Almaty attracts many tourists for various reasons, and they are very welcomed here. Every year, more than one hundred thousand tourists visit this city. Nevertheless, all the tourists who organize their trip by themselves have questions and face some issues. So, here's a survival guide for first-comers to Almaty. It'ill be useful to know before and during the travel to Almaty.
1. People speak English badly: Starting from simple things such as buying a train ticket and ending with medical help. Even in such places, where the staff should speak English (hostels and hotels), it’s not always possible to find an English speaking employee who could help you. Although people are very friendly here, and they’ll try to help you somehow. So, it’s better to learn some useful phrases in Russian (most of Kazakh people speak Russian very good) before your trip.
2. Taxi drivers that try to fool you with the price: You will see it as soon as you arrive at the airport. They will try to take advantage of you just because you are a foreigner, and they will offer you the highest price possible. Even if you kindly refuse they will insist. The best solution is to book a taxi online before your arrival. There are a lot of companies that can help you with that. There are also Uber and Yandex Taxi mobile applications, but it’s not a good option if you are planning to take a taxi when you just arrive. First, because the Wi-Fi in the airport can work improperly, and you don’t have a local SIM card. So, buying a local SIM card even for a few days will make your trip really easier.
3. Transport in the city is confusing: Most of the bus drivers don’t announce the stops and sometimes just miss it and go further. As written above, most of them also don’t speak English as well, so it will be hard to know which bus you need to take, where you need to go off, etc. In some places, it’s also not regular. If you want to visit some national parks, Charyn Canyon or other destinations far from the city on a weekday, it’ll be very challenging for this reason, or it'll be very expensive. On weekends, transport to such destinations is well established and runs regularly. So, it’s better to plan these kinds of trips for the weekends.
Remember this simple survival guide for first-comers to Almaty to avoid uncomfortable situations, and you will enjoy your trip without any stress.
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