Is Kazakhstan Safe? Crime and Safety Tips for Travelers

Transportation, scams, thieves and corrupt police in Kazakhstan. Here's everything you need to know about personal safety before you go.

Photo © Getty Images/cosmopol

When it comes to personal safety in the central Asian country of Kazakhstan, you'll find there are some problems. Transportation, scams, thieves, and corrupt police are just some of the issues you might fact. Be prepared for these things, and you may escape them. If they end up happening to you anyway, at least you were warned.

Here are our top tips to stay safe and types of crime you should know about before traveling to Kazakhstan.

Avoid Walking Around Kazakhstan at Night

Most urban areas fairly pleasant – during the day. Travelers have reported being violently robbed at night, and the general advice is to never go out alone once the sun sets.

Even in a group, it's smart to avoid arguments with locals. Leave the area if a fight does break out among individuals. An extremist element does exist in and around Kazakhstan, and terrorists, including suicide bombers, have targeted civilians in restaurants and at night clubs.

Travelers have also reported unfriendly attitudes by locals toward foreigners in parts of western Kazakhstan that led to beatings and street fights.

Places to Avoid in Kazakhstan

Areas to stay away from at night include all parts of Almaty below Tashkentskaya Street -- travelers have reported muggings and being drugged in and around bars.

Smaller districts within this city and areas like Shanyrak with dodgy-looking homes are also to be avoided. Foreign travelers and residents have been attacked and mugged in Atyrau and Aktau.

Smaller towns like Uralsk, Taraz, Semey, Shymkent, Taldykorgan and Ust-Kamenogorsk are to be avoided after dark due to the risk of mugging. Shar, Temirtau and Stepnogorsk also turn violent at night.

Thieves will target Western hotels and tourist areas, so you aren't completely secure in the vicinity of your accommodation either; criminals often wait in unlit stairwells to carry out their assaults. Open-air markets are also hot targets for thieves.

Unsafe Transportation in Kazakhstan

As in other urban areas, thieves rove on trains, and some unlicensed taxis may take advantage of solo travelers.

Criminals also operate at airports by finding out passengers' names through the often non-private plane lists and gaining their trust by standing with a sign with the passengers' names when they arrive. They will then offer to take you to your hotel, but instead take you to a remote area and rob you. Provincial airports are more known for this type of activity.

Certain scams are common in Kazakhstan, such as the "lost wallet ploy", where a thief claims to find a wallet and then tries to split the money with you. His partner saunters up and says it's his wallet and forces you to give him money.

The twist on this scam is the person who comes looking for a lost wallet and demands you show your purse or pocket to prove you haven't stolen it. The thief then grabs all your belongings and darts away.

Still other Kazakhs might pretend to be the law by posing as cops and then demanding money for something. You can tell who's a legitimate police officer by his approach -- the real ones will show their badges or produce them upon request.

Don't Trust All the Authorities in Kazakhstan

Troublingly, the very people you would seek to help you after such a crime are often tied up in corrupt behavior as well.

Cops are very easily bribed in Kazakhstan, partly due to low salaries, and will rob visitors by pretending to arrest them for being publicly drunk in places like Atyrau and Tengiz, where such behavior is illegal.

Other public officials might also play games with travelers. In the Almaty airport, for example, visitors have reported customs officials demanding they pay up to $500 for some vague violation.

Others might be forced to pay a fine just for leaving the country. You can reduce the likelihood of having to pay legitimate fines on things like video cameras and mobile telephones by declaring them when you arrive in the country.

Even the uncorrupt officials might do some questionable things to travelers. It's not uncommon for security personnel to put foreign visitors under surveillance in their hotel rooms. This extends from tapping telephones to actually going through your belongings.

Police may also conduct random checks on the street that require you to show your passport; they don't need probable cause to search. You also may be questioned or apprehended if you photograph anything thought to be a matter of national security.

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49 Comments

  • Gulmira said

    Phil Silvester
    Why you wrote their only negatives. I live in that country and our country is more safety then america. Criminals are everywhere as any nations have bad and good people. All bad things from Ameica if say true. For example: drugs, prostitutes, geys, lesbian. Before wrote something dont write if for you dont make hospitality there. It means you are negative person thats why.

  • Ruslan K said

    Well the article is technically correct, even though if it focuses overwhelmingly on the negative.

    I have been to Kazakhstan several times now, I can say sincerely corruption satuarates every level of political and social life in Kazakhstan. The national currency is the tenge, but now that it has dropped in valuation, a lot of businesses insist they be paid in American dollars (because the conversion of USD to Tenge is significantly higher).
    This is the only country I have been to that has a two currency system.

    Also, corruption and thievery amongst public officials is down right scary. I have had custom officials go through my wallet in-front of me and try to take my money, they have asked me for brides for bringing two boxes of chocolate out of the country, which I refused to pay. I have had officers at the metro try to take my money saying I have to pay a foreigners tax. Sure corruption exists everywhere, but at that level? Something is amiss.

    It is the richest country in Central Asia because of its massive oil reserves. However, it is a banana republic that sadly due to cultural reasons, will never be a country that gains worldwide respect.

  • Anthony said

    I'm coming to the end of my fourth year living in Kazakhstan, and I have to say ... you're kidding me, right?

    I mean, yeah, some of these things are true - the authorities aren't massively likely to help you if you get robbed, for example. But some of these other things just seem really overcooked. Don't go out at night? REALLY? I work an evening job in Almaty and I walk home EVERY NIGHT. I can tell you honestly that it's safer to do that here than in Sydney (my home town). It might FEEL a bit creepy, because the street-light coverage isn't so great, but just look around - you're sharing these not-brilliantly-lit streets with families out walking their babies.

    I have not been randomly searched on the street ONCE during my time here. I know other people who have, though, and frankly, they brought it on themselves. If you walk through a dark city park at night speaking English loudly and laughing like a loon, that's gonna get you in trouble almost anywhere.

    If you do have contact with the police, all you need to do is not be an ass. Freaking out and going all "You're violating my rights - I'm contacting my Embassy!" about it will just make them think you're a hysterical nutcase. Remember, you're in a country where you need a passport for intercity rail journeys, most banking transactions (e.g. money transfers and currency exchange), sending or receiving parcels through the post, and even sometimes to buy private goods like modems. It's an all-purpose piece of ID here - so if the police ask to see it, be aware of the context. As any local will tell you, it's really no more of a big deal than a bus inspector asking to see your ticket.

    As far as the 'extremist element' goes, it's true that one exists. It's tiny, though, and mostly active in western cities like Aktobe - and why would you go there? They certainly shouldn't put you off going to a nice restaurant in Almaty or Astana. That's just not an issue. And thieves who "rove on trains"? There ARE no trains! Almaty has a metro - the cleanest and safest I've been on anywhere in the world - and Astana has ... well, nothing.

    Having said all of that, I do agree with you about unsafe transport, though perhaps not in quite the way you meant it. I there's one thing regularly makes me wonder what the hell I'm doing in this place, it's the absolutely APPALLING driving. Buses are flung about the roads like dragsters, taxi rides are routinely hair-raising, and most drivers on the roads have bought rather than earned their licenses, so they drive like 18-year-olds, taking insane risks for no discernible reason.

    Almost every foreigner I know here finds the driving situation terrifying ... and yet the locals are oblivious. As a Kazakh friend said to me last weekend, "We don't even notice - ten years ago, drink driving was totally acceptable and even encouraged, so this seems like GOOD driving for us!" So that you DO have to be careful of.

    I'd recommend walking as much as possible. Also, the streets which have little canals between the roadway and the pedestrian walkways are the best - if a car suddenly veers off the road (something which I saw happen today), it'll go into the canal and you'll be safe.

    To finish, I just want to say that overall, it's a pretty safe place to be. I'm heading to Athens next week for work, and from what I'm hearing, it'd be a lot safer to stay 'home' in Almaty. So don't be alarmed ... it's really nowhere near as scary as it's sometimes made out to be :-)

  • JC said

    To the first commenter, Gulmira, are you serious? Learn to spell before you decide to make negative comments about America that were not warranted or requested. The writer was just warning people about what can and does happen. I'm American and if someone asked if America was safe I would tell the truth. The author told the truth and I for one appreciated it. Your reply was poorly written, full of errors and as negative as the article you criticize.

  • Tim said

    JC - Have you considered English isn't his first language? You insulting him due to his spelling is down right rude and obnoxious...

    This is an article written by someone, who may have been there for a holiday or a trip, doubt they ever lived there to really get a feel for the place. So the negative impression is pretty sad and most likely high exaggerated experience.

    I take this article with a grain of salt and agree fully with Gulmira, Kazakhstan is a safer and more friendly then America... In my opinion.

  • Johanna said

    Have you travelled recently to Almaty, or Kazakhstan?
    I don't recognize the city I live in, Almaty, in anything that you described!
    I hope your readers choose another source to make their decisions. I hope your editor considers the validity of your article.

  • Scott said

    I'm an American who has lived in KZ over 10 years and seen most of its major cities. I can't believe this article. I will say just be aware of your surroundings. I've never been mugged but I have had 2 cell phones stolen while being careless. Kazakhs are a hospitable and peace loving people. It is very unlikely that you will be hurt by them but they also have a lot of pride so if you are an abonoxious foreigner you could. Be respectful and aware of your belongings and you'll likely love the country. Petty theft is about the worst you'll have to deal with. We feel much safer here than in America!

  • rathinrda nath chattopadhyay said

    It is crystal clear that America is higher criminal activity than Kazakhstan..

  • Andre said

    I am more concerned about police or customs going through my phones and this comment about declaring my electronic devices (i am going to glaze over the homophobic post in the second comment, which nobody seem to care about, i guess that's kazakh hospitality?)

    can somebody please post more details on what to do/anticipate about violation of my privacy (yes in America we have such thing as constitution and privacy is a fundental human right guaranteed by it, which i assume Kazakh people do not know about?)

    Should i make sure i delete all pictures and any other private information i don't want to be violated from my phone before entering the country?

    Any advise is appreciated.

  • Des said

    As a British person who has come to Almaty to live and work for the last 3 months I would say: don't let negative comments put you off. There is good and bad here, as in any city, but as a place to live it's generally good and the people are in my experience are very welcoming. Common sense should apply - again, as with any city - but don't flash the cash in a situation where there are obviously poor people around and you're unlikely to have any problems. In this country there is a massive disparity between rich and poor... the rich are super privileged (and know it) while the poor may have to get by on a few hundred $ a month. The lifestyles of western expats is alien to them. Treat people with respect and don't go looking for trouble and you won't find it.

    Some general hints...
    - Buses are cheap and widely used. Mechanical standards are questionable but everybody uses them. 80 tenge (about 30 cents) gets you a journey of any length. Same on the Metro, which is modern, spotlessly clean but sadly only 9 stops long. Official taxis are pretty reliable and there are good apps for firms like Eco Taxis that let you locate and book them. So-called "gypsy cabs" cruise the city streets unmarked and if you flag one down you can agree a fare between 400-1000 tenge. They are very popular among the locals but probably only if you speak some Russian. Be wary of them at night and don't get in if there are more people than just the driver in the car.
    - Although KZ is nominally Muslim it is not strongly so and feels like a secular state to live in. Alcohol is freely available in bars and supermarkets though drunkenness is frowned on. Young Kazakhs are cosmopolitan people but just be sensitive to local dress codes and behaviour standards. After all, you're a guest in their country. That said, as I already mentioned, they are generally very friendly, approachable and welcoming and it's quite likely you'll get greeted at some point by somebody just to say hello and practise their English.
    - The area to live is the 'upper' (southern) half of the city between Tole Bi and Al Farabi. It's where most of the modern flats are and where the bars and shopping malls are. Historically this was the "Golden Triangle" where the Soviet officials lived, the roads are a grid pattern and it's the nicest part of the city with the best air quality. Lower down the hill it gets smoggy and the housing is rather run down.
    - I've never had a problem at Almaty airport, except once when some cash was stolen from out of a suitcase in hold baggage. So I carry valuables with me now. The officials do their jobs and have never asked for bribes. Avoid the taxi panhandlers in the arrivals area, they will charge what they think they can get away with, out the front of the building is an official taxi rank and they will quote you a fixed fare, usually about 3000 tenge into the city. I've never needed dollars. The traffic cops are another matter and have a terrible reputation for "spot fines". If you're driving and unlucky enough to get pulled over, act the dumb tourist and carry a spare wallet with a few thousand tenge in it. Don't give them original passports or driving licenses or they may threaten to confiscate it if they think it'll get them more money. Get laminated copies made to carry. That said if you're not driving you shouldn't have a problem with the cops.
    - On driving, don't, if you can avoid it. Aside from dodgy traffic cops the driving standards are atrocious. They drive like they're the only one on the road and if they ever did pass a test they've forgotten it all by now. Pedestrian crossings are quite well respected as are white lines but that's about it. The horn is the favourite accessory but remember, the rich kids in the Range Rovers and G-Wagons have right of way at all times!
    - Almaty is basically an OK town. You can walk round the nice bits, the rest of the outer sprawl you probably wouldn't want to bother anyway. There are some stunning areas of countryside outside town and in the long summers it's not unusual for people to club together to share a taxi for the day to get out. There are plenty of bars, restaurants and clubs in town anyway so you shouldn't get too bored. Get some Russian lessons, it'll help though the educated young people and those in service industries generally speak fair English.
    - The visa and labour system is a Soviet hangover, don't bother trying to understand it. You will need sponsorship from a company over here and they will handle all the formalities for you. Get them to arrange accommodation, banking and health insurance as well. There are couple of excellent English schools here, at a price of course. KZ has made a lot of progress in recent years and is ambitiously continuing to do so. Almaty is the old capital of the country on the Silk Road between China and Europe and more recently the cultural and economic capital, although the political capital itself moved to Astana. Still, it retains many cosmopolitan influences from along the way, the quality of life is far better than the 'Dodge City' badlands of the oil towns out west and if you get the chance to live and work here, go for it!

  • B Sykes said

    I'm interested in visiting Astana and rest assured, this article doesn't put me off.

    However, what fully puts me off, and has made my mind up that I will definitely not be visiting, is that Gulmira, in the first comment, has declared 'gays and lesbians' as 'bad things'. What is equally concerning is that no one has picked up on this. Gulmira has even gone as far as to group these people with prostitutes and drugs.

    Even as a heterosexual male I am unwilling to give my money to a country with such archaic opinions.

  • Sk said

    How costly is the city astana for living, i mean for daily wages (food, market items etc..)

  • James Williams said

    How is it for African Americans I want to take my family....I know racism is real in the US...looks like an awesome place for a vacation...thank you in advance for your time and consideration

  • LMA said

    Anyone to describe experience of living and working in Atyrau?
    Any dangers and safety issues?
    Is it safe to bring family there?

  • os said

    Very interested and so scare also everything what you write here! I travel on holidays Kazachstan the following month

  • Ross said

    B Sykes - you were never going anyway.

  • Rassana said

    Hello,

    I got here as I was trying to figure out what people (Americans) think about Kazakhstan in general. As me and my husband are going to visit my family in KZ and it will be his first experience. I am from Kazakhstan and I grew up there (left when I was 17). I live in The States-Los Angeles.
    So, regarding the article... I would say, that partially it is true, but come on....I would agree on some points. 1. Do not walk alone at night ( and TRUST me you wouldn't want to walk at night in LA either), by saying that "do not walk at night alone" I meant, try to avoid it, everything can happen and yes you might get robbed, for 17 years of me living in Kazakhstan, nothing happened though. About the authority, it is not true, no one will stop you and search for no reason and go over your stuff and take your money. It is absolutely not true. I would never deny, that it is one of the most corrupted country, BUT it doesn't mean that your rights will be violated in any way. I will give you a scenario, where the bribery is widely used. You decided to drive in Kazakhstan, ran off the red light, you got stopped by a police officer, and he/she is threatening to give you a ticket, you instead will give cash and he/she will let you go (Not always the case though, he might refuse and take you to the court). Second scenario: you decided to get an alcoholic drink and drink it while you are walking home, ta daaa you got stopped by a police officer and he is threatening you by the court and jail over night, you offer cash and he/she might take it and let you go home peacefully. Public transportation is unsafe-disagree. When I compare it to LA transportation and buses, goodness gracious! I took a bus at night, got hit by a drugged woman for now reason, followed home by a stranger who was talking about some devils that will take me, you would never see so many insane people walking on the streets in Kazakhstan, walking freely and government is acting like everything is normal. In fact, you will never see people leaving on the streets in Kazakhstan in their little dirty tent and drugged to the point, that you can't call IT a human anymore. SAD.
    Andre, with all respect, do not assume things based on the article, that it is not even true. And you, as a respectful and fundamental human rights owned with you constitution and all American, should be more respectful. Kazakh people know how to be respectable, which you (as a matter of fact) as an American clearly do not. As for you question, no one will take your phone and go through it, and you do not declare any of your electronic devices, you would just need to take it out of you bag (as everywhere in the world at the security check point). Now about gay people. Here when I am getting blushed....Yes, Kazakhstan is homophobic, it is nothing like The US. And I am very ashamed to acknowledge it. But, yes you will get in trouble or laughed on if you walk with your loved one holding hands. That you do not want to do. Unfortunately. However, in Kazakhstan, there are many gay people and we do have gay clubs and bars. You just, do not want to go loud about your gender preference. Now, where is it safer? The US or Kazakhstan? Definitely, Kazakhstan is safer. First,I think the author has forgotten about tons of homeless mentally insane people walking and leaving in The US. Btw I was hurt by one. The amount of crack people smoke here is insane as well. Guns are allowed in many states. Homicide rate in Chicago-jeeeez. Seriously, are you kidding me? United states with all these points above and + constant shooting in schools, will never be a safe place. Never for children, nor for adults. One of the most dangerous places I lived in and I lived in many countries. But I hope, that one day it will change. I love this country and I respect, because I work and live here.
    JC, Gulmira tried to explain and clarify some things fro you-English speaking fella, so you can understand. I would expect now to write down you comment in Russian or Kazakh your choice and I will check the grammar and spelling, okie dokie? RESPECT one another and appreciate the effort.

  • Rassana said

    As for Gulmira, I did see that you grouped criminals, prostitutes (which in my opinion should be legalized) and gay people in one group. SHAME. I understand, that probably you were highly affected by the society, but you have to get out of the shell and think straight and think for yourself, otherwise this country, deeply loved by me, will never be great. It is a cultural thing, why Kazakhstan do not except Gay people and it is hard to change, but young generation should open their mind and except the fact that gender preference doesn't matter. Everyone has rights.

  • Mahmud said

    I've been offered a job in Astana; i'm a practising Muslim who prays 5 times a day and have a very short beard.
    From what I've been reading there is a crackdown on anyone who resemble any Muslim identity ie the beard. Can someone please let me know will i have any issues keeping the beard at is it. What are general perception from the public regarding being south east Asian and having the beard?

    Any information will help me make up my mind

  • Rassana said

    Mahmud,

    You will not have any problems by having a beard. Astana is a beautiful city with amazing mosques. Many people are joining together on Friday for prayer, and many more pray 5 times a day. It hasn't been like it before though.
    Whatever you believe in-keep to yourself, do not preach about it and you will be all good:) Wish you good luck and you should take the job!

  • Margaret said

    This isn't a comment, but a question. Myself and two other girls will be travelling Kazakhstan. We were wondering if there are more precautions as women travelling there? As well, what kind of currency is best to bring over? Any help is welcome

  • RR said

    Margaret,

    I would recommend not to walk alone at night, which I believe you shouldn't do in any country around the world, except probably a few. Also, my strongest advise would be to get an official taxi company (by calling them, something like yellow cabs) to get around the city. If you are in the bar, men in Kazakhstan are tend to buy drinks for women and soon after come over your table and talk to you ( I believe it is a common thing everywhere), but the only difference would be, that they might not want to leave you (boozed up)and it might create some problems for you, so do not except drinks from them, if your intentions are different. Also, for some reason sitting at the bar (in some cities, not all) is considered, that you are there to catch/meet some men, so try to get a table instead. Do not get me wrong, it is not black and white, girls are still hanging out at the bar, it is just me giving you some extra precautions.Currency to use is tenge. You can exchange it at any local bank, do not exchange it at the airport-rates are way too high. USD is not widely used, it can be used at some places (like hotels, some restaurants, but again they will exchange it for the rate, that you won't be happy with.
    Have a nice journey! Make sure you go hiking/skiing in Almaty and explore Astana as well! CAUTION: do not travel in winter, unless you are from Canada or Utah;)

  • Joao said

    I don't mean to offend anyone with my question, knowing that bad things happens anywhere. Especially where I am from... in Brazil.
    However we do not face much of the race related crimes or much harassment for that.
    I am the typical Brazilian (darker skin than a typical European, I would say). Should I be more aware than average? Especially when going to bars etc?
    Thank you,

  • Alisa said

    Joao,
    nope, you don't have to. Darker or lighter, you won't have any problems.

  • Mary J said

    I'll be in Central Asia for awhile later this year. I'm an avid runner, and I'd like to know if there are a lot of women runners in KZ. Weather conditions aside--is it safe to run alone there during the day? Do people stick mostly to running in parks?

    Thanks for any info you can provide

  • Del said

    My wife and I will be visiting Aktau Kazakhstan for the first time in a couple of weeks. Our daughter and her family live there and we'll be staying with them. I've been doing my research on cultural norms the same as I did before visiting Germany, Spain, Italy and even the U.K. My goal is to be a good guest in a country I've never been to before so if anyone can answer a few questions, it would be greatly appreciated. For example in the U.S. when visiting a shop, you walk in and look around...In Europe it's considered rude not to greet the shop keeper before looking around. In our part of the U.S. we walk like we're going somewhere (rather fast) but in some countries that pace would be considered odd. Any one who can point out differences between the way things are done in Kazakhstan v.s. the U.S. would be helpful.

    Also...

    ...I will be taking some photography equipment with me (strobes, lenses, laptop, hard drive, tablet, etc) as well as some gifts for our daughter's family. Will all of this need to be declared at customs? Should I make sure all of my devices have a good charge in the event customs wants to inspect them for content?

    ...I speak English, German and a little Spanish but my crash course in Russian has been a challenge due to the different alphabet. Any suggestions? I normally consider learning some of the local language a common courtesy that all visitors should do, but I'm falling short of my goal with less than 3 weeks to go.

    ...I'm a bit of a fitness buff and usually run 3-4 miles a day...is there anywhere in Aktau where people do this or is it just not done there? I know in some countries I've visited the only people who run are running from someone.

    ...After reading the portion of the article that said scam artists hold up signs with your name on them at the airport gave me a little cause for concern. Our daughter will be sending someone to collect us when we arrive. Would it be prudent to arrange a sign/countersign with whomever she sends? For example...I say Red...countersign Green....I say Flash, you say Thunder. Might seem a bit overly cautious but anytime someone picked our children up from school or other activities, they always had to know the sign/countersign of the week or they wouldn't get in the car with them...although we probably wouldn't use Dr. Seus like we did when they were young:)

    Thanks in advance for any help/advice. Not looking forward to the long flight but looking forward to my first trip to central Asia and seeing our family.



  • AM said

    Hello, I would have an Important question! Im planning to go to Kz on my own in August for about a month. I would like to see as much as possible from its unique nature, and potentially camp and hike around. Is it legal/safe to camp outside? and understanding from previous comments about the roads and transport how could i travel around the country? and which places are worth visiting? Thank you!

  • YP said

    Hi, we are planning to visit KZ this summer too.
    I would really appreciate help with some things:
    What is the best way (cheapest) to get from Almaty to Altay (maybe Ust Kamenogorsk or Zyryanovsk)? Is it bus? Is there some central bus station in Almaty, where we could find one? And what is the standard prize for 5 people?
    Our plan is to hike in the nature. Should we keep on mind some dangers - like venomous snakes, invertebrates or plants?
    We would also like to rent some horses in Altay for 14 days. Is that even possible avoiding travel agencies? And also, how much would it cost if we asked locals directly?
    Thanks for any answers, I believe Kazachstan is much more dangerous in my mind than in real.

  • Sylvia said

    Del ,

    I live in the Us, but my I was brought up back in Kazakhstan. I do not even know, where to begin... First of all, no one will hold the signs with the your names, unless you requested it from the hotel or any other travel agencies. You idea with "sign/countersign" gave giggles, don't get me wrong, it was just cute. No, you do not have to do it. The only thing, that you shouldn't do is getting a taxi from the airport with local people, they will charge a leg and an arm. You did mention, that your daughter is sending someone to pick you up, so you are fine. I have been to Aktau, it is an okay city, the sea is beautiful. Kazakhstan is safe , but again do not walk at nigh in a narrow streets alone. Have fun!

    AM,

    Almaty is the place to hike/ski/camp. Camping is legal, just avoid the private property and be careful with the fire.


    YP,

    I would help you if you at least learn how to spell the Country you are going too. Good luck, though!


  • Armen said

    I completely agree with all, and i can write many more with my own personal experience here with i have lived last 3 weeks. I m from armenia, i speak russian. But that didnt help at all. Polices never let me go without taking money for any reason. Drivers are extremely rude and aggresive, people are very rude and hishonest. You are only safe when your airplane leave the kazakhstan air space i truely believe. I have been to many countries such as Afghanistan and Nigeria, even there, corrupted police are at least nicer and not so rude, but here in Kazakhstan they rob you and also piss you off at the same time.

    Never rent a car
    Never argue with local
    Never call police even if you are getting robbed, because police will take the rest from you.

  • CP said

    Hi, - I'm going to Shymkent for a 5 day business trip (from the UK) next month.

    Anyone been there / tips! Now feeling a touch worried after reading some of this stuff!

  • Aron said

    wtf is the problem with that guy? If he didnt like the country he shouldnt go there. So stupid, scaring people.Totally not nomad style..

  • Nameless said

    Exercise caution when traveling to Kazakhstan.

    I have many unfortunate stories but since I almost always find comments like Gulmira's in reponse to what I have to say (usually they are comments that try to defend their point of view by saying you are negative and only see negative, or they can be downright insulting, some comments I have received were even threatening my life because of how much they disagreed with the truth I was speaking), I am not going to share them.

    All I can say is most countries have a certain level of unsafety in them and Kazakhstan is no exception. Robbery is huge. Authorities are useless.

  • Sally said

    Hi guys,

    Thanks so much for all the real perspectives from everyone! My mum and I are planning on travelling to KZ to see family members for a couple of weeks (so excited, I was born there but do not hold a current passport, no speak the language, nor remember anything about it), so you can treat me like a true foreigner!

    What are your tips regarding the visa paperwork? We will both be on New Zealand passports and I heard from some media comms that KZ isn't aware than New Zealand is it's own country - i.e. they think NZers must hold Australian passports because NZ is part of Australia (NOT true haha). Any information on this would be greatly appreciated!

    Also, how far in advance should flights be booked? Is a mid June timeframe a good timeframe for two weeks? Who should we fly with? I had a look at flights and Turkish airlines seem to populate most searches. (We've only travelled with Quantas, AirNZ and Virgin Australian airlines).

    Thanks so much in advance everyone!

  • Crstian said

    Hi everyone. I am from Colombia and I have been working in Uralsk (West Kazakhstan region) for about two years now. Although I am latino, I don[t really look too latino (I am more Caucasian, so I look kind of Russian...) and while I disagree with most of the author's remarks, (It is by far the safest place I have ever been in; I haven't been stopped by a police officer, not even once; they are nice and friendly to a certain extent... I mean.. nobody will smile or hug you without knowing you, but they won't insult you either...) I have a huge piece of advise for people from Colombia, Peru, Mexico and perhaps Brazil: the only image they have about us is from Netflix shows, so they only recognize south american countries by narcos. Do NOT get offended or answer back when they call you a "Narco Baron" or when they ask where your cocaine is. It used to get me on my toes, (I am a teacher and everyone knows me here, so those comments can hurt your reputation) but once they know you, they will never do it again. Also, almost anybody speaks English here, so be advised. Be safe and be happy.

  • Clement Stephen said

    Hello Everyone,

    I am an South Indian, Christian, moving to Astana, Kazakhistan to be on part of an on going construction project. Is there Indians in Astana? How about the latest trends in Astana for an expat safety...work culture..general working time..etc.. Is it okay for a single man to live in Astana without boredom?...Will be grateful to your comments...thanks..

  • Mujahid said

    Hi, everybody,
    it's not true what you say about Kazakhstan I have been visiting Kazakhstan from 2000 till now nothing from what you mention I saw or happened to me, safe country and very nice people and very kind.I'm from Sudan living in Dubai 31 years, I love that country and decided to shift and stay there for the rest of my life

  • aless said

    There is no point complaining this article is biased. This is the blog of a company that sells travel insurances, so how can they sell a travel insurance without scaring people about what could happen? I've been to Kazakhstan, went out at night, and instead of being mugged I got invited to a great dinner by some friendly Kazakhs I had just met. Look for travel information somewhere else, and maybe also for travel insurance.

  • Rashid said

    A very interesting post. For those who what to know as to whether Kazakhstan is a safe place to visit or to travel, please read this link https://www.bbc.com/sport/winter-sports/44887051.

    In short, an Olympic medalist was stabbed to death by two men while trying to steal his car mirrors. In addition, I would like to add that these two men had been previously caught doing this two times (also on one occasion stabbing another victim, albeit not lethally), but for unknown (inexplicable) reasons police released on two occasions.

    People in Kazakhstan demanded the dismissal of the ministry of internal affairs (the highest rank in police) and head of Almaty police for letting crimes to rise in Kazakhstan. Their demand was left unresponded. The police is unable to offer any measures to overcome crimes.

    Believe me, as I am a Kazakh living in Kazakhstan.

  • Kuzik said

    I’d like to spend some time with a nomadic family over there for a while. Does anyone have any advice on how to arrange something like that? I already am a farmer of livestock and have no problem with hard work.

  • Mark_F said

    I'm going to Shymkent on a business trip to the oil refinery.
    Should i expect any hassle at Shymkent airport when arriving or departing?

  • Joa said

    Last week, I just visited Astana, Karaganda and Almaty as tourist for 1 week. I am not in capacity to talk politic, corruption in Kazakhstan. I always walked at night in the street to see night life in Astana and Almaty and I felt the cities (airport, downtown, tourist places) is safe such as Singapore, Hong Kong, Sydney, London and many other major cities which very safe. People are very good, warm and I felt hospitality while being there. So don't worry to visit Kazakhstan.

  • Jack said

    I have a long history with Kazakhstan, beginning in 1998. I can say that residing here is like constantly walking on eggshells. Most of the time now, as things were much more overt in the 90s, things are fine, but at the slightest provocation, everybody will turn against a foreigner in this tribalistic society. In order to function with the slightest modicum of safety, it is necessary to have a protector, known locally as a "krisha". The only reason I stay here is because of my kids, the mother of whom I am separated from, and who has total control due to her status as Kazakh. There is a great deal of racism here, which is promoted indirectly by the government, while outwardly tolerance is touted. People here live in fear of government retribution for any sleight to the state, and so will turn on a foreigner if it protects or benefits them. Over the years, I have both been the victim of this racist/nationalist system, and have seen many foreigners eviscerated emotionally and financially, most of whom do not last very long in this place. Kazakhstan should have one of the wealthiest populations in the world due to its natural resource reserves, and yet half the population subsists on less than $70 per month. Granted that is better than many other "developing" states, but it is horrendous considering where this nation started at the end of the Soviet Union. Indeed, the place is so bad, its leadership even gets a mention in "The Dictators' Handbook". If you are relatively wealthy, protected, and plan to stay a short time, Kazakhstan is not such a bad place; however, if you must spend in amount of time here, I would suggest you just keep your head down and ensure everybody knows you simply want to leave, like most locals do.

  • Mikey said

    Thank you Aless - I was wondering when someone was going to point that out!

    Like Aless said, this is a travel insurance blog, so take the precautions with a grain of salt.

    It's like asking your cardiologist if they recommend the Big Mac or the Whopper.

  • Jesse said

    I was in Almaty Kazakhstan for 2 and a half months and literally zero things happened there. The people were nice. The food was good. And everyone was friendly.

    I come back home to the west coast of Canada and there’s opioid addicts on Hastings stealing purses and running away.

    I concluded that vancouver Canada isn’t CLEARLY better the Kazakhstan. That Kazakhstan is actually pretty nice and yea there’s problems there. Just like anywhere. But for the west to act like none of that shit happens within its own boarders is straight up hypocrisy.

    Send me an email if you want someone to write this article better. Whoever wrote this just copied what the UN says on its webpage. Clearly whoever wrote it, didn’t go to almaty. Or if they did they where the most obnoxious drunken asshole ever to find all these drugging/mugging experiences.

    I’m going back to almaty on the 18th. *jesse is marked safe from experiencing Kazakhstan*

  • Danny said

    Jesse, yes, you are totally right. By the way are you in Almaty now? I am journalist therefore O would like to talk with you about your trip to KZ. If you don't mind of course))) Let me know if you are in Almaty.

  • Norman Gonzalez said

    nothing noted on the article puts me off from going anywhere at all, those risk mention on it are everywhere, in USA maybe less likely the open bribes to cops, but all other stuff... is everywhere, just know where you going be on the look out don't show flashy items, money etc, and you will be fine anywhere....
    the homophobic comment on the first message is more offensive than anything said in the article!

  • Brett Thomas Asleson said

    What kind of activities are there for families in Almaty? We are thinking of moving there and are wondering what we will do on the weekend with kids?

  • Morchel said

    To Brett Thomas Asleson, Just surf the Internet and you'll find so many things to do with your children. But most probably you'll have to learn some Russian or Kazakh just to communicate with locals as the English is not so common here.

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