Kazakhstan Travel Guide
Kazakhstan is a country located in Asia with name that begins with letter K. Is there anyone? – Hardly any other country in the world is as sparsely populated as Kazakhstan. Just 19 million people live in an area that is more than a quarter of Europe. Russian and Kazakh are spoken. About two thirds of the population are Muslims and one third are Russian Orthodox Christians. However, religion hardly plays a role in everyday life and is usually only practiced on high public holidays.
The ninth largest country in the world by area stretches from Russia in the north to China and Kyrgyzstan in the south. Most of the country consists of low hills and plains, almost half of the state’s area is covered by sand or gravel deserts. It only becomes mountainous in the south-east of the country: Kazakhstan’s highest peak, the Khan Tengri at 7,010 meters, is in the Tian Shan Mountains. The spruce forests of this mountain range are home to the snow leopard, which is the national animal of Kazakhstan. His image can be found on old banknotes, on postage stamps and not least in the city coats of arms of the largest cities in Kazakhstan, Almaty and Astana. Check Countryaah to find more countries that begin with letter K.
The passport must be valid for at least six months after the planned departure date. A visa is not required for a stay of up to thirty days. However, a registration certificate will be issued upon entry, which must be carried with you at all times during your stay and presented on departure.
The continental climate of Kazakhstan is characterized by large temperature differences between the seasons and between day and night. 35 degrees plus in summer, 35 degrees minus in winter are not uncommon.
Food and drink
Kazakh dishes are simple, strong and usually only seasoned with salt and pepper. The dumplings filled with meat, onions or cheese, samsa, shashlik or the rice dish Palau, which is prepared with mutton or horse meat, raisins and beets, are popular. A national specialty is Beshbarmak, boiled meat and onions on wide, lasagne-like pasta sheets. In addition, one usually drinks tea, vodka or the slightly alcoholic kumis made from fermented horse milk.
A central element of the distinctive Kazakh hospitality is the vodka; it is part of everyday life and refusing an invitation to drink is considered extremely unfriendly. At least a small sip should be tried. Toasts are very popular, and so one drinks to health, mother, the beauty of women, world peace, the sun and just about everything else.
The standard vaccinations are sufficient. However, because the medical care does not meet Western European standards, travel health insurance including repatriation insurance is recommended.
Kazakhstan is a safe country to travel to. In the large cities of Almaty and Astana, however, the usual petty crime must be expected. Beware of pickpockets, especially in the hustle and bustle of the bazaars.
Climate and travel time
There is a pronounced continental steppe climate with strong temperature fluctuations between day and night, as well as summer and winter. There are milder climatic conditions in the south and south-east of the country. Here the maximum temperatures in summer are only 27 °C and the minimum temperatures are -13 °C. In the north, however, over 30 °C in summer and sometimes -30 °C in winter can be reached. Because of these hot summer months and bitterly cold winter months, spring (April to June) and autumn (September to October) are the best times of the year to travel to Kazakhstan.
All about money
The local currency is the tenge.
An exchange for the local currency before the start of the trip is neither necessary nor advisable. In the country, US dollars and euros can be exchanged at the numerous exchange offices without any problems. These usually have a better exchange rate than banks. Important: Never have the money exchanged on the black market, as this is associated with many risks. In addition, you can get the local currency at ATMs, these are found in sufficient numbers, especially in the larger cities. You need a credit card (Visa or Eurocard) or an EC card with the Maestro or Cirrus logo. With the EC card, however, it should be noted that not all ATMs accept it – there is usually a sign on which it can be seen whether the EC card is accepted. In addition, when using it, foreign transaction fees between 5 and 10 euros are incurred, which are due again with each withdrawal. The credit card is therefore the better alternative, especially because it can also be used for cashless payments in larger hotels, shops and restaurants. However, cash payments are still preferred in this country and you should always have enough of them with you.
Travelers checks can also be cashed in banks, larger hotels, shops and restaurants. Travelers checks made out in US dollars are particularly suitable here. But it is not enough to rely on them alone. A combination of cash, credit and debit cards, as well as travel checks makes sense.
As a rule, banks in Kazakhstan are open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. and from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Some banks are also open until 18: 00.
In most restaurants, tips include a tip of five to fifteen percent in the bill. It is therefore not customary to tip in this country. This is due to the Islamic tradition, which says that good service is part of the hospitality of the house.
Other essential information
Kazakhstan is +5 hours ahead of our winter time and +4 hours ahead of our summer time.
The voltage in Kazakhstan is 220 volts / 50 Hertz. Mostly there are the same sockets as in Austria and Germany. A universal travel plug can be taken along for safety. The small difference in mains voltage (in almost all of Europe this is only 230 volts / 50 Hertz) can also be neglected, since manufacturers of electrical devices allow for a certain tolerance. However, to be sure, you can check the label on the device. It can be quickly determined that some devices never need a voltage converter (for example cell phone chargers with an input: 100-240 volts).