship.

Culture Of Kazakhstan

The Kazakhs had a highly developed culture before to Russian invasion, based on their nomadic pastoral economy. With the advent of the Arabs in the 8th century, Islam was brought into the area. It began in the southern regions of Turkestan and moved northward. Through ardent missionary effort, the Samanids aided the religion’s spread. During the 14th century, the Golden Horde spread Islam among the region’s tribes.

Because livestock was important to the Kazakhs’ ancient way of life, most of their nomadic traditions and customs are related to livestock in some manner. Kazakhs have always had a strong interest in horseback riding.

Kazakhstan has produced numerous notable writers, scientists, and philosophers, including Abay Qunanbayuli, Mukhtar Auezov, Gabit Musirepov, Kanysh Satpayev, Mukhtar Shakhanov, Saken Seyfullin, and Jambyl Jabayev.

Kazakhstan’s tourist sector is quickly expanding, and it is integrating into the worldwide tourism network. Kazakhstan joined The Region Initiative (TRI), a tri-regional umbrella of tourism-related organizations, in 2010. The TRI connects three regions: South Asia, Central Asia, and Eastern Europe. Armenia, Bangladesh, India, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Nepal, Tajikistan, Russia, Sri Lanka, Turkey, and Ukraine are now partners, and Kazakhstan is now connected in the tourist industry with other South Asian, Eastern European, and Central Asian nations.

Cuisine

Livestock meat may be prepared in a number of ways in the national cuisine and is often eaten with a broad range of traditional bread items. Black tea and traditional milk-derived beverages like as ayran, shubat, and kymyz are often served as refreshments. A typical Kazakh supper includes a variety of appetisers, soup, and one or two main dishes such as pilaf and beshbarmak. They also consume their national beverage, which is made from fermented mare’s milk.

Sport

Kazakhstan has emerged as a strong global sporting force in the following disciplines: bandy, boxing, chess, kickboxing, skiing, gymnastics, water polo, cycling, martial arts, heavy athletics, horseback riding, triathlon, track hurdles, sambo, Greco-Roman wrestling, and billiards. The following Kazakhstani athletes and world-championship medalists are well-known: Bekzat Sattarkhanov, Vassiliy Jirov, Alexander Vinokourov, Bulat Jumadilov, Mukhtarkhan Dildabekov, Olga Shishigina, Andrey Kashechkin, Aliya Yussupova, Dmitriy Karpov, Darmen Sadvakasov, Yeldos Ikhsangaliy

Adilbek Zhaksybekov, the departing president of Kazakhstan’s football organization, said in December 2014 that Kazakhstan will seek to host the 2026 FIFA World Cup.

Film

Kazakhstan’s film industry is managed by the state-owned Kazakhfilm studios, which are located in Almaty. Myn Bala, Harmony Lessons, and Shal are among the films made by the company. Kazakhstan annually hosts the International Astana Action Film Festival and the Eurasian Film Festival. Timur Bekmambetov, a Kazakhstan-born Hollywood filmmaker, has been active in bridging the gap between Hollywood and the Kazakhstan film industry.

At the 2013 Cannes Corporate Media and TV Awards, Kazakhstan journalist Artur Platonov received Best Script for his documentary “Sold Souls” on Kazakhstan’s assistance to the fight against terrorism.

The German Federal Foreign Office awarded Serik Aprymov’s Little Brother (Bauyr) first prize at the Central and Eastern Europe Film Festival goEast.

Media

According to Reporters Without Borders’ World Press Freedom Index, Kazakhstan is rated 161 out of 180 nations. Respublika was ordered to cease publishing for three months by a court order issued in mid-March 2002, with the government as the plaintiff. The order was circumvented by publishing under other names, such as Not That Respublika. A court also issued a cease-and-desist order to the small-circulation Assandi-Times newspaper in early 2014, claiming it was part of the Respublika group. According to Human Rights Watch, “this ridiculous case demonstrates the extent Kazakh authorities are prepared to take to intimidate critical journalists into silence.”

The American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative established a media assistance center in Almaty with funding from the US Department of State’s Bureau for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor (DRL) to promote free speech and journalistic rights in Kazakhstan.

UNESCO World Heritage sites

Kazakhstan has three UNESCO World Heritage sites: the Mausoleum of Khoja Ahmed Yassaui, the Petroglyphs within the Archaeological Landscape of Tamgaly, and the Korgalzhyn and Nauryzumsky reserves.

Stay Safe & Healthy in Kazakhstan

Kazakhstan is a nation with a long history of balanced, peaceful, multi-ethnic social interaction, in which both visitors and residents are treated with respect in daily life, with a few exceptions. In this beautiful nation, visitors will be greeted with friendliness and warmth. However, depending on your location, time of day, circumstances, and personal behavior, your personal safety may range from extremely safe to somewhat dangerous. People of color, South Asians, and Middle Easterners, in contrast to other former Soviet Union nations, should feel at ease.

In general, Kazakh cities are safe during the day, but certain parts of major cities should be avoided at night (e.g. I all parts of Almaty below Tashkentskaya street and all microdistrict areas within these zones, certain other remote microdistricts, and areas with high concentrations of shabby private houses (such as Shanyrak); (ii) in smaller towns, e.g. Taraz, Balkhash, Shymken

Despite the fact that it is prohibited, prostitution has recently grown common in several major cities. Prostitutes often work in hotels, nightclubs, or saunas. In addition, escort services are usually advertised in a separate section of local classified publications. Many sex workers in Kazakhstan are really from neighboring, less developed countries such as Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Tajikistan.

Always carry your passport (or a certified duplicate of your passport and visa) with you. While the situation has recently improved, police may still attempt to extort money from foreigners, particularly on trains and long-distance buses. Unless the police involved are inebriated, it is easy to avoid paying them by claiming ignorance or poverty.

The danger of violent crime is similar to that of Eastern European nations and harsher areas of large American cities. An average traveler should not encounter any violent crime and is unlikely to be a victim of petty crime if their behavior in public areas adheres to widely recognized standards.

Excessive alcohol intake and attending a nightclub will always pose a greater danger, particularly if a person goes out alone. It’s best to go out in a group, or even better, with locals. Late at night, individuals speaking other languages may get special attention from local police, who have been known to falsely charge people of minor offenses, arrest them, and try to collect a KZT1,000-5,000 cash payment “fine.” Mobile phones are widely available and should be utilized to contact a buddy who speaks the local language.

A foreign guy approaching a local lady on the street or at a nightclub may attract unwelcome attention from locals or end in an argument. A local husband or father may see normal western attention and regard for women and children, such as a smile or pleasant welcome, as threatening or insulting.

Carrying costly phones, watches, and jewelry in public, or otherwise displaying affluence, may attract the attention of pickpockets and prospective criminals. This should be avoided outside of Almaty and Astana.

There is no tolerance for any narcotics, and even trace quantities may lead to a criminal inquiry, conviction, and jail term. Prisons are notorious for being hazardous and frequently cruel.

Drunk and careless driving is a concern. It is always best to follow driving laws and wear seat belts. Because many taxis operate illegally and with unskilled drivers, utilizing local taxis in most places may pose a greater danger than official public transit. Unlicensed taxi drivers demanding extra payments before releasing baggage from their trunk, or driving away and snatching luggage, are more frequent than one would anticipate in western cities with a well-regulated taxi business. Keep your valuables and passport in your pockets, and your most precious bag on your lap. Taxis and public transit are much less costly than in Western cities.

The Kazakhs are more proud than most Westerners would imagine. As a consequence, offensive or derogatory remarks about Kazakhstan or local Kazakhstanis often result in disputes and even physical assault threats. Arguing with locals is not advised since Kazakhstan is a country where physical force is part of the local culture, which may sometimes lead to a deadly final dispute. Under no circumstances should you connect Kazakhstan with the persona Borat. In West Kazakhstan, there have been reports of violence towards foreign employees. Due to resentment over foreigners stealing local employment and an alleged rape of a local woman, a housing camp for Turkish employees was demolished, and several workers were attacked.

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