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Almaty is the former capital and still the largest city in Kazakhstan. Almaty is located in the southeast of Kazakhstan. Its population is over 1.8 million. Although it has lost the status of capital, Almaty remains the largest financial, economic and cultural center of Central Asia. It accommodates numerous business centers, theaters, museums, art galleries, exhibition halls and countless modern entertainment complexes (cinemas, casinos, nightclubs, parks, restaurants, cafes etc.)
At the Arasan Baths you can choose from Russian (Russkaya), Finnish (Finskaya) and Turkish (Vostochnaya) baths, the latter with three different temperatures of heated stone platforms plus a plunge pool. Each part has men's and women's sections. Take along soap, a towel and some thongs (flip-flops) for walking around in. Go with a friend or two and you'll find it's an enjoyable and truly relaxing experience. If you don't have any bathing gear handy, there's a shop in the lobby. Sellers with veniki (bunches of oak and birch leaves) wait outside, if you fancy stimulating your circulation with a good thrashing. Built in the early 1980s in a modernistic Soviet style, this is the finest bathhouse in Central Asia.
Abay State Opera & Ballet Theatre is Almaty's top cultural venue; three or four performances a week at 6:30pm. Classics like Swan Lake, La Bohème, Aida and Carmen are a few of the regular shows. Also look out for Kazakh operas such as Abay and Abylay Khan.
The Central State Museum is the city's best museum and stands 300 metres up Furmanov from Respublika alanghy. The Central State Museum takes you through Kazakhstan's history from bronze-age burial mounds to telecommunications and the transfer of the capital to Astana, with many beautiful artefacts. A large replica of the Golden Man stands in the entrance hall. The downstairs rooms cover archaeological finds and early history up to Jenghiz Khan (with models of some of Kazakhstan's major monuments); the ethnographic display upstairs features a finely kitted-out yurt and some beautifully worked weaponry and horse and camel gear, plus musical instruments and exotic costumes going back to the 18th century. The upper floors cover the 20th and 21st centuries, with exhibits on some of Kazakhstan's many ethnic groups, independent Kazakhstan and a special section on the pilgrimage town of Turkistan.
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Almaty's biggest recreational area, at the eastern end of Gogol, is still known as Gorky Park. It has boating lakes, funfair rides, an Aquapark, a zoo, and several cafés, shashlyk and beer stands. It's busiest on Sunday and holidays. Trolleybus Nos 1 and 12 and bus Nos 65, 94 and 166 run along Gogol to the entrance.
The Panfilov Park is named for the Panfilov Heroes, commemorated at the fearsome war memorial east of the cathedral. This represents the 28 soldiers of an Almaty infantry unit who died fighting off Nazi tanks in a village outside Moscow in 1941. An eternal flame commemorating the fallen of 1917-20 (the Civil War) and 1941-45 (WWII), flickers in front of the giant black monument of soldiers from all 15 Soviet republics bursting out of a map of the USSR.
The Ascension Cathedral, also known as Zenkov Cathedral, is a Russian Orthodox cathedral located in Panfilov Park in Almaty, Kazakhstan. Completed in 1907, it is the second tallest wooden building in the world.
Kok Tobe is a mountain on the south-eastern outskirts of Almaty. It is also the name of the popular recreation area on the top of the mountain. The Kok Tobe recreational area has a variety of amusement-park type attractions and touristy restaurants, as well as a number of good viewpoints. It is connected to downtown Almaty by an aerial tramway line; its city terminal is near Hotel Kazakhstan.
The Chimbulak ski resort is located in the picturesque Tien Shan mountains about 25 kilometres south of Almaty. Access is by car past the famous Medeu skating rink and takes 30 to 40 minutes on a regular day. The Medeu area is a very popular with the people in Almaty and the road gets very congested at weekends and holidays. The Medeu and Chimbulak resorts are currently upgraded after preparation for the 7th Asian Winter Games which is be held in Almaty in 2011. This made access even tricker, but as the development also included a 4.5-kilometre-long gondola from Medeu to Chimbulak access is improved.
Almaty is located in the southeast of the country and has wetter weather compared to many areas to the west and north. There is montly precipitation and April and May are the wettest months. Summers are around 27-30 °C maximum (June to August), and between 15 °C and 18 °C at night. During winter, temperatures are between 0 °C and -10 °C but also here temperatures can drop well below -30 °C sometimes.
|Avg Max||-1.3 °C||0.2 °C||7.1 °C||16.5 °C||21.7 °C||26.5 °C||29.7 °C||28.8 °C||23.4 °C||15.9 °C||6.2 °C||0.4 °C|
|Avg Min||-11.1 °C||-9.5 °C||-2.4 °C||5.6 °C||10.9 °C||15.2 °C||17.6 °C||16.3 °C||11 °C||4.6 °C||-3.3 °C||-8.8 °C|
|Rainfall||33 mm||38 mm||62 mm||109 mm||104 mm||58 mm||35 mm||27 mm||28 mm||59 mm||51 mm||37 mm|
Almaty is most easily reached by plane. Almaty International Airport (ALA) is a major airport in the region, and is serviced by Air Astana (most destinations), KLM, Lufthansa and many Central-European and Central-Asian airlines. For travellers from most parts of the world, it is a cheaper destination to fly to than Astana. Low-cost Airline Air Arabia flies to Almaty from Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates.
Almaty can be reached by train directly from Astana as well as Moscow (Russia), Bishkek (Kyrgyzstan), Urumqi (China) and Tashkent (Uzbekistan). According to recent reports, the connections with Bishkek and Tashkent are somewhat theoretical, but on paper they still exist.
|Almaty Hostel||Khan-Tengri Microdistrict 191 050060 Almaty||HOSTEL||-|
|Almaty Backpackers||Str. Markova 46 Acrossing Timiryazeva||HOSTEL||-|
|Kazzhol Hotel||Gogol Str.127/1||HOTEL||-|
You can find internet cafés in most cities and larger towns. Wifi is widely available though, ranging from upmarket hotels to hostels, coffee bars, restaurants and in some cities and areas free general wifi. Sometimes you need to register or ask for a code, but even then it's hassle free.
See also: International Telephone Calls
Kazakhstan's international phone number is +7.
Currently GSM Kazakhstan/Kcell is the cellular operator rendering services of GSM-900/1800 and UMTS/WCDMA 2100 MH standard. Coverage is good around the main cities. Network providers include K-MOBILE and Kazakhtelecom. There are roaming agreements with Vodafone, Orange, O2 and T-Mobile.
If you are planning to stay for a while in the country, buy a local cell phone. Otherwise, if you are staying shorter but tend to use your own cell phone, buy a local SIM card. Using your own SIM card means high costs for calling, but more so for using the internet on your cell phone.
International calls can be made at a reduced rate from 8:00pm to 8:00am local time.
Kazpost is the national postal service in the country, with fairly reliable and good services, though it might take some time to reach its international destination. Post offices are open generally from 9:00am to 6:00pm, but some larger ones in the main cities keep longer opening times. If you want to send packages internationally, you'd better use companies like FedEx, UPS, TNT or DHL, as they are faster and competitively priced.
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