Kazakhstan is largely unknown as a tourist destination. There is however plenty to see and do for the visitor undaunted by huge distances, confusing bureaucracy and language barriers.
Beautiful Jawdropping landscapes and natural diversity should be the main draw for visitors, but there is also some interesting history, from the Bronze Age until the 20th century.
Due to the enormous size of Kazakhstan and the diversity of experiences, I have not included a highlights of Kazakhstan. What you should see depends on where you plan to enter and exit the country, I think. But if you want this type of introduction, I think the Almaty region itinerary has a bit of everything without obligating you to take airplanes or sit on a train for days. Don’t forget to check out Top 99 things to do in Kazakhstan for more inspiration and unique experiences.
Most of these itineraries are very extensive, aimed to broaden your mind about all the things you could possibly experience in Kazakhstan. They’re often not realistic looking at the time and money constraints of most travelers. Pick the places you think are most interesting and build your own route.
Kyrgyzstan – China (or flying in to Almaty): This is basically the Almaty region route.
Russia – Uzbekistan/Kyrgyzstan/China (or flying into Astana): I don’t really know enough about the North to recommend an itinerary there. Focusing on what I do know, this route starts with a city visit to Astana, mixed with the Central Region route around Karaganda and the Southern region route or the Almaty region route, depending on your exit point.
Caspian Sea/Turkmenistan to China: It’s a long way with a bunch of interesting sidetrips. Supply the main Caspian to China highlights route with side trips around Aqtau, around Shymkent and around Almaty if you can.
4WD and motorbike itineraries: It’s all so amazing for road trips. If you are well-prepared, the West and the Center are fantastic landscapes to drive. If not, Almaty region is already really cool once you get out of the city.
Cycle itineraries: There’s a few standard routes that 90% of cyclists take in Kazakhstan.