Kazakhstan is a landlocked, transcontinental country located in Central Asia and Eastern Europe. It is bordered by China, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. The terrain extends west to east from the Caspian Sea to the Altay Mountains and north to south from the plains of Western Siberia to the deserts of Central Asia. The government system is a republic with authoritarian presidential rule and little power outside the executive branch. The chief of state is the president, and the head of government is the prime minister. Kazakhstan has a mixed economic system that includes a variety of private freedom, combined with centralized economic planning and government regulation. Kazakhstan is a member of the Eurasian Economic Union (EAEU).
The world’s ninth-biggest country is the most economically advanced of the ‘stans’, thanks to its abundant reserves of oil and most other valuable minerals. This means generally better standards of accommodation, restaurants and transport than elsewhere in Central Asia. The biggest city, Almaty, is almost reminiscent of Europe with its leafy avenues, chic ALZhiR Museum-Memorial Complex, glossy shopping centres and hedonistic nightlife. The capital Nur-Sultan, on the windswept northern steppe, has been transformed into a 21st-century showpiece with a profusion of bold futuristic architecture. However, it is beyond the cities that you will find the greatest travel adventures, whether hiking in the high mountains and green valleys of the Tian Shan, searching for wildlife on the lake-dotted steppe, enjoying homespun hospitality in village guesthouses, or jolting across the western deserts to remote underground mosques.
An interesting fact about Kazakhstan is that the country is divided into two different time zones!
Welcome to Almaty!
Almaty is Kazakhstan’s main transport hub and a place many travelers pass through. Stay a few days and you’ll find that it is a sophisticated place – one for enjoying green parks and excellent museums, shops and markets, and for eating, drinking and partying in Central.
Asia’s best selection of restaurants, cafes, bars and clubs. And great mountain hiking and skiing are right on the doorstep.
Our top picks in the city of Almaty are:
Medeu Skating Rink
If you love skating, then this the place for you! Medeu Skating Rink is located at around 5,548 feet (1691 meters) above sea level and is known as the highest skating rink in the world! This place is a resort, as well as a skating rink and is best for skating, speed skating and hockey, as well. It is an ideal place for youngsters, as well as adults who love to sports. This place also features a staircase of 842 stairs, leading to Medeu. So, venture out to this place as the climb is worth trying!
Are you in the mood for some adventure? Then, Kolsai Lakes is the place you must visit. It’s a combination of three lakes that are very popular, near Almaty. If you want to admire the serene beauty of this place and its wild, natural beauty, then this is the right place. It is an extraordinary place to explore, as commuting to the first lake can be done by car, but from there, you need to walk to reach the second lake or you can even use horseback! It takes an entire day to visit all three lakes and return. Sounds fascinating, right? Well, don’t wait further and head out to this beautiful place!
Panfilo Park WWll War memorial
This park is one of the most popular places for tourists to visit, in Almaty! It is located in the center of Almaty and it is open for all age groups. There is a story attached to this park. It was named after a group of strong soldiers who sacrificed their lives fighting, during WWII. A total of 28 soldiers died and today they are known as the Panfilov Heroes! Amazing right? So, what are you waiting for? Visit this fascinating place and get a chance to see this park’s beauty.
If you’re looking for an amazing place to shop for some of the finest ingredients, look no further than the Green Bazaar – the best place to go if you are in the mood for some shopping! This place has a vast selection of dairy products, as well as amazing nuts and dried fruit and it is an explosion of culinary flavours and smells, where a variety of food products, including meat, are also available!
Big Almaty Lake
One of the things that make Big Almaty Lake unique is that it is forbidden to swim in the lake, as it is the main water source for the residents of Almaty. Pipes carry the water from the reservoir down the mountains to the city. There are several guards walking around to ensure that no one oversteps the boundaries and goes down to the lake’s shore.
The Ascension Cathedral, also known as Zenkov Cathedral, is a Russian Orthodox cathedral located in Panfilov Park in Almaty, Kazakhstan. Completed in 1907, the cathedral is made out of wood but without nails. Its height is 56 meters tall, and is claimed to be the second tallest wooden building in the world.
Shymbulak Ski Resort
Shymbulak, also known as Chimbulak is a ski resort near Almaty. It is the largest ski resort in Central Asia. It is located in the upper part of the Medeu Valley in the Zailiisky Alatau mountain range, at an elevation of 2,200 meters above sea level.
Central State Museum
Almaty’s best museum takes you through Kazakhstan’s history from Bronze Age burials and nomadic culture to WWII sacrifices, telecommunications and the transfer of the capital to Nur-Sultan, with many beautiful artefacts on display. A large replica of the Golden Man (a national symbol of Kazakhstan; a 3rd- or 4th-century warrior whose gold-clad remains were uncovered in 1969) stands in the entrance hall.
Welcome to Nur Sultan!
Nur-Sultan, known as Astana before March 2019, is the capital city of Kazakhstan. It is located in the north-central part of the country, along the Ishim River, at the junction of the Trans-Kazakhstan and South Siberian railways. Founded in 1824 as a Russian military outpost, Nur-Sultan became an administrative centre in 1868. Its population had reached 33,000 when it was made a province in 1939. The city grew in importance during the Soviet period by the government’s Virgin and Idle Lands Campaign from the mid-1950s. In 1961, the city was named Tselinograd, meaning “City of the Virgin Lands” in Russian. There was much new construction and the establishment of various research and higher educational institutions such as teacher training, agriculture, medicine, engineering and construction. Following Kazakhstan’s independence in 1992, the city was known as Aqmola. In 1994, the Kazakh government resolved to transfer the national capital from Almaty to Aqmola, a process that was completed in 1997, and the city’s name was changed to Astana (“Capital City” in Kazakh), the following year.
Alzhir Memorial Museum
During the Stalin years, Akmol, 35km west of Nur-Sultan, housed ALZhIR, a notorious camp for wives and children of men who were interned elsewhere as ‘betrayers of the motherland’. The ALZhIR Museum-Memorial Complex poignantly evokes the camp’s horrors, displaying a transportation wagon, a replica guard post and photos and possessions of the prisoners, as well as explanatory material in English on the Gulag system in Kazakhstan. Minibuses to Akmol (400T, one hour) leave Nur-Sultan bus station eight times daily. Some of the most heart-rending exhibits are letters – from children to their imprisoned mothers, from mothers determined to survive and see their families again, as well as unusual possessions: a coffee grinder inscribed with ‘When a man is tired of London, he’s tired of life’.
Tian Shan Mountains
The Tian Shan is north and west of the Taklamakan Desert and directly north of the Tarim Basin in the border region of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Xinjiang in Northwest China. In the south, it links up with the Pamir Mountains and to north and east it meets the Altai Mountains of Mongolia.Many of our pioneering trips to Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and China take in the Tain Shan Mountains of Central Asia, with its varying landscapes, high passes, stunning lakes and the spectacular pyramid of Khan Tengri.There are plenty of spectacles and experiences to unfold in this ‘heavenly’ mountain range.