Train travel is a good way to meet people and get a feel for the country’s terrain and vast size. Ticket queues can be slow and it’s best to buy your ticket in advance. All cities have downtown train booking offices, identified by the words Zheleznodorozhnaya Kassa (Russian) or Temir Zhol Kassasy (Kazakh), where you can buy tickets at a small commission without having to schlep to the station. Take your passport when buying tickets.
A few train lines between Kazakhstan cities – such as Semey–Ust-Kamenogorsk, Aqtöbe–Uralsk and Aqtöbe–Kostanay – pass through Russian territory and you may be asked for a Russian transit visa on these legs. Ask beforehand about the latest situation.
A good network of domestic flights links cities all round Kazakhstan and fares are reasonable. The main airlines are Air Astana (4L; www.airastana.com), a Western-style, Kazakh-British joint venture; and SCAT (DV; www.scat.kz in Russian), a Kazakh airline flying prop-driven Russian planes. SCAT is significantly cheaper on many routes. For flight schedules see www.centralasiatourism.com.