The books describe very well how to go from Urumqi to Almaty.
There is an alternative via Yining. A hard sleeper from Uru is Y160. The ride takes you 8 to 9 h.
In Yining base yourself in the youth hostel. The staff speaks English. Make a reservation by booking.com. There you are shown the adress of the YH in Chinese characters. As it ist located in a small street don't be surprised if the 1st taxi driver does not know it. Taxi from the railway station was Y 20.
From Yining is a bus on monday and thursday to Almaty.
Take a bus to Khorgos (100 km, Y20, 1,5 hrs). The bus terminal is +- 1 km away from the YH.
Buy a bus ticket. Don't worry about the given depature times. The frequently running minibuses leave when they are full.
In Khorgos the bus terminates in front of the bus station. Inside the bus station you must buy a Kazhakstan bus ticket for steep Y 70. Without that ticket you can't enter the immigration area.
Walk 500m ++ to the Chinese immigration. Pass it and wait for the bus.
On the KZ side pass the immigration. Wait for the bus. It will drop you on a place where the taxis are waiting for you.
Or, while waiting for the bus, someone will offer you a ride.
I choosed the latter option and had a front seat for 5000 Tenge.
If you know where to stay in Almaty the taxi will take you there.
You must pay before you leave. Don't worry, if you have to change the car.
Only on the Chinese side of the border are money changers.
It took me 12 hrs from the YH to my place in Almaty. So don't leave the YH after 10.
All about China. Expert: bwv812
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Thanks for the update, I have also written about this: http://caravanistan.com/transport/bus-s ... ng-almaty/
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For those looking to travel the other way, ie Almaty to Yining, I was told this morning at the bus station ticket office that there is not longer a direct bus from Almaty, apparently it stoked operating a month ago.
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