Almaty has an extensive transit network. In particular, the busses are affordable and easy, especially with the help of apps like Almaty Bus and WikiRoutes. While you can pay on board, an “Onay” transit card is a lot more affordable and easy. Getting them can be a little tricky though.
Start out by purchasing the card itself. The easiest place to get one is at one of the many newsstands around town. We got ours at a “Karavan”. Just ask for an Onay – it should be 400 tenge, which includes a 320 tenge deposit and 80 tenge of credit (enough for one ride).
To put more credit on the card, you’ll need to use one of the touchscreen terminals you see everywhere. They only offer text in Russian and Kazakh. We used Google Translate to figure it out the first time.
Begin by selecting the top bar from the main screen.
Then select the icon for tickets
Then the Onay button
The leftmost icon will let you add credit.
Look at the back of your Onay card – there’s a long numeric string. Enter the last 8 numbers. The screen will confirm your current balance – tap the orange button to continue.
Tap the left-most icon.
Now insert however many tenge you want to store on the card into the cash slot and tap the orange button to confirm. You’re done!