Top things to do in Eastern Kazakhstan

Top Choice Research Centre in Kurchatov & the Polygon

Semipalatinsk Polygon

Between 1949 and 1989, 456 nuclear tests were conducted on the territory of the Polygon, the Soviet Union's primary nuclear test site, both above and below ground. Much of the 18,000 sq km area is now considered saf…
Top Choice Mountain in Altay Mountains

Mt Belukha

Right on the border between Kazakhstan and Russia, the myth-rich, snow-tipped peak of Mt Belukha (4506m) – Altay's highest – attracts true mountaineers. Even if you're not looking to bag the peak, it's possible to o…
Top Choice Park in Ust-Kamenogorsk

Levoberezhny Park

This large park on the south bank of the Irtysh contains several interesting exhibits and is well worth a couple of hours of your time. Moving west from the entrance through still-growing botanical gardens you reach…
Top Choice Lake in Altay Mountains

Lake Markakol

This gorgeous lake is a thriving habitat of over 200 different bird species. Apart from its attraction for birdwatchers and general scenic beauty, there are a couple of rustic hiking trails along the southern shore …
Top Choice Monument in Semey

Lenin Statues

A curious collection of 15 communist busts and statues, mostly Lenins – including Kazakhstan's tallest Lenin! – stands in a small park behind Hotel Semey. Spot the three Kirovs and one Karl Marx lurking among the Le…
Top Choice Coffee in Ust-Kamenogorsk

Sova Espresso Bar

This branch of the Almaty cafe, founded by award-winning baristas from Moscow, brings a slice of latte art to the wilds of Ust-Kamenogorsk. Best coffee in town, easily.
Museum in Semey

Dostoevsky Museum

This well laid-out museum incorporates the wooden house where the exiled writer lived from 1857 to 1859 with his wife and baby. The displays range over Dostoevsky’s life and works, including his five years in jail a…
Museum in Kurchatov & the Polygon

Radiation Safety & Ecology Institute Museum

The museum in the Institute of Radiation Safety & Ecology includes a chilling model of the Experimental Field (where aircraft, buildings and live animals were placed close to the explosion to test its effects), …
Museum in Semey

History & Local Studies Museum

Displays at this regional museum run the gamut from prehistoric finds to some rare archaeological pieces, a collection of traditional Kazakh artefacts, the development of Semipalatinsk, local involvement in WWII and…
Museum in Semey

Fine Arts Museum

The collection here, one of the country's best, covers Kazakh, Russian and Western European art from the 16th century onwards, including a not-to-be-missed Rembrandt etching and landscapes, portraits and still-life …