Top things to do in Southern Kazakhstan

Top Choice Mausoleum in Turkestan

Yasaui Mausoleum

This astoundingly beautiful, tiled mausoleum with a turquoise dome is home to Kozha Akhmed Yasaui. The main chamber is capped with an 18m-wide dome, above a vast, 2000kg, metal kazan (cauldron) for holy water, given…
Top Choice Natural Feature in Aral

Aral Sea

A trip to the slowly replenishing Aral Sea is the main – the only! – reason to come to Aral. Near its northern shore rise the sculpted rock formations of a magnificent canyon, in shades of ochre and yellow, reminisc…
Top Choice Italian in Shymkent

Olivia

Visually a sultry cross between a stone-walled cellar and a library, with plenty of books on art and design on surrounding shelves, this gorgeous restaurant serves beautifully executed pasta dishes, risottos and gri…
Top Choice Tomb in Taraz

Aysha-Bibi & Babazha-Katun Mausoleums

In Aysha-Bibi village, 16km west of Taraz, are the tombs of two 11th- or 12th-century women, legendary protagonists of a local Romeo and Juliet tale. The Aysha-Bibi Mausoleum, though heavily restored in 2000–2002, i…
Top Choice Museum in Shymkent

Museum of Victims of Political Repression

This small museum documents Soviet oppression in Kazakhstan, from the dekulakisation (Soviet campaign of political repression from 1929 to 1932) and Stalinist repressions of the 1930s to the victims of Zheltoksan in…
Top Choice Uzbek in Shymkent

Kok-Saray

Atmospheric multiroomed Kok-Saray, with carved-wood pillars, murals and an airy front terrace, serves the best Uzbek food in town (and in Kazakhstan, claim aficionados). Don’t miss the perfect plov (tashkentsky with…
Top Choice International in Turkestan

Edem Restaurant

Edem Hotel's courtyard restaurant – by far the best place to eat in town – is a fine place to down good shashlyk, sushi, pasta, salads and beer.
Ruins in Taraz

Akyrtas

Lovers of mysterious, remote ruins should venture out to Akyrtas – Kazakhstan's Stonehenge – on the steppe 6km south of Aksholak village. What you'll find here is a rectangular precinct about 180m long and 150m wide…
Ruins in Turkestan

Sauran

Some 48km northwest of Turkestan stand the best preserved and most atmospheric ruins of all the many ruined Silk Road cities in the Syr-Darya valley. Its circuit of baked-earth walls, plus remains of some bastions, …
Museum in Shymkent

Regional Museum of Southern Kazakhstan

In its shiny new quarters on the northern outskirts of the city, this regional museum has well-presented, trilingual displays on local geology, Iron Age burial mounds (check out the human bones buried in a large cla…