Bol'shoye Almatinskoye Ozero, Almaty, Kazakhstan
Bol'shoye Almatinskoye Ozero, Almaty, Kazakhstan

Big Almaty Lake

Like the vast majority of lakes in the Tien Shan mountains, the lake appeared as a result from number of earthquakes.
Photo by Polina Skaia

KAZAKHSTAN

Asia

Kazakhstan Travel Information

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Key facts

Capital:

Nur-Sultan

Location:

Central Asia, northwest of China; a small portion west of the Ural (Oral) River in easternmost Europe

Currency:

tenge (KZT)

Area:

2,724,900 sq km

Population:

19,245,793 (July 2021 est.)

Languages:

Kazakh (official, Qazaq) 83.1% (understand spoken language) and trilingual (Kazakh, Russian, English) 22.3% (2017 est.); Russian (official, used in everyday business, designated the "language of interethnic communication") 94.4% (understand spoken language) (2009 est.)

Religion:

Muslim 70.2%, Christian 26.2% (mainly Russian Orthodox), other 0.2%, atheist 2.8%, unspecified 0.5% (2009 est.)

TimeZone:

UTC+6

Tel Code:

+7

Weather

Climate

Kazakhstan has a continental climate with cold winters and hot summers. The northern parts of the country are colder than the southern parts. The average temperature in January, the coldest month, ranges from -20°C to -10°C (-4°F to 14°F), while the average temperature in July, the warmest month, ranges from 20°C to 30°C (68°F to 86°F).

Best time to visit

The best time to visit Kazakhstan depends on what you want to see and do.

  • For winter sports, the best time to visit is from December to February when the northern regions of the country have plenty of snow.
  • For hiking and other outdoor activities, the best time to visit is from May to September, when the weather is warm and sunny.
  • For cultural events and festivals, the best time to visit is from June to August when many traditional Kazakh festivals take place. Overall, the best time to visit Kazakhstan is from May to September when the weather is mild and comfortable. During this time, the days are long, and the skies are mostly clear, allowing visitors to enjoy the stunning natural beauty of the country.

Transportation

Air

Kazakhstan has several major airports, including Almaty International Airport, Astana International Airport, and Atyrau Airport. These airports offer a wide range of domestic and international flights, making it easy to travel around the country and to other destinations in Central Asia.

Train

Kazakhstan has a well-developed railway system, connecting major cities and towns across the country. The trains are comfortable and reliable, and offer a great way to see the beautiful landscapes of the country. The train system also connects to neighbouring countries such as Russia and China.

Bus

Buses are widely used in Kazakhstan as a popular way of transportation. They are relatively inexpensive, and can reach many destinations where trains and planes cannot. They are also more frequent and connect more towns and villages than trains.

Car rental

Car rental is also an option for visitors who prefer to have more flexibility and control over their itinerary. There are many car rental companies in major cities such as Astana, Almaty, and Atyrau. It is important to note that roads in Kazakhstan can be in poor condition, particularly in rural areas, and visitors should be prepared for long journeys on poorly maintained roads.

Taxi

Taxis are widely available in major cities and towns in Kazakhstan. They are relatively inexpensive, and most taxi companies use meters. It is always better to use the services of the official taxi companies and avoid unlicensed taxis.

Accommodation

Hotels and Resorts Kazakhstan offers a variety of accommodation options, including luxury hotels, resorts, and budget-friendly options. The major cities such as Astana, Almaty and Atyrau have a wide range of international hotel chains and local hotels that cater to different budgets. Some popular luxury hotels in the country include Rixos President Astana, InterContinental Almaty and Rixos Borovoe.

Guesthouses and Homestays For a more authentic and local experience, visitors can opt for a guesthouse or homestay. These options offer a chance to stay with a local family and learn about the culture and customs of Kazakhstan. Many guesthouses and homestays are located in rural areas and offer a peaceful and scenic stay.

Hostels For budget-friendly accommodation, hostels are a good option in major cities. They offer shared dormitory rooms and private rooms at a lower cost than hotels. Some popular hostels in Kazakhstan include Hostel Almaty, Backpacker's Hostel Astana, and Hostel Atyrau.

Camping and Glamping Kazakhstan offers great opportunities for camping and glamping in the outdoors. Visitors can explore the natural beauty of the country while enjoying the comfort of camping equipment. There are many campsites and glamping sites in the country, including those located in the national parks and protected areas.

Apartment and Vacation Rentals For longer stays or for those who prefer more space and privacy, apartments and vacation rentals can be a great option. These rentals can be found in major cities and are often equipped with all the necessary amenities. They can be a cost-effective option for families or groups traveling together.

Money

Money Tips for Travel

  • Research the currency and exchange rates of your destination before you depart.
  • Notify your bank and credit card companies of your travel plans to avoid any potential issues with international transactions.
  • Bring a mix of cash, credit, and debit cards--and possibly a travel money card.
  • Be aware of the fees associated with withdrawing money from ATMs and using credit cards abroad.
  • Make sure to have a backup option for accessing money in case your primary method doesn't work.
  • Consider using a card with no foreign transaction fees.
  • Be aware of the local customs and etiquette when it comes to paying.
  • Keep an eye on the exchange rate throughout your trip and try to make large purchases or withdraw large sums of money when the rate is favorable.
  • NEVER accept currency conversion at ATMs! Always get your home bank to convert at much better rates.
  • Think about getting a Wise or other travel debit card; these can provide much better rates and some free ATM withdrawals.

ATM and Credit Cards

  • Research the availability of ATMs and credit card acceptance at your destination before you depart.
  • Keep your ATM card in a safe place and be mindful of your surroundings when using it.
  • Try to stick to using ATMs that are affiliated with major banks.
  • Keep your credit card information safe and secure, and be aware of potential scams.
  • Make sure your cards have the necessary security features, such as chip and pin.
  • Be aware of the fees associated with withdrawing money from ATMs and using credit cards abroad.

Exchange Rates

  • Research the currency and exchange rates of your destination before you depart.
  • Consider using a card with no foreign transaction fees.
  • Be aware of the local customs and etiquette when it comes to paying.
  • Keep an eye on the exchange rate throughout your trip and try to make large purchases or withdraw large sums of money when the rate is favorable.
  • Be careful of places that may offer to exchange money at rates that seem too good to be true.

Mobile

When traveling, getting mobile access is very important these days. If you are working remotely, wanting to update social media, or need to access your banks SMS authentication messages having a reliable service is a must. At WhereNext we recommend:

eSIM

Services such as those offered by our partner, Airalo, allow you to easily order and install an eSIM for different countries or regions that you are traveling in.

Dual SIM phone

If you have a phone that supports dual SIM's then you can get a SIM on arrival for each country, this is probably better done at a telco store rather than at the airport.

Extend your home plan

Depending on where you live and your mobile service provider you may be able to extend your plan to cover mobile roaming at reasonable rates.

Keep your primary SIM

With the amount of accounts we all have that require two factor authentication via SMS, keeping a constant number for these accounts is a must.

Community

There are several online communities and platforms that you can use to meet people while traveling, both for making new friends or for networking professionally. Some popular options include:

Facebook groups

There are many Facebook groups dedicated to connecting people while traveling, from expat groups and travel communities to groups specific to certain cities or regions of the country. You can search for groups based on your interests or location and connect with others who share similar interests.

Meetup

Meetup is a platform that allows you to find groups of people that share your interests in your local area. There are Meetup groups all around the world, and they cover a wide range of topics, such as language exchange, sports, and cultural activities.

Internations

Internations is a social network for people who live or work abroad. It has a large community of expats and organizes regular events, activities and gatherings that allow members to connect and socialize.

Couchsurfing

Couchsurfing is a platform that connects travelers with local hosts, who offer free accommodation and a chance to experience the local culture. It's a great way to meet locals and make friends!

Reddit

Reddit has a large community, and there are several subreddits dedicated to connecting expats and travelers. You can use it to ask questions, get advice, and connect with others who are also living or traveling in the country.

Linkedin

LinkedIn is primarily a professional network, but you can also use it to connect with people who work in the same industry or have similar backgrounds. It can be useful to connect with people before you arrive and establish a few professional contacts to help you get started.

At WhereNext, we use Nomad List as a global community and then research more local ones for our destination. These are just a few examples of online communities you can use to meet people; please suggest any others that you think are appropriate for this destination.

Insurance

Travel insurance can provide financial protection and peace of mind for travellers in the event of unexpected situations or emergencies. It covers a wide range of needs--even some you might not expect!

Medical Coverage

Travel insurance can provide coverage for medical expenses if you become ill or injured while traveling. This can include coverage for doctor visits, hospital stays, and emergency medical transportation. It's also a good idea to ensure that your travel insurance covers COVID-19 related illness and delays!

Trip Cancellation and Interruption

Travel insurance can provide coverage if you need to cancel or interrupt your trip due to unexpected events such as illness, weather, or travel bans. It can also provide coverage if your trip is delayed or if your travel provider goes out of business.

Lost or Stolen Luggage

Travel insurance can provide coverage for lost or stolen luggage, as well as personal items such as passports and electronic devices.

Emergency Assistance and Evacuation

Many travel insurance plans offer emergency assistance services, such as providing information on local hospitals and doctors, assistance with replacing lost or stolen documents, and help with arranging transportation in the event of an emergency. At WhereNext we have partnered with Global Rescue for evacuation services, which are highly recommended if you are undertaking dangerous activities or are travelling to dangerous parts of the world.

Liability coverage

Travel insurance can also provide liability coverage in case you cause an accident or harm someone while you are traveling.

Travel insurance can provide financial protection and peace of mind for travellers in the event of unexpected situations or emergencies. It can help cover the costs of medical expenses, trip cancellations, lost or stolen luggage, and more. It's always a good idea to review the coverage and compare the different options available before making a decision. At WhereNext we both use and have partnered with Safety Wing for general travel insurance.

Entry Requirements

Here are some general travel tips regarding entry requirements that apply across all countries:

Passport

Make sure that your passport is valid for at least six months from the date of your arrival in the country you are visiting. Some countries will not allow you to enter if your passport is set to expire within a certain period of time.

Visa

Check with the embassy or consulate of the country you are visiting to see if you need a visa. Some countries require a visa for entry, while others do not. Make sure to apply for a visa well in advance of your trip as the process can take several weeks. Check the latest Visa requirements and if necessary get an online Visa with our partner iVisa.

Health Requirements and COVID-19 Rules

Check with the embassy or consulate of the country you are visiting to see if there are any health requirements for entry. Some countries require vaccinations or proof of medical insurance. Check the latest health requirements and if necessary get an online Visa with our partner iVisa.

Travel Insurance

Consider purchasing travel insurance, especially if you are traveling internationally. Travel insurance can cover you in the event of trip cancellation, medical emergencies, and other unexpected events. Our travel insurance partner is SafetyWing. For dangerous activities and/or countries consider a rescue service like those offered by our partner, Global Rescue.

Customs

Be familiar with the customs and laws of the country you are visiting. Some countries have strict laws regarding drug possession, alcohol consumption, and dress codes.

Currency

Check the currency exchange rate and make sure you have enough local currency for your trip. Some countries may not accept credit cards or travelers cheques, so it is always good to have some cash on hand. At WhereNext we recommend use a Wise debit card, which provides low cost currency conversions and ATM withdrawals.

Research the country

Research about the culture, customs and laws of the country you are visiting. It will help you to understand the place more and also prepare you better for the trip.

Contact Information

Make a copy of your passport and keep it in a separate place from your passport. Also, leave a copy of your itinerary and contact information with a friend or family member at home.

COVID Status

I am vaccinated 
Kazakhstan Open
Test
Not required
Quarantine
Not required

Check Visa Requirements

      Things to Do

      Kazakhstan is a country of incredible natural beauty, rich culture, and fascinating history. From the snow-capped peaks of the Tian Shan Mountains to the vast steppes, there is no shortage of things to see and do in this Central Asian country. Here are the top 10 things to do in Kazakhstan:

      1. Visit Astana

      Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan, is a modern city with a unique blend of traditional and contemporary architecture. Visitors can admire the futuristic buildings, such as the Khan Shatyr Entertainment Center and the Palace of Peace and Reconciliation, and explore the historic sites like the Hazrat Sultan Mosque and the Central Mosque.

      2. Explore Almaty

      Almaty, the former capital of Kazakhstan, is the country's largest city and the main cultural and economic center. The city is surrounded by the beautiful Tien Shan Mountains and is known for its parks, museums, and delicious food.

      3. Visit Charyn Canyon

      The Charyn Canyon, located in the eastern part of Kazakhstan, is a natural wonder that is often compared to the Grand Canyon in the United States. The canyon has a unique landscape of red and orange rock formations that are perfect for hiking and photography.

      4. Take a trip to Kolsai Lakes

      The Kolsai Lakes are a group of three stunning alpine lakes located in the Tien Shan Mountains. The lakes are surrounded by lush forest and are perfect for swimming, fishing, and hiking.

      5. Visit the Baikonur Cosmodrome

      Baikonur Cosmodrome is the world's first and largest operational space launch facility. Visitors can take a tour of the facilities and learn about the history of space exploration in the Soviet Union and Kazakhstan.

      6. Explore the Tamgaly Tas Petroglyphs

      The Tamgaly Tas Petroglyphs are ancient rock carvings that date back to the Bronze Age. The site is located in the Ili River Valley and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

      7. Visit Atyrau City

      Atyrau City is located in Western Kazakhstan, near the Ural River. It is the oil capital of Kazakhstan and also has a rich history and culture. Visitors can explore the local markets, museums, and traditional bazaars.

      8. Take a trip to Altyn-Emel National Park

      The Altyn-Emel National Park is located in the eastern part of Kazakhstan and is home to a diverse range of wildlife, including the endangered argali sheep, snow leopards, and golden eagles. Visitors can also explore the park's beautiful landscapes, including the Singing Dunes.

      9. Visit the Museum of the First President of the Republic of Kazakhstan

      The Museum of the First President of the Republic of Kazakhstan is located in Astana and is dedicated to the life and legacy of the country's first president, Nursultan Nazarbayev. The museum features interactive exhibits and displays on the history of Kazakhstan.

      10. Enjoy Kazakh Cuisine

      Kazakhstan is known for its delicious cuisine, which combines traditional nomadic dishes with influences from Russia, China, and Central Asia. Visitors can try dishes such as beshbarmak (noodles with meat), kazy (horse meat sausage), and baursak (deep-fried dough balls).

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