Top things to do

Top Choice Islamic Tomb in Mangistau

Beket-Ata

Some 285km east of Aktau, Beket-Ata is an important and extremely popular place of pilgrimage for those wishing to visit the underground mosque and final resting place of Sufi mystic and teacher, Beket-Ata (1750–181…
Top Choice Museum in Astana

National Museum of the Republic of Kazakhstan

This huge blue-glass-and-white-marble museum covers the history and culture of Kazakhstan from ancient to modern times. Themed halls comprise interactive displays and artifact exhibits, ranging from a yurt in the Ha…
Top Choice Canyon in Southeast Kazakhstan

Charyn Canyon

Over millions of years, the swift Charyn (Sharyn) River has carved a truly spectacular 150m- to 300m-deep canyon into the otherwise flat steppe some 200km east of Almaty, and time has weathered this into some weird …
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 Museum in Northern Kazakhstan

ALZhIR Museum-Memorial Complex

During the Stalin years, Akmol, 35km west of Astana, housed ALZhIR, a notorious camp for wives and children of men who were interned elsewhere as ‘betrayers of the motherland’. The ALZhIR Museum-Memorial Complex poi…
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 Museum in Karaganda

KarLag Museum

Housed in the old KarLag headquarters building, this poignant museum walks you through KarLag's role in the Soviet Gulag Archipelago. The repression of Kazakh 'kulaks', the post-1917-Revolution Red Terror, the man-m…
Top Choice Architecture in Astana

Khan Shatyr

Astana's most extraordinary building (so far), the Khan Shatyr is a 150m-high, translucent, tentlike structure made of ethylene tetrafluoroethylene (ETFE), a heat-absorbing material that produces summer temperatures…
Top Choice Lake in Kolsai Lakes

Kolsai Lakes National Park

Located around 12km by paved (from 2018) road from Saty village, these three spruce-and-mountain-hemmed lakes are Alpine-esque beauty at its best and a Kazakhstan highlight. As you hike between the lakes, graze on w…
Top Choice Architecture in Astana

Palace of Peace & Reconciliation

This beautiful glass-and-steel pyramid was opened in 2006 as the home for the triennial Congress of World and Traditional Religions, hosted by Kazakhstan. The 30-minute tour (English-speaking guides available) shows…