The world's ninth-biggest country is the most economically advanced of the 'stans', thanks to its abundant reserves of oil and most other valuable minerals. This means generally better standards of accommodation, restaurants and transport than elsewhere in Central Asia. The biggest city, Almaty, is almost reminiscent of Europe with its leafy avenues, chic cafes, glossy shopping centres and hedonistic nightlife. The capital Astana, on the windswept northern steppe, has been transformed into a 21st-century showpiece with a profusion of bold futuristic architecture. But it's beyond the cities that you'll find the greatest travel adventures, whether hiking in the high mountains and green valleys of the Tian Shan, searching for wildlife on the lake-dotted steppe, enjoying home-spun hospitality in village guesthouses, or jolting across the western deserts to remote underground mosques.
Over the course of a year, the temperature typically varies from -13�C to 31�C and is rarely below -21�C or above 35�C.
The warm season lasts from May 21 to September 19 with an average daily high temperature above 24�C. The hottest day of the year is August 9, with an average high of 31�C and low of 16�C.
The cold season lasts from November 24 to March 2 with an average daily high temperature below 4�C. The coldest day of the year is January 20, with an average low of -13�C and high of -2�C.
Air Astana is the national carrier of Kazakhstan and flies daily between New Delhi and Almaty.
Shymbulak, also known as Chimbulak is a ski resort near Almaty, the largest city of Kazakhstan. It is located in the upper part of the Medeu Valley in the Zaiilisky Alataumountain range, at the elevation of 2,200 metres (7,200 ft) above sea level. The resort area is about 25 kilometres (16 mi) south of Almaty city by the Medeo road. It is popular for its mild climate, large quantity of sunny days and great amount of snow through the winter (from November till May).
Almaty hosted the 2011 Asian Winter Games, bid for 2014 Winter Olympics, considered a bid for 2018 Winter Olympics, but decided to bid for 2022 Winter Olympics instead; Shymbulak was a venue for the Alpine Skiing events (both speed and technical), and would have been for the latter.
There are three ski lifts, which cumulatively reach Talgar pass (3,200 metres [10,500 ft] above the sea level), the highest point of the ski resort. The total length of the lifts is 3,620 metres (11,880 ft). There are 3 stations of them; the first one is Intersection Station (2,260 metres [7,410 ft] above the sea level) (9 minute trip), then 20th Prop Station (2,630 metres [8,630 ft] above the sea level) (16.5 minutes) and Talgar pass Station (3,200 metres [10,500 ft] above the sea level). There is also Snow-Park for the fans of snowboarding.
The resort offers a ski and snowboard school. There is also Shymbulak hotel (4 stars) and ski, snowboard and sleigh rentals.
The weather varies from 20 �C in summer to -7 �C in winter and the snow base is about 1.5 to 1.8 metres (60�70 in).
The Medeu, or Medeo, is an outdoor speed skating and bandy rink. It is located in a mountain valley (Medeu Valley, or the valley of Malaya Alma-Atinka River) on the south-eastern outskirts of Almaty, Kazakhstan. Medeu sits 1,691 metres above sea level, making it the highest skating rink in the world. It has 10.5 thousand square meters of ice and utilizes a sophisticated freezing and watering system to ensure the quality of the ice. The mountain valley was named in honor of Medeo, a wanderer who lived in the last century and established own aul in this picturesque site.
The Green Bazaar, or Zelionyj Bazar, is a place you really should visit when visiting Almaty or Alma-Ata. This market is central to the every day life of the local people and it is so called the �Green Bazar, or market, because in the past it was the traditional place to buy and sell local produce like vegetables. It is by no means the only market in Almaty, but it is the most well known, and probably, sells the widest range of goods. This is a great place to feel the real atmosphere of central Asia and to get involved with a bit of �haggling� and sampling of local produce.
This large and attractive rectangle of greenery is one of central Almaty's most popular strolling and hangout places for all ages. At its heart stands the candy-coloured Zenkov Cathedral , Kazakhstan's nearest (albeit distant) relative to St Basil�s Cathedral and one of Almaty�s few surviving tsarist-era buildings. Designed by AP Zenkov in 1904, the cathedral is built entirely of wood (including the nails).
Used as a museum and concert hall in Soviet times, it was returned to the Russian Orthodox Church in 1995 and has been restored with colourful icons and murals. Services are held at 8am and 5pm.
The park is named for the Panfilov Heroes, 28 soldiers of an Almaty infantry unit who died fighting off Nazi tanks in a village outside Moscow in 1941. They are commemorated at the fearsome war memorial east of the cathedral, which depicts soldiers from all 15 Soviet republics bursting out of a map of the USSR. An eternal flame honouring the fallen of 1917�20 (the Civil War) and 1941�45 (WWII) flickers in front of the giant black monument.
SPECTACULAR BIG ALMATY LAKE
Big Almaty Lake is set high up in a gorge of the Bolshaya Almatinka River, 2,511 meters above sea level and 28,5 km south of Almaty. It lies in a hollow like a gleaming mirror, surrounded on all sides by majestic peaks. Three main peaks tower above the lake and can be seen from the northern end of the dam: Sovetov (4,317 m) to the south-east, Ozyorny (4,110 m) to the south, further up the river valley, and the forested slopes of Turist (3,954 m) to the south-west.
West of Turist is the crest of Bolshoi Almaty Peak, a 3,681meters high pyramid, which is visible from the city center. Fed by glacier water, the lake is 1,6 km long, almost a kilometer wide and 40 m deep. Higher up above the pale blue chalice of the lake is the domed Tien-Shan Astronomical Observatory, in a very ancient glacier valley 2 km from the lake and at an altitude of 2,700 m. Walk another 8 km and you will reach the Cosmic Rays Research Station at 3,300 m, near the Zhosylkezen pass.
KOK � TOBE
This 1100m hill on the city�s southeast edge is crowned by a 372m-high TV tower visible from far and wide, and affords great views over the city and the mountains, plus an assortment of attractions at the top. The easy way up is by the smooth cable car , which glides up in six minutes from beside the Palace of the Republic on Dostyk.
At the top you'll find assorted cafes and restaurants, craft shops, a roller-coaster, a minizoo, a children�s playground � and life-sized bronze statues of the four Beatles, placed here on the initiative of local fans in 2007. The work of Almaty sculptor Eduard Kazaryan, this is claimed to be the world�s only monument showing all the Fab Four together. You can sit beside a guitar-strumming John on the bench.
Kazakhstan has its own Las Vegas and Atlantic City for people who want to try their luck, spend an unusual weekend or just observe the dynamic world of casinos. The country�s two main gaming areas, Borovoe (in the Akmola region) and Kapchagai (in the Almaty region), may be far from their American counterparts geographically, but they promise to provide visitors with a high level of service.
Whether you�re a pretty young thing or a businessman celebrating a deal, Almaty�s nightclub scene has something to offer. Another unique part of the nightclub scene is long legs. Go-Go dancers are part of the landscape here and clubs will include a show at some point in the night. So if you walk in and see scantily clad women dancing on the bar, just tell your girlfriend it�s part of the culture.
Spending a few hours at Arasan is a marvellous treat.
Almaty's Arasan Baths, built in the 1980s in a modernistic Soviet style, are one of the finest bathhouses in Central Asia. If you fancy trying a traditional bathhouse experience, go with a friend or two and you'll find it's an enjoyable and relaxing experience, and the routine is easy to pick up. You can choose from Russian-Finnish or oriental baths, each with men's and women's sections.
Entry entitles you to two hours of wallowing in all the baths, the Finnish, Russian and Turkish style hammams (steam rooms) and the rest areas. If, however, you purchase additional services, such as a massage or scrub, then you have unlimited time at Arasan.
Start with a thorough wash before your first visit to a sauna or steam room. Then lie down and enjoy the heat. You should follow this with a shower. And if you are game, simply tip a wooden bucket of cold water over you.
Then it is time to use the venik - bunches of dried birch or oak leaves, which have been soaked - in your next steam room session. Gently slap yourself with the venik to stimulate your skin and remove toxins.
Follow this with a shower and a dip in the plunge pool. Then relax a while and start over again.
First Presidents Park
This popular place to visit is the home to the famous annual festival "Almaty- My First Love." Located in the southern part of Almaty and surrounded by breathtaking mountain views, this park boasts natural features as well as attractions. Enjoy a concert at the amphitheater, go for a calming walk, or sit and enjoy the nature of Almaty. Be sure to pack your own food and drink if you come here, as there are no stores or food vendors in First President's Park. Be sure to take lots of pictures of the perfectly planted flower beds. The trees, however, are not so big, as First President�s Park was originally opened in 2011 for President Nursultan Nazarbayev, but it has since been open for the public's enjoyment.
Well, readers, there you have it. This list of places only scratches the surface of interesting and fun places to visit in Almaty, so let this serve as just a guide for when you�re making your plans of what to do when you visit. Though you will most likely enjoy any of the places on this list, one thing is guaranteed: no matter what you do in Almaty, you will love every second of it.