Once the country’s capital (replaced in 1997 by Astaná-Nur Sultan), Almaty is still a major city in Kazakhstan, a cultural, economic, and political hub. Located where the steppes meet the mountains, Almaty is the ideal destination for both tourists and businessmen and women wishing to visit Kazakhstan.
Most international visitors, however, will need a valid Kazakhstan visa in order to enter the country and the Almaty region. In this article, foreign nationals will learn about:
- The Almaty visa and how to obtain one
- The entry requirements for Almaty and what they need before they travel
- How to reach Almaty and enter the region with a Kazakhstan visa
- Some of the must-see attractions in Almaty
Do You Need a Visa for Almaty?
Yes, Almaty and its region are part of Kazakhstan and the same visa policy applies. This means that the vast majority of international visitors must apply for a Kazakhstan visa if they wish to visit Almaty and the rest of the country.
Fortunately, citizens of over 115 countries can obtain a visa for Almaty online. Over 20 nations can also get an electronic visa to conduct business or receive medical treatment in Almaty and the rest of Kazakhstan.
Those who wish to relocate to Almaty permanently, work in the area, or travel for reasons other than tourism, business/medical treatment will most likely require a specific type of visa that suits their need.
Foreign nationals in doubt regarding the best visa for their circumstances can get in touch with their nearest Kazakhstan embassy.
How to Get a Visa for Almaty: Requirements
Those who are eligible for the online visa will find the process to be quite quick and straightforward. In fact, the Kazakhstan and Almaty visa application can be submitted in just a few minutes.
The requirements for a successful application include:
- Having access to a reliable internet connection to complete the application online
- Being the citizen of a country eligible for the electronic visa and holding a valid passport (minimum validity: 3 months)
- Holding a Kazakhstan invitation number
- Completing the eVisa application form in all of its parts
- Paying the electronic visa application fee
The online application form for the Kazakhstan and Almaty eVisa is pretty simple. It includes a series of basic questions such as the full name and address of the applicant and the details of the eligible and valid passport that will be used to travel.
Please note that in order to receive the visa and start their trip, visitors to Almaty and the rest of Kazakhstan will also need to have a valid email address. This is where they will be sent the approved visa once the application has been reviewed by the Kazakh authorities.
How to Travel to Almaty on an eVisa
Almaty International Airport, opened in 1930, remains the main entry by air into Kazakhstan. It sits about 20km from the city center, and visitors will find taxis, buses, and car-sharing services that will take them into the city at the airport’s exit.
The airport serves direct flights from cities like Beijing (5-hour plane journey) Instanbul (6-hour plane journey) and Moscow (4-hour plane journey.)
Those who are not in a rush can arrive by bus from Kyrgystan and China, as well as other Kazakh cities. The main bus station in Almaty is Sayran Bus Terminal.
Upon arrival, foreign visitors will be asked to show their travel documents to the Kazakh border authorities. These usually include:
- A copy of the approved Kazakstan eVisa
- The eligible passport used during the visa application
Please note: some travelers may be asked for further documentation depending on their specific circumstances. An approved visa does not guarantee entry into Kazakhstan. The final decision regarding the visitor’s eligibility to enter Almaty and Kazakhstan is made at the border by the Kazakh officers.
Why Visit Almaty, Kazakhst
Although it is no longer Kazakhstan’s capital, Almaty remains its most populous, cosmopolitan, and vibrant city.
Almaty is in a privileged position that gives it a mild, pleasant climate and the mountains behind it provide a picture-perfect background.
The city is pedestrian-friendly with plenty of green spaces and gorgeous boulevards. It is a center of educational excellence and many Kazakh intellectuals have chosen to live here.
The most famous Almaty attractions include:
- Zenkov Cathedral
- Panfilov Park
- Green Bazar
- Almaty Metro decorated stations
- Almaty Museum of History
- Kok Tobe Hill
- Big Almaty Lake
Moreover, the nearby mountains provide plenty of opportunities for hiking and other outdoor activities, with endless scenic trails.