Domestic Tourism in Kazakhstan 2021: Where to Go?

After almost a year and a half on hold and border closures caused by the pandemic, people’s desire to travel is stronger than ever. As international travel restrictions are still in place, more Kazakh people are opting for domestic travel and Kazakhstan’s news website Informburo.kz recently made a guide on top destinations in 2021. 

Singing Dune of the Altyn-Emel Nature Reserve. Photo credit: Sergey Terekhov. Click on the picture to see the map.

The only requirement is a negative PCR test result or blue (no restriction on movement) or green status (full-course vaccination or recent PCR test) on the Ashyq app.

It is to be hoped that in the not too distant future inbound international tourism will resume and foreign guests will be able to enjoy the splendours of Kazakhstan too.  

Lake Alakol 

With its changing colours and delightful views, Lake Alakol is one of the favourite tourist spots of Kazakh citizens. In 2019, the regional administration announced plans on infrastructure developments to make the resort more attractive to tourists, including plans on the construction of the Keruen Plaza tourist complex, Chaika medical and health complex and Kunshygys-Alakul entertainment complex. As sanitary-epidemiological restrictions are being relaxed, tourists can visit and check whether the plans have been implemented. 

Lake Alakol. Photo credits: zahariz.com

The peculiarity of the lake is that it can be visited from different regions: the southern shore of Alakol is the resort villages of Akshi and Koktum in the Almaty Region, and the northern shore – the village of Kabanbay in the East Kazakhstan Region.

In the hotels of Kabanbay village, the cost of rooms for six nights for two adults for mid-August ranges between 96,000 tenges (US$225) to 270,000 tenges  (US$630). One can find hotels and recreation areas at a cheaper rate online. 

Burabai, Akmola Region

Recreation in Burabai is gradually developing, and now tourists can not only sunbathe on the beach, but also go to the mountains with instructors, fish, hunt, ride horses, or improve their health at health resorts.

Burabai, Akmola Region. Photo credits: inform.kz

The cost of 11 options available to stay in Burabai for mid-August varies from 54,000 (US$126) to 900,000 tenges (US$2,100) for six nights. In most resorts, almost all seats, including apartments and hotels near Burabai, have already been reserved.

Another option available for those who are interested in Burabai would be Zerenda and Shalkar, which are more budget-friendly and not overloaded with other tourists.

Bayanaul, Pavlodar Region

Last year, the media reported that the Bayanaul resort area will be improved for tourists with upgraded infrastructure, including new changing rooms, restrooms and places for recreation on the Sabyndykol Lake, the sacred Konyr-Aulie cave, and building new roads and reconstructing springs.

Bayanaul National Park can be proud of its emerald lakes, caves, steep cliffs, forests and mountains.

Recreation areas and hotels are also available for tourists.

Bukhtarma reservoir, East Kazakhstan Region

Bukhtarma is the largest artificial reservoir near Ust-Kamenogorsk city, where people can enjoy fishing and sunbathing. Other attractions in Bukhtarma include the City of Spirits – the Kiin Kerish tract (translated as “disobedient” and “beautiful” from Turkish), the area of ​​Lake Zaisan, – these are deposits of variegated, mainly red, clays. Among the famous attractions are also the waterfall on the Bolshoy Kok-Kol River (translated as Big Blue Lake River) and the fishing village of Akshuat. 

Bukhtarma reservoir. Photo credits: kzt.io

Turkistan

In addition, Turkistan is worth mentioning as a place with a lot of opportunities to offer for tourists due to its recent reconstruction, and the launch of flights. The opening of Keruen-Saray as the largest multifunctional tourist complex in Central Asia in Turkistan in April showcases these opportunities. 

The city had its new Hazret Sultan international airport and the Western China-Western Europe international highway as well as new theatres, museums, ultra-modern stadiums, and media centres. 

The Keruen-Saray facility in Turkistan is located in the buffer zone of the Hazret-Sultan cultural reserve in front of the mausoleum of Khoja Ahmed Yassawi. Photo credits: primeminister.kz

These are just a few of the most famous tourist resorts among hundreds of other unique places to visit in Kazakhstan. The following is a short list of other places with magnificent landscapes: Charyn Canyon, Bozzhyra, Kaindy Lake, Kolsai Lakes, Lake Balkhash, Katon-Karagai, Beket-ata Mosque, Ustyurt Plateau, the Singing Dune of the Altyn-Emel Nature Reserve, Chunji Hot Springs, Asa Plateau and Medvezhiy Waterfall, Sairam-Ugam National Park, and the Karkaraly-Kentish mountain junction. 

Newly announced plans regarding ensuring hiking safety in the Almaty mountains might also attract tourists eager to explore the mountain cluster of the Almaty Region, one of the top ten tourist destinations.

Although the pandemic hit the tourism industry hard, it also created incentives for entrepreneurs and the government to stimulate domestic tourism. Several initiatives are proposed and being implemented to encourage Kazakh citizens to travel more within the country, such as the Kids Go Free system that allows the free travel of kids aged 14 or less. 

“Before the start of the tourist season, we want to discuss the draft amendments to the rules for the provision of tourist services with the tourist community, which are related to the standardization and improvement of the quality of services. Together with Kazakh Tourism, we are developing an application that will host registers, such as guides, with the possibility of receiving feedback from tourists,” said Vice-Minister of Culture and Sports Gabidulla Abdrakhimov in May.  

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