Kazakhstan - a Central Asian country and former Soviet republic, extends from the Caspian Sea in the west to the Altai Mountains at its eastern border with China and Russia. 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 artifacts.
Trip Planning: The planning stage of your trip can be instrumental in its success and an enjoyable part of the experience itself. You have a world of options...and plenty to consider.
Entry and Exit formalities: Visitors must hold a passport valid for at least six months & beyond at the time of entering the country. Some nationalities can obtain visa on arrival and for nationalities who requires visa please refer to the Kazakhstan consulate website: www.kazconsulate.ae
Transportation: Figuring out how to get around is one of your biggest pre-trip decisions. Get our holiday expert best advice on deciding between your options.
Based on your trip itinerary, our experts will help you choose wisely. You'll also find a wealth of practical travel tips.
Money: Use your money wisely. Know the best time to use cash or card — and how to avoid unnecessary fees either way — as well as tipping etiquette.
Phones and Technology: Phones and other smart devices can be huge time-savers...or expensive distractions. Get our tips for making the best use of technology during your trip, and for calling home with or without your own phone.
Packing Light: On your trip you'll meet two kinds of travelers: those who pack light and those who wish they had.
Sleeping and Eating: Your hotel and restaurant choices can be a matter-of-face chore…or they can provide rich opportunities to connect with locals and their culture.
Health & Hygiene: Take comfort: Doctors, hospitals, launderettes, and bathrooms aren’t that different. Dealing with them can even be part of the fun of travel.
Sightseeing & Activities: Once you're on the ground, the real fun begins…but it pays to have a thoughtful plan. Our experts will help you get oriented to your surroundings, use your sightseeing hours wisely, and find your way off the beaten path.
Things to see & do:
Almaty -Kazakhstan's largest metropolis, is set in the foothills of the Trans-Ili Alatau mountains. It served as the country's capital until 1997 and remains Kazakhstan's trading and cultural hub. Landmarks include the Central State Museum, displaying thousands of historic Kazakh artifacts. In the center is Panfilov Park, home to the bright-yellow towers of Zenkov Cathedral, a tsarist-era Russian Orthodox church.
Nur-Sultan - is the capital city of Kazakhstan. Known between 1998 and 2019 as Astana and before that Akmola, it was renamed Nur-Sultan in March 2019, in honour of the departing Kazakh president, Nursultan Nazarbayev.
Şymkent - known until 1993 as Chimkent; Russian: Чимкент, romanized: Čimkent, is a city in Kazakhstan. It is near the border with Uzbekistan. It is one of three Kazakh cities which have the status equal to that of a region.
Taraz - is a city and the administrative center of Jambyl Region in Kazakhstan, located on the Talas River in the south of the country near the border with Kyrgyzstan. It had a population of 330,100, up 9% from 1989, making it one of the fastest-growing cities in the country, after Nur-Sultan and Turkistan.
Atyrau- known until 1991 as Guryev, is a city in Kazakhstan, and the capital of Atyrau Region. Atyrau is a transcontinental city in Eurasia, located at the mouth of the Ural River on the Caspian Sea, in both Europe and Asia, 2,700 kilometres west of Almaty and 351 kilometres east of the Russian city of Astrakhan.
Semey - until 2007 known as Semipalatinsk and in 1917–1920 as Alash-kala, is a city in Kazakhstan, in East Kazakhstan Region, and in the Kazakhstan part of Siberia.
Kaskelen- is a town and seat of Karasay District in Almaty Region of south-eastern Kazakhstan.
Aktau - is a city in Kazakhstan, located on the Eastern shore of the Caspian Sea. Its current name means "white mountain" in Kazakh, which may be due to its cliffs that overlook the Caspian. From 1964 to 1991 city was known as Shevchenko.
Oskemen or Ust-Kamenogorsk - is the administrative center of East Kazakhstan Region of Kazakhstan. It is served by Oskemen Airport.
Kyzylorda - formerly known as Kzyl-Orda, Ak-Mechet, Perovsk, and Fort-Perovsky, is a city in south-central Kazakhstan, capital of Kyzylorda Region and former capital of the Kazak ASSR from 1925 to 1927.
Turkistan - is a city and the administrative center of Turkistan Region of Kazakhstan, near the Syr Darya river. It is situated 160 km north-west of Shymkent on the Trans-Aral Railway between Kyzylorda to the north and Tashkent to the south.
Pavlodar - is a city in northeastern Kazakhstan and the capital of Pavlodar Region. It is located 450 km northeast of the national capital Nur-Sultan, and 405 km southeast of the Russian city of Omsk along the Irtysh River.
Baikonur - formerly known as Leninsk, is a city of republic significance in Kazakhstan on the northern bank of the Syr Darya river, rented and administered by the Russian Federation.
Kokshetau, Kökshetaū - formerly known as Kokchetav, is a city in northern Kazakhstan and the capital of Akmola Region, lying in the north of Kokshetau hills, on the southern shores of Lake Kopa and the southern edge of the Esil Steppe.
Oral, Ural'sk in Russian - formerly known as Yaitsk, is a city in northwestern Kazakhstan, at the confluence of the Ural and Chagan rivers close to the Russian border. As it is located on the western bank of the Ural river, it is considered geographically in Europe. It is the capital of the West Kazakhstan Region.
Karaganda or Qaraghandy - is the capital of Karaganda Region in the Republic of Kazakhstan. It is the fourth most populous city in Kazakhstan, behind Almaty, Nur-Sultan and Shymkent. Karaganda is approximately 230 km south-east of Kazakhstan's capital Nur-Sultan.
Petropavl or Petropavlovsk - is a city on the Ishim River in northern Kazakhstan close to the border with Russia, about 261 km west of Omsk along the Trans-Siberian Railway. It is the capital of the North Kazakhstan Region. The city is also known colloquially in the Kazakh language as Kyzylzhar.
Taldykorgan - known as Taldy-Kurgan until 1993, is the capital of Almaty Region, Kazakhstan.
Jezkazgan or Zhezkazgan, formerly known as Dzhezkazgan, is a city in Karaganda Region, Kazakhstan, on a reservoir of the Kara-Kengir River. Its urban area includes the neighbouring mining town of Satpayev.
Kostanay - is a city located on the Tobol River in northern Kazakhstan. It was known as Nikolayevsk until 1895 and then as Kustanay until 1997. Kostanay is the administrative center of the Kostanay Region.
Temirtau - is a city in the Karaganda Region of Kazakhstan. The city is located on the Nura River, northwest of Karaganda.
Janaozen or Zhanaozen, formerly known as Novy Uzen - is a city in the Mangystau Region of Kazakhstan located south-east of the city of Aktau. The name of the town means "new river" in Kazakh. Zhanaozen is a city of regional significance.
Kentau - is a town in Turkistan Region of Kazakhstan. It is located at the foot of the Karatau mountains 30 km north-east of the city of Turkestan. Kentau was formed in August 1955.
Ridder, formerly known as Leninogorsk - is a city in the East Kazakhstan Region in north-eastern Kazakhstan. The city is situated in the south-western Altai Mountains and north-eastern of the region's capital, Oskemen, along the Ulba River, at an elevation higher than 700 metres.
Ekibastuz - is a town in Pavlodar Region, northeastern Kazakhstan. Ekibastuz is served by Ekibastuz Airport.
Balkhash - is a city in Kazakhstan, located on the northern shore of the Lake Balkhash, on the Bay Bertys, and in south of Kazakh Uplands.
Stepnogorsk - is a town in Akmola Region, Kazakhstan. It was established in 1959, and has been a town since 1964. It is located about 200 km North-East of Nur-Sultan. It began as a secret town with code names Tselinograd-25, Makinsk-2. The town is known as a nuclear and biochemical site.
Arkalyk - is a city in Kostanay Region, northern Kazakhstan. Earlier, it was the centre of Torgay Region, which was abolished in 1997. Today, it is the administrative centre of Torgay District, Kostanay Region. Established in 1956, it acquired the status of the city in 1965.
Satbayev - until 1990 Nikolsk, is a city in Kazakhstan's Karaganda Region. The city is named after Kanysh Satbayev, one of the founders of Soviet metallogeny, principal advocate and the first president of Kazakhstan Academy of Sciences.
Kapshagay - is a city in Almaty Region of Kazakhstan. It is located on the Ili River, and has been built along with the construction of Kapshagay Dam on that river in the 1960s. The dam has formed Kapchagay Reservoir, a popular weekend destination for beach-goers from Almaty.
Saran - is a city in Karaganda Region of Kazakhstan, on the Nura River. Population: 42,058; 42,957. The city was founded on December 20, 1954.
Shakhtinsk - is a town of regional significance in Karaganda Region of central Kazakhstan.
Rudny a city on the Tobol River in Kostanay Region of Kazakhstan. It appeared in 1957 in connection with the development of iron ore deposits, the construction Sokolovsko-Sarbai mining, and processing enterprise.
Shchuchinsk - is a city in northern-central Kazakhstan, located 75 kilometres south-east of Kokshetau on Lake Shchuchye. It is the seat of Burabay District in Akmola Region and is the centre of a large agricultural area.
Zharkent or Jarkent - formerly known as Panfilov and Dzharkent, is a town in Almaty Region, Kazakhstan, the administrative center of Panfilov District. It is located near the Usek river, not far from the Ili river. The town was founded in 1882 as Dzharkent.
Talgar - is a town in Almaty Region, southeastern Kazakhstan. It is the administrative center of Talgar District. The town is located between Almaty and Esik, 25 km from Almaty and several kilometres east of Birlik.
Atbasar - is a town in Aqmola Region of the northern Kazakhstan. It was founded in 1845. Atbasar is the 44th biggest city in Kazakhstan. Atbasar lies at an altitude of 282 meters above sea level.
Ayagoz or Ayakoz, formerly Sergiopol - is a city of regional significance in Kazakhstan, the administrative centre of Ayagoz district of East Kazakhstan Region. It is located in eastern Kazakhstan, on the banks of the river Ayagöz.
Fort-Shevchenko -is a military-base town and administrative centre of Tupkaragan District in Mangystau Region of Kazakhstan on the eastern shore of Caspian Sea. Primary industries include fishing and the extraction of stone.
Arys - is a town in Turkistan Region of Kazakhstan. Arys is the junction of two important rail lines: Trans-Aral Railway and Turkestan-Siberia Railway.
Aksu - literally meaning the white river, formerly known as Yermak, is a city in Kazakhstan, in Pavlodar Region, located 50 km to the south of Pavlodar on the left bank of the Irtysh River.
Karatau - is an administrative center in the Talas region located in the Jambyl Region in the south of Kazakhstan. It has an estimated population of roughly 30,000 in 1999. As of 2019, the population is now 27,667. The largest city from Karatau, Taraz, is approximately 100 km to the southwest.
Khromtau - is a town in Aktobe Region of Kazakhstan, the administrative center of Khromtau District. It was formed in 1967. Khromtau has important Chromium deposits, which are currently exploited in underground mines by Kazchrome, a subsidiary of Eurasian Natural Resources Corporation.
Akkol, formerly known as Alexeyevka - is a town in northern Kazakhstan. It is located 100 kilometres north of the national capital Nur-Sultan along the highway between Nur-Sultan and the Burabay National Nature Park. The town is the administrative centre of Akkol District of Akmola Region.
Shu - is a city in Jambyl Region of Kazakhstan. The city is located on the Shu River, and is populated by approximately 35,000 people.
Kulsary - is a town and the center of the Zhylyoi District in the Atyrau Region of western Kazakhstan. The city is located 11 kilometers from the Emba River, and 230 kilometers from the city of Atyrau, the center of the Atyrau Region.
Aksay is a town in north-western Kazakhstan. It is the administrative center of Borili District in West Kazakhstan Region. It is an important oil and gas town, serving as an operational base for the nearby Karachaganak Field.
Altai -until 2019 known as Zyryan or Zyryanovsk is a town of regional significance in East Kazakhstan Region of Kazakhstan, the administrative center of Zyryan District. It was established in 1791 and was granted town status in 1941.
Janatas - is a town in Sarysu District of Jambyl Region of southern Kazakhstan. It is located in the desert in the northwest of the region, at the border with South Kazakhstan Region. The name means "New stone" in Kazakh, referring to the newly found phosphorite deposits.
Esik - is a town in Almaty Region of Kazakhstan, the administrative center of Enbekshikazakh District. It is located on the Issyk River, at the foot of the Tian Shan, 53 km east of Almaty and 112 km over the mountains from Issyk Kul Lake.
Lle-Alatau National Park - is a beautiful national park located in the Trans-Ile Alatau mountains south of Almaty. The park was created in 1966 and is home to approximately 300 species of wildlife, including the snow leopard.
Zenkov Cathedral - its actual name is Ascension Cathedral. This building is a very popular stop on city tours because of its unique wooden architecture that dates back to pre-Soviet times in the beginning of the 20th century. The project of the building was designed by architect K.A. Borisglebskiy; however, it was not approved. In 1889 there was a legal regulation for construction work stating that public buildings should be built only with wood. This rule was a consequence of the devastating earthquake in 1887 that destroyed most of the stone buildings, but surprisingly not the wooden ones.
Presidential Palace - is located in the Republic Square in Almaty, Kazakhstan. Republic Square, an important square in Almaty, Kazakhstan, is used for public events and major festivals. It was founded in 1980, when the government realized that the former square was too small to accommodate the growing population. It was the residence of the First President of Kazakhstan, and is now used as a municipal building
Panfilov Park - In many post-Soviet cities in Central Asia, there are parks named after Panfilov’s 28 Guardsmen. He commanded the 316th Rifle Division, which mostly consisted of Kazakh and Kyrgyz soldiers during the defense of Moscow in 1941. Panfilov division died in battle during the World War II. You can see brutalist massive statues of the soldiers in the middle of the park. Erected in 1975 and was dedicated to the 30th anniversary of the WWII victory. You can also find a statue of General Ivan Vasilyevich Panfilov at the entrance to the park; his statue was installed in 1968.
Green Bazaar - is a central market in Almaty, full of fresh vegetables and fruits. You can try horse meat sausages, local delicacies or buy some spices.
Republican Museum of Folk Musical Instruments - Right next to the Green Bazaar there is a musical instruments museum. This museum was established in 1980 and contains more than 1,000 musical instruments and about 60 kinds of national Kazakh instruments. It is located right next to Panfilov Park and is in a pre-Soviet building that was built in 1908.
Almaty metro - was opened in 2011 and has only one line with 7 stations. Each metro station is beautifully decorated with different motives. This one below is called Zhibek Zholy, or the Silk Road and shows the map of the Silk Road through Kazakhstan.
Museum of History of Almaty - This was opened in 2002, and it has a collection of more than 35,000 artifacts and tells the story of Almaty.
Hotel Kazakhstan - One of the famous landmarks of Almaty became Hotel Kazakhstan. It is a 102-meter tall building with 26 stores. It was built in 1977 and up until 2008 has been Almaty’s tallest building. The building still raises high above the city with its golden crown. You can enjoy the view while getting to the top of the Kok Tobe Hill since the funicular station is located right next to the Hotel Kazakhstan.
Abay Opera House - is probably the first opera house in Almaty. Previously known as “Gatob”, it first came into being in 1933. Operation in its own theatre began in 1941, construction of which had started in 1936. It was renamed Abay Opera House in 1945, dedicated to the Kazakh poet, composer and philosopher AbayQunanbayuli. The House’s first director, the esteemed Yevgeny Brusilovsky, is responsible for eight national operas and a ballet. Including them, over forty international and Kazakh artworks have been performed here.
Kok Tobe Hill - is 1,100 meters high and located in the eastern part of Almaty. You can get to its top on a funicular that was built in 1967. A television tower was built in 1983 and it is 371 meters high. After riding the 1,730 meter-long funicular, you can enjoy the view of the city on top of the hill. It is one of the travel highlights of Almaty both for locals and foreigners. In summer, there are occasional concerts or entertainment events. You can also visit the statue of the Beatles.
Medeo Skating Rink - Since 1972, the population and guests of Almaty city can enjoy the public skating rank Medeo. The initial ice rank was constructed in 1951 and was used for competitions or training of athletes. It is located at 1,691 meters above sea level and it is one of the largest high-altitude ice ranks in the world. In the early 2000s, reconstruction was done and, in 2011, renovation before the Winter Asian Games. It is one of the most popular day trips from Almaty along with Shymbulak.
Shymbulak Ski Resort- Since 2011, Shymbulak and Medeo have been connected by a funicular and can be visited all year-round. It is a popular ski resort compliant with international standards and in summer a popular place for hiking, biking or paragliding. This ski resort was opened in 1954 with a 4 -floor Soviet hotel that could accommodate around 200 guests.
Kazakh State Academic Theatre of Opera & Ballet - This building was constructed between 1936 to 1941 by architects N. A. Prostakov and T. K. Basenov. However, the theatre of opera & ballet was established already in 1934 with a performance of the musical comedy “Ayman-Sholpan” written by Mukhtar Auezov. Auezov was a Soviet writer, playwright, and scientist. First Kazakh ballet performance was staged in 1938 and was called «Kaklaman & Mamyr.
Almaty Hotel Mosaic - Right across the street from Theatre of Opera & Ballet there is Almaty Hotel. If you walk there you can see mosaics on its outer wall. Mosaics reflect different aspects of Almaty, its nomad and Silk Road history as well as Kazakh culture and legends.
Arbat - If you keep walking on Panfilov street you will come to the Arbat passage. It is a passage of modern stores and cafes, as well as ZUM (Central shop) or literally central shop of the city. During the day you can see some local painting exhibitions or even order your own caricature or painting.
Central State Museum of Kazakhstan - This is one of the oldest museums in Kazakhstan and has more than 300,000 artifacts. Between 1929 and 1985, the museum was located in the Holy Ascension cathedral, also commonly known as Zenkov cathedral. Since 1985, it has been located in a new large building. In Almaty, there are 26 museums that can be visited during longer stays in the city; however, many of the smaller museums have information only in Russian.
Monument of Independence & the Republic Square - The independence monument is located on the Republic Square and is 34 meters high. It was designed by Shota Valihanov and his team. The statue of a Golden Man on top is 6 meters high. He is placed on a winged snow leopard known from Kazakh folklore tales and holds a steppe eagle at his right hand and a bow in his left hand. The statue refers to the rich nomadic past and symbolizes prosperity, growth, and stability as an independent state.
Brief History of Almaty - The earliest archeological findings on the territory of modern Almaty city dates back to 7th–3rd century BC. It was inhabited by the ancient nomadic Scythian/Saka and Wusun tribes. From the 8th to the 13th centuries, it was one of the stops on the Silk Road. In the 13th century, it was conquered by the Mongols and was slowly abandoned and lost its importance. At the place of earlier settlements, called known as Almatu or Almatau, the Russians established Fort Vernyi. Since then, it has constantly grown in size and developed.
Shymkent Zoo - is the state zoo of the city Shymkent in Kazakhstan. It is one of the largest and oldest zoological parks in the country. From the total zoo's area of 54 hectares, under an exposition 34 hectares. The Shymkent Zoo contains more than 20 kinds of animals brought in the 'Red book'. 25% of requirements of forages for animals the zoo grow up on own earth, the area of 30 hectares.
Kok Zhailau - literally translated into green pasture in Kazakh, a large open pasture and a popular hiking area located just outside the city of Almaty. A popular weekend spot among the locals as well as the tourists, this hike here takes up to 2 hours.
Aya Fantasy World - is an amusement park in Almaty, Kazakhstan. If you’re in the city and have a leisure day, it would be a great option to spend that day here with your family and children. There are a number of rides for children and some for adults to enjoy too! It would be better to carry some snacks to this park. There are also animals that your children can interact with. So, spend a fun-filled day with your kids here, at Aya Fantasy World.