Roads in Kazakhstan are not of high quality with unexpected potholes of different sizes. The speed limits in the country: in town – 60 km/h, open roads 90 km/h, motorways – 110 km/h. To drive a car one should have a driving license, obligatory third party insurance, and vehicle ownership documents.
- Kazakhstan has right-hand driving:
- Driver and front seat passengers should fasten seat belts;
- Zero tolerance for drinking alcohol and driving;
- It is prohibited to talk on a mobile phone;
- Children under 12 should be transported in child safety seats or fastened by a child safety seat belt.
The Taxi services sector is represented by official taxi companies. Taxis are ordered by phone calls or online. The price of a trip can vary from one company to another, but mostly it differs between vehicle class - business or economy. Non-official taxis are widespread in the country when every individual can stop and ride to the destination place. Although this option is not safe or comfortable (often dirty and broken cars), people frequently use such taxis as it may be cheaper (a price is agreed) and immediate.
Buses and Coaches
Public transport is represented by buses, trolleybuses, trams and the Metro (Metro only in Almaty). Ticket price for a trip is around $0.25, one month pass $23.4, student month pass $6.25, pensioners and disabled month pass $6.25. Public transport in Almaty is equipped with special terminals to pay for a trip.
The most popular method of transport among Almaty citizens and its guests is the Metro. The metro was opened in 2011. It has one line with nine stations. The deepest Abaya station is 78 metres below ground. Every station has a unique design and artistic conception. Some stations are decorated in a modern style, others in the national style with Kazakh ornaments.
Buses and coaches connect cities and regions. The tickets can be bought on stations. The buses are good for a 5-6 hour trip. Similarly, small minivans owned by individuals go between cities and regions. The average price is cheaper than the same trip by train or aeroplane.
The length of railways in Kazakhstan is 15,300 kilometres. Railways were constructed during the Soviet period so that Kazakhstan was connected with neighbouring Soviet countries: Russia, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan. It is better to buy railway tickets in advance (especially during holidays) on Kazakhstan Temir Zholy (national railway operator) website www.railways.kz, or booking offices at railway stations or travel agencies. Upon boarding, a passenger must show passport and ticket (or e-ticket).
According to speed, trains are divided into slow and fast types. Fast trains go twice as fast as slow ones. Slow trains are old soviet-time trains with ‘platscart’ (open sleeping place for 4 people), ‘kupe’ (sleeping place with a door for 4 people) and ‘SV’ (sleeping place with a door for 2 people). Fast new trains are called Talgo. Tickets for this type of train are as expensive as an economy class aeroplane ticket.
Comparison of one-way ticket prices:
- From Almaty to Astana slow train platscart - $ 13, kupe - $ 19;
- From Almaty to Astana fast train platscart - $ 33, kupe - $ 44, lux - $ 48;
Kazakhstan has good flight connections to all regions. Plenty of international airline companies operate flights to Kazakhstan. There are, however, only a few local airlines within the country (Air Astana, Scat and KazakhAir). Air Astana is a Kazakh company meeting international safety requirements and flying not only within the country but also to the most popular international destinations.
Tickets are sold online through airline companies’ websites, travel agencies and online airfare booking portals, for example, www.aviata.kz. The cheapest return ticket from Almaty to Astana economy class is $ 87, business class $420.
Other ways to get around
An alternative way of travelling is cycling. In comparison with other places in the country, Almaty is more popular for cycling. The city centre has bicycle tracks, mountain routes (as the city situated close to mountains) and bicycle rent shops. Local people prefer cycling to work in summer. The city administration is promoting cycling as an eco-friendly alternative to other types of transport.