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How Much It Costs To Backpack In The Almaty Region Of Kazakhstan


by Shannon Ruch



Welcome to the Almaty region of Kazakhstan, a hidden gem for budget travelers looking for a unique and affordable adventure. Nestled in the southeastern part of the country, Almaty offers a captivating blend of natural beauty, rich history, and vibrant culture, all without breaking the bank.


With its stunning landscapes ranging from snow-capped mountains to vast steppe plains, the Almaty region is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers. From exploring the breathtaking Charyn Canyon to discovering the serene beauty of Lake Issyk, there are endless opportunities for adventure and exploration.


Not only does Almaty offer natural wonders, but it is also home to a vibrant city with a thriving cultural scene. Indulge in the bustling markets, visit historical landmarks such as the Ascension Cathedral, and experience the warm hospitality of the local people.


But perhaps one of the biggest draws for budget travelers is the incredible affordability of visiting the Almaty region. With reasonable prices for accommodation, dining, and transportation, you can experience all that this captivating destination has to offer without burning through your wallet.


In this guide, we’ll provide you with invaluable tips and insights to help you plan your budget-friendly backpacking adventure in the Almaty region. From getting to Almaty to finding affordable accommodations, as well as enjoying delicious local cuisine and exploring the must-see sights and activities, we’ve got you covered.


So pack your bags, grab your hiking boots, and get ready for an unforgettable journey through the Almaty region of Kazakhstan, where affordability meets adventure, and a world of discovery awaits.


Getting to Almaty

Getting to Almaty is relatively easy and affordable, with several options available to suit different travel preferences and budgets. Here are the primary means of reaching this charming city:

  1. By Air: Almaty is served by Almaty International Airport, which receives domestic and international flights from major airlines. Look out for budget airlines or search for deals to find the most affordable options. From the airport, you can take a taxi or use public transportation to reach the city center.
  2. By Train: If you prefer a scenic journey, consider taking the train to Almaty. The city is connected to other major cities within Kazakhstan and neighboring countries like Russia and China. Train tickets are generally reasonably priced, and you’ll have the opportunity to admire the picturesque landscapes along the way.
  3. By Bus: Another cost-effective option is to travel by bus. Almaty has a well-connected bus network that links it to various cities in Kazakhstan and even some international destinations. Buses are a popular choice among budget travelers due to their affordability and flexibility. Check the schedules and book your ticket in advance to secure your spot.
  4. By Car: For those who prefer driving, renting a car is a convenient option. The roads in and around Almaty are generally well-maintained, allowing for a smooth and enjoyable journey. Keep in mind that you may need an international driving permit, and familiarize yourself with the local traffic rules before hitting the road.

No matter which mode of transportation you choose, it is advisable to book your tickets or make reservations in advance, especially during peak travel seasons. Doing so will help you secure the best deals and ensure a hassle-free journey to Almaty.


Once you have arrived in the city, there are various options for local transportation, including buses, taxis, and the newly introduced bike-sharing system. These modes of transport are affordable and convenient, allowing you to explore the city and its surroundings without breaking your budget.


Now that you know how to get to Almaty, it’s time to delve into the next aspect of your budget adventure – finding affordable accommodations. Let’s explore the options available for you!


Accommodation Options

When it comes to accommodation in Almaty, there are plenty of affordable options to choose from, catering to every budget and preference. Here are some of the top choices for budget travelers:

  1. Hostels: Almaty offers a range of budget-friendly hostels, providing dormitory-style accommodation. These hostels are not only affordable but also a great way to meet fellow travelers. Many hostels provide communal kitchens, common areas, and organized activities, adding to the social aspect of your stay.
  2. Guesthouses: Another affordable option is to stay in guesthouses, which offer a more intimate and cozy atmosphere. Guesthouses often have private rooms with shared bathrooms, and some even provide breakfast as part of the package. Look for guesthouses located in the city center or near popular attractions for added convenience.
  3. Homestays: For a truly immersive experience, consider staying in a homestay. This option allows you to live with a local family, giving you a glimpse into their way of life and culture. Homestays provide a unique and authentic experience, along with affordable accommodation and the opportunity to interact with locals.
  4. Budget Hotels: If you prefer more traditional accommodation, Almaty has a range of budget hotels that offer comfortable rooms at affordable prices. Look for hotels located in the city center or near public transportation, as this will make it easier for you to explore the city and its surroundings.

When booking your accommodation, make use of various online platforms and booking websites to compare prices and read reviews from previous guests. This will help you find the best deals and ensure the quality of your stay. Additionally, consider staying in less touristy areas or outskirts of the city, as prices tend to be lower in these locations.


Remember, it’s always a good idea to book your accommodation in advance, especially during peak travel seasons, to secure the best rates and ensure availability.


With your accommodation sorted, it’s time to explore the culinary delights that Almaty has to offer. Let’s dive into the world of food and dining in the next section!


Food and Dining

Exploring the local cuisine is an essential part of any travel experience, and Almaty offers a delectable array of dishes that won’t break the bank. From traditional Kazakh delicacies to international flavors, here’s a guide to food and dining in Almaty:


Traditional Kazakh Cuisine: Don’t miss the opportunity to try traditional Kazakh dishes during your stay in Almaty. Sample the hearty and flavorful cuisine, including dishes like Beshbarmak (boiled meat served with noodles), Kazy (cured horse sausage), and Manty (steamed dumplings filled with meat or vegetables). These dishes are often served in local eateries and affordable food stalls.


Budget-Friendly Eateries: Almaty is dotted with budget-friendly eateries that offer delicious and affordable meals. Look out for “Pectopahs” (cafeterias) and “Lido” style restaurants, where you can choose from a variety of dishes displayed buffet-style. These establishments allow you to pick and choose your meal, with prices based on the weight of the food you select.


Street Food: For a truly local experience, explore the vibrant street food scene in Almaty. Indulge in freshly baked bread, Samsa (baked pastries filled with meat or potatoes), and Shashlik (grilled skewered meat). Street food stalls are scattered throughout the city and offer a tasty and affordable option for a quick bite.


International Cuisine: If you’re craving international flavors, Almaty has a wide range of international restaurants and cafes. From Italian and Chinese to Indian and Mexican, you’ll find a diverse selection of cuisines to satisfy your taste buds. Keep in mind that these restaurants may be slightly pricier than local eateries, but still offer good value for money.


Markets and Supermarkets: For budget-conscious travelers, consider visiting local markets and supermarkets to purchase fresh produce, snacks, and ingredients for a DIY meal. Farmers markets like Zelyony Bazaar offer a wide array of fruits, vegetables, and local products at affordable prices. This option allows you to experience the local culture while also saving money.


With a range of dining options to suit every budget, you can enjoy the culinary delights of Almaty without breaking the bank. The next section will explore transportation options for navigating the city and beyond.



Getting around Almaty and exploring the surrounding region is convenient and affordable thanks to the city’s well-developed transportation infrastructure. Here are the primary modes of transportation for budget travelers:


Public Transport: Almaty has an extensive public transportation network consisting of buses, trams, trolleybuses, and the Metro system. These options offer a cost-effective way to travel within the city and reach popular attractions. Public transport fares are relatively low, and tickets can be purchased onboard or at ticket booths located near major stops.


Taxis: Taxis are widely available in Almaty, and they can be an affordable option if you’re traveling in a group or sharing the fare with fellow travelers. It is advisable to use reputable taxi companies or ride-sharing apps to ensure a fair and safe journey. Negotiate the fare or use the meter before starting your trip to avoid any surprises.


Bike-Sharing: Almaty has recently introduced a bike-sharing system, making it an eco-friendly and affordable way to explore the city. Renting a bike for a few hours or a day allows you to navigate the streets at your own pace and discover hidden gems. Look for bike-sharing stations throughout the city and follow the instructions for renting and returning the bikes.


Walking: Almaty is a pedestrian-friendly city with many attractions and landmarks within walking distance of each other. Exploring on foot not only saves you money but also allows you to soak in the local atmosphere and discover hidden gems along the way. Make use of maps or navigation apps to guide you and take advantage of the city’s well-maintained sidewalks.


Day Trips: If you’re looking to venture beyond the city, there are various transportation options for day trips to the surrounding natural wonders. Take a shared taxi or minibus (known as “marshrutkas”) to reach destinations like Big Almaty Lake or Charyn Canyon. These options are more budget-friendly than hiring a private car or joining organized tours.


It’s important to plan your transportation accordingly and consider the distance and travel time when exploring different attractions. Taking advantage of public transportation, sharing rides, and choosing alternative options like biking and walking can help you save money while experiencing the beauty of Almaty and its surroundings.


With transportation sorted, let’s move on to the next section, which focuses on the sightseeing and activities available in the Almaty region.


Sightseeing and Activities

The Almaty region is a treasure trove of sightseeing opportunities and exciting activities, offering something for every budget and interest. Here are some must-see attractions and activities to include in your itinerary:


Medeu Ice Skating Rink: Visit the Medeu Ice Skating Rink, located just outside of Almaty, for a unique experience. This high-altitude rink is one of the largest in the world and offers breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains. Lace up your skates and glide across the ice while taking in the stunning scenery.


Panfilov Park and Zenkov Cathedral: Take a stroll through Panfilov Park, a picturesque park in the heart of Almaty. Admire the beautiful architecture of the Zenkov Cathedral, a colorful wooden Orthodox church and one of the city’s most iconic landmarks. Explore the park’s charming pathways, relax in the shade of trees, and immerse yourself in the tranquil atmosphere.


Kok Tobe: Ride the cable car to Kok Tobe, a hill overlooking the city that offers panoramic views of Almaty and the surrounding mountains. Enjoy the vibrant carnival atmosphere at the top, visit the observation deck, and indulge in local food and crafts at the market. Be sure to catch the sunset for a truly magical experience.


Almaty Central Mosque: Pay a visit to the Almaty Central Mosque, a grand architectural masterpiece and an important religious site. Admire the intricate design and peaceful ambiance of this historic mosque, which can accommodate thousands of worshippers. Remember to dress modestly and respectfully when entering.


Almaty Botanical Garden: Escape the city buzz and explore the serene beauty of the Almaty Botanical Garden. Spanning over 100 hectares, the garden is home to a diverse range of flora and fauna. Take a leisurely stroll through the lush greenery, relax by the ponds, and marvel at the vibrant blooms during the spring and summer seasons.


Almaty Museum of Folk Musical Instruments: Immerse yourself in Kazakhstan’s rich musical heritage at the Almaty Museum of Folk Musical Instruments. Discover a fascinating collection of traditional instruments, learn about their history and significance, and even attend live performances showcasing local music traditions.


These are just a few highlights of the many attractions and activities available in the Almaty region. Be sure to check out local events and festivals happening during your visit, as they provide an excellent opportunity to experience the region’s culture and traditions.


Now that you’ve explored the sights and activities, let’s dive into another budget-friendly aspect of your trip – trekking and hiking opportunities in the Almaty region.


Trekking and Hiking Opportunities

The Almaty region is a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts, offering a plethora of trekking and hiking opportunities amidst its stunning natural landscapes. Lace up your boots and get ready to embark on unforgettable adventures. Here are some top trekking and hiking destinations in the Almaty region:


Charyn Canyon: Explore the breathtaking Charyn Canyon, often referred to as the “Grand Canyon of Central Asia.” Hike along the canyon trails, marvel at the towering rock formations, and admire the vibrant colors that change with the sunlight. Camping options are available for those who wish to spend more time immersing themselves in the beauty of this natural wonder.


Big Almaty Lake: Take a hike to Big Almaty Lake, located in the Tian Shan Mountains. The trail offers stunning views of the surrounding peaks and leads you to this stunning alpine lake with crystal-clear turquoise waters. Enjoy a picnic by the lake, soak in the tranquility, and marvel at the beauty of the surrounding nature.


Kolsai Lakes: Venture to the Kolsai Lakes, a series of three picturesque alpine lakes nestled in the mountains. Each lake offers its unique charm, surrounded by lush forests and snow-capped peaks. The trek to the lakes varies in difficulty, providing options for both experienced hikers and beginners. Camping is available near the lakes, allowing you to fully immerse yourself in the tranquility of the area.


Altyn-Emel National Park: Explore the diverse landscapes of Altyn-Emel National Park, famous for its stunning sand dunes and unique rock formations. Embark on hiking trails that lead you through the park, witnessing the surreal beauty of the desert-like terrain. Don’t miss the opportunity to visit the singing dune, a phenomenon where sand emits a melodic sound when shifted.


Ile-Alatau National Park: Discover the wonders of Ile-Alatau National Park, located in the Tian Shan Mountains. The park offers a range of hiking trails suitable for all levels, from leisurely walks to challenging ascents. Enjoy panoramic views, lush meadows, alpine lakes, and the chance to spot wildlife along the way.


Before setting off on your trek or hike, it is essential to be well-prepared and equipped. Ensure you have proper hiking gear, sufficient water, food, and a map or guide for navigation. It is also advisable to check the weather and trail conditions beforehand and inform someone about your itinerary.


With its awe-inspiring natural beauty and diverse landscapes, the Almaty region offers endless opportunities for memorable trekking and hiking experiences. After a day of adventure, you can unwind and recharge for the next day of exploration. The next section will guide you through shopping and finding unique souvenirs in Almaty.


Shopping and Souvenirs

Almaty offers a vibrant shopping scene where you can find unique souvenirs and indulge in retail therapy. From bustling markets to modern shopping centers, here are some shopping destinations to explore:


Zelyony Bazaar: Immerse yourself in the vibrant atmosphere of Zelyony Bazaar (Green Market). Located in the heart of Almaty, this bustling market offers a wide variety of fresh fruits, vegetables, spices, and traditional Kazakh products. Browse through the stalls for locally produced honey, dried fruits, nuts, and handmade crafts, making it the perfect place to find authentic souvenirs.


Arbat Street: Stroll along Arbat Street, a pedestrianized avenue lined with shops, cafes, and boutiques. Explore the local fashion scene, discover unique clothing pieces, and shop for jewelry, accessories, and traditional Kazakh craftsmanship. Don’t forget to bargain for the best deals and enjoy the lively ambiance of this popular shopping district.


Mega Almaty: For a modern shopping experience, head to Mega Almaty, one of the largest shopping centers in Central Asia. This expansive mall offers a wide range of international and local brands, including clothing, electronics, cosmetics, and more. Indulge in retail therapy, catch a movie, or enjoy a meal at one of the many restaurants and cafes.


Zhastar Park: Located near the Kok Tobe cable car station, Zhastar Park is a popular spot for souvenir shopping. Explore the colorful stalls and shops selling traditional Kazakh crafts, handmade jewelry, textiles, and artwork. It’s an ideal place to find unique souvenirs to remember your trip to Almaty.


Altyn Orda Craft Market: Visit the Altyn Orda Craft Market to discover a wide range of traditional Kazakh handicrafts and artworks. This market highlights the rich cultural heritage of Kazakhstan and offers unique items such as carpets, embroidery, leather goods, and woodwork. Support local artisans and take home a piece of Kazakh craftsmanship.


When shopping for souvenirs, keep in mind the cultural significance and authenticity of the items. Look for locally produced goods that reflect the traditions and craftsmanship of the region. Don’t be afraid to engage with the sellers, learn about the stories behind the products, and negotiate prices to ensure a fair deal.


With its diverse shopping options, Almaty provides ample opportunities to find the perfect souvenirs to commemorate your journey. As your adventure in Almaty comes to an end, let’s explore some budget tips and recommendations in the next section to help you make the most of your trip.


Budget Tips and Recommendations

Traveling on a budget doesn’t mean compromising on experiences or missing out on the best that Almaty has to offer. Here are some budget tips and recommendations to help you make the most of your trip:


Plan and research: Before your trip, spend time researching and planning your itinerary. Look for budget-friendly accommodations, transportation options, and attractions. Create a daily budget to keep track of your expenses and prioritize the activities and sights that interest you the most.


Visit during off-peak seasons: Consider visiting Almaty during the shoulder seasons, spring, or autumn when prices for accommodation and flights tend to be lower. Additionally, you’ll be able to enjoy the sights and activities with fewer crowds.


Eat at local establishments: Opt for local eateries, cafes, and street food stalls to experience authentic Kazakh cuisine without breaking the bank. These establishments often offer delicious and affordable meals. Additionally, consider cooking your meals or having a picnic using ingredients you’ve bought from local markets.


Utilize public transportation: Public transportation in Almaty is affordable and efficient. Take advantage of buses, trams, or the Metro to get around the city and explore the Almaty region. This will save you money on taxis and allow you to experience the local way of commuting.


Engage in free or low-cost activities: Almaty offers several free or low-cost activities, such as visiting parks, taking walking tours, or exploring local neighborhoods. Take advantage of these opportunities to immerse yourself in the city’s culture and save money on entertainment.


Seek out free cultural events: Keep an eye out for free cultural events happening in Almaty during your visit. These events may include concerts, art exhibitions, or festivals that showcase the local traditions and talents. Not only will you have a memorable experience, but you’ll also have the chance to interact with locals.


Shop at local markets: When looking for souvenirs or everyday items, head to local markets like Zelyony Bazaar. Here, you can find unique products at reasonable prices and support local vendors and artisans. Remember to bargain for a better deal.


Stay hydrated: Carry a refillable water bottle and fill it up whenever you have the chance. This will help you save money on bottled water, especially during outdoor activities or long walks.


Stay alert for scams: While Almaty is generally safe for travelers, it’s important to be aware of common scams and stay alert. Be cautious of overly friendly strangers offering unsolicited assistance, and only use licensed taxis or reputable ride-sharing services.


By following these budget tips and recommendations, you can make the most of your trip to Almaty without overspending. Remember, budget travel is all about striking a balance between enjoying the experiences and being mindful of your resources.


As you wrap up your budget adventure in Almaty, you’ll be amazed at how much you’ve been able to see and do without breaking the bank. Reflect on the memories you’ve made and cherish the moments spent exploring this enchanting region of Kazakhstan.


Safe travels and enjoy your budget-friendly adventure in Almaty!



Exploring the Almaty region on a budget opens up a world of possibilities for adventurous travelers seeking a unique and affordable getaway. From the stunning natural landscapes to the vibrant city scenes, Almaty offers a captivating blend of culture, history, and outdoor beauty that can be experienced without breaking the bank.


By following the budget tips and recommendations provided in this guide, you can make the most of your trip while keeping your expenses in check. From finding affordable accommodations to indulging in delicious local cuisine, navigating the city with budget-friendly transportation options, and enjoying the incredible sights, there are plenty of opportunities to create unforgettable memories on a budget.


Whether you’re trekking through the awe-inspiring canyons, discovering the local markets for unique souvenirs, or immersing yourself in the vibrant cultural scene, Almaty offers something for every budget-conscious traveler. With careful planning, research, and a sense of adventure, you’ll find that a limited budget does not limit the incredible experiences and discoveries that await you in this captivating region of Kazakhstan.


So pack your bags, prepare your itinerary, and get ready to embark on an unforgettable budget-friendly adventure in Almaty. From the awe-inspiring landscapes to the warm hospitality of the locals, you’ll discover that experiencing the Almaty region is not only fulfilling but also surprisingly affordable.


Now is the time to embrace the spirit of adventure and set off on a journey that will leave lasting memories without breaking the bank. Embrace the culture, explore the beauty of the Almaty region, and savor every moment of your budget-friendly adventure.


Safe travels and enjoy your budget-friendly exploration of the Almaty region!