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Highlights of Kazakhstan: Almaty, Shymkent & Turkestan

For a quick trip to Kazakhstan, this action-packed itinerary will ensure you hit all the hotspots. Starting and ending the trip in Almaty, the country’s largest city, you will explore all the city sights but also nearby gems, including Kok-Tobe mountain, Issyk lake, and the petroglyphs of Tamgaly Tas. Mix in a trip to Shymkent to visit Sairam Ugam National Park, as well as Turkestan to see the ruins of Otrar and the ancient city of Sauran, and you’ve got a whirlwind week that you won’t soon forget!

Highlights   Pricing
  • Learn how to make jewelry from atop Kok-Tobe mountain
  • Trek the Turgen River Gorge to reach a stunning waterfall
  • Visit the Tamgaly Tas to see the three Buddhas rock carving
  • Enjoy a dinner and show at the Shymbulak Ski Resort
 
Starting at
$580
per person per day
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Day by Day Itinerary

View Kazakhstan Highlights in a larger map
Day 1
Arrive in Almaty

On the first day of your exciting trip through Kazakhstan, you’ll arrive in the country’s largest city, Almaty, and transfer to your hotel for dinner and overnight, in preparation for the action-packed week ahead.

Day 2
Almaty

Kick off your trip bright and early with a city tour of Almaty, where you’ll visit sites including the Central Historical Museum, the central mosque and Kok-Tobe mountain, the highest point in the city. Enjoy dinner with the spectacular view of the city from Kok-Tobe while also undertaking a master class in jewelry making, before returning to your hotel for the night.    

Day 3
Almaty

Today, you’ll head just under 50 miles outside of Almaty to visit the stunning Issyk lake and explore the many archaeological monuments and burial grounds surrounding the area. After a visit to Issyk museum and lunch, you’ll get to explore a trout farm and an ostrich farm, as well as hike the Turgen River Gorge to a stunning waterfall. After visiting Sunkar farm for a falcon show, you’ll return to Almaty for dinner and overnight.      

Day 4
Almaty

On the fourth day of your journey, you’ll transfer to Tamgaly Tas (around 2.5 hours), an incredible petroglyph site known for its rock carving of the three Buddhas. After lunch and a day of exploration, you’ll head back to Almaty for dinner and overnight. 

Day 5
Almaty - Shymkent

This morning, you’ll take a short flight to Shymkent, from where you will be able to explore the Aksu canyon in Sairam Ugam National Park, featuring “The Valley of a Thousand Eyes”. After lunch, you’ll head back to Shymkent to explore the city’s underground mosque and take a ceramic master class, before enjoying dinner and staying overnight. 

Day 6
Shymkent -Turkestan

After breakfast, you will transfer to the city of Turkestan (3 hours), stopping at a museum in a small village of Shaulder, the ruins of Otrar and the Mausoleum of Arystan-bab along the way. After lunch in Turkestan, you will explore the nearby ancient city of Sauran in the afternoon, before returning to the city for dinner and overnight. 

Day 7
Turkestan - Almaty

Today, you will explore some of the best sites of Turkestan, including an underground mosque, a bath and the ruins of the citadel's fortress. After lunch, you'll head back to Shymkent (3 hours) for the short flight back to Almaty, where you'll stay overnight. 

Day 8
Almaty

On your final full day, enjoy a trip to Medeo skating rink – the highest mountain skating rink in the world with a great view of Almaty – where you'll enjoy lunch and a trip to the Green Bazar. Afterward, settle in at the Shymbulak Ski Resort before taking in dinner and a show for your final night! 

Day 9
Departure

On your final day, you’ll check out of your hotel and transfer to the airport, where you may head home or catch a flight to another exciting destination in Central Asia. 

 

Suggested Accommodations

Location
Accommodation
ALMATY
Ritz Carlton Almaty

Ritz Carlton Almaty

Occupying the top ten floors of the Esentai Tower, the Ritz Carlton enjoys unrivalled views of Almaty and the sweeping, jagged, snow-peaked Ile-Alatau mountain range. Guests choosing to stay here have the best of both worlds with easy access to the city and all its famous historic sights as well as the ski slopes in the national park to the south. After a long day on the piste or exploring the city, guests can ascend the escalator into the luxurious surroundings and enjoy all that the hotel has to offer. With restaurants and bars decorated with the latest works from the hottest modern artists in the country, from cocktails with a view to sumptuous dishes prepared with expertise, dining and drinking at the Ritz Carlton is a feast for the senses. Rooms and suites boast stunning panoramas and are fitted with every modern convenience and comfort. Meanwhile, the acclaimed Six Senses Spa offers a retreat from the stresses of everyday life. 

 
 
SHYMKENT
Orbita, Rixos

Orbita


This boutique hotel in Shymkent, Kazakhstan is the perfect base from which to explore this vibrant city in the south of the country. With its world-class service and intricate design, Orbita Hotel is setting the standard for hotels in Shymkent. Located inside a historic two-storey house built by Japanese prisoners-of-war in the 1950s, the hotel combines Kazakhstan flair with traditional Japanese design, including the counter-clockwise numbering of the hotel’s seven rooms, each uniquely decorated. Guests can enjoy the on-site bar, the quiet location, just outside of the busting city, and most importantly, the top-quality service. 


 

Rixos


For class, style, and a dash of opulence, the Rixos Khadisha Hotel is the perfect luxury-home-away-from-home in Shymkent. This world-class hotel, located in the business district of the city, features a grand staircase, a spacious entry, and a full-featured spa, including an indoor pool and fitness area, a sauna, and a Turkish hammam - the perfect way to relax after a busy day. Dining options abound: Kazakhasia restaurant, which serves a variety of Asian cuisine; Olivia restaurant, offering traditional Italian; a cocktail at one of the on-site bars; or room service delivered straight to the guest’s luxurious room or suite. At this hotel, guests should prepare to be treated like royalty. 


 
 
TURKESTAN
The Turkestan Hotel

The Turkestan Hotel

Hotel Turkestan, quite appropriately, lies at the heart of Turkestan city in South Kazakhstan. Guests have a choice of standard rooms (double or twin) or can upgrade to a deluxe. The no-frills rooms are basic and could do with a bit of an upgrade, although that's not to say they don't offer a comfortable stay for one or two nights. The grand lobby does its best to bump up the star-rating of the Turkestan, and there's also a bar and restaurant serving a buffet-style breakfast every morning. The real reason guests stop here is to explore the surrounding region, which boasts various attractions illustrating area's rich and long history. The city of Turkestan, about 200 miles northwest of the larger Taraz city, has played a significant role in shaping Kazakhstan into the country it is today, and this city is considered to be sacred for many Kazakhs.
 
 
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On his visits to Kazakhstan, Jay is consistently struck by its wild nomadic traditions and its spectacular, thrusting new architecture.
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