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KAZAKHSTAN TRAVEL GUIDE

Kazakhstan is the world's ninth biggest country by size, and it is more than twice the size of the other Central Asian states combined. It will be many travellers' first port of call on their Central Asian adventure, and there is much for the intrepid traveller to enjoy. Kazakhstan is the richest country in Central Asia, due to its large oil and natural gas reserves. The country inherited the culture of the ancient Silk Road, Nomadic lifestyle and the Soviet Union which had a great influence on its formation. This mixture makes Kazakhstan so different from any other country in the region and in the world. Its largest metropolis, Almaty, is a long-standing trading hub whose landmarks include Ascension Cathedral, a tsarist-era Russian Orthodox church, and the Central State Museum of Kazakhstan, displaying thousands of Kazakh artefacts.

COUNTRY PAGE

Capital: Nursultan

Currency: tenge (KZT)

Area: 2,724,902 km²

Population: 18,28 million (2018)

Language: Kazakh (official, state language) 64.4%, Russian (official) 95% (2001 estimate)

Religion:Muslim 67%, Russian Orthodox 24%, Protestant 2%, other 7%

Electricity: 220V, 50Hz, European plug

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SEASONS AT A GLANCE

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Peak Season

Shoulder Season

Off Peak Season

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Climate Chart with avergae monthly temperatues and rainfall

BEST TIME TO VISIT KAZAKHSTAN

Kazakhstan has four distinct seasons: winter, spring, summer, and fall.

  • Winter (December-February) is the coldest season, with temperatures often dropping below freezing, especially in the northern regions. The northern and central regions of the country will experience heavy snowfall.
  • Spring (March-May) is a transitional season with increasing temperatures and less snowfall. The weather becomes milder and plants begin to bloom.
  • Summer (June-August) is the warmest season, with temperatures ranging from 20-30C (68-86F) in the northern regions and 30-40C (86-104F) in the southern regions. This is a great time for outdoor activities such as hiking, camping, and swimming.
  • Fall (September-November) is a transitional season with decreasing temperatures and the leaves on trees changing colors. This is a great time for cultural activities and for seeing the beautiful fall foliage.

Overall, the climate in Kazakhstan is continental, with long, cold winters and hot summers.

 

The best time to visit Kazakhstan depends on what you're interested in seeing and doing. If you're interested in outdoor activities such as hiking and skiing, the best time to visit is during the summer months from June to August. The weather is warm and there is plenty of sunshine, making it perfect for exploring the mountains and other natural attractions. If you're more interested in cultural activities, the best time to visit is during the spring (April-May) or fall (September-October) when the weather is mild and the crowds are smaller.

BEST TIME FOR:

Although there’s some debate as to whether the Caspian Sea should be regarded as a sea or simply the world’s biggest lake, Kazakhstan does have a few beaches such as Aktau Beach and Borovoe Beach. You could also visit one of the beautiful lakes such as Jasybay Lake and Balkhash Beach. Or why not the indoors Sky Beach Club on the top floor of the Khan Shatyr Entertainment Center!

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KAZAKHSTAN TRAVEL COSTS

The cost of traveling to Kazakhstan can vary depending on factors such as the time of year, your chosen mode of transportation, and your accommodation and dining preferences.

  • For a budget trip, you can expect to spend around $30-50 per day on accommodation, $10-15 per day on food and transportation, and $50-100 for activities. This would include staying in budget accommodation options such as hostels or guesthouses, eating at local cafes and street food vendors, and taking public transportation.
  • For a mid-range trip, you can expect to spend around $50-100 per day on accommodation, $15-30 per day on food and transportation, and $100-200 for activities. This would include staying in mid-range hotels or vacation rentals, eating at mid-range restaurants, and taking private transportation.
  • For a luxury trip, you can expect to spend around $100-300 per day on accommodation, $30-50 per day on food and transportation, and $200-500 for activities. This would include staying in luxury hotels or resorts, eating at high-end restaurants, and taking private transportation.

It's also worth noting that if you are planning to visit the country during peak season, prices for accommodation and activities may be higher. Also, prices for international flights may vary depending on the location you're flying from.

 

You can save money by traveling during the shoulder seasons, and by doing your research ahead of time to find the best deals on accommodation and activities.

 

Here are some more sample costs for a trip to Kazakhstan:

  • Accommodation: A budget-friendly option would be a hostel or guesthouse, which can cost around $10-25 per night. A mid-range option would be a 3-star hotel, which can cost around $50-100 per night. A luxury option would be a 5-star hotel, which can cost around $150-300 per night.
  • Food and drink: A meal at a local cafe or street food vendor can cost around $5-10. A meal at a mid-range restaurant can cost around $15-25. A high-end restaurant can cost around $30-50. A beer or a glass of wine can cost around $2-5.
  • Transportation: Public transportation such as buses and trains are relatively inexpensive and can cost around $1-5 per ride. Taxis are also inexpensive, with a short ride costing around $5-10. If you plan to rent a car, you should expect to pay around $50-70 per day.
  • Activities: Entrance fees to museums and historical sites can cost around $5-15. Outdoor activities such as hiking and skiing can cost around $15-50. If you plan to take a guided tour, you should expect to pay around $50-100 per day.
  • Visa: you need a visa to visit Kazakhstan, the cost of visa will depend on the type of visa, the country you are from and how you apply for it, it can range from $20 to $200

It's worth noting that these are just rough estimates and prices can vary depending on the location and time of year. It's always a good idea to check prices for specific activities and accommodations in advance to get a better idea of what you can expect to pay.

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TRAVEL TIPS FOR KAZAKHSTAN

Here are some travel tips for Kazakhstan:

  • Get a visa: Visitors to Kazakhstan are required to have a visa. Make sure to research the visa requirements for your country and apply for a visa well in advance of your trip.
  • Learn some basic Russian or Kazakh: While many people in the cities speak English, it's always helpful to know a few basic phrases in the local language.
  • Bring warm clothes: Kazakhstan has a continental climate, with long, cold winters and hot summers. Even in the summer, it can get chilly at night, so make sure to bring warm clothes.
  • Be aware of the time change: Kazakhstan is in a different time zone than many other countries, so make sure to adjust your watch and plan your schedule accordingly.
  • Respect the culture: Kazakhstan has a rich and diverse culture. Be respectful of local customs and traditions and dress modestly when visiting religious sites.
  • Pack for the outdoors: If you plan to do outdoor activities such as hiking or skiing, make sure to pack accordingly. Bring appropriate footwear, clothing, and gear.
  • Be aware of the Altitude: Some places in Kazakhstan are at high altitude, such as Almaty, be aware of the altitude sickness symptoms and take the necessary precautions.
  • Be prepared for the cost of internet: Internet is not as widely available in Kazakhstan as it is in some other countries, and it can be expensive when you can find it. Consider bringing a pocket wifi or downloading offline maps to help navigate.
  • Have your passport and documents ready: It's always a good idea to carry your passport, visa and other important documents with you at all times, as you may be asked to show them at any time.
  • Enjoy your trip: Kazakhstan is a beautiful country with a rich culture and history. Take the time to explore, meet new people, and try new things.

REGIONS & HIGHLIGHTS OF KAZAKHSTAN

Kazakhstan is a large country with several regions that offer different types of attractions and experiences. Here are a few of the main regions and some of their highlights:

  • Almaty: This is the largest city and the former capital of Kazakhstan. It is located in the southeast of the country and is known for its natural beauty, including the Tian Shan mountain range, which offers great opportunities for hiking, skiing and climbing. The city also offers a mix of Soviet-era architecture and modern buildings, as well as plenty of shopping and dining options.
  • Astana: This is the current capital of Kazakhstan and it is located in the north-central region of the country. Astana is known for its modern architecture, including the iconic "Bayterek" tower and the "Khan Shatyr" entertainment center, which is shaped like a giant tent. Visitors can also explore the National Museum of Kazakhstan, which provides an overview of the country's history and culture.
  • The Caspian Sea: This region is located in the northwest of the country and is known for its beautiful beaches, as well as its oil production. Visitors can take boat trips to see the sea and its wildlife, and also visit the city of Aktau and the nearby Mangistau region, which is known for its unique rock formations and natural beauty.
  • The Kazakh steppe: This region is located in the central part of the country and is known for its wide-open spaces, traditional nomadic culture, and wildlife. Visitors can take horseback rides, see traditional Kazakh yurts, and also visit the city of Kostanay, which is known for its historical sites and museums.
  • The Altai Mountains: This region is located in the southeast of the country and is known for its natural beauty and outdoor activities. Visitors can go hiking, skiing, and climbing in the Altai Mountains, and also see the colorful rock formations of the Charyn Canyon and the ancient petroglyphs of Tamgaly.
  • Baikonur Cosmodrome: This is the world's first and largest operational space launch facility, located in the Kyzylorda Region. Visitors can take tours of the cosmodrome, see the launch pads and spacecraft, and learn about the history of space exploration.

These are just a few examples of the many regions and attractions that Kazakhstan has to offer. Each region has its own unique culture and history, and visitors can explore a variety of different landscapes and activities.

WHAT TO SEE AND DO IN KAZAKHSTAN

Kazakhstan is a country with a diverse range of things to see and do. Here are some of the best things to experience when visiting the country:

  • Explore Almaty: This is the largest city and the former capital of Kazakhstan, and it offers a mix of natural beauty, Soviet-era architecture, and modern amenities. Visitors can take a cable car to the top of the Medeo Gorge for a panoramic view of the city and the Tian Shan mountain range, and also explore the Central State Museum of Kazakhstan, which tells the story of the country's history and culture.

  • Visit Astana: This is the current capital of Kazakhstan and it is known for its striking modern architecture. Visitors can take a stroll along the Left Bank of the Ishim River and see the iconic "Bayterek" tower and the "Khan Shatyr" entertainment center, and also explore the National Museum of Kazakhstan, which provides an overview of the country's history and culture.

  • Enjoy the natural beauty: Kazakhstan is home to a wide range of natural landscapes, from the Tian Shan mountain range to the Kazakh steppe. Visitors can go hiking, skiing, and climbing in the mountains, and also take horseback rides to see the steppe and its wildlife.

  • Visit the Caspian Sea: The Caspian Sea region is located in the northwest of the country and offers beautiful beaches, as well as opportunities to see the sea and its wildlife. Visitors can take boat trips, visit the city of Aktau, and also explore the nearby Mangistau region, which is known for its unique rock formations and natural beauty.

  • Experience the nomadic culture: Kazakhstan has a rich nomadic culture, which visitors can experience by visiting a traditional Kazakh yurt and taking part in activities such as horseback riding or archery. Visitors can also visit the cities of Kostanay, Turkestan and Turkestan to see the historical sites and museums that tell the story of this culture.

  • Discover the Altai Mountains: The Altai Mountains region is located in the southeast of the country and is known for its natural beauty and outdoor activities. Visitors can go hiking, skiing, and climbing in the Altai Mountains, and also see the colorful rock formations of the Charyn Canyon and the ancient petroglyphs of Tamgaly.

  • Visit the Baikonur Cosmodrome: This is the world's first and largest operational space launch facility, located in the Kyzylorda Region. Visitors can take tours of the cosmodrome, see the launch pads and spacecraft, and learn about the history of space exploration.

  • Try Local Food: Kazakhstan has a unique and delicious cuisine that is influenced by the nomadic past and neighboring countries. Some must-try dishes include beshbarmak, which is a traditional noodle dish, and kazy, which is horse meat sausage.

These are just a few examples of the many things to see and do in Kazakhstan. Visitors can also enjoy shopping for souvenirs and experiencing the local culture.

Kazakhstan is a country with a diverse range of things to see and do. Here are some of the best things to experience when visiting the country:


  • Explore Almaty: This is the largest city and the former capital of Kazakhstan, and it offers a mix of natural beauty, Soviet-era architecture, and modern amenities. Visitors can take a cable car to the top of the Medeo Gorge for a panoramic view of the city and the Tian Shan mountain range, and also explore the Central State Museum of Kazakhstan, which tells the story of the country's history and culture.

  • Visit Astana: This is the current capital of Kazakhstan and it is known for its striking modern architecture. Visitors can take a stroll along the Left Bank of the Ishim River and see the iconic "Bayterek" tower and the "Khan Shatyr" entertainment center, and also explore the National Museum of Kazakhstan, which provides an overview of the country's history and culture.

  • Enjoy the natural beauty: Kazakhstan is home to a wide range of natural landscapes, from the Tian Shan mountain range to the Kazakh steppe. Visitors can go hiking, skiing, and climbing in the mountains, and also take horseback rides to see the steppe and its wildlife.


  • Visit the Caspian Sea: The Caspian Sea region is located in the northwest of the country and offers beautiful beaches, as well as opportunities to see the sea and its wildlife. Visitors can take boat trips, visit the city of Aktau, and also explore the nearby Mangistau region, which is known for its unique rock formations and natural beauty.

  • Experience the nomadic culture: Kazakhstan has a rich nomadic culture, which visitors can experience by visiting a traditional Kazakh yurt and taking part in activities such as horseback riding or archery. Visitors can also visit the cities of Kostanay, Turkestan and Turkestan to see the historical sites and museums that tell the story of this culture.

  • Discover the Altai Mountains: The Altai Mountains region is located in the southeast of the country and is known for its natural beauty and outdoor activities. Visitors can go hiking, skiing, and climbing in the Altai Mountains, and also see the colorful rock formations of the Charyn Canyon and the ancient petroglyphs of Tamgaly.

  • Visit the Baikonur Cosmodrome: This is the world's first and largest operational space launch facility, located in the Kyzylorda Region. Visitors can take tours of the cosmodrome, see the launch pads and spacecraft, and learn about the history of space exploration.

  • Try Local Food: Kazakhstan has a unique and delicious cuisine that is influenced by the nomadic past and neighboring countries. Some must-try dishes include beshbarmak, which is a traditional noodle dish, and kazy, which is horse meat sausage.


These are just a few examples of the many things to see and do in Kazakhstan. Visitors can also enjoy shopping for souvenirs and experiencing the local culture.

WHAT TO EAT IN KAZAKHSTAN

Kazakhstan has a unique and delicious cuisine that is influenced by its nomadic past, neighboring countries, and the local ingredients available. Here are some traditional dishes you should try when visiting the country:

  • Beshbarmak: This is a traditional Kazakh dish made of boiled noodles, meat (usually mutton or horse meat) and onions. It is typically served with a flavorful broth and is often considered the national dish of Kazakhstan.
  • Kazy: This is a traditional sausage made from horse meat and it's a popular dish across the country. Kazy is served cold and sliced thin, and it's usually accompanied by a side dish such as bread, onions, and sometimes a sour cream.
  • Kürtöskalács: This is a sweet pastry that is similar to a chimney cake, it's made by wrapping a dough around a cylinder-shaped baking spit, and then rolling it in sugar or chocolate.
  • Kazy lagman: This is a traditional dish that is similar to the Chinese dish of lamian, it's made from hand-pulled noodles, meat and vegetables.
  • Plov: This is a traditional Central Asian dish that is made with rice, meat and vegetables. It's similar to the dishes of pilaf or pilau, but it's a bit more hearty.
  • Lagman: This is a hearty soup made with meat (usually beef, lamb or horse meat) and vegetables. It's a dish that is very popular in Central Asia, and it's made with a thick, hand-pulled noodle.
  • Shashlik: This is a popular dish across the region, it's made with skewered and grilled meat, usually lamb or beef, it's often served with a side of bread and a salad.
  • Kazakh tea: Kazakhs are known for their love of tea, and it's a staple in the country. The traditional way of drinking tea is with milk and salt, and it's usually served in a bowl.
  • Kazakh dairy products: Kazakhs are known for their dairy products, such as kurt, which is a hard cheese, and ayran, which is a yogurt drink.

These are just a few examples of the many delicious dishes that Kazakhstan has to offer. Visitors should also be sure to try some of the local fruits and vegetables, which are often used in traditional dishes.

LGBTQ IN KAZAKHSTAN

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WHERE TO STAY IN KAZAKHSTAN

For a first-time visit to Kazakhstan, it's recommended to base yourself in Almaty, the largest city and cultural capital, offering a mix of modernity, history, and natural beauty. Here's why:


Where to stay in Almaty:

Almaty is known for its stunning mountain scenery, vibrant cultural scene, and diverse culinary offerings, making it an ideal starting point for visiting Kazakhstan as you can explore attractions like Kok-Tobe Hill, Medeu Skating Rink, and Almaty Central Park.

  • Budget: Renion Residence: Renion Residence offers budget-friendly accommodations with comfortable rooms and basic amenities. It's conveniently located in the city center, close to attractions like Panfilov Park and Zenkov Cathedral.

  • Mid-range: Rahat Palace Hotel: Rahat Palace Hotel offers mid-range accommodations with elegant rooms and modern amenities. Situated in a prime location, guests can enjoy easy access to Almaty's business and entertainment districts.

  • Luxury: The Ritz-Carlton, Almaty: The Ritz-Carlton, Almaty provides luxurious accommodations in a sophisticated setting. It boasts opulent rooms and suites, exquisite dining options, and exclusive facilities like a spa, fitness center, and indoor swimming pool.


Tip: Consider visiting Almaty during the summer months (June to August) for milder weather and outdoor activities in the nearby mountains, and book accommodations in advance for the best rates and availability.


Additionally, for those interested in exploring the natural wonders of Kazakhstan, consider staying in the city of Nur-Sultan (formerly Astana):


Where to stay in Nur-Sultan:

Nur-Sultan is the capital city of Kazakhstan and known for its futuristic architecture, cultural institutions, and proximity to natural attractions like Borovoe National Park. Also explore attractions like Bayterek Tower, Nur-Astana Mosque, and Khan Shatyr Entertainment Center.

  • Budget: Belon-Lux Hotel offers affordable accommodations with basic amenities and a central location near Astana Arena.

  • Mid-range: Kazzhol Hotel provides comfortable rooms and modern facilities with a convenient location in the city center.

  • Luxury: The St. Regis Astana offers luxurious accommodations with upscale amenities, including a spa and multiple dining options.

Tip: Consider visiting Nur-Sultan during the shoulder seasons (spring and autumn) for milder weather and fewer crowds and take advantage of hotel deals and packages offered during major events and festivals.


For hassle-free bookings, use platforms like Booking.com for competitive rates or Holiday Swap for unique homes worldwide. Ensure to book in advance, especially during peak seasons, and align your preferences with nearby activities such as surfing, snorkeling, or cultural exploration.

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Booking.com is our number one resource for researching and booking accommodation. In addition to Booking.com, we have found Agoda.com to consistently returns the cheapest rates in Southeast Asia. For longer stays, find unique homes worldwide on Holiday Swap, the most affordable travel platform that allows you to book homes anytime, anywhere in only a few clicks.

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DiscoverCars.com is a leader in online car rental bookings; we compare car rental deals from many companies so that you can choose which is best for your trip. 12Go connects the world door-to-door, from transfers to flights, under the same user-friendly ticket.

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