22 Fun and Interesting Facts About Kazakhstan – Things to Know Before You Go!

Kazakhstan is an awesome and expansive Central Asian country that has almost every kind of landscape imaginable. The list of amazing things to do in Kazakhstan is almost endless.

Interesting Facts About Kazakhstan - Big Almaty Lake|Interesting Facts About Kazakhstan - Tyan Shan Mountains|Interesting Facts About Kazakhstan - Charyn Canyon|Interesting Facts About Kazakhstan - Charyn River

If you’re planning to explore this hidden gem, we’ve compiled a handy list of interesting facts about Kazakhstan to educate, entertain and explain what to know before going to Kazakhstan.

Let’s start with some quick, fun facts about Kazakhstan

⭐ #1 – It’s only 31 years old! Kazakhstan became an independent state in 1991.

⭐ #2 – ‘Kazakh’ means wanderer and ‘stan’ means ‘land of’, so it is the ‘Land of Wanderers’.

⭐ #3 – It’s the 9th largest country and the biggest land-locked country in the world.

⭐ #4 – The western tip of this Central Asian country is actually part of continental Europe.

⭐ #5 – It shares the world’s longest border with Russia.

⭐ #6 – Horses are everything; providers of friendship, transport, food and drink.

⭐ #7 – It’s not really the home of Borat. He was banned, then his catchphrase was used to promote tourism in Kazakhstan.

4 Interesting Facts About Kazakhstan and its People

#8 – Ethnic Diversity
Kazakhstan is one of the most ethnically diverse countries in the world. Over 100 ethnic groups call it home.

That means that anyone of European or Asian descent will most likely be mistaken for Kazakh at least a few times during their visit to Kazakhstan.

Spoken Languages – Interesting Facts About Kazakhstan #9
Most people speak Kazakh, alongside Russian. Both languages have huge similarities. For example, the word for cafe in Russian is кафе and in Kazakh it is кафеci.

Both languages use the Cyrillic alphabet. The Kazakh Cyrillic Alphabet has 9 unique characters not found in the 33 character Russian Cyrillic Alphabet.

If you can speak Russian, you will have no trouble travelling in this area.

There are a few helpful phrases for non-Russian speakers here.

Fun Facts About Kazakhstan - Shopping Centre With English Speakers and WiFi If you don’t speak Russian, you can still get by with props and hand gestures. People are really friendly and patient when trying to work out what you’re saying.

When all else fails, you could always head to a big hotel or shopping centre.

You’re very likely to encounter people who speak English and are all too willing to help you.

You may even get a bonus side serving of WiFi!

#10 – Approachability
Another interesting fact about Kazakhstan is that Kazakhs are some of the most approachable people in the world. They are super friendly and helpful. Even if they can’t speak any English and you can’t speak any Kazakh or Russian, they’re willing to assist you.

They will also stay with you until your problem is solved. Say you hail a taxi using a taxi app, but the taxi can’t find you. Your new Kazakh friend will call the taxi, then take you to the taxi and make sure you get safely into the taxi and that the taxi knows where they are going.

Do you want directions but can’t speak Kazakh or Russian? No problem! Locals will use google translate to help. This always produces laughs over the inaccuracies of the translations, but you will get where you want to go eventually.

If you need assistance while in Kazakhstan, you can approach anyone in the street and be guaranteed that your problem will be solved in short order.

Fun Facts About Kazakhstan #11 – Alternative Worship
Funny Facts About Kazakhstan - Local Mosque A list of interesting facts about Kazakhstan wouldn’t be complete without mentioning how Kazakhs honour their religions.

For a place that has a decent number of Muslims and Christians, you won’t see as many mosques or churches as you would expect.

While they hold their faith dear, Kazakhs will not necessarily outwardly show it by wearing certain clothes or worshipping at churches and mosques.

Fun Facts About Kazakhstan - Orthodox Church If they are Muslim, they will stop what they are doing at prayer time, face Mecca and complete their prayers before going back to what they were doing previously.

If they are Christian, they will pray when they have some quiet time.

What a delightful way to integrate religion into life while keeping up with other important things at the same time.

3 Useful Facts About Transport and Tourism in Kazakhstan

#12 – City Transport
Interesting Facts About Kazakhstan - Local Bus Ticket Transportation is always an important consideration when visiting a country. Fortunately, transport in Kazakh cities is cheap and efficient.

That makes it quite easy to get around when doing the tourism in Kazakhstan thing.

Buses cover many major routes in the cities of Astana and Almaty and out to the suburbs for 180₸/US$0.46 or cheaper with the local transport card.

They’re a good and economical way to get you on your way to finding all the wonderful things to do in Kazakhstan. They run at intervals of 5 minutes or less. Bus information for Almaty can be found here.

Interesting Facts About Kazakhstan - Metro Station in Almaty Metro systems are relatively new in Kazakhstan. Line 1 of the Astana Metro was scheduled to be completed in 2019, but construction is currently suspended.

The Almaty Metro has only been open a few years and is therefore not that well developed, in terms of coverage.

At 80₸/US$0.21, the metro is a cheap, clean and efficient way of travelling in the city centre. Metro information for Almaty can be found here.

Taxis around the city cost about 1000₸/US$2.60. You can use the Yandex Taxi Hailing app to order a taxi if you have data/WiFi access and a phone number that can receive messages in Kazakhstan.

If you have no internet access, just stand on the side of the road and put your hand out like you’re hailing a bus. An unofficial taxi will stop for you within minutes.

#13 – Inter-City Transport
Interesting Facts About Kazakhstan - Sayran Bus StationShared taxis are available for inter-city routes, with prices that vary depending on the distance travelled.

A 4-hour drive from Zharkent to Almaty should cost about 4000₸/US$10.

Mashrutkas, which are minivans that work on the same principle as shared taxis, operate out of different bus stations, depending on the destination.

Fun Facts About Kazakhstan - Mashrutka Ticket You buy a ticket at the ticket desk and then present the ticket to the driver at the platform.

Then you get in the van and wait. How long you wait depends on how many people have already bought tickets for that van.

Mashrutkas leave when all their seats are filled and not a moment before.

A Mashrutka from the Sayran Bus station in Almaty to the Western Bus Station in Bishkek in Kyrgyzstan costs 1800₸/US$4.70 and takes around 4-5 hours.

If you want to experience some of the best places for tourism in Kazakhstan, like Charyn Canyon or Kolsai Lakes in the east of the Almaty region there are three options

→ Join a tour, but tours are expensive and generally only run on weekends.
→ Hire a car to self-drive, but car hire can cost over US$100/day!
→ Hire a car with a driver – the cheapest and easiest way to participate in tourism in Kazakhstan.

A whole day trip to somewhere like Charyn Canyon would cost around 35,000₸/US$89. Then if you share the cost with two other people, you could reduce it to around 12,000₸/US$30.

Can You Drink Tap Water in Kazakhstan?

If you’ve wondered if the water supply in Kazakhstan is potable or can you drink tap water in Kazakhstan, you may have asked the internet. But sometimes the internet lies.

You can drink tap water in Kazakhstan – Fun Facts About Kazakhstan #14

The domestic water supply in most places in Kazakhstan is potable.

Despite what the internet may say, the water supply in most of Kazakhstan is absolutely safe to drink, without boiling.

If you’re still a bit worried, you can take your reusable bottle to many cafes and restaurants, where they will refill it. Or you can simply boil your water.

3 Funny Facts About Kazakhstan – Dining

#15 – Meat is Life
Interesting Facts About Kazakhstan - Shishlyk in Kazakhstan If you love meat, eating will be one of your favourite things to do in Kazakhstan. They eat a lot of meat there. The main meats are beef, lamb and chicken, but horse meat is probably the most popular.

A very common dish in the region is Shishlyk, which comprises pieces of meat on skewers. The meat is cooked on an open grill and then served with onion.

Kazakhstan probably isn’t too vegan-friendly, unless you want to spend your whole time eating mushroom Shishlyk. Even salads in Kazakhstan can have meat, so it always pays to check what’s in the food you’re ordering!

#16 – Horse Milk
One of the fun facts about Kazakhstan includes their love for Horse Milk. It’s a popular drink in Kazakhstan and you can find people selling it from containers in some areas.

In fact, Kazakhs are such connoisseurs of horse milk, they have several different words to describe the drink according to the age of the horse and the sourness of the milk.

Then there’s Kumis, which is a fermented alcoholic version of horse milk, designed to keep you warm during the harsh Central Asian winters.

There is no way that you can spend any amount of time in Kazakhstan without coming across horse milk.

Funny Facts About Kazakhstan #17 – Beer With Straws
This qualifies as possibly one of the strangest things ever. All glasses of beer served in every pub, club or restaurant come with a straw in them.

This perplexingly funny fact about Kazakhstan is made all the more strange when you see the first thing people do once their drink is served.

Without fail, they remove the straw. Every time. Drinking beer through a straw would just be odd, right?

3 Interesting Facts About Kazakhstan – Quirky Qazaqstan

#18 – Music
Probably one of the most fun facts about Kazakhstan is that Kazakhs love listening to English language music, with a twist.

All shopping centres, restaurants and sporting clubs seem to have mellow versions of mainly 80s and 90s music, with the occasional 21st century hit thrown in for good measure.

You’ll never feel homesick in Kazakhstan!

Art Around Town – Entertaining and Fun Facts About Kazakhstan #19
There’s nothing like visiting places where are is appreciated, right?

Given the Kazakh love for horses, there’s no doubt that a lot of art you’ll see will depict horses, whether painted or sculpted.
Interesting Facts About Kazakhstan - Art in the City|Interesting Facts About Kazakhstan - Grass Horses and Carriage|Interesting Facts About Kazakhstan - Horse Painting in a Tunnel|Interesting Facts About Kazakhstan - Street Art
What may be surprising is how easy it is to find art when walking around Kazakh cities.

All kinds of art, from open air displays, to fountains lit up and synced with music, to wood carvings, to murals on the side of multi-storey buildings could be waiting just around the corner.

#20 – The Old and New Capital
Interesting Facts About Kazakhstan - I love Almaty SignAlmaty was the capital of Kazakhstan from 1991 to 1997. It may no longer be the capital, but it’s still the cultural and commercial centre of Kazakhstan. It is said to be the origin of the modern apple. The first part of the name Almaty means Apple. Hence the apple heart in this picture.

The Almaty city centre is very developed and pedestrian-friendly, due to the initiatives of the previous leader. Outside of the city centre, however, footpaths seem to magically disappear and you have no choice but to walk on narrow roads where cars will pass way too close to you.

Additional funny facts about Kazakhstan – The second largest city and capital of Kazakhstan was known as Akmola from 1997-1998, then Astana from 1998 to 2019 when it was renamed Nur-Sultan, after a former Kazakh leader. Now the president has decided it would once again be officially called Astana in 2022.

Not that it made too much difference. Even with the name change, it was still widely referred to as Astana both online and locally between 2019 and 2022.

Are You Wondering, Should I Visit Nur Sultan or Almaty?

If you’re asking the question, should I visit Nur Sultan or Almaty or should it be the place formerly known as Nur Sultan?

Whatever the capital city is being called, it’s worth a visit. So too is Almaty as the ‘heart’ of Kazakhstan.

the answer is clear – Visit both cities!

If you’re short on time, Almaty may be the easiest of the two cities to visit. There are regular train services between Almaty and Astana, but keep in mind that they are not cheap and take around 16 hours, one way.

#21 – Interesting Facts About Kazakhstan On The Roads

One of the most curious and interesting facts about Kazakhstan is the presence of left-hand and right-hand side drive vehicles on the roads.

It can certainly be a bit strange to sit on the right-hand side of a car and see the driver in the next car also sitting on that side. The reason for both car configurations being used in Kazakhstan is quite simple. It’s a matter of cost.

Right-hand drive cars are mainly imported from Japan and can be several times cheaper than their left-hand drive counterparts.

Safety as a Pedestrian – Funny Facts About Kazakhstan #22

The last of our funny facts about Kazakhstan can be seen in action at traffic lights.

The green light for cars and the little green man for pedestrians can be showing at the same time. That means that cars turning a corner will drive towards you while you’re crossing the road. They will stop, but they will inch towards you slowly while you cross to give you incentive to move.

It can be a bit alarming at first, but it’s just the way things work.

Kazakhstan is an awesome country to visit and we hope that these interesting and funny facts about Kazakhstan will prepare you for a memorable trip!

🇰🇿 Kazakhstan Summary 🇰🇿

In a few words – Diverse and friendly
Languages – Kazakh and Russian. Some English in bigger hotels and shopping centres.
Currency – Kazakhstan Tenge (KZT)
WiFi availability – 📶📶📶📶
Free WiFi is available in hostels, hotels and shopping centres.
Transport – 🚗🚗🚗🚗🚗
🚕 Taxis, official and unofficial, are relatively cheap. For an official taxi, you can use the Yandex taxi hailing app if you have internet. For an unofficial taxi, stand on the side of the road with your arm out.
🚐 Mashrutkas (minivans) are one of the easiest and cheapest ways to get around Kazakhstan.
🚆 Trains are reliable and comfortable, but intercity trains can be quite expensive and slow.
Roads – 🛣🛣🛣🛣🛣
Kazakhstan roads are mostly sealed an well maintained, except in some remote areas.
Scenery – 🏜️🌲🏖️🏞️🏝
Kazakhstan has everything! Desert canyons, snowy mountains, forest lakes, rivers, beaches. Where else in the world could you hike a desert canyon one day, then a snowy mountain the next?
Prices – 💰💰
Kazakhstan is great budget destination!
Border efficiency – 🛂🛂🛂🛂
Most border crossings seem to be rather quick at painless.
Overall – 👍👍👍👍

If you want to see some pretty pictures of amazing and cool things to do in Kazakhstan, have a look here and here

Check out all our Central and Western Asian Guides –
Interesting Facts About Kazakhstan
Fun Facts About Kyrgyzstan
Things to Know About Uzbekistan
Getting the Visa for Travel to Turkmenistan
Travel to Turkmenistan – 8 Things to Know
9 Fun Things to do In Baku – 2 Days on a Budget

20 Replies to “22 Fun and Interesting Facts About Kazakhstan – Things to Know Before You Go!”

  1. Great info with details that cannot be found easily anywhere else! Amazing job!

  2. Wow. Never even heard of Kazakhstan before. It looks so beautiful. Definitely have to put this on my vacation list. Thanks for sharing your experience.

  3. I saw the pictures, and it’s lovely here. Thanks for sharing and this is the country I got during my Geography report, and I’m curious about it! I wish someday I can go here too!

  4. I always appreciate your fun style of writing, for once, makes me enjoy reading.
    Also like how detailed the Kazakhstan guide is, now I know Russian isn’t actually the official language there xD

  5. It looks beautiful ? but I think the language would be a problem for me, I definitely don’t speak Russian or Kazakh ?
    Thanks for sharing! Really interesting post?

    1. I thought it’d be a problem too, but everyone’s so helpful that they try to help you anyways. I had a few conversations through Google Translate!

  6. This is so interesting! Thank you for sharing about your time here. My husband and I love traveling to undertouristed places; Kazakhstan seems like somewhere we’d love!

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