Kazakhstan

The beauty of Kazakhstan isn’t just in its varied landscape - although its mountains, glaciers and deserts are truly spectacular. The real surprise is the welcome you’ll receive. With very few tourists here, the locals will open their arms and their homes to you. Add in canyon hikes, curious horse dishes and more camels than you can poke a hump at for a truly unique destination.

Kazakhstan Tours & Travel

Articles on Kazakhstan

The sea that turned to dust in Kazakhstan

Posted on Sun, 22 Jun 2014 by Sue Elliot

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

Read more

About Kazakhstan

At a glance

Trips Available: 0
Capital city: Astana (population 700,000)
Population: 17.5 million
Language: Kazakh, Russian
Currency: 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

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:
http://www.worldtravelguide.net/Kazakhstan/public-holidays
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.

SINGLE ENTRY TOURIST VISA.
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.

IMPORTANT:
- 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
Zhabagly
Kazakhstan 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.

LETTERS OF INVITATION (LOI):
A Letter of Invitation (LOI), sometimes referred to as an Authorisation or Visa Support Letter is very rarely required to apply for a Kazakhstan visa. Most nationals can apply direct to an embassy without supporting documents, including all EU countries, Australia, New Zealand, UK and USA.

Should you be from one of the few countries that does require an LOI, you will need to use a visa support service to contact a Kazakhstan travel agent such as this one: www.caravanistan.com/visa/kazakhstan/visa-support-letter-of-invitation/
Please note that it may take up to 21 days for the LOI to be issued and fees for this service may vary, including need to make minimal tour bookings to cover your length of stay.

SUPPORTING DOCUMENTS REQUIRED:
Most passengers now require Hotel Confirmation letters and Cover Letters. These supporting documents can be obtained from your booking agent.

VISA ON ARRIVAL:
It is not possible to obtain a visa on arrival at any land borders into Kazakhstan.

VISA EN-ROUTE:
While we strongly advise to apply for your visa in advance, it may be possible to apply for your Kazakhstan visa in Beijing if you are travelling there before your trip. Please plan carefully to ensure that you have enough time for your application and check embassy requirements. The following website may have useful information and traveller reports about applying for visas at this embassy: www.caravanistan.com

OTHER:
You need to have your Kazakhstan visa before beginning your trip. There is no Kazakhstan representation in Australia or New Zealand so nationals of those countries are advised to apply to the embassy in Singapore.

INFORMATION REQUIRED FOR VISA APPLICATION:
You will need to apply for a Single Entry Tourist Visa for this trip.

Temporary addresses in Kazakhstan:
36 Abai Street
Dzhabagly Village
Tulkubas Region
KAZAKHSTAN

Aral Tenizi
10-12, Makhstaev street
Aralsk, Kyzyl-Orda Region, 120100
KAZAKHSTAN

Contact/Inviting Organisation:
Aral Tenizi
10-12, Makhstaev street
Aralsk, Kyzyl-Orda Region, 120100
KAZAKHSTAN

DOCUMENTS REQUIRED FOR VISA APPLICATION:
* A letter addressed to the Consular Section of the Embassy of Kazakhstan indicating the purpose of your trip, your contact in Kazakhstan, the dates of your planned trip, and places to be visited (Aksu Dhzabagly, Aralsk, Turkistan)
* Photocopy of the personal details page of your passport
* Passport size photo (up to 4)
* Receipt of inward remittance/telegraphic transfer of visa payment (if applying by post)
* Please check with the embassy for any other specific requirements such as hotel confirmations etc and contact us if required. KAZAKHSTAN - Intrepid Travel - The Visa Machine

Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. The visa requirements for your trip vary depending on where you are from and where you are going. As a general rule most countries expect that you will have at least 6 months' validity on your passport. On arrival visitors may be asked to present return tickets and evidence of means to cover your intended stay. We keep the following information up to date as much as possible, but rules do change - it's important that you check for yourself. Residents from other countries must consult the relevant embassies or your travel agent.

Intrepid Travel have partnered with The Visa Machine in order to provide the supporting documents (Letters of Invitation, Hotel Confirmations etc.) required for visas in this region to our travellers.
By logging onto The Visa Machine website via the links below you will be able to access checklists of what information and documents you will need to prepare as well as apply for the visa support documents you will need. More specific information is provided below for your trip, however for all countries we advise that you start your visa support application with The Visa Machine no later than 3 months before your trip is scheduled to enter each country in order to allow for the lengthy process, and where applicable, to apply for your visa in advance.

If you are visiting multiple countries, we recommend submitting a single application to The Visa Machine which contains all the information necessary for visiting each country. This will allow The Visa Machine to provide you with the most efficient customer service.

Please remember that applying for the necessary supporting documents as well as the visas is the responsibility of the traveller. Once you have submitted your application to The Visa Machine you will be contacted by their customer service team along with any further instructions.

The following country specific visa information was current at the time of writing. Please check with your local Embassy/Consulate for the most up to date information and requirements before applying for your visas.
Instructions and Information:

Kazakhstan has dropped visa requirements for visitors from 10 countries for a one-year test period. 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. The no-visa pilot program for the 10 countries is supposed to last until July 15, 2015, after which it will be decided if the program will continue.
Please check with the Embassy for up to date information and requirements.
If you do require a Visa to enter Kazakhstan, please follow the below link to get the process started in obtaining your supporting documents with the Visa Machine.

http://intrepid-visa-support.thevisamachine.com/

Firstly please look at the Central Asia ‘CHECK LIST’ and make sure you have everything you need with you so you can start the process. The system doesn’t let you save your progress for later, so you must finish the entire application at the one time. If you are visiting multiple countries on your trip, the same information and documents may be required for different visas. Please make sure you carefully read the check list in order to eliminate any double up.

The Visa Machine will apply for the letter of invitation on your behalf. Once you are satisfied you have all information with you to apply for you visa support, click on the ‘Apply Now’ link and follow the instructions.

http://intrepid-visa-support.thevisamachine.com/visa-support

If you have any trouble with the online form please contact The Visa Machine on visasupport@thevisamachine.com or during UK working hours on +44(0) 207 148 6402.

Other Information:
* 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 if your Nationality requires a visa.
* It is not possible to obtain a visa on arrival at any land borders into Kazakhstan.
*You need to have your Kazakhstan visa before beginning your trip. There is no Kazakhstan representation in Australia or New Zealand so nationals of those countries are advised to apply to the embassy in Singapore.

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