Almaty, Kazakhstan: trip planning guide & FAQs - eNidhi India Travel Blog

Almaty, Kazakhstan: trip planning guide & FAQs

If Almaty in central Asia is in your mind, here's a set of FAQs that help you plan your trip. This is based on my personal experience spending 5 days in Almaty this month.
Q1: What is the best season to visit Almaty?

Almaty is in central Asia and it gets lots of snow in winter. Thus October to March expect cold weather, lots of snow. I visited mid March. March is end of winter so less cold but still not yet summer so there was enough snow, though I got good sunlight during day time. Temperature during my visit was around 4 to 6 degrees in day time and -2 at night.

Drawbacks of too much snow
  • Everything looks white-park, buildings etc
  • Trees are colourless shredding all leaves
  • Need to be careful while walking as snow can be slippery
  • During the off season many restaurants, travel shops, tours are closed, your options will be limited.
  • Need jackets, boots, gloves n such extra accessories
  • Too much snow, low visibility, bad weather can disrupt flight operations
April, May is relatively better, June to September is deemed best.

Q2: How to get cheap flights to Almaty?

Flyarystan often offers the cheapest ticket to Almaty from Delhi- mine was 7400 INR return, but I had booked 4-5 months in advance, for off season travel. In tourist season tickets cost 15k onwards. Indigo, Air Astana also fly to Almaty from Delhi, costing around 18-20k INR for a return ticket. 
Also one stop options via Abu Dhabi, Sharjah etc are available with different airlines from different Indian cities. If flying from South India these might be cheaper than flying to Delhi n connecting to Almaty. Air Asia is also flying to Almaty from Kuala Lumpur but not offering connecting flight from India.
A return ticket under 10k is very cheap, 15-20k INR is OK if dates work for you and season is good. Beyond 22-25k it is on the higher side, I would scout for alternate destinations or wait for a better deal.

Many travelers who have few weeks of time often club Kazakhstan with few other nearby countries- in that case you would be booking multiple one way tickets.

Here's how to reach Almaty city from airport for 20 INR using bus instead of spending 1300 INR on taxi.

Q3: What about Forex?
KZT or Kazak Tenge is the local currency. You will get around 450-500 KZT for 1 USD. 1 KZT is about 18 to 19 paise (0.19 INR). Divide by 5 to get approx INR equivalent.

You will not get KZT in Indian airports or forex shops, so best bet is to carry some USD or Euro and convert them after arrival. I didn't try my Multi currency forex card in Almaty as I had adequate cash.

Q4: What about visa to visit Almaty, Kazakhstan?

Kazakhstan gives free visa on arrival to Indian travelers provided stay is less than 14 days. If you’re staying more than 14 days an e-Visa is needed. There is also a limit how many days total you can stay in an year with visa on arrival/eVisa (I guess 90 days).

14 days is more than adequate for most travelers to explore Kazakhstan. If you’re planning to undertake skiing courses, visit every city in Kazakhstan then longer stay is needed.

Q5 Which is the best area in Almaty to stay?

Almaty city is about 12-13 kms from Almaty international airport. As all attractions are in city and most day tours, buses start from city, better to stay in Almaty city center. Almaty has good bus connection so any area is fine, but I feel location is central-
Map link

Q6: How to get around in Almaty city?
  • Taxis are convenient but hard to find. If you wait by the road chances of hailing an empty cab is very low. Call the number shown in pic. +7 779511111 . If you get an English speaking operator you are lucky.
  • You will have to use apps for taxi booking- you will face language problem as well as payment issue
  • Almaty has a subway network- not very extensive but check if it serves the route you're looking for
  • Best bet is learning how to use Almaty City buses to commute around. It is not easy as Almaty city buses do not appear inside google maps, but with some effort it is possible to learn them. I have a separate post is live explaining how to use buses in Almaty city.
  • e-scooters are available for rent, if you can install the app, sign in n set up your account. Ideal for short hauls.

Q7: What all to see in Almaty City?

Like any city in the world Almaty has a set of museums, parks and attractions that can keep you busy for a day or two.
  • Kob Tobe: A small hill top, offers a great view of Almaty, accessible via cable car or road, has many attractions such as Ferris wheel, TV tower, upside down house, photoshoot options, kids play area etc.
  • Museum of Musical instruments: Visit if interested in music. Displays over 1200 different types of musical instruments. Can’t touch or play. If lucky there might be some music conert going on when you visit. 1500 KZT entry fee
  • Central State Museum: Just 500 KZT entry fee, so totally worth a visit.
  • Green Bazaar: An extensive collection of shops selling fruits, cloths, accessories, meat products, groceries and several other things. You will find mini versions of this all over Almaty
  • Ascension cathedral- Small, colourful cathedral in middle of a park
  • Park of the first president: Bit far from the city center, has giant entrance infrastructure which is picturesque.
  • Mahathma Gandhi park- standard park, statue of Mahathma Gandhi is displayed
Q8: How to commute within Kazakhstan & nearby?
  • Flights: Flights are convenient, easy to book, quick and fairly priced.
  • Trains: Trains are said to be more scenic, can be booked online, but some have faced payment issues. Try your luck, else take help from a Kazakhstan travel agent or book on arrival
  • Bus: There is an intercity bus station in Almaty from where you can board buses to China, Uzbekistan and other countries/destinations. You can usually walk in and book.
Q9: Kazakhstan cost estimation- how much various things cost?
Below is an indicative cost
  • A single bus ride- 80 KZT or 20 INR
  • A liter of still water bottle: 200 KZT or 50 INR
  • Almaty airport to city taxi: 7000 KZT or 1300 INR
  • A meal in Indian restaurants- Thali, Veg Biriyani etc- 3000-5000 KZT (500-700 INR)
  • A cup of coffee by roadside vendor: 300 KZT: 75 INR
  • Museum Entry fees: 500 to 2000 KZT
  • Public toilet usage: 50 to 100 KZT
  • Kob Tobe Cable car return ticket: 5000 KZT
  • A large mango: 3000 KZT or 550 INR
  • Orange: 1000-1200 KZT per kg (150 INR)
  • Sim card: 6000 KZT in airport, 1500 in city (minimum data, topup needed later but lot cheaper than airport option)
  • Stay options: Hostels available from about 1000 INR per day onwards, decent hotel stay in 2500-3000 INR in city center per room, factor 5000 INR per night in peak season
Q10: Do we get Indian veg food in Almaty?

Q11: What are the main reasons one should visit Almaty?
Here are 5 reasons why you should consider a visit to Almaty, Kazaksthan
  1. Almaty has some of the best skiing resorts in the world
  2. If luck you may get cheap tickets from India (From Delhi)
  3. Central Asian country with European style city with heavy Russian influence
  4. Visa on arrival for Indians
  5. Good for a short getaway- 3 hours flight, 4-5 day trip can be completed in around 40-50k INR all inclusive per person. From Delhi a domestic flight & trip to Kerala or Goa will cost much more.

Q12: What can be the typical Almaty itinerary?
Below is a typical 5-6 day plan for Almaty.

  • Day 01: Arrive, depending on time left, explore attractions inside Almaty town, explore how to use bus network and plan for rest of your days
  • Day 02: Full day tour- Kaindy, Kolsai, Charyn Canyon link
  • Day 03: Big Almaty lake tour
  • Day 04: Shymbulak ski resort - if you’re serious about skiing, keep 4-5 days at the resort to learn well and have fun. Otherwise, a couple of days.
  • Day 05: Return to Almaty from resort, remaining day Almaty city local
  • Day 06: Take a bus/flight to Tashkent or Asthana or other cities
Q13: Can you name some trusted tour operators for Almaty?
Check with Lily Holidays

Alternatively you can check with below operator on instagram and check

Hope these FAQs hep your trip planning. Let me know if you have any specific questions related to Almaty. Happy to help.

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