What to see in Kazakhstan. All necessary information for the tourist



What to see in Kazakhstan. All necessary information for the tourist

Kazakhstan is not a popular tourist place. Still it has everything to impress even the most experienced and demanding travellers. Situated in between Europe and Asia with an area the size of the Old World, this country mesmerizes tourists with its fantastic landscapes and unique ancient culture.

Visa to Kazakhstan 

The majority of European, Asian and post-USSR countries along with USA and Canada have visa-free entry to Kazakhstan. Main condition: the term of stay should not exceed 30 days. 

Citizens of the countries which cannot use the simplified visa program can apply for an electronic visa. Complete list of countries and visa requirements can be checked at the Kazakhstan migration service official website.

Kazakhstan must-sees

Tourists appreciate the country for its unique nature and astonishing views. Also a great deal of affection is granted by the amazing local cuisine, options for extreme mountain and rafting tours. 

If active leisure is not your cup of tea, here is the list of the best sight-seeing's of Kazakhstan:

  • Almaty is the most developed city in the state. And the first one for the most tourists: almost all international airlines land in local airport. Along with walks by the cosy streets, tourists can see natural places of interest without exhausting mountaining. For example one can take a cable-car to Koktobe TV-tower or a tour to Charyn Canyon also known as the Valley of Castles. For a deep dive into local authentic it is necessary to visit Hun ento-village. 
  • Turkestan. This city once had been one of the main Great Silk Road hubs. Here tourists can visit majestic mausoleums. The most famous and popular is the Khoja Ahmed Yasavi mausoleum, situated in the city’s center. And within 60 km outside Turkestan lies a hill-fort of one of the biggest ancient Asian cities — Otrar.
  •  Nur-Sultan (Astana). Young, modern high-tech city is the new capital of the state. It fascinates visitors by the futuristic, fanciful architecture. Main sightseeing are the Palace of Peace and Reconciliation, Baiterek tower and Khan Shatyr shopping mall. When visiting Astana, tourists must take one day to see the Burabay National Park or Korgalzhyn State Nature Reserve. 
  • Saryarka — Steppe and Lakes of Northern Kazakhstan — is part of the UNESCO heritage list. Preserving this unique biosystem is the responsibility of the Naurzum and Korgalzhyn State Nature Reserves. The latter is known for the Tengiz Lake which belongs to the international project of ”Living lakes” and is a subject of the Convention on Wetlands. Here one can watch the pink flamingos which are rare for this part of the world, and also — pelicans, herons, storks and other birds of passage.
  • Bektau-Ata is a unique rock massif developed in the result of the volcano emergence. The crater as well as the volcano itself did not form. Yet a spectacular view was created. Locals consider this place to be sacred. Thus guides will gladly tell you a lot of interesting legends of Bektau-Ata.  
  • Fun fact: massif belongs to Sary-arka — the Kazakh Hummocks (not to be confused with the lake system of Saryarka mentioned earlier). These ancient highlands also showcase a picturesque Kokshetau upland (a part of the Burabay National Park), the Peak of the Brave Bayanaul and Karkaraly mountains.
  • Kiin Kerish terrain. The walls of the clay canyon have a striking resemblance with the martian landscapes thanks to the rare, rich color palette. Burgundy, coral and orange red, terracotta, shafran, bright yellow — combined with the bizarre shapes of Eolian crags these colorful landscapes are literally mind-blowing. The canyon is a palaeontology landmark: it was formed in the age of dinosaurs. 
  • Ustyurt Plateau and Bozjira terrain. Spellbinding fantasy-like pearly-rose landscapes once had been a bed for an ancient ocean. Chalk cliffs of Azu tister, chink terrace cascades and natural amphitheatre which can be admired from the plateu will not leave you indifferent.
  • Shakpak-Ata is a mosque carved in the massif of Ungaza mountain. Archaeologists say that this magnificent structure with the arches, columns and light windows was built in the X century. Meanwhile the mosque has a cross-like shape and each wing of the cross directly points to each of the four compass points. 
  • Kolsay and Kaindy Lakes. The reservoirs are located in the homonymous scenic gorges. Mesmerizingly beautiful, they are called the third blue pearl of Tianshan. The lake of Kaindy has a peculiar origin. It emerged due to a tectonic move which caused inundation of the pine forest by the waters of a mountain river. Thus the lake has a unique emerald tone. 
  • Baikonur is the only active cosmodrome in the former USSR. 

Along with the sightseeing every tourist must visit local oriental markets and give a try to a national cuisine. 

  • Visiting Kazakhstan: when

    The best time to visit Kazakhstan is spring or autumn. Summers here are dry and hot, while winters — cold, windy and dry because of the prairie climate. 
    Still for the fans of winter sports Kazakhstan can offer a good time at the ski areas of Shymbulak, Tabagan and Altay Alps.

    Tourist FYI 

    • Kazakhstan is one of the world's safest countries for tourism. There are state tourist bureaus which eagerly assist, consult and offer a sightseeing map. 
    • Almost all locals speak English and everyone speaks Russian. Yet while visiting the country especially its remote places, small towns and villages the tourist should keep in mind that:
    • The traffic is haphazard and pretty chaotic, pedestrians beware; 
    • The best way to travel between cities is to rent a car or to get onto  paid hitchhiking. Inter-city buses are not popular and are infrequent while train tickets are overpriced; 
    • Card payments are available at the large international networks. Locals prefer cash;
    • Prices at markets are usually  exaggerated and foreigners can face a 200% margin. The reason is that bargain here is normal and most welcomed;
    • Kazakhs are very hospitable. So if you are offered a treat or a tea with local sweets — don’t worry, it's okay. Remember if the guest refuses to take a treat or don’t eat much it is considered as an offense;
    • Eating without sharing is not accepted if you are not alone it is not. Due local etiquette one must offer a piece of the meal to the others.
    Note: do not underestimate the vastness of Kazakhstan. Sometimes the destination between two places can take thousands of kilometres. So don’t forget to check the timing when planning your trip.

    United Medical Tourism Expo: a major professional event to be held in Kazakhstan in the fall. More details here.