Getting there & away
Fleets of large, comfortable buses leave for Taraz and Almaty at 7pm from outside the train station and from beneath the MiG fighter plane monument opposite Ordabasy ploshchad. You can book seats earlier in the day: to Almaty they cost between 800T and 1500T depending on the bus and whether you sit near the front (more expensive) or back.
From the bus station (54 01 66), buses leave for Turkistan (250T, three hours, about hourly 9am to 6pm), Almaty (900T to 1000T, 12 hours, at 4pm, 6pm and 7pm), Karaganda (2760T, 20 hours, 11am), Astana (3000T, 24 hours, 2pm), Taraz (400T, four hours, five times daily) and Kyzylorda (800T, seven hours, at 11am and 3pm). Marshrutkas depart when full to Turkistan (350T, two hours), Taraz (500T, three hours) and Kyzylorda (1000T, six hours). Shared taxis to Taraz (1200T, 2½ hours) go from the street outside the bus station to the west. More buses for Karaganda and Astana leave from outside the train station at 6pm.
For Chernyaevka on the Uzbekistan border, shared taxis and marshrutkas (500T, one to 1¼ hours) depart from the Kolos stop on Respubliki in southwestern Shymkent. Some may continue into Tashkent (around 1500T from Shymkent), where they will usually drop you at a metro station; otherwise it is a 10-minute taxi ride from the border to the nearest metro station (Buyuk Ipak Yuli), or 25 minutes (US$5) to the city centre.
The train station (95 21 20) is at the end of Kabanbay Batyr. At least four trains a day go to Taraz (700T, four to five hours) and Almaty (2500T to 3500T, 12 to 15 hours), and three or more to Turkistan (four hours) and Kyzylorda (nine hours). There are also trains to Aqtöbe (27 hours) daily, to Moscow (50 hours) most days, and to Mangyshlak (Aktau, 53 hours), Atyrau (37 hours) and Astana (24 hours) every two days. The best Almaty service is train 12, leaving at 5.40pm. The Hotel Ordabasy has a train ticket window (53 46 05; 8am-1pm & 2-8pm).
Flights from the airport (53 52 95), 12km northwest of the centre, go daily to Almaty (20, 000T) and Astana (18, 000T), and twice weekly to Aktau (21, 000T), Kyzylorda (11, 000T), Atyrau (17, 000T) and Moscow (47, 000T).