This post will be all about Kazakhstan travel tips and all the cool facts about Kazakhstan and things to know before visiting Kazakhstan. From first timers to seasoned travelers, this post will be your go-to guide to get to know more of Kazakhstan and what awaits you from amazing hikes, mountains, cities, to delicious food to try in Kazakhstan.
Kazakhstan is the ninth largest country in the world and the most developed of the -stans countries, and the largest country in Central Asia. Kazakhstan got independent from Russia in 1991 and you will find people of different nationalities- from Russians, Germans, Ukrainians, to Uzbeks, and many more. The biggest ethnicity is Kazakhs around 65% of the population.
In Kazakhstan 70% of the population are Muslims and the language is Kazakh. Russian is also widely spoken and some people speak English. Read here Kazakhstan sim card for tourist, things to do in Kazakhstan and how to get from Astana airport to city center.
Kazakhstan Travel Tips And Things To Know Before Visiting Kazakhstan
1. IS IT SAFE TO TRAVEL TO KAZAKHSTAN?
Is it safe to travel in Kazakhstan? Of course, it is! I did not experience it when I visited Kazakhstan last June 2016. We suggest that you just take precautionary measures (like avoiding getting out at night and going to dark quiet places) to avoid pickpockets and be mindful of your belongings always. Don’t forget to have common sense!
Make sure that you bring your passport when you are outdoors! The authority may ask for it and they will fine you for not bringing it.
2. EASY VISA IN KAZAKHSTAN
Kazakhstan visa is easy and friendly. There are some nationalities who can visit Kazakhstan without visa for 14 days, 30 days, and 90 days. Europeans get 15 days free Visa upon arrival with no additional costs. See their Visa policy here to see if you qualify for a visa-less travel to Kazakhstan. Most of the countries like United States and Japan are included in the list.
3. CURRENCY AND ATMS IN KAZAKHSTAN
Cash is the king in Kazakhstan and make sure you are always bringing. Kazakhstan’s official currency is Kazakhstani Tenge (KZT). 1 USD = 420 KZT. There are many money changers or currency exchange in the airports, train stations, and streets of Kazakhstan. There are ATMs in the cities everywhere even small ones. Click here to know the real time exchange rate.
4. BEST TIME TO VISIT KAZAKHSTAN
I would say summer is the best time to visit Kazakhstan. The weather is warm and it’s perfect for outdoor activities. Summer lasts from the end of May until mid-September. If you want to experience the winter in Kazakhstan, visit here in November until the end of April. But we are warning you of the strong cold air that can be up to -50 °C!
You can also visit during spring (from mid-April to end of May) and autumn which is also a short season in Kazakhstan (from end of September to beginning of November).
Click here to get real time weather updates in Kazakhstan.
5. HEALTH TRAVEL INSURANCE
Things to know before visiting Kazakhstan we recommend always to bring a travel insurance when traveling abroad just in case you have any problems. You can always have food Poisson, fever or any other kind of disease.
Just make sure you are ready since it can be really expensive if you get a big surgery or problem in Kazakhstan. You can check ours in this link where you can get covered starting from $40 USD per month.
FACTS ABOUT KAZAKHSTAN
6. KAZAKHSTAN IS SO CHEAP
Facts about Kazakhstan if you are thinking of Asia and Central Asia is cheap for traveling you are right. Kazakhstan is as cheap as a few countries in Southeast Asia. You will have to pay entrance fee for Natural Parks, around $3-4 USD for a dish in a local restaurant. We will tell you below accommodation, food budget and general entrance fees and tour prices in Kazakhstan.
ACCOMMODATION IN KAZAKHSTAN
You can find accommodation in Kazakhstan for hostels starting from $10 USD. You can always look for better but more expensive options if you prefer starting from $30-50 USD you will find a decent room.
AirBnB is also available in Kazakhstan and you can get a place to stay for $15 USD. You can click here to get $30 USD off your first booking with AirBnB.
FOOD BUDGET TRAVEL IN KAZAKHSTAN
Traveling in Kazakhstan is easy and you can manage to get through the day with $10 USD per day for basic local food, water and tea since it is so popular in Kazakhstan. Always going for local restaurants, street markets will be easy to reach this budget.
7. WI-FI AND INTERNET CONNECTION IN KAZAKHSTAN
Internet in Kazakhstan works great in big cities like Astana and Almaty. You can access free WiFi at hostels and hotels and there are lots of restaurant that are offering free WiFi. The opposite exists in rural areas in Kazakhstan, as Wi-Fi and data connection are hard to find. We advise that you get a sim card in Kazakhstan if you need to catch up with some work online.
You can get two different sim cards companies in Kazakhstan if you travel as a couple since the coverage can change depending on the company that you choose. It will be challenging to find Wi-Fi while traveling in a few small cities, mountains and will be hard to get great connection.
8. ADAPTER IN KAZAKHSTAN
In our Kazakhstan travel tips you should know they use the European adapter. A few places make it possible to fit your American adapter in the plug. If you are coming from American countries, we recommend you to bring an European adapter to be able to charge everywhere.
9. TRANSPORTATION IN KAZAKHSTAN
Are you wondering in our Kazakhstan travel tips how good or bad transportation is in Kazakhstan? Well, it is not really bad in big cities. There are local buses between cities and there are mini vans for small towns called Marshrutka. Inside the big cities transportation is great and you will find buses moving around. Also taxis and Yandex like Uber are available in the cities in Kazakhstan.
If you will take long trips, buses and trains are available. Prices are similar and up to you what you prefer bus or train. I did by bus and I was also hitchhiking in Kazakhstan.
10. Hitchhiking in Kazakhstan
Is hitchhiking working in Kazakhstan? Yeah it is! You will find rides easily outside big cities but be careful for long distances and remote places it will be hard since there aren’t so many cars passing by. And sometimes you will have to ride a shared taxi to small town to get other transportation.
11. BORDER CROSSING IN KAZAKHSTAN
Border crossing in Kazakhstan are opened. As Kazakhstan is a huge country the 9th largest in the world ind any problem in the border it was fast and easy.
12. MEETING LOCALS IN KAZAKHSTAN
Meeting locals is something you shouldn’t miss when visiting Kazakhstan! You should definitely meet and make friends with locals as they are nice and friendly and you will have amazing time.
Don´t be surprised if locals invite you for a tea, lunch or dinner. They will be surprise of meeting you and they are so hospitable people. Just relax and have fun with them. I had the opportunity to meet locals and they invited me for tea, vodka and even eating horse meat.
13. Religion in Kazakhstan is Muslim
The religion in Kazakhstan is Muslim like the neighbor countries in Central Asia. Around 70% of the population in Kazakhstan are Muslim and around 25% are Russian Orthodox. You will find churches and mosques everywhere in Kazakhstan.
14. HIKE IN THE MOUNTAINS
You can hike the mountains in Kazakhstan. There are many mountains around Almaty. Zailiyskiy Alatau is a mountain range that extends up to Kazakhstan’s neighboring country Kyrgyzstan. The peaks of this mountain range are easily accessible from the center of Almaty only a 30-minute bus ride. Great hiking and beautiful views!
15. HORSEBACK RIDING STEPPES
You can try horse trekking in Kazakhstan to move around remote areas. Did you know that Kazakh steppe is believed to be the first land where horses were tamed? You can even use these animals for trekking (horse trekking). If you are looking for off the beaten path experience it will be an amazing opportunity to try.
FACTS ABOUT KAZAKHSTAN FOOD
Pelmeni are delicious dumplings with meat fillings such as pork, beef, or lamb. It may also be filled with vegetables. They also eat in Russia, it was one of my favorite food in Kazakhstan. You can find also in a soup the Pelmeni.
17. FUR COAT SALAD (SHUBA)
Fur Coat Salad (Shuba) is a traditional dish in Kazakhstan. Fur Coat Salad is made of chopped pickled herring, beets, potatoes, carrots, eggs and dressing. Fur Coat Salad is inspired from the Russians and a popular dish to try in Kazakhstan.
18. EAT BORSCHT
Borscht is a very popular soup to try in Kazakhstan. Borscht is popular dish around the world. Borscht is made of beetroot (which gives the soup its reddish color), cabbage and potatoes. Borscht is great for winter time in Kazakhstan.
19. TRY KUMIS OR HORSE MILK
Kumis or horse milk is also a traditional drink to try in Kazakhstan. As what I’ve said earlier, horses are a common source of milk in Kazakhstan. Kumis is very healthy and tasty! I actually liked it when I tasted it in Russia. Would you ever try kumis or horse milk?
20. TRY KURT
Kurt is a very popular snack in Kazakhstan. It is a salty snack and it is made from dried salty cheese. I didn’t have many when I tasted it because the flavor is too strong and savory.
21. HORSE MEAT AND BESHBARMAK
Another popular food in our Kazakhstan travel tips is the Horse Meat in Kazakhstan. Horse meat is one of the kinds of food that I tasted when I stayed with a nice Muslim family in Kazakhstan. I tasted Beshbarmak a dish which means “five fingers” because you are supposed to eat it with your five fingers. Beshbarmak is meat with boiled noodles and onion.
22. SHASHLIK OR KEBAB
Shashlik or Kebab is a very famous dish in Middle East and from other parts of the world. Shashlik is skewed meat (mostly lamb/beef) with vegetables like tomatoes, bell peppers, mushrooms and onions.
More Kazakhstan Travel Tips And Things To Know Before Visiting Kazakhstan
23. FESTIVALS IN KAZAKHSTAN
If you really love fun festivals. Here are some of the festivals you shouldn’t miss in Kazakhstan. During these days, people usually dress in traditional dresses and visit their family and friends to have festive meals. Kazakhs really love festivals and they prepare for each festivity.
March 22 – Nauryz Meiramy, May 1 – Kazakhstan People’s Unity Day, May 9 – Victory Day (a national holiday to honor the victory in Great Patriotic War), August 30 – Constitution Day, October 25 – Day of the Republic and December 16 –Independence Day of the Republic of Kazakhstan
Places To Visit in Kazakhstan
Astana is a modern city I was surprised. You can visit parks like the Presidential Park, Lovers Park, Bauyrzhan Momyshuly Park, Central Park, Astana Triatlon Park and a lot more.
For sightseeing in Astana the Bayterek Tower, Nur Astana Mosque, Palace of Peace and Reconciliation, Astana Opera and Astana Arena.
Almaty was the capital of Kazakhstan until 1997. Almaty has a bigger population (1.5M) than Astana (814 000). Almaty isn’t that modern as Astana. There are many good bars and restaurants, markets, and churches. Almaty is great place to stay and going for day trips for hiking and lakes around the area. All of them 30-40 minutes by bus from Almaty city center.
26. VISIT LAKE ISSYK
Lake Issyk is perfect if you love nature. You can capture one of Kazakhstan’s most beautiful landscapes here and you can relax and watch the sunset as well.
Karaganda is not a very touristic place. Karaganda is a great city to visit in the middle of your trip to walk around, meet locals and try Kazakh food. You will find a few street markets. There are a few landmarks: Monument Mining Glory, Independence Stele, Monument to Cosmonautics, Statue of Lenin and many more.
There a lot of churches and mosques to visit in Karaganda like Vvedenskiy Cathedral, Church of the Intercession, Church of Peter and Pavel, Karaganda Regional Mosque which is one of the largest in Kazakhstan.
28. VISIT CHARYN CANYON
Charyn Canyon or Sharyn Canyon is an impressive 90 kilometers canyon that boasts colorful formations in different sizes and shapes. It should be definitely on your list of things to do in Kazakhstan on your next trip.
29. BAYANAUL NATIONAL PARK
Bayanaul National Park is located in Pavlodar Province. You can go for hiking, biking, rock climbing and swimming. Swimming can be done in Jasybay Lake and there are a few more interesting areas to explore.
30. EXPLORE KOSTANAY
Kostanay is one of the memorable places in Kazakhstan. Kostanay is a rural area where I stayed with a Muslim family for three days. I tasted different Kazakh cuisines like Kumis, Kurt, and Horse Meat. It was a really great experience for me! It´s a must having your off beaten path experience in Kazakhstan.
WHERE TO STAY IN KAZAKHSTAN
You can find accommodation in hostels starting from $10 USD. You can always look for better but more expensive options if you prefer starting from $30-50 USD you will find a decent room.
AirBnB is also available in Kazakhstan and you can get a place to stay for $15. You can click here to get $30 USD off your first booking with AirBnB.
Having insurance while you are traveling outside your home country is very important. Make sure that you have one too, to keep you safe in your trips around the world.
Hope you liked our Kazakhstan travel tips. Let us know if we missed things to know before visiting Kazakhstan and facts about Kazakhstan in the comments below.
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