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Kazakhstan's geographic location at the confluence of Russian, East Asian, Mongol, and Central Asian influences makes is one of the most curious tourist destinations today. Closed off for a long time as a part of the Soviet empire, Kazakhstan is now coming into its own, tapping into vast oil and gas reserves and creating an extremely wealthy generation of young Kazakhs.
The capital was moved from Almaty to Astana in 1998, and both cities are worth visiting. Astana's interesting futuristic, and occasionally controversial, architecture will definitely provide a few photo-ops, while Almaty will give you a glimpse of Europe in Central Asia, and is rated as even more expensive than Hamburg or Los Angeles to live in!
Plan your trip carefully — public transportation is limited and the country is extremely vast. Away from the towns and cities, there are long stretches with little or nothing to see. However, Aktau, a port city on the Caspian Sea, Aqsu-Zhabaghly Nature Reserve, Tian Shan mountains, and Taklamakan desert, provide a range of different landscapes to choose from and explore.
For visitors from North America, it is easiest and cheapest to fly to Kazakhstan through Turkey, Germany, the UK, or Russia on Turkish Airlines, Lufthansa, British Airways, and KLM. Almaty (ALA) and Astana (TSE) both have international airports from where you can connect to other parts of the country. Air Astana flies to all the major cities in Kazakhstan as well as a few international destinations such as London, Amsterdam, Frankfurt and Moscow. Local carrier SCAT is another option to consider when flying within Kazakhstan.
Kazakhstan is characterized by summers where the temperature rises as high as 28°C in northern Astana, while in winter, temperatures can go as low as -20°C from December until early March. In Almaty as well, the temperature stays below freezing for the non-peak season from December to February so the best time to travel is from May to September, especially if you plan on doing a lot of hiking and trekking. To avoid paying high fares for flights or accommodation, plan a trip from April to early June or late September to November.