The largest of the former USSR’s Central Asian states is Kazakhstan. The world’s ninth largest country by size, the country has remained relatively undiscovered even into the 21st century, largely due to the lack of any significant historical sites and an endless array of winding steppes which make for a rather bland atmosphere. At least on the surface. There is much, much more just waiting to be discovered.
To the modern viewer, Kazakhstan is synonymous with the fictional character Borat, as portrayed by Sacha Baron Cohen. What most people fail to realize is that the Kazakhstan portrayed in the film is only the exaggerated Kazakhstan. Yes, the country is poor. It is underdeveloped. Its people are simple, nomadic, and superstitious. But that does not make them backwards or ignorant. The people are exceptionally friendly to tourists and visitors, the food is amazing, and the northern parts of the country, such as Astana, are rapidly transforming into 21st century hubs as modernity finally begins to catch up with the country.
Visas must be obtained in advance. Once you know the country transportation will depend upon which part of the country you happen to be visiting. Cities will provide you with plenty of public transportation, while the more rural areas can create a bit of an issue. Trains are the most popular way of getting between the cities, as the roads aren’t exactly that good, and busses are generally less comfortable.
If you take the time to visit Kazakhstan, prepare for an adventure. While staying in the main cities like Almaty or Astana will give you all the comforts of home, the outer regions of the country are relatively unexplored territory. This is an outdoor-enthusiast’s dream come true. The vast plains and steppes of the ancient Kazakh nomads spread out for hundreds of miles in all directions.