Almaty is the largest city and the financial and cultural centre of Kazakhstan.

. . . Almaty . . .

Almaty was the country’s capital before, which is now Astana. But it remains the obvious gateway to visiting this region, as indeed it has been for over a thousand years, standing astride the Silk Road. Just south of the city, snow-capped mountains mark the border with Kyrgyzstan.

The city is modern, laid out on a grid pattern, so if you’re going uphill, you’re probably going south. It’s not a cheap city, but the people are friendly and hospitable; there’s also a significant ex-pat community.

Pogulay is a helpful guidebook to the city, printed in English and Russian and sold at newsstands. It’s priced at US$3 and covers all the attractions, including photos and descriptions.

  • 43.25476.9581 Tourist Information Office, 81 Bogenbai Batyr. Daily 08:00-20:00. Very helpful. Unfortunately, the government-run place on Kurmangazy has closed. (updated Aug 2018).
Soviet monument to WWII heroes

See Kazakhstan for the entry requirementsmost westerner won’t need a visa for visits up to 30 days.

  • 43.3552877.044721 Almaty International Airport (Kazakh: Xalıqaralıq Almatı Äwejayı/Халықаралық Алматы Әуежайы, Russian: Международный Аэропорт Алматы ALA  IATA), Ul. Beimbeta Maylina 2 (ул. Беимбета Майлина 2) (15 km northeast of Almaty), +7 727 2703333 (Flight Information). The airport is small and often quiet, but it doesn’t take many flights for it to become congested and slow-moving. Be early, but not more than 3 hours ahead of flight, as you’re not allowed into the check-in hall until your desk is open. However, the latter does not seem to be enforced for tourists. (updated Mar 2019)

. . . Almaty . . .

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. . . Almaty . . .