Thursday, September 2, 2010

Tips for travelers

This is just a quick overview of accommodation, food, bike shops, cafes and visa registration tips.

Third Dormitory
4th floor of a uni dorm is used for travelers. Dirty but cheapest in Almaty. It feels like crisis accommodation, and yet whole Kazakh families seem to be living in these small rooms. Communal toilets and showers (pay per use, 50T) are basic and grotty. We stayed 4 nights, as we needed to be in Almaty, and Almaty is expensive.
1000T/person in 4 bed dorm of same sex
2500T per couple in 4 bed dorm to yourselves
500T/bike to be kept in room

Hotel Saulet
We didn’t stay here, but I perused the prices and rooms.
Double bed room with ensuite, balcony, fridge, TV – 6000T (double)
2 people in room with 4 beds and toilet/sink – 5000T
500T/bike – not kept in room

The room with 4 beds looks exactly the same as Third dorm with the exception of toilet/sink and a little cleaner. Double bed room looked nice.

Hotel Turkistan
Opposite Bazar. Clean, friendly. We stayed 2 nights and had snow-capped mountain views. In a really lively part of Almaty. Very recommended. They were keen for our bikes to be kept in reception (no place to lock them), we managed to convince them to let us put the bikes on the balcony
2 single beds (or double) with ensuite, fridge, TV, balcony – 6500T/night (for two), about 3000T for single
Bikes – free
There is a cheaper option without shower for 5000T

In Semey:
Hotel Semey was great. 2000T/night for two. Sink in the room. Clean facilities. Friendly and helpful. Bikes locked downstairs in the garage. Showers are about 200T each…unless you get a floor-lady onside and then they are free. Lots of English spoken here.

4a Coffee. Good coffee. Cool vibe. Would be at home in Melbourne.
Long black – 430T
GPS: N43.15.744 E076.56.542

Bike Shops
Almaty has a range of sporting gear and bike-specific shops (ie. ProBike) that carry a reasonable range of spare parts and accessories. We couldn’t find a replacement for our Schwalbe Marathon XRs though. This useful website - – has mapped out the shops for you.
We got bike boxes from Extreme which is located about 100m south of the Dostiyk/Al Farabi Corner. We were charged 2000T, but the guy did remove a new bike from one of the boxes.

Cheap food
Don’t mess around, just go directly to the bazaar. Small cafes, kebab and samsa vendors make it perfect for a meal. You can stock up for your stay in Almaty if being self-sufficient or importantly get everything you’ll need for a trip into the country side. This includes mountains of dried fruit and nuts, fresh fruit and veges, cheeses, processed meats, etc.

Visa Registration
If you enter by Kazakhstan overland you will have 5 days to register your visa. You will receive an immigration slip of paper at the border. This needs to be stamped by the immigration police.
We got ours completed in Semey at the Immigration police station (GPS: N50.24.471 E80.15.319).
Other cyclists got theirs done in Almaty at ‘the police station’. Give yourselves half a day to safely get it registered. Unlike in the Russian border, at immigration at the Almaty airport it was definitely scrutinized.


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