I traveled 5,300km across Kazakhstan for £104

28th July 2017

Following on from my last post about traveling across China. I thought I would share how much it cost me to travel across Kazakhstan. Trains in Kazakhstan can be super cheap but if you want to be more comfortable, you will pay more. I always chose the comfortable option yet it still only cost £104.

Super budget travellers could definitely do the same journey for £70 or less. The issue with traveling as cheap as possible is that you are in cramped trains for 80+ hours. Sleeper trains in Kazakhstan are not too expensive and still affordable.

The route I took across Kazakhstan
The route I took across Kazakhstan

The cheaper and faster option is to travel via shared taxi which is faster than a train but it’s sketchy. I sat in a shared taxi between Ural and Atyrau and a lady was sat in the back seat with a cage full of birds. There was about 10 people in the 7 seater car. The taxi broke down twice and the driving was sketchy swerving between traffic at 150km/h the whole way.

The journey started east of Almaty at the China border and continued through south Kazakhstan to Shymkent. From Shymkent I headed north towards Uralsk, near the Russian border to apply for a Russian visa. After getting declined for a Russian visa I headed south down the west cost of the country to Aktau on the Caspian sea.

Here’s the rundown on the tickets:

AlmatyShymkent13h 30m£10
ShymkentTurkestan2h 0m£2
TurkestanAktobe23h 0m£40
UralskAtyrau6h 30m£11

Traveling 5,300km for £104 averaged out to £20 per 1000km. To put that that into perspective, that’s like traveling from London to Berlin for £20.

Where next?

What are the options for leaving Kazakhstan?

  • Russia said that I cannot get a visa in Kazakhstan.
  • Britain and Iran are not friends so I cannot travel through Iran. (Yo Iran if you are reading this then issue me a visa please)
  • Cross the Caspian sea on a slow ferry but I refuse to go back to Azerbaijan. The visa will cost about £100 and then the ferry about the same and I refuse to pay that much to visit a country that I hated.
  • Cheat and get a cheap flight out of Kazakhstan to a nearby city.

The almost 13,000km journey across Kazakhstan and China combined so far has cost me £320. I was hopeful that I could get to Europe for less than £500 but Russia declined my visa so I have decided to cheat and fly out of Kazakhstan. I’ll make up for it by traveling the long route back through Europe.

Flights out of most western Kazakhstan cities are either domestic or to Russia. International flights are expensive but I found a reasonable flight to Istanbul. I should fly to the nearest city, so Tbilisi or Yerevan but the flights were £300+ and required long layovers.