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Cultural Highlights of Kazakhstan

This nine-day itinerary is full of surprises: from the Central Historical Museum in Almaty to the burial grounds of Issyk Kul Lake, the petroglyphs of Tamgaly Tas to the underground mosque of Shymkent, the Kazygurt Mount where Noah’s ark came to rest to the Mausoleum of Arystan-bab, a Muslim shrine, you will explore all the history, culture and spirituality this incredible country has to offer – mixing in waterfalls, stunning vistas and a falcon show, of course. 

Highlights   Pricing
  • Tour Panfilovtzev Park in Almaty, a site to commemorate the Soviet victory in the Great Patriotic War
  • Explore archaeological monuments and burial grounds at Issyk lake
  • Take master classes in traditional crafts, including jewelry-making and ceramics
  • Visit the Mausoleum of Arystan-bab, one of the Muslim shrines of Central Asia and a pilgrimage site 
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Day by Day Itinerary

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Day 1

You will arrive in Almaty – Kazakhstan’s largest city – in the evening and be transferred to your hotel to enjoy dinner and an overnight stay.

Day 2

Your journey truly begins today, starting with a city tour of Almaty highlighting the Central Historical Museum, the Republic Square and Monument of Independence and Panfilovtzev Park, which commemorates the Soviet victory in the Great Patriotic War. In the afternoon, enjoy an excursion to the Kok-Tobe mountain, where you will enjoy dinner overlooking the city and take a traditional jewelry making class.

Day 3
Issyk Kul Lake

Today, you will head out of town to Issyk Kul Lake, located 46 miles from the city. Explore archaeological monuments and burial grounds, visit the Issyk museum and discover the beauty of the Turgen Gorge, where you will have the chance to hike to a waterfall. On your return to Almaty, enjoy a falcon show at Sunkar farm before dinner and your overnight stay.

Day 4
Tamgaly Tas

On an excursion around 2-3 hours from Almaty, discover the 4000 rock paintings of Tamgaly Tas – many of which depict the Buddha symbol – which date back to the Bronze Age. Enjoy lunch before returning to Almaty for dinner and overnight.

Day 5

Today, you will take a short flight to the South Kazakhstan Province to the city of Shymkent. After settling in at Canvas hotel, you will take a tour of the Aksu canyon, known as the “Valley of a Thousand Eyes” for the distinct look of its caves. Spend the morning exploring the natural scenery before returning to the city after lunch, where you will visit an underground mosque and take a ceramics class.

Day 6

You will travel over 100 miles/3 hours to Turkestan today, stopping to visit a museum in the village of Shaulder, the ruins of Otrar and the Mausoleum of Arystan-bab, one of the Muslim shrines of Central Asia. After lunch in Turkestan, you will head out of town to the ancient city of Sauran, before returning to Turkestan for your overnight stay.

Day 7

Enjoy a tour of an architectural complex in Turkestan, which includes an underground mosque, a bath, a history museum and fragments of the citadel’s fortress. After lunch, you will head back to Shymkent (3 hours) to board a flight to Almaty.

Day 8

On your final full day, discover the wonder of the famous Medeo skating rink, located high in the mountains surrounding Almaty. Enjoy lunch at the rink - overlooking the city - before returning to visit the city’s Green Bazar before the final dinner.

Day 9

Today, you will be transferred to the airport to catch your flight back home, or your connection onto another destination in Central Asia or yet another unexplored corner of the world!


Suggested Accommodations

Ritz-Carlton Almaty, The InterContinental 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. 


The InterContinental Almaty

The InterContinental in Almaty is a luxury hotel sitting opposite the famous Presidential Palace in Republic Square. It’s the perfect location to see this popular attraction, as well as the city’s many others in this central area. The InterContinental’s rooms are big, bright and fresh with a whole list of facilities and services right on hand. The dining options are impressive too, with an excellent international breakfast buffet, Asian café, rooftop grill, Turkish restaurant and jazz bar. In the evening guests can enjoy relaxing in one of three bars, including a jazz bar and beer garden with light music and boardgames to wind down summer evenings. Elsewhere there is an indoor pool, children’s play area and tennis courts.

Orbita, Rixos


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. 



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. 

Hotel Edem, The Turkestan Hotel

Hotel Edem

Located near the center of Turkestan, Hotel Edem is one of the more well-known hotels in the whole region. That said, there is no too much in the way of competition, with few other quality places to stay for foreign visitors in the city. The hotel boasts a range of standard twin, double and deluxe rooms, and although this hotel may have seen better days, the rooms still deliver plenty of home comforts to make for a pleasant stay for a night or two. Amenities include air conditioning, heating controls, TV, telephone, mini-bar and private bathrooms. There is also an on-site restaurant at Hotel Edem which serves mainly local food and a few western dishes, as well as breakfast every morning.


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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Victoria is a big fan of Central Asia in general and Kazakhstan in particular - especially its friendly, welcoming people and spectacular landscapes.
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