Year-end travel 2023: Have ₹1 lakh? Kazakhstan is an option | Travel

Kazakhstan (name Kazakh translates to wanderer or independent), the largest country in Central Asia and the world’s largest landlocked country once upon a time fell on the main route of the Great Silk Road that ran through the south of the country. And some of the cities as old as time are still existing today. Known for its mineral resources and historical remnants, Kazakhstan is a thing of beauty – from verdant mountain plateaus, turquoise lakes to ornate mosques, buildings & monuments narrating the days of its Soviet parentage and bustling cities where the modern and the traditional both walk together. (Also read: Year-end travel: 10 adventure hotspots in India )

This new year, if your holiday budget is 1 lakh, travel to Kazakhstan, the world’s largest landlocked country.(Pixabay)

In 2024, throw a dart on a map of not-so-explored destinations and head to Kazakhstan. And you do not have to loosen the pursestrings much, 1 lakh is a good budget for a 5-7 day trip including return flights.

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Here’s a quick guide to must see/eat/do in Kazakhstan and a few packages that fits a budget traveller’s pocket perfectly.

Important cities: Almaty, Astana, Shymkent, Baikonur, Semey, Aktau, Karaganda, Turkistan, Aktobe.

Must-see/do: Aral Mountains, Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kaindy Lake, Bayzhansay Ghost Town, Valley of Balls, The last wild apple forest (Fuji & granny Smith apples can be traced to Kazakhstan), Zharkent Mosque, Charyn Canyon, Zelyony Bazaar, Ascension Cathedral, Ruins of Sauran, Balbals of Oskemen, Stronger Than Death Monument, ALZhiR Museum-Memorial Complex, Lake Balkhash, one of the largest lakes in the world. Do not miss the Silk Route tour. Take time out for wildlife adventure – there are 14 national parks, 10 nature reserves, 7 reserves.

Must-eat:

• Sucuk or sujuk, a semi-dry, spicy sausage.

• Lagman or latiaozi (literally, pulled noodles) that comes in various combinations.

• Kespe, a soup made with noodles, lentils, and yogurt

• Beshbarmak (literally, 5 fingers), a dish made of horse, mutton, beef, or a combination of those meat served along thin pasta squares.

• Baursak, a fried bread.

• Kumis, fermented horse milk, is the country’s national drink.

What to buy: Kazakhstan chocolate, Kurt (a high-caloric sour milk product), Kamcha (a traditional wooden wall hanging to ward off evil eye), clothes & souvenirs made of felt, decorative yurts (miniature version of nomads’ house), traditional headdresses and costumes.

Where to buy: Esentai Mall, Zelyony Bazaar, Dusty Plaza, Maga Alam-Ata, Fashion Avenue, Almaty Mall, Colibri.

Packages:

Highlights of Kazakhstan: 7 days

Itinerary: Almaty – Big Almaty Lake – Astana – Almaty – Charyn Canyon

Price: Starts at 209,000 Tenge (INR 38,000)

Book on: visitkazakhstan.kz

Nature Parks of Almaty: 10 days

Itinerary: Almaty – Altyn Emel – Charyn Canyon – Ile Alatau – Almaty

Book on: visitkazakhstan.kz

Baikonur Spaceport Tour: 3 days

Price: Starts at 157,000 Tenge (INR 29,000)

Book on: visitkazakhstan.kz

Fishing in the delta of Ili river: 6 nights/7 days

Itinerary: Almaty – Aral-Tobe – Beimene passage – Aral-Tobe village – Almaty

Book on: visitkazakhstan.kz

Classical Kazakhstan: 3 nights/4 days

Price: Starts at INR 45,000+

Book on: thomascook.in

Stunning Kazakhstan: 4 nights/5 days

Price: Starts at INR 66,000+

Book on: thomascook.in

Simply Almaty: 3 nights/4 days

Price: Starts at INR 38,000+ (includes return flight)

Book on: makemytrip.com

Return Flight (Economy): New Delhi-Almaty-New Delhi starts at INR 25,000+.

Visa: Indian passport holders can enter Kazakhstan for a stay of 14 days without any visa. The Kazakhstan government permits 3 trips within 180 days with a maximum stay of 14 days per trip, i.e., 42 days in a 180-day period.

Good to know:

Currency: 1 Kazakh Tenge = 0.18 INR

Language: English is not as widely spoken as it is in Western Europe but you can easily manage even if you do not know a word of Russian, the country’s lingua franca.

Local transport: Metro is only available in Almaty. Short, medium-length trips can be done with intercity buses. Taxis are available at bus/railway stations. Trains are a good option. You can also rent self-drive cars.

Wi-fi: Check with hotel/restaurants/cafes for free wi-fi.

Security tips: Exercise high degree of caution.

• Beware of pickpockets in malls, buses, parks, shopping areas

• Don’t walk or travel alone, especially at nigh

• Don’t wear flashy jewellery or carry large amounts of cash

• Be vigilant if approached by strangers seeking assistance

• If you’re threatened, hand over valuables without resistance

• Ensure that your belongings, including your passport and other travel documents, are secure at all times

• Pay careful attention when others are handling your credit/debit cards.

• Thieves posing as police officers approach foreign travellers and ask them to pay alleged fines. Insist on going to the police station to pay fine.

• If you have booked airport transfer, check the id of the driver before getting into the car.