Is there a dress code?
There is definitely no dress code in Kazakhstan. If you would feel comfortable wearing it in Athens, Prague, Beirut, or Istanbul, you’ll feel more than comfortable wearing it in Kazakhstan. When swimming, bikinis are completely fine, and you’ll most likely be more covered up than most locals.
What sorts of topics can we discuss?
There isn’t much off limits in Kazakhstan. Given the right environment and setting most topics are up for discussion. Be careful talking about sexuality with people you don’t know and likewise don’t be overly critical of Kazakhstan itself if you’re in unfamiliar company.
What is the religion?
Officially Kazakhstan is 70% Sunni Muslim, 20% various Christian denominations and then 10% atheist and other. However, the reality is much different. Most people in Kazakhstan are what you would call Soviet Muslims. This means they are Muslim on paper but do not actually follow the religion, or even really know much about it. In fact, you’re unlikely to travel to many places in the world where they drink more than in Kazakhstan. Likewise, you can also get some great pork dishes! However, as is the case across Central Asia, more and more people are identifying as being Muslim.
Is photography ok?
Photography is absolutely allowed and shouldn’t be a big issue anywhere in the country. Obviously if you’re near sensitive areas such as military bases you could have issues, but in cities and at tourist sights you won’t have any issue. Nothing different here to any other city that you might be used to.
Why visit Kazakhstan?
Kazakhstan is a unique destination which will leave you changed in the way you view the world. An amazing mix of modern western society and ancient nomadic traditions, mixed up with a bit of Soviet architecture and mentality, Kazakhstan is sure to leave you wanting more.
What are hotels like in Kazakhstan?
Hotels range from the Ritz Carlton to basic backpacker accommodation and camping. If you can imagine it in Europe, you can find it in Kazakhstan. There is accommodation for all budgets and circumstances and is of an extremely high quality for reasonable prices.
What kinds of foods are there?
Owing to the fact that Kazakhs were traditionally nomads, Kazakh food is simple and hearty. Lots of fat and lots of carbs to get through those long cold winters. Dishes such as Beshbarmak, Manty and Lagman should be tried by anyone travelling to Kazakhstan. You can learn more about food in Kazakhstan on our food and drink page .
What’s nightlife in Kazakhstan like?
Kazakhstan is not one place when it comes to a question like this. If you’re in Astana or Almaty, you could be in Berlin or London. Great pubs, bars and nightclubs. Plenty of options for the tamest individual right through to the most hardcore raver. However, leave the two main cities and your options become extremely limited. Other cities will have a few pubs or bars that aren’t particularly cool. Otherwise, your best drinking venue is a simple shashlik restaurant with tap beer on offer.
Is there good shopping in Kazakhstan?
Unlike a lot of countries around the world it’s unlikely you’re going to be carting home suitcases full of souvenirs. Kazakhstan has a few interesting offerings such as hats and some clothes, but otherwise there isn’t the same big name purchases that you would expect from some other countries.
However, if it’s normal shopping you’re after and not souvenirs, then you’re in luck. Most of the big international brands you find in North America or Europe are in Kazakhstan. Whether it’s H&M, Zara, Stradivarius or Lululemon, you’ll find them in Kazakhstan. We’ve had people coming from Australia looking forward to getting their fix of northern hemisphere shopping, because a lot of those shops aren’t available there.
When is the best time to visit Kazakhstan?
Like with a lot of places, we’d recommend travelling there in spring or autumn. May is probably the best month as everything is coming to life after winter. The weather is warm and sunny but hasn’t gotten too hot yet. Of course, there is something for everyone in Kazakhstan and, for example, if you’re in to skiing, the best time to go would be in January or February. Kazakhstan is also a huge country, so at any given time, the weather can be drastically different in one part than the other. So this is a very basic guideline.