If you are traveling to Kazakhstan, you definitely need to do some thorough research ahead of time regarding transportation. Although the region has experienced steady growth over the last few years, Central Asia’s tourism industry is not as developed as other travel destinations around the world. As a result, traveling around Kazakhstan, and Central Asia in general, requires a bit extra planning and preparation.
Trains and planes are generally reliable and have their timetables posted online, but buses, marshrutkas, and taxis don’t run as systematically. Depending on where you are, it can be difficult to know how to get from one city to another if you don’t know where transport leaves from and when.
But before you write off traveling in the region, don’t fret! In this article, I will detail exactly how to get to and around Kazakhstan so that you can see everything the country has to offer!
Almaty and Nur-Sultan are the two major cities in Kazakhstan and are therefore home to the largest airports in the country – Almaty International Airport and Nursultan Nazarbayev International Airport. Nur-Sultan is located in the north of KZ and Almaty is located in the south, so depending on your destination preferences, these are two cheap options.
Alternatively, Bishkek, the capital city of neighboring country Kyrgyzstan, is only three hours south of Almaty. If you’d like to ultimately head north, starting in Bishkek can allow you to visit an additional country.
Trains – You can take a train into Kazakhstan from the following cities via Silk Route trains:
Marshrutka Buses – You can take a marshrutka bus into Kazakhstan via the Sairan Bus Station in Almaty and the Saparzhay Train Station in Nur-Sultan from the following cities:
Trains – There are three main train station hubs in Kazakhstan – Almaty, Nur-Sultan, and Karaganda. The cost of train tickets in Kazakhstan depends on a) how quickly you’d like to arrive at your destination and b) your comfort level.
b) Cabin Levels
Train travel in Kazakhstan is a fantastic way to see the steppes of Central Asia and meet the locals. For more information about schedules, destinations, and ticket purchasing, kindly visit their website here.
Marshrutka Buses – Although marshrutkas, or mini buses, are more common for intracity transport, they can also offer cheap transport between neighboring cities. Marshrutkas are usually overcrowded and are the opposite of glamorous – but they are cheap as hell. Intercity marshrutkas leave from all cities’ major railroad or bus stations.
Buses – Buses are a good option for traveling between cities as they are, hilariously, faster than the 50km/hr trains and relatively cheap. Buses are convenient for intercity travel, but not recommended for traveling long distances due to their low level of comfort. Their timetables also don’t offer buses between cities as frequently as trains, and do not offer online ticket purchasing, so you must buy tickets in person at the bus station ahead of time.
Planes – The quickest and most convenient way to travel between Northern Kazakhstan and southern Kazakhstan is definitely by plane. Air Astana, the primary aviation company in KZ, offers daily one-hour flights between Nur-Sultan and Almaty. Prices start at $42 on SkyScanner – search here for specific dates.
Taxi & Private Drivers – Due to the relatively cheap cost and convenient nature of having your own personal driver, hiring a private taxi for the day is not uncommon for travelers. Local drivers gather at the main train/bus stations in cities waiting for tourists to approach them and make them an offer. Be sure to look up the standard price so you don’t get swindled.
And that’s a wrap! If you have any questions, let me know in the comments below.
And if public transportation isn’t your thing . . . there are plenty of horses to get around on in Kazakhstan 🙂
As of right now, I have not hit my goal of traveling to all 15 former Soviet republics - I'm a working girl, cut me some slack! In the meantime, however, I am doing a ton of research to plan these future trips. Interested in seeing what online resources I use to create an itinerary to ensure my travels are educational, thorough, and, most important of all, safe?
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