Kazakhstan is by far the largest of the Central Asian states within the proposed South-Central Asian Union. It has borders with Russia, China, and the Central Asian countries of Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan.
Kazakhstan is the richest country in Central Asia, due to its large oil and natural gas reserves. The country is also the largest landlocked country.
Once an important part of the ancient Silk Road trade route, Kazakhstan today is one of the most overlooked Central Asian destinations. Its stunning natural attractions are incredibly diverse, yet they are not widely known. Kazakhstan is not just large, but huge (the 9th largest country in the world in fact). With a population of just 18 million people.
Whilst Kazakhstan may be relatively unknown on the global tourism scene, there are indirect flights between Lahore and Astana with Uzbekistan Airways via Tashkent International Airport.
Accommodation – Kazakhstan has a very wide range of pocket friendly hotels and hostels but here are my recommendations.
Food – Food is also reasonably priced. I suggest finding a hostel with breakfast included on booking.com, eating picnic-style meals on the train, and enjoying a streetside café for other meals (halal grilled shashlik skewers, bread, salad, and soda for about $4), though if you can’t peel it or cook it, it’s best to forget it.
Transportation – The old Soviet train is the best way of backpacking in Kazakhstan. You can go to practically anywhere in the country and it is an experience by itself. A night train provides double value, serving as both bed and transport; they are cooler and more comfortable in the summer travel season too!
Local city buses are cheap, about $0.20 per ride, regardless of distance.
Suggested daily budget – $20-$25 (Note: This is a suggested budget assuming you’re staying in a hostel, eating out a little, cooking most of your meals, and using local transportation. Using the budget tips below, you can always lower this number. However, if you stay in fancier accommodation or eat out more often, expect this to be higher!)
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