Kazakhstan is a large country in Central Asia, well-known for its varied landscape. The wonderful blend of landscape including desolate steppes, picture perfect deserts and alpine scenery makes it a popular tourist hot spot. The country is also the world's largest landlocked country, which encompasses five climate zones and also has two time zones.
Kazakhstan has a beautiful blend of diverse landscape. The country's wilder regions can be best explored via a coach or minibus tour. Alternatively, travellers can hire a car with a private driver, which could be slightly expensive compared to other means of transport such as trains (multi-day trains), public buses and taxis (shared taxis or city taxis). A fun and inexpensive way of getting around is taking a "marshrutka", which are dilapidated vans that navigate around the town. The vans have a Russian sign stating the destination, and the drivers usually call out where they would be heading to.
Travellers to Kazakhstan need not be overly-cautious with their safety. However, it is necessary to take apt precautions while travelling in crowded areas. Travellers need to be alert about purse snatching, assaults, pickpocketing, theft especially on public transport, open markets (like the Green Market in Almaty), shopping areas, restaurants, parks, and major tourist hotels and nightclubs. It is also advised to be more cautious at night when the risk of crime typically increases. Apart from which, travellers need to be alert during their trips to nightclubs and bars in Almaty where they have been instances of tourists getting drugged and robbed. Travellers should also be aware of the possibilities of carjacking.
While touring the country, travellers can adhere to basic precautions like:
- Carry only what is needed
- Avoid walking alone at night
- Never leave drinks and food unattended
- Keep vehicle doors locked and windows up. Also, keep valuables out of sight.
- Watch the media for any new security risks.
When to Travel
The country has moderate temperatures during spring (April to June) and autumn (September to November), which are the best months to visit Kazakhstan. In July and August the temperatures reach 40°C (104°F), and in winter the temperature can touch -43°C (-109.4°F).
It is always polite to carry something (like pastries) for the hostess when invited to someone's house for dinner. Kazakhs are warm and hospitable people and it is good to arrive on time. Table manners are Continental, but some foods would need to be eaten by hand. Also, expect to be served second helpings.