A lot of scam taxis are waiting for you when you arrive at Almaty Airport as well as other cities in CIS countries. You would be better to ask transport company which shows sign or ads card of transport service to the city. There are some transport company's counter at waiting area and "555-333" taxi is one of secure company. It was 2300KTZ with "555-333" taxi when I requested through my hotel. Kazakhstan Hotel charged 3500KTZ. Ads at airport shows 2000-3000KTZ. Perhaps if you are frequent flyer you may take taxi more reasonable (normal) charge. It take around 30 minutes to/from the airport to city centre.
Currency:The national currency of Kazakhstan is the tenge.
Notes currently in circulation are T5000,2000,1000,500,200,and 100;coins are T1,5,10,20,and 50.
Changing money:Foreign currency can be exchanged for tenge and vice versa at any bank or official exchange office.All such transactions must be recorded on the customs declaration form you received when you entered Kazakhstan.Try to keep all your currency exchange documents as they may be required when you leave.
Bank opening hours:
9am to 6pm Mon-fri,linch break 1-2pm.
Credit cards:Most European and International credit cards,including Visa, Master,Diners club cards are accepted by major hotels,shops and restaurants in Almaty and Astana.
1 Kazakh tenge = 0.00478547092 British pounds (17th october 2008)
Upon entering Kazakhstan you must fill in two copies of the customs declaration form.One copy must be handed to the customs official and the other kept until your departure.
Foreigners generally experience more problems when leaving Kazakhstan than when arriving.
It is prohibited to import or export arms,ammunition,drugs and pornography,and to export securities,state loan certificates,lottery tickets,art and antiques(unless you have a special permit issued by the Culture Committee),antelope and deer antlers,or deer skin(an exception is made for those on organised hunting tours).
Documentation is required to export carpets,works of art and pets.Permits to export carpets and work of art are issued by the Commission for Controlling the Export of Cultural Valuables.
From the speech of N.Nazarbaev
at the Vth Session of the Parliament
on September 1, 1999
of the Customs Authorities of the Republic of Kazakhstan
1-We declare on our intention to contribute to economic, democratic, legal and social development of our state and to ensuring, within our competency, to safety of natural environment.
2-We guarantee the quality of Customs services and our presence in the market economy as a result of a long-term national Customs policy.
3-We exercise our activity for Kazakhstan, for the entire world, and establish Customs clearance points at the places that are convenient for participants in foreign economic activity and are located within our territories.
4-We guarantee each participant in foreign economic activity who addresses us, prompt and qualitative Customs clearance of goods providing maximum convenience, minimum expenses and full compliance with the Customs legislation.
5-We fight for providing Customs services that meet international requirements and standards.
6-We guarantee relations based on partnership and cooperation with all government agencies and public organizations and conflict-free existence in the market.
7-We guarantee professional and honest relations with our partners and expect the same relations from them.
8-Exercising our activity for the prosperity of Kazakhstan, we are interested in re-energizing of the national economy in the system of the world economic relations and in liberalization of foreign economic activity.
9-We are open for the constructive dialogue with participants in foreign economic activity on Customs issues.
10-We are striving for creating conditions for high-quality and highly productive work for our personnel and require effective work from them. We are striving for healthy life style and call for going in for sporting all the people of the country.
11-We guarantee full observance of the RK legislation.
12-We realize that the reputation of the Customs service depends in many respects on the professionalism and adherence to principle of our officers, and pay much attention to work with them.
13-We declare that elimination of corruption is our priority. We assume an obligation to maintain the high level of integrity.
14-The Constitution of the Republic of Kazakhstan and public opinion are the supreme arbitration for us.
When leaving Kazakhstan you must declare any foreign currency you are taking out of the country and present one of the following documents to prove the origin of such currency;
-your original customs declaration showing the amount of currency you imported into Kazakhstan,
-receipts issued by exchange offices of authorised banks in Kazakstan when you purchased foreign currency,
-documentation issued by authorised banks evidencing cash withdrawals from a foreign currency account or receipt of foreign currency by bank transfer,
These documents must cover the total amount being exported.
Transfer of foreign currency via plastic cards do not need to be declared.
If you try to export foreign currency without documentation,it may be seized by the customs and will be returned to you next time you enter Kazakhstan.
The customs officials at the Almaty Airport are ruthless and seem to have made shaking down foreigners a sport! When departing, I strongly suggest purchasing a "VIP" pass (app. $50), which allows you to access a seperate dedicated entrance/check-in/departure lounge from the standard airport hall.
some of the streets in Almaty are sooo long, once i had to find a bulding 531 on Seifullina street, being close to number 300 i decided to take a walk rather than take a taxi and this was my mistake..it took me 1 hour to get till my point of destination, besides it was very hot and there is one more particularity-the numeration getting bigger with the street coming mountains direction, which means all the time you go up..so it was not good at all...arriving all sweating to a meeting with a client..anyway my reason is best option is to take a taxi, it's very cheap anyway
i know i wont be the first complaining about lack of driving skills in Almaty...besides driving whatever way and style they like, they are just so noisy..all the time BEEPS-BEEPS, you may become crazy...but there is one thing that impressed me, especially after Moscow-drivers here are polite, if they see you are crossing the road even where you dont have to..they will stop and let you go...nice people in Almaty:))
be careful with these "small canals" by the roads, in some places channels can be wide and small bridges are crossing them, in some places only 30cm and you have to jump to get to another side, sometimes it's dry or full of flowing water.. especially after the rain when all this water is coming down from mountains...if you are not used to it (who is??) this may be dangerous, so pay attention:)
I applied for a visa to cover my 4 day stay in Kazakhstan, but when I got there found that the visa expired that day, instead of in four day's time. I was unable to leave the country until I got a new valid visa, and so missed appointments in the neighbouring countries.
So, make sure when you apply for a visa that it is valid for beyond the period you intend to stay , to avoid problems like I had.
Barakholka's district is wild and full of crazy people. you have to see this magik place full of action. chinese people meet kazakh, russian along with uygur, uzbek, all in one can get messy and usually there is a lot of people fighting and shooting eachother. open your eyes and dont go to places you thin should be dangerous. again i went everywhere i wanted and didnt feel in danger but still this is just a warning for you to be careful and open your eyes and all will be ok. the problem everywhere in the world is that people when travel just relax their instincts and let them go to places they never would go while at home!
Barakholka's market consists on kms ans kms of labirints full of shops of all kinds....
Marijuana plantations around the city is often seen. i had to go off road and find hidden paths to be able to go to the top of the TV tower hill as the cable car going up was broken and also as that from the national road going up had a road block by police that prevent people going up and fall on the broken buildings damaged by the last earthquake.
i found a huge plantations of marijuana, so i guess some people should be guarding that right? i dont think they would be very happy to see me there on their marijuana field!! check out for ht epicture that only shows a little area of the plantation... WILD WILD!! ah and dont pick it up!!
Panfilov Park and Zekov Cathedral by night is indeed a mustn't. i was folowed by thes guys that really looked bad guys. i decided to go there to see the park at night and its only full with gangs. on the lighten areeas of the park you have some people still singing karaoke with these loud radios and tvs, so if you even need help and screem no one will listen to you. be careful with guys riding motorbikes and bicylcles also. after i was folowed for a few minutes i decided to go back and confront them face to face bofore i actually ended in a less lighten part of the park. they were suprised and didnt know how to react so i just passed aside them. i was heding a dark part of the park and i think they knew it so they were folowing me in order to atack me or something, this is not paranoia as i am not paranoic hehe, but i knew it for sure, you know...it was one of those moments...
Casino's areas by night should be avoided in Almaty has they are full of local mafia and drunk people getting out of the bar. constatntly there are many shooting action near these buildings so, just cross to the other side of the street, or just go niside and play! haha, just dont stay at the door waiting for some lost bullets!
Walk on the mountains in Ili Alatau alone can have a few things to know about. you should avoid getting far away from your friends alone after the sun goes down. apart from wild animals you have bandits that can kidnap you... hehe, its true...im laughing but this can happen. so if you are far away from your friends have have to go back already without light, think on 4 things: you can get lost!! you can find some bandits! or you can just fall into a hole and find some bad bad wild animals like bears and stuff like snakes and scorpions very normal to see them in the summer.
if you find local kazakh nomads yurts, try to spend there the night. they will be ore than happy and youll be safe for a night.
4WD Offroad can get tricky and there is alot of stuff you have to prepare. extra part of car, water, tyres, chekcing oil. the thing you will not want is to get stuck somewhere on the mountains without possibility of getting back. the mountains usually are with some bandits that can rob you. if you go by car get your car prepared for eventualities.