ASTANA

Kazakhstan

Astana (formerly Aqmola and Tselinograd), in the north of Kazakhstan, is the second largest city in the country. It took over the role of capital city from Almaty (the largest city) in December 1998.Now it's undergoing a transformation costing billions of dollars, where top international architects assist in trying to make Astana a worthy capital - not only of Kazakhstan but of all Central Asia.

Info Astana

introduction

Astana (formerly Aqmola and Tselinograd), in the north of Kazakhstan, is the second largest city in the country. It took over the role of capital city from Almaty (the largest city) in December 1998.

Now it's undergoing a transformation costing billions of dollars, where top international architects assist in trying to make Astana a worthy capital - not only of Kazakhstan but of all Central Asia.

The master plan of Astana was designed by Japanese architect Kisho Kurokawa. As the seat of the Government of Kazakhstan, Astana is the site of the Parliament House, the Supreme Court, the Ak Orda Presidential Palace and numerous government departments and agencies. It is home to many futuristic buildings, hotels and skyscrapers.

Astana presents an interesting and intriguing blend of old Soviet architecture with the modern designs of Norman Foster and the like. Astana is growing, but still does not offer the comforts and thrills of its Western counterparts, or Almaty, but has its own charms and pleasures.

info

POPULATION : City: 835,153 
FOUNDED :  1830 as Akmoly
TIME ZONE : ALMT (UTC+6)  
LANGUAGE : Kazakh (Qazaq, state language), Russian (widely used)
RELIGION : Muslims 67 %, Russian Orthodox 27% , Chatolic 4%, Others 2% 
AREA : 710.2 km2 (274.2 sq mi)
ELEVATION : 347 m (1,138 ft)
COORDINATES : 51°10′N 71°26′E
SEX RATIO : Male: 48.1% 
 Female: 51.9%
ETHNIC : Kazakhs 65.2%, Russians 23.8%, Ukrainians 2.9%, Tatars 1.7%, Germans 1.5%, Others 4.9%
AREA CODE : 7172
POSTAL CODE : 010000–010015
DIALING CODE : +7 7172
WEBSITE : Official Website

Tourism

THINGS TO SEE

Bayterek Tower (Бәйтерек, Bäyterek). An example of the futuristic architecture in the newborn city. Nicknamed Chupa Chups by the locals due to its similarity to a giant lollipop, this 97m high building offers a great view of the city as well as an art gallery, an aquarium and a restaurant. In the centre of the top sphere, the ever so humble President Nazarbayev has made a golden palm print where visitors may put their own hands. Be warned at busier times the queue for the palm can be very long. 

Khan Shatyr. Is a giant transparent tent big enough to hold 10,000 people. The 150m-high tent has a 200m elliptical base covering an area larger than 10 football stadiums, and contains a park, a shopping and entertainment area with squares and cobbled streets, a boating river, minigolf and an indoor beach resort. It even contains its own monorail with several stops. While Astana is one of the world's coldest capitals with temperatures down to -40°C in the cold season, the transparent material lets sunshine in and helps to keep temperatures comfortable all year. 

The President's Museum of Kazakhstan, Barayev 3. Built like a yurt with a dome resembling a mosque. It contains exhibitions about the history of the country. The main attraction is a replica of the Golden Man costume, a warrior's suit that was found in a tomb east of Almaty. It contains more than 4000 gold pieces, and the original was considered too fragile to be put on display (it is now kept safe in the national bank). 

Atameken Map of Kazakhstan. An outdoor museum giving you an overview of the entire country in a miniature version. This 1.7-hectare exhibit features more than 200 mock-up pieces, creating Kazakh cities and historical memorials. During the summer months at least, there are normally English speaking guides available (optional obviously), should you wish to learn a little about the models, and there is a covered section which focuses on the newer constructions within the city of Astana itself. Taking photos sometimes requires an extra payment to be made - you may want to keep cameras in your bag until you pass out of sight of the front ticket office. There is a covered map of Astana on a platform overlooking the rest of the map, be sure to visit the exhibition underneath this, which offers dioramas of Kazakhstani industry, sport and culture. 

Palace of Peace and Reconciliation. The pyramid portion of the building is 62m high and sits on a 15m high earth-covered block. All of this construction is above ground level. The building holds a summit of all religions of the world every 2–3 years. Though the landscaping of the park rises up to cover the lower levels, these are not in fact basements. This building offers a great view of the city as well as two art galleries, an archaeological and ethnographic museum, opera hall, and a cafe. 

Duman. An entertainment complex consisting of an oceanarium, 3D theatre, dome area, souvenir shops and cafes. The aquarium is unique for being located over 3,000 km away from the ocean! It has more than 2000 sea inhabitants, the representatives of 100 species of sea fauna from different parts of the world. You can also see "Mermaid" and sharks-feeding shows at the aquarium. In the Motion Theatre you can make an underwater trip under the command of captain Mac-Cloud during the World War II, to overcome the traps while rescuing the gorgeous princess, confined in the dungeon, go on a tour to the past to dinosaur age, escorted by a troll etc. 

Nur-Astana Mosque. The second largest mosque in Central Asia, completed in 2008. 
The dome area contains symbols from all over the world like the Statue of Liberty, the fragment of the great Chinese wall, the "Doriphor" statue, Parthenon and others.

Kazakh Eli monument. Situated next to Pyramid (Palace of Peace) and has a small statue of the first president of the Republic of Kazakhstan. It is about 100 metres tall and has a mythical golden bird Samryk on the top. Monument is made from white marble and surrounded by very beautiful fountains. 

Shabyt Palace. Shabyt is a palace of arts situated to the right of Kazakh Eli monument. It is a dish like building made from glass.


SHOPPING

TSUM The central shopping mall on Kenesary Street, across from Congress Hall has some shops for clothes, perfumes, a camera shop, cafe and a small supermarket.

New Western-style shopping malls have sprung up with all the variety of shopping you would expect from a mall in the West including:

Keruen on the Left Bank near Bayterek. Supermarket, Cinema, Babylon (video-arcade/indoor rides for children). Food court.

Mega on Turan Street. Cinema. Ramstor supermarket. Climbing wall. Food court.

Sara Arkai on Turan Street. Cinema. Supermarket.

Ramstor is another chain of supermarkets that is popular among Westerners in Astana. They sell lots of things you can't find elsewhere such as macaroni and cheese, microwave popcorn, Worcestershire Sauce, barbeque sauces, tortilla chips, salsa and so on.

Asia Park. Next to Central Mosque of Astana. Has a nice skybar with a pretty good view. Includes an Alma supermarket with good bakery, dairy, tinned food and frozen food. Fruit and vegetables don't look so good (in late 2011). Some basic homeware is also on sale. There is a Finn Mark shop for winter clothes. There is also a Fitness First gym.

Talisman on Republic Avenue is a great little souvenir shop with T-shirts, felt products, leather paintings, traditional musical instruments, desk sets and jewellery and stuffed leopards. A bit expensive and the staff watch you very carefully to make sure you don't shoplift, but there is a good variety of goods.

History

The settlement of Akmoly, also known as Akmolinsky prikaz, was established on the Ishim River in 1830 as the seat of an okrug by a unit of the Siberian Cossacks headed by Fyodor Shubin. The name was possibly given after a local landmark—Akmola literally means "a white grave" in Kazakh—although this theory is not universally accepted.In 1832, the settlement was granted town status and named Akmolinsk.

During World War II, Akmolinsk served as a route for the transport of engineering tools and equipment from evacuated plants in the Ukrainian SSR, Byelorussian SSR, and Russian SFSR located in the oblasts of the Kazakh SSR. Local industries were appointed to respond to war needs, assisting the country to provide the battle and home fronts with all materials needed. In the post-war years, Akmolinsk became a beacon of economic revival in the west of the Soviet Union ruined by the war. Additionally, many Russian-Germans were resettled here after being deported under Joseph Stalin rule.

In the 1950s, Northern Kazakh SSR oblasts became a territory of the Virgin Lands Campaign led by Nikita Khrushchev, in order to turn the region into a second grain producer for the Soviet Union. In December 1960, Central Committee made a resolution to create the Tselinniy Krai, which comprised five regions of the Northern Kazakh SSR oblasts. Akmolinsk Oblast was ceased to exist as a separate administrative entity. Its districts were directly subordinated to the new krai administration, and Akmolinsk became the krai capital, as well as the administrative seat of the new Virgin Lands economic region. On 14 March 1961, Khrushchev proposed to rename the city to name corresponding to its role in the Virgin Lands Campaign. On 20 March 1961, the Supreme Soviet of the Kazakh SSR renamed Akmolinsk to Tselinograd.

After the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the consequent independence of Kazakhstan, the city's original form was restored in the modified form Akmola. On 6 July 1994, the Supreme Council of Kazakhstan accepted the decree "On the transfer of the capital of Kazakhstan". After the capital of Kazakhstan was moved to Akmola on 10 December 1997, the city was consequently renamed Astana in 1998. On 10 June 1998, Astana presented as the capital internationally. On 16 July 1999, Astana was awarded the medal and title of the City of Peace by UNESCO.

Climate

Astana is the second coldest capital city in the world after Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, a position formerly held by Canada's capital, Ottawa, until Astana attained capital city status in 1997.

Astana has an extreme continental climate with warm summers (featuring occasional brief rain showers) and long, very cold, dry winters.

Summer temperatures occasionally reach +35 °C (95 °F) while −30 to −35 °C (−22 to −31 °F) is not unusual between mid-December and early March.

 Typically, the city's river is frozen over between the second week of November and the beginning of April. Astana has a well-deserved reputation among Kazakhs for its frequent high winds, the effects of which are felt particularly strongly on the fast-developing but relatively exposed Left Bank area of the city.

The average annual temperature in Astana is +3.5 °C (38.3 °F). January is the coldest month with an average temperature of −14.2 °C (6.4 °F). July is the hottest month with an average temperature of +20.7 °C (69.3 °F).

Climate data for Astana

MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec 
Record high °C (°F)3.4
(38.1)
4.8
(40.6)
22.1
(71.8)
29.7
(85.5)
35.7
(96.3)
40.1
(104.2)
41.6
(106.9)
38.7
(101.7)
36.2
(97.2)
26.7
(80.1)
18.5
(65.3)
4.5
(40.1)
 
Average high °C (°F)−9.9
(14.2)
−9.2
(15.4)
−2.5
(27.5)
10.9
(51.6)
20.2
(68.4)
25.8
(78.4)
26.8
(80.2)
25.2
(77.4)
18.8
(65.8)
10.0
(50)
−1.4
(29.5)
−8.0
(17.6)
 
Daily mean °C (°F)−14.2
(6.4)
−14.1
(6.6)
−7.1
(19.2)
5.2
(41.4)
13.9
(57)
19.5
(67.1)
20.8
(69.4)
18.8
(65.8)
12.3
(54.1)
4.6
(40.3)
−5.4
(22.3)
−12.1
(10.2)
 
Average low °C (°F)−18.3
(−0.9)
−18.5
(−1.3)
−11.5
(11.3)
0.2
(32.4)
7.9
(46.2)
13.2
(55.8)
15.0
(59)
12.8
(55)
6.6
(43.9)
0.2
(32.4)
−8.9
(16)
−16.1
(3)
 
Record low °C (°F)−51.6
(−60.9)
−48.9
(−56)
−38.0
(−36.4)
−27.7
(−17.9)
−10.8
(12.6)
−1.5
(29.3)
2.3
(36.1)
−2.2
(28)
−8.2
(17.2)
−25.3
(−13.5)
−39.2
(−38.6)
−43.5
(−46.3)
 
              
Source #1: Pogoda.ru.net
Source #2: NOAA

Geography

Astana is located in central Kazakhstan on the Ishim River in a very flat, semi-arid steppe region which covers most of the country's territory. It is at 51° 10′ north latitude and 71° 26′ east longitude, and the 50th parallel north passes through the southern parts of the city. The city encompasses 722.0 square kilometres (278.8 sq mi).

The elevation of Astana is 347 m (1,138 ft) above sea level. Astana is in a spacious steppe landscape, in the transitional area between the north of Kazakhstan and the extremely thinly settled national centre, because of the Ishim River. The older boroughs lie north of the river, whilst the new boroughs are located south of the Ishim.

Economy

Astana's economy is based on trade, industrial production, transport, communication and construction. The city’s industrial production is mainly focused on producing building materials, foodstuff and mechanical engineering.

Astana is the headquarters of state-owned corporations such as Samruk-Kazyna, Kazakhstan Temir Zholy, KazMunayGas, KazTransOil, Kazatomprom, KEGOC and Kazakhtelecom.

The shift of the capital has given a powerful boost to Astana’s economic development. The city’s high economic growth rate has attracted numerous investors. In the 16 years since Astana became the capital, the volume of investments has increased by almost 30 times, the gross regional product has increased by 90 times, and industrial output has increased by 11 times.

The Astana – New City special economic zone was established in 2001 to develop industry and increase the attractiveness of the city to investors. The SEZ plans to commission five projects worth 20 billion KZT (around $108 million) in the Industrial Park #1 in 2015. The projects include construction of a plant for production of diesel engines, a fast food complex, temporary storage warehouses and a business centre, a furniture factory, and production of military and civil engineering machinery.

Internet, Comunication

There are three mobile phone providers: KCell, Tele2 and Beeline. All three offer mobile web (Edge, 3G). SIM cards are cheap and can be bought without filling in documentation.

Free Wi-Fi is widely available.

Prices in Astana

PRICES LIST - USD

MARKET / SUPERMARKET

Milk1 liter$ 0.65
Tomatoes1 kg$ 1.30
Cheese0.5 kg$ 2.90
Apples1 kg$ 1.25
Oranges1 kg$ 1.35
Beer (domestic)0.5 l$ 0.70
Bottle of Wine1 bottle$ 6.50
Coca-Cola2 liters$ 0.70
Bread1 piece$ 0.30
Water1.5 l$ 0.40

PRICES LIST - USD

RESTAURANTS

Dinner (Low-range)for 2$ 19.00
Dinner (Mid-range)for 2$ 38.00
Dinner (High-range)for 2$ 60.00
Mac Meal or similar1 meal$ 3.60
Water0.33 l$ 0.35
Cappuccino1 cup$ 1.80
Beer (Imported)0.33 l$ 1.70
Beer (domestic)0.5 l$ 1.15
Coca-Cola0.33 l$ 0.50
Coctail drink1 drink$ 5.50

PRICES LIST - USD

ENTERTAINMENT

Cinema2 tickets$ 9.00
Gym1 month$ 44.00
Men’s Haircut1 haircut$ 5.80
Theatar2 tickets$ 29.00
Mobile (prepaid)1 min.$ 0.05
Pack of Marlboro1 pack$ 0.80

PRICES LIST - USD

PERSONAL CARE

Antibiotics1 pack$ 3.60
Tampons32 pieces$ 2.80
Deodorant50 ml.$ 1.60
Shampoo400 ml.$ 1.95
Toilet paper4 rolls$ 0.85
Toothpaste1 tube$ 1.10

PRICES LIST - USD

CLOTHES / SHOES

Jeans (Levis 501 or similar)1$ 47.00
Dress summer (Zara, H&M)1$ 40.00
Sport shoes (Nike, Adidas)1$ 60.00
Leather shoes1$ 80.00

PRICES LIST - USD

TRANSPORTATION

Gasoline1 liter$ 0.35
TaxiStart$ 1.40
Taxi1 km$ 0.55
Local Transport1 ticket$ 0.25

Tourist (Backpacker)  

49 $ per day

Estimated cost per 1 day including:

  • meals in cheap restaurant
  • public transport
  • cheap hotel

Tourist (business/regular)  

102 $ per day

Estimated cost per 1 day including:

  • mid-range meals and drinks
  • transportation
  • hotel

Transportation - Get In

Transportation - Get In

By plane

Astana International Airport  is about 15 kilometres south of central Astana. It serves Vienna, Kiev, Moscow, Beijing, Delhi, Seoul,Bangkok, Istanbul, Dubai, London, Amsterdam, Hannover and Frankfurt, as well as several domestic destinations. Air Astana, the flag carrier of Kazakhstan, flies to Almaty, Delhi,Dubai, Frankfurt, Hannover, Istanbul-Atatürk, Moscow-Sheremetyevo, and Ürümqi from Astana Airport.

Bus 10 connects the airport and the city centre twice hourly, price is KZT60. A taxi from the airport to the city centre is about USD20.

Transportation - Get In

By Train

Astana is served by the Qazaqstan Temir Zholy (Kazakhstan National Railway). Express trains run between Almaty and Astana. Additional service connects to Russia and Urumqi in western China. English Timetable

 


Transportation - Get Around

There are plenty of taxis around: expect to pay KZT300-1000 for a trip within the city.

Street taxis: Stand at the side of any road and thumb down a passing car, within 3 minutes you should have had a string of them. Tell them your destination and they will either drive off or gesture you in. It is useful to know numbers so you can set a price for the journey before starting. They are much cheaper than official taxis and you can expect to pay about half the price in one of these, prices start at about KZT500 for a cross river trip. Some drivers will practice their English on you, others will race around the streets like a maniac, slowing down for the obvious speed camera. Use this method with caution and try to travel in groups.

The public buses cost KZT60. Get on the bus and a conductor will come and ask for your fare and give you a ticket. Given the simplicity of the process, you don't need to speak the language to be able to do this. The buses are efficient and comfortable, but they are often full. Some buses are from the 1990s, but there are also newer buses from the last 10 years that match any modern city in terms of the quality of the bus.

The municipal authorities have published a bus route map . Unfortunately, however, you have to choose the bus number to see the route. This is not helpful if you know where you want to go but don't know which bus to take! Once you're on the bus, there is a route map, so it's worth taking a photo of that on your phone for later trips around the city! When you get on a bus tell the conductor your destination and they will either tell you when to get off or gesture you to get on another bus.

On the route map published by ZaProezd.kz (click here) you can more easily search for the route you want in either Astana, Almaty or Karaganda. The page will suggest routes for you on the page's left side.

The number 12 bus does a nice loop around the new part of the city with the palace etc., so this is a nice one for a tour.

Hotels

- BEST RATED -

Hotels

- BEST VALUE -

Shopping


Souvenir shopping

  • Talisman7 Republic Avenue and a larger shop on 18/2 Syganak Street.10am - 8pm. A great little souvenir shop boasting over 3,500,000 different types of gifts, including T-shirts, felt products, leather paintings, contemporary art, traditional musical instruments, desk sets and jewellery and stuffed leopards. A bit expensive and the staff watch you very carefully to make sure you don't shoplift, but there is a good variety of goods.

TSUM also has a nice little souvenir shop in the second floor with traditional Kazakh souvenirs.


General shopping

TSUM The central shopping mall on Kenesary Street, across from Congress Hall has some shops for clothes, perfumes, a camera shop, cafe and a small supermarket.

New Western-style shopping malls have sprung up with all the variety of shopping you would expect from a mall in the West including:

Keruen on the Left Bank near Bayterek. Supermarket, Cinema, Babylon (video-arcade/indoor rides for children). Food court.

Mega on Turan Street. Cinema. Ramstor supermarket. Climbing wall. Food court.

Sara Arkai on Turan Street. Cinema. Supermarket.

Ramstor is another chain of supermarkets that is popular among Westerners in Astana. They sell lots of things you can't find elsewhere such as macaroni and cheese, microwave popcorn, Worcestershire Sauce, barbeque sauces, tortilla chips, salsa and so on.

Asia Park. Next to Central Mosque of Astana. Has a nice skybar with a pretty good view. Includes an Alma supermarket with good bakery, dairy, tinned food and frozen food. Fruit and vegetables don't look so good (in late 2011). Some basic homeware is also on sale. There is a Finn Mark shop for winter clothes. There is also a Fitness First gym.

Artem. This is half way between a bazaar (as some people call it) and an old fashioned shopping mall. The ground floor is open and feels like a market - it has lots of fresh fruit and vegetables, and dried fruit and nuts, all for sale in market stalls; plus mobile phone shops at one end. There are also areas that sell meat and fish. The many upper floors contain mostly clothes shops - a bit more reasonably priced than MEGA, Khan Shatyr etc., plus toiletries, furniture, and more.

Shanghai. These are big supermarkets that are more like bazaar mostly for the groceries but they also have clothes.

Eurasia. One of the first shopping centres in Astana. Has everything for a little bit lower prices.

With China relatively close, you can find many electronic gadgets in the shops, just remember that returns policies are not as customer-friendly as in the West. Also some of the latest gadgets such as iPhones and iPods are more expensive here than in Western countries.

Khan Shatyr. Contains a Greens supermarket - well laid out (the aisles aren't straight, so it doesn't have that factory-like feel of typical supermarkets). Prices are reasonable considering it's in the Khan Shatyr. There is also a Debenhams in Khan Shatyr.

Restaurants

Beshbarmak - a horse meat and pasta dish. Most restaurants that serve it will present a portion enough for two or three people. Boursaky - bread best served piping hot. A little like an unsweetened doughnut. Shashliq - unless you have a sturdy stomach, best to avoid unknown street vendors, but these kebabs are often cheap, and a good 'safe bet' if you recognise little else on the menu.

Along Turan street (formerly Sara Arka), there is a row of restaurants that while a bit expensive are quite good. They also have private rooms for parties, saunas, and even hotel rooms.

  • Cafe ShimketImmanova, near Republic Street (in Kazyna Mall, next to Cinema City). If you want a greasy spoon style meal, with cheap prices, and a mixture of makes in the car park, rather than 4x4s, Hummers and Mercedes, head over here. cheaper.
  • Melnitsa (Windmill), Turan Street (near Khan Shatyr). Possibly the only Ukrainian restaurant in Astana with one of the best outdoor dining areas in the city. Lots of traditional Ukrainian dishes like potato pancakes and of course Chicken Kiev. Live music in the evenings. Fresh bread oven. Great décor, like a farmer's hut.KZT1500-3000 for a main dish.
  • Tre Kronor (Three Crowns), Turan Street (near Mega Mall). Consistent with its name, the restaurant strives for a more European fare. It features excellent steaks and decent sausages. Nice Brew Pub atmosphere though it is a proper restaurant. Most evenings there's a live band which plays a mix of reggae, classic rock and Russian rock. Nice outdoor cafe in the summer. KZT1500-3000 for a main dish.
  • Satti32 Kabanbay Batyr Street,  +7 (7172) 24 28 48.
  • Line Brew. Popular with expats and locals alike, Line Brew features its own brew of beer, with an impressive menu that includes several delicious steaks, including one made of horse meat.
  • 1000 and 1 nights cafeBayan Sulu hotel,  +7-7172-366-222. The main destination for authentic Turkish and Arabic cuisine in Astana. Operated by Turkish management. Located at Bayan Sulu Hotel, which is located not far from Eurasia shopping center.
  • Ali Babas3 Bukeikhan st. Astana 010000, Kazakhstan. 8 172321899 (North of the river). Summer only. A very popular summer restaurant. The waitresses and waiters dress in traditional dress and the menu offers a selection of central Asian cuisine. Prices are in line with Europe or America but the food is good. There are fake bird cages hanging from the roof which tweet electronically. Camel and horse milk are on offer along side Leffe beer c. KZT3000.
  • RafeBukeikhan Street Astana, Kazakhstan (Almost opposite Ali Babas). A modern coffee bar offering Italian food with a twist. Be sure to check out the horse pizza c. KZT3000.
  • TurfanAlikhan Bokeikhan St 10,  +7 717 239 0850. Popular restaurant with the locals, offering a good range of Central Asian food selectable by pictures, they don't have an English menu but the staff will happily try their English on you. Slightly cheaper than the near-by Alibaba. During Ramadan they don't serve alcohol

Coffe & Drink

  • Kumis - different varieties are available of this mare's milk, some are a little salty. Slightly fermented.
  • Vodka - supermarkets stock a huge variety, ranging from $2 bottles that will strip your throat to $115 bottles that are more for giving as a present or showing off your wealth. Shots tend to be drunk, rather than utilising mixers - don't feel obliged to down each and every one if at a celebration.
  • Cognac - what we would refer to as brandy, again a wide range in the shops and restaurants. Same rules apply regarding shots - with all the toasts made at parties and other gatherings, you may want to pace yourself.

Sights & Landmarks

  • Bayterek Tower (Бәйтерек, Bäyterek).An example of the futuristic architecture in the newborn city. Nicknamed Chupa Chups by the locals due to its similarity to a giant lollipop, this 97m high building offers a great view of the city as well as an art gallery, an aquarium and a restaurant. There is a pleasant bar on one of the upper levels. In the centre of the top sphere, the ever so humble President Nazarbayev has made a golden palm print where visitors may put their own hands. Be warned at busier times the queue for the palm can be very long. The president designed the Baiterek himself and the original sketches can be seen in the national museum. KZT500 for Adults, KZT150 for 5-15 (with documentation), under 5s are free.
  • Khan Shatyr. Is a giant transparent tent big enough to hold 10,000 people. The 150m-high tent has a 200m elliptical base covering an area larger than 10 football stadiums, and contains a park, a shopping and entertainment area with squares and cobbled streets, a boating river, minigolf and an indoor beach resort. It even contains its own monorail with several stops. While Astana is one of the world's coldest capitals with temperatures down to -40°C in the cold season, the transparent material lets sunshine in and helps to keep temperatures comfortable all year.
  • Atameken Map of Kazakhstan. An outdoor museum giving you an overview of the entire country in a miniature version. This 1.7-hectare exhibit features more than 200 mock-up pieces, creating Kazakh cities and historical memorials. During the summer months at least, there are normally English speaking guides available (optional obviously), should you wish to learn a little about the models, and there is a covered section which focuses on the newer constructions within the city of Astana itself. Taking photos sometimes requires an extra payment to be made - you may want to keep cameras in your bag until you pass out of sight of the front ticket office. There is a covered map of Astana on a platform overlooking the rest of the map, be sure to visit the exhibition underneath this, which offers dioramas of Kazakhstani industry, sport and culture.
  • Palace of Peace and Reconciliation. The pyramid portion of the building is 62m high and sits on a 15m high earth-covered block. All of this construction is above ground level. The building holds a summit of all religions of the world every 2–3 years. Though the landscaping of the park rises up to cover the lower levels, these are not in fact basements. This building offers a great view of the city as well as two art galleries, an archaeological and ethnographic museum, opera hall, and a cafe.
  • Duman. An entertainment complex consisting of an oceanarium, 3D theatre, dome area, souvenir shops and cafes. The aquarium is unique for being located over 3,000 km away from the ocean! It has more than 2000 sea inhabitants, the representatives of 100 species of sea fauna from different parts of the world. You can also see "Mermaid" and sharks-feeding shows at the aquarium. In the Motion Theatre you can make an underwater trip under the command of captain Mac-Cloud during the World War II, to overcome the traps while rescuing the gorgeous princess, confined in the dungeon, go on a tour to the past to dinosaur age, escorted by a troll etc.
  • Nur-Astana Mosque. The second largest mosque in Central Asia, completed in 2008. The dome area contains symbols from all over the world like the Statue of Liberty, the fragment of the great Chinese wall, the "Doriphor" statue, Parthenon and others.
  • Kazakh Eli monument. Situated next to Pyramid (Palace of Peace) and has a small statue of the first president of the Republic of Kazakhstan. It is about 100 metres tall and has a mythical golden bird Samryk on the top. Monument is made from white marble and surrounded by very beautiful fountains.
  • Shabyt Palace. Shabyt is a palace of arts situated to the right of Kazakh Eli monument. It is a dish like building made from glass.
  • Palace of Independence. Many political and business gatherings are held in this palace. The summit of the OSCE (Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe) took place in December 2010 in this building; 56 countries were invited and it was one of the largest gatherings of Heads of State (bigger than Washington Nuclear Summit). Summits concerning ecology were held in October 2010 and 2011.

Museums & Galleries

  • National Museum of the Republic of Kazakhstan (Main bus routes stop outside). 10am - 6pm (Closed on Monday). The national museum moved to this new location in 2014. The museum is huge and very modern with interactive displays in English, Russian and Kazakh. The displays take you through the history of Kazakhstan up to the modern day. It also hosts an art gallery with many temporary exhibitions, you might find yourself alone with some bored looking gallery attendants on some of the upper floors. The main entrance hall is huge with a golden eagle that flaps its wings to patriotic music at certain times in the day. One of the highlights is on the ground floor where an animated diorama of the planned Astana emerges out of the floor on the hour, be sure to get there early as it can get crowded. The golden hall display has a model of the golden man costume along with a range of other beautiful golden objects found around Kazakhstan. Don't miss Nazabayev's rough sketches for the presidential palace and Baiterek. T500 (additional T1000 to visit the golden gallery).
  • Museum of the First President of the Republic of Kazakhstan. This is situated north of the river on the junction of Abai Street and Bebeishelik Street. This magnificent building was the seat of power before the new presidential palace was built. There is an entrance on Abai Street where you will have your baggage searched and you will be scanned for metal. Once inside be sure to ask the people at the front door for an English guide book. Pictures are allowed on the ground floor (1st in Kazakh speak) and outside, but no where else. Most people will have to don covers for their shoes and all luggage must be stored in lockers. Entry is free. The building consists of displays outlining the struggle for independence, gifts and awards given to Nazarbayev including a machine gun from the Saudis, and state rooms preserved as they were when Nazarbayev was there. On the top floor there is a comprehensive photo display of Yeltsin, someone that Nazarbayev seems to have a lot of sympathy towards. Be sure to see the full sized recreation of the golden man. The museum is often on the empty side and don't be surprised to find yourself trailed by anxious (maybe bored) gallery staff. There isn't much for the kids here, it is more suited to those interested in the art of state diplomacy and the history of Nazarbayev. There is a small gift shop on the ground floor with the normal tourist paraphernalia.
  • The Military Historical Museum of the Armed Forces of the Republic of KazakhstanBarayev 3 (Surrounded by scary looking roads, there are several underpasses to get you to this museum). 10am-8pm (Closed on Mondays). Built like a yurt with a dome resembling a mosque. It contains exhibitions about the history of the military of Kazakhstan. There is large focus on the Great Patriotic War and a collection of memorabilia related to Nazabayev, including some of his official stationery, a tank commander's hat that he wore and a big official painting of him. Don't miss the upper levels that have some excellent war paintings or the soviet style paintings as you enter the building. Free.

Things to do

'REVision Park' Cinema in English: Every Tuesday at 8pm, 24 Turan St. Sary Arka Shopping Mall (3d Floor). [www], Revision Park is a new project of Language Leader [www] and KinoPark Multiplex cinemas [www] .

  • Ak Bulak sauna Complex8th kilometre on the Astana-Airport highway (Olympic stadiums),  +7 7172 497698 (reception), +7-705-140-7221 (cell). 24 hours. A Sauna Complex with 3 private VIP double floor saunas (for a party of 6, 9 and 12 people). Each sauna is decorated in a different geographic style and has its own swimming pool, Finnish and Russian steam rooms (banya), jacuzzi, hamam, entertainment hall with a banquet table, billiard, karaoke, TV with cable channels and 2 private relax rooms. The Complex has its own parking lot and conveniently located on the main Astana-Airport highway (not far from Olympic stadiums). Ak Bulak sauna Complex is an excellent way to enjoy cold and windy Astana and feel the bathing tradition of Kazakhs. Food and beverages are provided at the Complex. Different types of massage can be ordered at the reception. from USD20-60/hour.

Nightlife

There are more than 10 discos (night clubs) that are frequently referenced by locals: Chocolate [www], A8, Fusion, Ice, etc. Chocolate is in the same building as the SAS Radisson hotel, but may only be open on selected days (weekends). "Ice" (centrally located - ask locals for the address) has a nice atmosphere and is on two floors with a large dance area. Prices are towards the high end, no entrance fee on Thursday night.

Safety in Astana

 

Very High / 9.2

Safety (Walking alone - day)

High / 7.0

Safety (Walking alone - night)

Kazakhstan - Travel guide

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