Architecture

Yasaui Mausoleum A splendid Timurid tomb that rivals those in Bukhara and Samarkand.

Khan Shatyr The world's largest marquee, created by Norman Foster.

Palace of Peace & Harmony Striking pyramid with gravity-defying diagonal funiculars.

Bayterek Monument White latticed tower crowned by a golden orb from a legend.

Aysha-Bibi & Babazhi Katun Mausoleums Delicate 12th century mausoleums linked to a tragic love story.

Archaeology & History

Otrar Ruins of a prosperous Silk Road town, with surviving walls and remnants of residential buildings.

Sauran Ruined Silk Road City, with an intact earthen wall, moat and outlines of residences.

Saraychik Absorbing museum complex with rich finds from one of Kazakhstan's most important archaeological sites.

Issyk Kurgans Burial mounds and excellent museum, linked to Kazakhstan's most famous archaeological find, the Golden Man.

House-Museum of Yemelyan Pugachev Log house in Uralsk where the renegade Cossack/false tsar married his Kazakh bride.

National Museum of the Republic of Kazakhstan The country's most important archaeological finds are amassed at this excellent museum.

Off The Beaten Track

Semipalatinsk Polygon The largest and most notorious Soviet nuclear test site, accessible by tour.

Aral Sea Soviet boat wrecks languish by the shore of the now-returning sea.

Shakpak-Ata A splendid 10th century underground mosque, carved into a honeycombed cliff.

Baykonur Cosmodrome Tour the famous cosmodrome, leased to Russia until 2050, and see a rocket launch.

Beket-Ata Ride through spectacular desert scenery and descend on foot into an arid canyon to reach this sacred tomb.

Lakes and Mountains

Kolsai Lakes Three gorgeous lakes surrounded by dense spruce forest, ideal for day hikes.

Central Tian Shan Kazakhstan's most challenging trekking in a high-altitude mountain range.

Kaiyndy Lake Earthquake-formed glacial lake with crystal-clear water and drowned trees.

Altay Mountains Remote hiking on the border between Kazakhstan and Russia.

Aksu-Zhabagyly Nature Reserve Wild tulips in spring and horse-riding amidst mountain scenery.

Big Almaty Lake Picture-perfect glacial lake on the outskirts of Almaty.

Soviet Remains

ALZhIR Museum-Memorial Complex A poignant tribute to the women and children who perished in one of Kazakhstan's most notorious Stalinist camps.

KarLag Museum Museum and memorial dedicated to another prominent Kazakh outpost of the Gulag Archipelago.

WWII War Memorial Almaty's dramatic piece of Socialist Realism, with heroic figures bursting out of a map of the Soviet Union.

Lenin Statues A collection of (mostly) Lenin statues, including Kazakhstan's largest.

Soviet Grain Silo A decaying throwback to Khrushchev's monumental agricultural failure.

Coal Miners Heroic statue in Karaganda that pays homage to the coal that built the city.