By Rail from Moscow
Chimkent is not - in general terms and according to most people’s ideas - the easiest place to get to. It is undoubtedly so in case you should wish to get there using railway services.
The most important - and the easiest - international rail link is undoubtedly that with Moscow, since Chimkent lies on the main Moscow - Almaty (former Kazakhstan capital) line. But this also means there are no direct Moscow - Chimkent trains, they all continue to Almaty. This might not be convenient if you go from Almaty to Moscow, as all the places might be sold out.
Besides, if you are a non-Russian citizen you will need a Russian visa to get onto Moscow - Chimkent train, and getting one - so I am told - as a major hassle (alas for our visa services…).
If you decide to go to Chimkent by train from Moscow, here are few simple bits of advice I guess are worth following:
- Buy either ‘kupe’ or ‘sv’ tickets. They are more expensive, but else you will be jammed with shoppers and their huge bags in a dirty carriage with no privacy.
- Demand respect. Train attendants like putting 5th and 6th person in 4-people compartments (money goes to them) - demand a stop to this, or you will have no breathing space.
- Get a Kazakhstan visa, even if you’re told you do not need one. You may be asked for money if you do not have one.