Kazakhstan is the world’s ninth biggest country, and it’s got a lot more going for it than oil and Borat. Thanks to natural resources (and sheer size) Kazakhstan is probably the best developed of the –stans. You’re more likely to get a good coffee on the leafy avenues of Almaty than anywhere else on the Asian steppe, and the country’s capital, Asatana, is a 21st-century showcase of modern architecture and futuristic design. Not what you’d expect from a country where the horse and cart is still a pretty big deal. Whatever your expectations are, leave them in the arrivals lounge. Kazakhstan defies them all.

Kazakhstan Tours & Travel

All our Kazakhstan trips

USD $3,360
CAD $4,190
AUD $4,425
EUR €2,875
GBP £2,255
NZD $4,755
ZAR R50,780
CHF FR3,180
Veer off the beaten track in Kazakhstan. Watch a rocket launch in Baikonur, visit the Aral Sea and discover the...

Articles on Kazakhstan

Introducing our brand new Expedition trips for 2016

Posted on Thu, 12 May 2016

After months of planning, arguing, drinking and pondering, we've come up with the craziest adventures on the planet: our Expedition trips.

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The sea that turned to dust in Kazakhstan

Posted on Sun, 22 Jun 2014

Some places in the world are stunning in their starkness and too emotional to fully comprehend, as Intrepid's Masha Rogozhina discovered in Kazakhstan.

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About Kazakhstan

At a glance

Capital city: Astana
Population: 17,693,500
Language: Kazakh, Russian
Currency: Tenge (KZT)
Time zone: (GMT+06:00) Astana, Dhaka
Electricity: Type C (European 2-pin) Type E (French 2-pin, female earth) Type F (German 2-pin, side clip earth)
Dialing code: +7

Best time to visit Kazakhstan

Kazakhstan has a continental climate, which lends itself to extreme temperatures. In summer (June to August) it can climb above 36 degrees C (96°F) and in winter (December to February) you can expect temperatures to be as low as -26 degrees C (-10°F). Snow stays on the ground for almost half the year. The best time to travel is during spring (May to June) and autumn (September to November) when temperatures are mild. While it can rain at any time of year, the amount varies across the country. In the desert you’ll get very little, while in the mountains it’s best not to leave home without a rain jacket... and perhaps a small boat.

Kasakhstan weather chart

Top Picks

Besbarmak i- Kazakhstan’s national dish

Top 5 Tastes of Kazakhstan

1. Beshbarmak

This is Kazakhstan’s national dish and a meat lover’s delight. Chunks of boiled mutton served on flat squares of pasta.

2. Kazy

Get ready for sausage, Kazakh-style. Made with horsemeat, the sausage is cooked for two hours before being served with generous servings of onion.

3. Qymyz

Wash down your main course with a glass of fermented mare’s milk. It’s mildly alcoholic and has a fizzy sensation. Shubat is another version made with camel’s milk.

4. Baursaki

Try these fried, doughy balls of goodness alongside soup.

5. Shay

Make new friends wherever you go by sitting down and sharing a cup of shay. This black or green tea is a Kazakh staple.

FAQs on Kazakhstan

Australia: Yes - in advance
Belgium: Yes - in advance
Canada: Yes - in advance
Germany: Not required
Ireland: Yes - in advance
Japan: Not required
Netherlands: Not required
New Zealand: Yes - in advance
South Africa: Yes - in advance
Switzerland: Yes - in advance
United Kingdom: Not required
USA: Not required

From 15 July 2014 to 15 July 2015 nationals of the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy, Malaysia, the Netherlands, the UAE, and Japan can travel in Kazakhstan visa free for up to 15 days.

Please check with the Embassy for up to date information and requirements.

Please complete the Central Asia & China visa form and return it to centralasiavisas@dragoman.co.uk, indicating where you will be obtaining your visa.

Visa and other entry and exit conditions change regularly. Please check at your nearest Embassy or Consulate for up to date information on obtaining a visa or contact a visa agency such as Travcour UK.

Visa processing time:
- Applications for visas submitted in person will be processed within 3 working days.

In order to apply for a Kazakhstan 30 day single entry tourist visa, you will need to provide your embassy with the following documents:

1. A letter with a request to issue a visa addressed to the Consular Section of the Embassy of Kazakhstan (supplied by Dragoman). Please, indicate the purpose of your trip, your contact in Kazakhstan, the dates of your planned trip, and places to be visited.
2. Printed hotel booking confirmation (Supplied by Dragoman)
3. A completed visa application form (one per person). All fields must be completed; otherwise your application can be refused.
4. A valid passport (a photocopy will not be accepted) which should have at least one blank page for a visa. Your passport must be valid for at least six months longer than the validity of the requested visa.
5. One passport size photo of the applicant which should be stapled to the marked space in the upper right hand corner of the application form.
6. Payment should be done by card, cheque/ postal order payable to the Embassy of Kazakhstan (no cash) - This costs approximately 35 GBP.
All nationalities should check with their respective embassies for more information and costs.

- On some trips you used to be able to obtain your visa en route in either Bishkek or Tashkent. This is no longer possible and you must now obtain your visa in advance.

NAME OF HOST - for the application form:
Wild Nature
House 14
Taldybulak St
A service charge of 10% is included at most restaurants so tipping isn’t necessary.
There are internet cafes available in the main towns and in libraries and universities.
Reception is good in the main towns but sketchy elsewhere. Ensure you have global roaming activated with your carrier if you wish to use your phone.
Toilet facilities may be very basic. Expect drop toilets outside of hotels and bring your own toilet paper as there may not be any.
Bottle of soft drink = 120 KZT
Beer in a bar or restaurant = 400 KZT
Simple lunch = 800 KZT
Three-course meal = 3500 KZT
Short taxi ride = 500 KZT
Drinking tap water in Kazakhstan isn’t recommended. For environmental reasons, try to avoid buying bottled water. Fill a reusable water bottle or canteen with filtered water. It's also advisable to avoid ice in drinks and peel fruit and vegetables before eating.
Credit cards are accepted in major shops and hotels in Almaty.
There’s some access to ATMs in major towns and cities.
Absolutely. All passengers travelling with Intrepid are required to purchase travel insurance before the start of your trip. Your travel insurance details will be recorded by your leader on the first day of the trip. Due to the varying nature, availability and cost of health care around the world, travel insurance is very much an essential and necessary part of every journey.

For more information on insurance, please go to: Travel Insurance
Jan 1 New Year’s Day
Jan 7 Russian Orthodox Christmas Day
Mar 8 International Women’s Day
Mar 21 Nauryz Meyrami (Persian New Year)
May 1 People’s Unity Day
May 9 Victory Day
Aug 30 Constitution Day
Oct 15 Eid al-Adha (Feast of Sacrifice)
Dec 16 Independence Day

Please note these dates are for 2013. For a current list of public holidays go to:

Health and Safety

Intrepid takes the health and safety of its travellers seriously, and takes every measure to ensure that trips are safe, fun and enjoyable for everyone. We recommend that all travellers check with their government or national travel advisory organisation for the latest information before departure:

From Australia?

Go to: http://www.smartraveller.gov.au/

From New Zealand?

Go to: http://www.safetravel.govt.nz/

From Canada?

Go to: http://www.voyage.gc.ca/

From US?

Go to: http://travel.state.gov/

From UK?

Go to: http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/

The World Health Organisation

also provides useful health information:
Go to: http://www.who.int/en/

Responsible Travel

Kazakhstan Travel Tips

Intrepid is committed to travelling in a way that is respectful of local people, their culture, local economies and the environment. It's important to remember that what may be acceptable behaviour, dress and language in your own country, may not be appropriate in another. Please keep this in mind while travelling.

Top responsible travel tips for Kazakhstan

1. Be considerate of Kazakhstan’s customs, traditions, religion and culture.

2. Dress modestly and respectfully. Shoulders to knees should be covered when entering places of worship.

3. For environmental reasons, try to avoid buying bottled water. Fill a reusable water bottle or canteen with filtered water instead.

4. Always dispose of litter thoughtfully.

5. Smoking is banned in public places.

6. When bargaining at markets, stay calm, be reasonable and keep a smile on your face. It's meant to be fun!

7. Learn some local language and don't be afraid to use it - simple greetings will help break the ice.

8. Shop for locally made products. Supporting local artisans helps keep traditional crafts alive.

9. Refrain from supporting businesses that exploit or abuse endangered animals.

10. Please ask and receive permission before taking photos of people, including children.

11. When on community visits or homestays, refrain from giving gifts or money to locals.

Further reading

Recommended reading

Title Author
Apples Are From Kazakhstan: The Land that Disappeared Christopher Robbins
Once in Kazakhstan: The Snow Leopard Emerges Keith Rosten
Kazakhstan: Surprises and Stereotypes After 20 Years of Independence Jonathan Aitken
Kazakhstan: Unfulfilled Promise Martha Brill Olcott