Inspiro Group - Travel and Logistics
Inspiro Group - Travel and Logistics
Inspiro Group - Travel and Logistics
96, Boulevard Erkindik, Bishkek,
720040, Kyrgyz Republic
Tel.: +996 (312) 30-46-17, 90-12-95
Fax: +996 (312) 90-12-95

Kazakhstan travel information

Kazakhstan travel information

Quick Facts
Capital:            Astana
Government:   Republic
Currency:        Tenge (KZT)
Area total:       2,717,300 km2
water:              47,500 km2
land:                2,669,800 km2
Population:      15,233,244 (July 2006 est.)
Language:        Kazakh (Qazaq, state language) 64.4%, Russian (official, used in everyday business) 95% (2001 est.)
Religion:         Muslim 47%, Russian Orthodox 44%, Protestant 2%, other 7%

Kazakhstan is by far the largest of the states of Central Asia of the former USSR. It has borders with Russia, China, and the Central Asian countries Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. It is the world's ninth biggest country by size, and is more than twice the size of the other Central Asian states combined. Its lack of significant historical sites and endless featureless steppe have put many off Kazakhstan, but many are captivated by the emptiness and mystery of this goliath state. It will be many travellers' first port of call on their Central Asian adventure, and there is much for the intrepid traveller to enjoy.

Astana (Aqmola) - 2nd largest city, and capital since December 1998
Almaty - largest city, and capital prior to December 1998

Get in
Virtually everybody requires a visa in advance for visiting Kazakhstan, and for most the visa application has to be supported by a letter of invitation (although this is technically not required for single-entry tourism or business visas for citizens of most industrialized countries). See more detailed information in section Kazakhstan visa.

All visitors arriving by air and some obtaining their visas in Western countries are preregistered with the Office of Visas and Registration (OVIR), but those who don't fit either category have to tackle this bit of bureaucracy in person at the OVIR offices in Almaty or Astana.

By plane
Air Kazakhstan stopped flying at the end of March 2004. The most important carrier is now Air Astana which flies to Almaty, Astana, Aktau, Aktobe, Atyrau, Uralsk, Dubai, Moscow, Delhi, Beijing, Istanbul, Bangkok, Hannover, London, Amsterdam, Frankfurt and Seoul.

Lufthansa has also seven days flights to Almaty, from where you can go anywhere via local carrier SKAT, which flies to most cities in Kazakhstan. British Airways (Almaty-Heathrow route taken over by bmi from Sept 2007)and KLM now fly several times a week to Heathrow/Schiphol. Turkish airlines is good passenger carrier, with flights to Istanbul. There are twice a week flights from Seoul to Almaty, one is Asiana Air Line and the other is Astana. Airbaltic also flies to Almaty.

By train
Popular routes include Almaty to/from Moscow (77 hours), Novosibirsk (35 hours) and ?r?mqi, China.

The trains are a great way to meet people. Most travellers take food for the journey as restaurant car provision is sporadic (and they expect you to share yours too!). If you don't have enough to last the distance, the trains generally stop for 15-20 mins at each station and there are always people on the platform selling food and drink, at any time of day or night.

By car
You can enter Kazakhstan by car through many of the border checkpoints on main roads into the country. However, be prepared to wait up to 24 (twenty-four) hours in the queues with rather poor facilities.

By bus
It is fairly easy to travel from Urumqi China to Almaty via sleeper bus, especially if you aren't in a hurry and don't mind living on a bus for a good 24 to 36 hours. The border crossing itself is a bit of a hike, and you may be made to carry all of your belongings with you for quite a ways in some seriously warm weather. The bus trip and "baggage fees" are around 45$ US. You can pick up your Kazakhstan visa at the embassy in Urumqi as well, but be prepared to chill for at least a week waiting, and be sure to get a copy of your passport before handing it over.

By boat
As of 2007, there appear to be no scheduled passenger services across the Caspian. However, a ferry from Baku, Azerbaijan to Aktau, Kazakhstan is reported by some travellers to run once or twice a week across Caspian Sea.

Get around
Public transportation in big cities is rather popular. You can use buses, trolleys, trams and minibuses. One big minus of all of them is that they never come on schedule and very crowded on peak time. Use taxis as they are very cheap (1-4 euros within city). You don't have to use official taxis, basically you can stop almost any car on the street by raising your hand. Official taxis cost 3-5 times more.

You can travel within country using taxis, buses, trains and planes, it depends on your budget and demands. Renting a car is rather costly compared to other means of transport.

A common way to get around is by unofficial taxis. Any time of day, just wave your hand and someone will stop. Locals do this all the time. Negotiate the price and destination before you agree to go. To be safe though, do not get in a car if more than one person is driving.

A fun and cheap way to get around is by taking a marshrutka. These are the dilapidated vans that cruise around town. They usually have a sign (in Russian) listing the destination, and the driver will usually call out where they are going.

Meat, potatoes, rice and pasta. And lots of it. If you're vegetarian be wary, because if it doesn't have meat in it, it was almost certainly cooked on meat stock.

Some recommend dishes:
Laghman - a thick noodle dish, usually served as a soup
Manty - large steamed dumplings full of meat and onions
Plov - wonderful dish of fried rice, meat, carrots, and sometimes other bits such as raisins or tomatoes
Beshbarmak - wide, flat noodles, with boiled horseflesh on top - the traditional meal of Kazakhs
Shashlyk - skewered, roasted chunks of meat, served with some sort of flatbread (usually lavash) and onions

You can find any sort of drink you want, some of the traditional beverages include:
Kumiss - fermented mare's milk.
Kumyran (Shubat)- fermented camel's milk
Kvas - described as similar to root beer it can be bought in a bottle in a store, or by the cup from people with giant yellowish tanks of it on the street

Inspiro Group - Travel & Logistics

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