30 things to know before you visit Almaty
Are you the adventurous type that enjoys visiting new places and are wondering about your next destination? If that is so, you could consider adding Almaty city into your bucket list. This is one location that most people do not know of and have no idea about the gem that it is. Others might stop and ask, what is there to do in Almaty Kazakhstan? For that reason, you do not have to be afraid about making it your next destination because the awesomeness that the town has to offer is out of this world. There, are, however, a couple of things that you need to know of before you set out on your journey.
Almaty is one of the laid back and yet very fascinating towns in Kazakhstan. It is known for the beautiful scenery that surrounds it. It also stands out because of the energy that the residents of the town radiate. The cuisines in the location are worth dying for. It is the one place that you will visit and wish to stay longer. Before you embark on your trip you might want to stop and ask, is Kazakhstan worth visiting?
Things to know before visiting Almaty
Before you embark on planning for your trip, you might want to research more on your destination. These facts will go a long way.
Visa requirements in Almaty Kazakhstan
- Before you proceed to come up with an itinerary for your trip, you might want to stop and ask yourself, do I need a visa for Kazakhstan? According to the country’s travel information, citizens from the United States of America are exempted from owning a visa whenever they visit the country. This is, however, limited to those visiting the country for other purposes other than going for missionary work or employment. For these two purposes, one will be required to acquire the visa for their stay in the country. For those visiting without a visa, their stay is only limited to thirty days.
- Another thing that you need to take heed of is that if you are travelling in the country, you will be issued with a form at the immigration office. You should be cautious with how you handle the form since it is your mark of identity. You will also be required to present it while leaving the country. Failure to do so, you will have to pay a fine.
- If you are visiting and you wish to stay longer, you will be required to extend your visa. In case you happen to experience trouble doing this, you can opt to leave the country and come back on the same day. That way, you will have another thirty days of lawfully being in the country.
The currency in Almaty and Kazakhstan
- Before you embark on your journey to Almaty, it is prudent to have a clue on the currency that the country uses. The country uses the Kazakh Tenge as its currency.
- It will be better to exchange your money before getting to the country so as to avoid any forms of inconveniences that are likely to arise during transactions. It will also save you from being in situations where you have to change your money and the exchange rate is not in your favour.
- If you have your money in the form of Euros and US dollars, you could exchange them at the banks in the country. You could also be lucky enough to exchange the Russian Rubles.
- If you wish to use your credit card, you could withdraw your money from the banks in the city. If you plan on visiting the countryside, you should consider withdrawing your money while in the city to avoid any inconveniences that are likely to arise.
The best means of transport to get to Kazakhstan
- If you are in Europe, you can consider getting to Almaty by flight. It is the most convenient means that you could use. The other thing that makes flying a good idea is that they are quite affordable.
- If you are from Russia, China, Uzbekistan or Kyrgyzstan, you can consider using a bus or a train, especially since there are open borders surrounding the country. This is another convenient means that you could use.
The most convenient language to use for communication
- The official language of Kazakhstan is Kazakh which is a Turkic language. However, other languages are popular in some of the areas. For instance, in Almaty, Russian is more common as compared to the country’s official language. To add to it, the people of Almaty claim that their Russian is way better than Kazakh.
- English is not a common language in the area and for that reason, you might want to learn Russian if you wish to have an easy time while communicating in Almaty.
The food in Almaty
- If you love trying out new cuisines, you should consider trying out beshbarmak, which is a tasty dish that is served on a wide flat plate. It comprises of layers of pasta, some vegetables and horse meat. It is served on special occasions and, therefore, very few restaurants serve the dish.
- Best believe that horse meat is served in most of the dishes. You, therefore, have to brace yourself for this.
- If you are vegetarian, you might experience a difficult time especially since most meals are served with meat, even salads! You can consider trying other cuisines like Indian food in order to find what suits you best.
- If you are buying grocery, be sure to check out the streets in Almaty because they have several stores. The best part about them is that you can transact using your credit card with ease. Another thing that makes them a plus is that some of them sell salads.
- Coffee is another beverage that the people of Almaty like. One thing you ought to remember that the locals of Almaty have a sweet tooth hence their coffee may be too sweet.
- If you are a fan of vodka, there are several places where you may turn up to for a couple of bottles. Vodka is usually served cold.
- If you get to the joints where vodka is sold and someone offers to buy you a bottle, be sure that they will be doing so expecting you to finish the whole bottle, otherwise you will be regarded as disrespectful. If you are not sure about finishing the whole bottle of liquor, you can say no from the beginning.
- Vodka is one of the cheapest alcoholic drinks in the town.
- It is also important to note that most of these bars serve as cafes during the day and at night, they are turned into bars. This explains why they are opened very early in the morning and close business very late.
Travelling around Almaty
- If you are visiting the area and are wondering about how to go from one point to another, you do not have to fuss because there are systems that will help you figure that out with ease. You could consider using taxis, especially if you are new. To be safer, you could download Yandex taxi for safer services, since Uber does not work in the country.
- If you are not iffy about lifts, you may consider hitchhiking as it is way cheaper. All you need to do is wear a confident face and conduct a background check on the route of where you wish to go to. You might also need to have an estimate of the cost of travelling to your destination. Hitchhiking involves standing by the roadside and raising your arm to stop an oncoming vehicle. If the vehicle stops, you will be asked to give details about your destination and if the driver will consider giving you a ride, he will ask you to hop in. Hitchhiking is ideal for short distance travels.
- Besides the taxis, you could consider using a bus. The most interesting thing about the buses is that they are of two kinds, the newer ones and the very old ones. You will be lucky enough if you came across a new bus that is going your route because the new buses are more spacious hence you will have a smoother ride, unlike the older ones that are a bit uncomfortable to ride in.
The weather in Almaty
- You might be required to conduct a background check to find out the season that the country is in before planning your trip. Visiting the town in winter will not be as fascinating as going there during summer or spring. During spring, you will have the best views of the green mountains.
- The air in Almaty is so polluted that most weather applications consider it to be smoggy. That has a great impact on the mountains hence the most ideal time to capture the beautiful view of the mountain is very early in the morning or after dusk before it completely gets dark. During the day, the mountains are hidden in the layers of smog.
The main religion is Muslim
In Almaty, the main religion that is practiced is Islam hence you might come across several mosques in the town. However, the most interesting thing about the people in Almaty is that they are not staunch Muslims. You are bound to come across a couple of bars along the streets. The dress code of the people in the town is not as conservative as you would expect in a Muslim country.
Where to stay in Almaty
This is another important factor that you ought to consider if you are thinking of visiting the town. Depending on the kind of traveller that you are, there are several options that you could consider. If you are a backpacker, you could consider staying in the hostels. If you are the type that prefers hotels, there is a bunch of places that you can try out. If you are all about opulence and luxury, there are options that you can choose from. The best hack in this is ensuring that you conduct a background check and the reviews of the hotel before booking with them.
The beautiful views that Mother Nature gives in Almaty is not easy to get to as it may look
Almaty is known for being surrounded by the most beautiful sceneries like the mountain ranges that showcase the beauty of nature during spring, and some of the most beautiful waterfalls. The most interesting thing about the locations is that they are not as near as they appear and getting to some of them is quite a hustle. You might be required to travel for at least three hours to get to where they are. To add to it, some places like the waterfalls are difficult to get to, especially during winter.
SIM cards availability
If you worry about being locked on communication, you should not worry anymore because you can access a SIM card that will be registered and will serve you perfectly in communicating. The only document that you will be required to present while registering the SIM card is your passport.
For purposes of internet connection, Almaty has more than 10,000 hotspots that provide free internet connection. This worry should, therefore, be put to rest.
Almaty is one of the most fascinating towns in Kazakhstan. It is the kind of town that has activities that are bound to accommodate all kinds of preferences. If you are the type that enjoys partying, there are places that you could visit for that. If you are the type that enjoys the serene kind of life, the town can accommodate you. You ought to visit Almaty!