Strange as it may seem, plan a trip to Kazakhstan is not a very complex task. This is because, in addition to being a safe country, the visa regime has been greatly simplified in recent years and long distance transport works well. That said, there are still some tips from Kazakhstan that will greatly contribute to a smooth journey.
I am talking, in particular, of how to get there; the best time to visit; tips for using local transport (especially the train); accommodation information; and many other useful tips. Note, however, that I focused my trip on the Almaty - Turkistan axis; and did not know the capital Nursultan (formerly Astana).
Travel tips to Kazakhstan
Where is Kazakhstan?
Map of Kazakhstan
Kazakhstan is a country located in Central Asia, with Russia, China, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan as neighbors.
Since January 2017 that Portuguese citizens do not need a visa to visit Kazakhstan in tourism, with stays up to 30 days. On arrival you only have to show your passport and fill out a small form that you must keep with your passport until you leave the country.
As far as registration with the authorities is concerned, all visitors once had five days - after entering Kazakhstan - to register. In addition, hotels were required to book guest stays.
Nowadays, among the 60 countries whose citizens are exempt from visas, some still need to register and others do not. Portuguese and Brazilians do not need to register the nights. In order to avoid exit problems, and without changes in procedures, it is important to ensure that your form has two red stamps (check before leaving the counter of immigration) - which, to my knowledge, is the sign that he is not obliged to register with the authorities.
When to go
One of Kazakhstan's most important tips I can give is to avoid winter and the peak of summer. Not that mass tourism is a problem, but extreme climates can negatively influence your experience. I, for example, visited Kazakhstan in May and in the Turkistan region the sun was already very rough. I do not imagine being in southern Kazakhstan in July or August!
How to get to Kazakhstan
There are no direct flights from Portugal, so the best way to get to Astana or Almaty is with one of the major airlines in Europe or the Middle East, namely Turkish Airlines, Lufthansa or Emirates.
I paid 650 € for a Turkish Airlines ticket with a return from Almaty and return from Tashkent (Uzbekistan), purchased in advance and mainly having flexibility of dates - a fundamental rule of the post how to buy cheap flights. In any case, I was monitoring the values with price alerts and I noticed that there were not big price variations - let alone promotions - reflecting the low competition for the destination.
The currency of Kazakhstan is the Tenge. There are ATM terminals in the major cities, linked to the Visa and MasterCard networks, so in theory it would be enough to carry bank cards to raise money. Note, however, that this may have unnecessary costs - consider using a card such as Revolut to reduce these costs.
In any case, I strongly recommend taking money in notes, either in US dollars or in euros, to change locally and thus reduce any fees to pay and avoid mishaps. Also because Kazakhstan is a very safe country.
Transportation in Kazakhstan
The best way to travel by land over long distances between destinations in Kazakhstan is undoubtedly the train. To search for routes and times, I have always used the very useful website da Tutu. Alternatively, between nearby destinations, shared taxis can be a good option.
Where to stay
Do not expect the same kind of care with the service you are accustomed to; nor the design or, generally speaking, the conditions of hotels in Kazakhstan. I have always thought that they still have a long way to go when it comes to hotel services.
I suggest you take a closer look at the where to stay in Almaty, for example, which include recommendations on the best hotels depending on your travel style. From this list, here are some of the hotels that I recommend unreservedly in Almaty and Turkistan.
In Almaty I stayed in a hostel called Dimal which, despite good recommendations, I find very weak. Within the same registry, you will probably be better LES Hostel or Art Hostel, where I also considered staying.
It is, of course, the guesthouse D'Rami but if I can stretch the budget a bit, I highly recommend the excellent Renion Park Hotel e Renion Residence Hotel (both of four stars). If you prefer, there are also well-appointed studios Opera Apartments. You can see all the details about accommodation in a text that I wrote entitled where to stay in Almaty.
In Turkistan I stayed in the Hotel Edem and although it is not the cheapest hotel in Turkistan, I think it was a great choice. Even because the 8.000 Tenge (less than 20 €) I paid for a single room included bathroom in the room and breakfast. Be prepared to listen to music and lots of excitement, since Edem is the meeting point of Turkistan night (ends before midnight).
An undoubtedly better (and more expensive) alternative is Hotel Khanaka, where I also considered staying (but I preferred to spend less on accommodation). Both have fantastic locations, very close to the Khoja Ahmed Yasawi Mausoleum. Note that there are not many hotels in the city of Turkistan where you can book on-line, but it is natural that gradually appear more.
A World Nomads offers one of the best and most complete travel insurance recommended by National Geographic and Lonely Planet. Other excellent and cheaper option is IATI Seguros, which has no age limit and allows multivariate insurance (including long-term travel) to any destination in the world. It's the insurance I use in my travels.