The airport of Almaty (ALA) is 25 minutes north from the city center. It is a small, quiet, functional airport, and has been improved in recent years – the horror stories you read online from before 2014 are mostly out of date.
ATM’s work with most international cards. It’s a better option than the money exchange, which has very bad rates. The free wi-fi in the airport can only be used if you have a local sim card. Go upstairs to the departures hall for good reception.
The selection of food and drinks in the 3 cafes is small, overpriced and of terrible quality. A few shops sell overpriced souvenirs. There are no lockers or advertised luggage storage. A business class lounge exists, but service is poor/nonexistent.
Almaty airport is open all night, but don’t count on laying down. Seats all have armrests and are not comfy for sleeping. It also gets cold in winter, and the departures hall is brightly-lit.
From Almaty airport to the city center
Unofficial taxi drivers will try to get you in their taxi as soon as you enter the arrivals hall. Although you can use them, an official taxi gives you more safety, a better vehicle and a fixed, honest price. A booth of Eko-Taxi can be found inside the airport, their taxis are clearly marked.
Ride-hailing apps like Yandex or Uber are another option. 2500 – 3000 tenge is the price for a taxi, depending on where you need to be in Almaty. Questions and updates welcome in the forum.
The private shuttle bus has closed down since November 2016.
The cheap way to get in and out of the airport. Buses run every 15 minutes from 6am to 9pm between the airport and the city center. There is no night bus anymore. You can check available routes here, or read more on Almaty city buses.
Visa on arrival
It is possible to get a Kazakhstan single entry visa on arrival in the airport of Almaty. See visas to Kazakhstan for all the details.
The transfer desk works Monday-Saturday during office hours. If you arrive outside of these times, you will have to wait. If that takes more than half an hour, you will be questioned by the police and possibly be detained.
If the transfer desk is open, you can show your letter of invitation, pay another 70$ and receive your visa on the spot. Check to see if you have 2 stamps on your registration paper (the little white thing), it means you do not have to register with immigration services again.
Passengers in transit
Before 2014, there was no transit zone in Almaty airport and many travelers were detained for not having a Kazakh visa while transiting (as they needed to exit and enter the passport control to go to the new gate). A new transfer zone has been built now: you can now safely transfer to your connecting flight.
Sights near the airport (for a quick layover)
If you have just a few hours between 2 planes it does not make sense to drive all the way to the city centre. But you can still enjoy yourself without going far. Here are 7 things to see near Almaty airport.
If you have more time, go for a walk in Almaty.