Almaty to Turkestan, by air

This post is part of a series called Kazakhstan 2019
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Much of the information online about getting from Almaty to Turkestan is vague or unhelpful.  The cheapest and easiest ways to make the trek are by bus or train, but in either case you’re looking at somewhere between 13 and 20 hours of travel.  If you’re on a tight time budget, or just don’t fancy an extended transport day, a flight is a good backup.

As of early 2019, Turkestan doesn’t have an airport.  It did at one point, and may again someday in the future (there are plans).  For now you’ll need to fly from Almaty to Shymkent.  Air Astana, Qazaq Air, and SCAT all make the flight.  The lights tend to be early in the morning or late at night.

Landing in Shymkent, catch the number 12 city bus, right out front.  The fare is 70 tenge, which you can pay on board to the man wandering around.  Let him know you’re going to Bekzhan (Бекжан), a few stops down the road.  Hopefully he’ll point it out to you when you get close.  It’s easy to spot though – it’s directly across from the large Hyundai/Toyota/Lada dealership.  You’ll see loads of minibuses in a parking area.

Each minibus is labelled with its destination.  Look for one going to Түркістан (Turkestan).  There’ll be men yelling out their destination as well.  Get on board and wait for the bus to fill (or grab a bottle of water and some snacks from the vendors behind the vans).  Once the driver is happy with his load, someone will come around asking for payment.  As of early 2019, it’s 1000 tenge for the ride.

Once you’re on the road, it’s a two hour drive.  You’ll arrive at the main bus terminal in Turkestan, near the bazaar and an easy walk from the Mausoleum of Khoja Ahmed Yasawi.

To get back to Almaty, just do all the steps in reverse.  Note that the departures building at the airport is separate from the arrivals building.

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