Next Stop: Kazakhstan

I just came back from Laos. I was absolutely awestruck with this charming landlocked country in the North of South-east Asia especially the UNESCO World Heritage City of Luang Prabang. For the past few years, my holiday destinations were usually that of big cities and snow-capped mountains. Recently, my appetite has changed. I no longer look for the next concrete jungle to tease my travel-palate but the next exotic destination to quench my travel-thirst. My travel bucket list has expanded.

Just last week, Kazakhstan opened their borders to a further 43 countries from all ofEU and OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation Development) for up to 30 days, visa-free. Before that, only the following countries were granted visa-free entry.

Hong Kong
South Korea


Today, citizens from the following countries would be pleased to know that the visa-free travel program has been extended to them. Coincidentally, Kazakhstan is hosting this year’s EXPO 2017 and this move will definitely help to boost the country’s economic cooperation and development. Well, whatever the case, this is good news since that will give me another reason to visit them! The last world Expo I visited was in 2005 in Aichi, Japan.

Anyhow, here are some facts about Kazakhstan which I have gleaned from the WWW…

Astana is the capital of Kazakhstan but Almaty is the country’s largest city. Also, Kazakhstan is the largest landlocked country in the world.

“Kazakhstan shares borders with Russia, China, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, and Turkmenistan, and also adjoins a large part of the Caspian Sea.” – Wikipedia

I gathered that the easiest way to get to Kazakhstan is to either fly into Astana International Airport or the Amalty International Airport. There are no direct flights from Singapore and Australia.

If I want to get to Astana from my side of the world, my options were limited to:

  1. AirAstana via Bangkok

  2. Asiana Airlines via Seoul

  3. China Southern via Urumqi (then again Urumqi is on my bucket list of exotic places to visit)

  4. Eithad via Abu Dhabi

  5. Flydubai via Dubai


So a typical route for me would be:

Singapore – Bangkok – Astana or Singapore – Dubai – Astana

If I were in Melbourne, then it would be:

Melbourne – Dubai (Emirates) – Astana.

Depending on dates, AirAstana operates out of Bangkok only once a week. A better option is to get to Dubai. As a oneworld elite member, I would definitely prefer Dubai (marriage through Qantas) over Bangkok.

That said, I am itching to try out Air Astana despite it not being a part of any alliance. Their business class looks pretty decent and apparently, their service seems to be something which they are proud of. Who wouldn’t want to experience service from the “heart of Eurasia’ – isn’t that the perfect blend between Western sophistication and Asian grace? 

To get to the city of Almaty – the largest city and commercial capital in Kazakhstan, my options were:

  1. Asiana Airlines via Seoul

  2. China Southern via Urumqi

  3. flyDubai via Dubai

  4. Hainan Airlines via Beijing

It seems like connectivity into Kazakhstan are limited but that does not stop me. It only makes me want to get there all the more. In the words of Ursula,

“It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.”

 And like all exotic places, getting there always present a challenge… and the challenge is what makes travelling travelling and perhaps, memorable and unforgettable.

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