On the wild plains where Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and China intersect, lies Almaty City, a sophisticated metropolitan surrounded by great mountains. The former capital of Kazakhstan is the melting pot of various cultures and the modern hub of a petro-economy.
1. Easiest introduction to Central Asia
Almaty is Kazakhstan’s main transportation hub. With the biggest airport in the country, you can fly into and out of Almaty airport on the major airlines, including Air Astana, the national airline of Kazakhstan and one of the best in Asia. If you prefer travelling on ground, trains from Almaty can take you to Russia, China and Uzbekistan as well as other destinations within Kazakhstan. On top of that, you can also travel to Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan, on a 5-hour bus journey.
2. Experience the Silk Road
There’s no better introduction to Almaty’s multifaceted ethnic and cultural patchwork than a trip to the buzzing Zelenyi Bazar, or the Green Bazaar, where traders from all over Asia gather. The large, two-level market has everything from fresh produce and meat to Georgian sweets and ready-made Korean kimchis. Don’t miss out on sampling the local delicacies like kymyz (fermented horse milk), shubat (fermented camel milk), kurt (pungent but addictive dried cheese balls) and laghman (long stout noodles).
3. Pay a visit to world’s second tallest wooden building
Cathedral of the Holy Ascension (or Zenkov Cathedral) is bound to catch your eyes, one way or another. Standing proudly at 56 meters tall in the lovely Panfilov Park, this striking yellow building with multi coloured domes is built entirely out of wood with intricate detailing and connected with iron bolts. Completed in 1907, the cathedral was used as a museum after the ‘Revolution’ before it was restored to its original use as a Russian Orthodox Cathedral and reopened in 1997.
4. Hit the heavenly ski slope
Barely half an hour’s drive from Almaty, Shymbulak Ski Resort can be found in the stunning Zailiyskiy Alatau Mountain. Skiers and snowboarders from all over the world make their way to this ski resort every winter to experience one of Central Asia’s finest slopes. The courses range from beginner to expert. The mountain is well worth escaping the city smog for even in summer, when the scenic views await. Shymbulak is easily accessible from the city via the bus and a cable car.
5. Be a part of the coffee culture
Kazakhs love their coffee and so will you. Although most locals still prefer tea, cafe culture is slowly growing to be the lifeblood of Almaty’s social scene, which is why you will find a hip coffee place around every corner of the city complete with acoustic music playing in the background. Coffee houses are filled with both locals and tourists, typically university students and young professionals. As the Korean population is relatively large in Kazakhstan, you will also find Korean style cafes serving Korean desserts.
Discover Almaty City with Sri Sutra Travel!