25 Fascinating Things to Know Before You Visit Almaty
Are you wondering whether Kazakhstan is an ideal tourist destination? What will you see when you’re there? Where exactly will you go while in Kazakhstan? Well, I used to ask myself these questions until I decided to visit the country. Did you know that Kazakhstan is among the top 10 largest countries in the universe? I know it’s in many ways not thought of by many travelers as a destination to put in their list of places to visit. But, believe it, ‘Kaza’ as my friends fondly call it, is certainly worth visiting. It has gorgeous landscapes, attractive historical sites, natural wonders, and wonderful cities and towns to leave you in awe.
One such city is Almaty, which is the largest in the country. It’s the former capital city of Kazakhstan and a center of culture, history, industries, financial institutions, and science. It is surely the Paris of Kazakhstan with beautiful mountains, forests, water bodies, and landscapes.
Reasons to Have Almaty in Your Bucket List of Travelling Destinations
Once you step foot in Almaty, the environment will make you enjoy your stay. You may need to translate Kazakh to English for better understanding. But, without further ado, I will give you 25 reasons and things to know before you visit Almaty.
Visa Requirements and Rules
- Free visa: Travelers from the EU, Canada, USA, South Korea, Japan, most Latin American States, and Australia have free visas to travel to Kazakhstan and visit Almaty. However, it’s valid for 4 weeks.
- Visa extension: This is not easy–being a country in Central Asia. But, you could leave and renter the country on the same day to renew the visa for another 4 weeks.
Since Almaty is a hiking region, you will most likely need a travel insurance cover. However, you should know that Kazakhstan is generally a safe place.
The People and Their Culture
The people in Almaty are very friendly and accommodating.
- Meet the Kazakhs: Said to be descendants of Mongolia, the Kazakhs have very strong Mongolian aspects even though they have other ethnic communities. While you will find a mixed ethnicity in Almaty, the Kazakhs are dominant.
- The language: The official language in Kazakhstan is Kazakh. However, if you go to Almaty, Russian is the most widely spoken language in the city.
- Religion: Kazakhstan is generally an Islamic nation. However, being soviet Muslims, there is less devotion to religion. If you visit Almaty, you will see a few mosques here and there, but it is believed that most people are atheists.
Tourism in Almaty
Almaty has very attractive tourist destinations.
- The big Lake: Situated about 30 minutes away from the city by bus, the big Almaty lake is very special. The color of the water body changes depending on the weather. The lake is also surrounded by a forest which makes it spectacular.
- The Central Gorky Park: The park is a beautiful recreational center. It has a cinema, several cafes to relax, and funfair.
- Panfilov park: The park host war memorials and is evergreen! It was named in memory of the Panfilov soldiers who became heroes during World War II.
- The Aksay Gorge: This is an exquisite location to see an ancient monastery. It’s about 35 minutes from Almaty by car.
- The first President’s Park: Named after the first President of Kazakhstan, the park provides a great picnic site with trees and flowers evenly distributed around it.
The Transportation System in Almaty
The City also has a vibrant transportation system that includes buses, trains, and taxis.
- Bus: Bus transport is very common and conspicuous in Almaty.
- Metro: There is a metro system, although it doesn’t go to many other places from Almaty. It is efficient and affordable.
- Taxi: If you want to enjoy your cab experience, download the Yandex app. It pretty much works like Uber.
Accommodation in Almaty
Almaty has all kinds of accommodation ranging from 5-star hotels to Airbnb.
- Rixos Almaty Hotel: This is one of the most luxurious hotels in Almaty. It has a Spa, restaurant and very comfortable rooms.
- Parasat Hotel: The hotel is very clean, affordable, and accessible even by bus.
- Airbnb: It’s not vibrant, but there are a few apartments that you can rent.
The Weather in Almaty
Whether you visit the city during spring, winter, or summer, I assure you that you will enjoy yourself. Spring remains to be the best season, though. You will find the city green and a very attractive ambiance.
Food and Other Delicacies
This is usually a very debatable subject because of the different culinary cultures and tastes, but I enjoyed the food in Almaty. There are diverse cuisines and a lot of Korean food.
- The Beshbarmak: This is like a national dish. It has layers of pasta, vegetables, and other ingredients, including horse meat. Yes, I said it. Horse meat is a delicacy in Kazakhstan.
- Noodles: There is a way their noodle is special. It’s mixed with chicken, beef, vegetables and a special sauce. Sweet!
The Almaty Nightlife
- Alcohol: Most people in Almaty enjoy vodka. It could be because of the Russian roots. They also have very affordable craft beer.
- The nightlife is very lively, and there are numerous bars and night clubs to have fun. Since many people speak Russian in the city, there is a lot of Russian rap in clubs. Very cool!
Day Time Fun Activities
- Horseback riding: Several companies offer horseback riding services to travelers. It’s really fun because you go outside the busy city to serene and peaceful landscapes.
- Falcon show: You can get this on your way to the big Almaty Lake. You will get to interact with different bird species.
- Hitchhiking: It is very common not only in Almaty but also in the larger Kazakhstan. As long as you know your destination and carry some Kazakh Tenge (local currency), you’re good to go.