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Planning Your Trip

Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan, is a city that rose—in just 20 years—from flat and empty grassland plains into an eclectic, futuristic metropolis. The site of Expo 2017 (the first world’s fair to be held in Central Asia), it’s fast becoming an international destination. Here’s what to pack for your trip.

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Business Travel

As in other parts of Asia, business dress is expected to be formal and professional. Err on the side of modesty and conservatism when traveling here for work.

 

 

 

  • For men, a well-tailored suit in neutral colors (black, navy, gray) is the standard, along with neat ties, crisp button-down shirts and a good pair of leather shoes.
  • For women, a pantsuit or dresses and skirts that fall below the knee are appropriate choices for the corporate environment.
  • Complete your look with an elegant pair of heels to make the right first impression.
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Exploring the City

From the lollipop-shaped Bayterek Tower to the Norman Foster-designed Palace of Peace and Reconciliation, Astana’s architectural marvels are best explored on foot. Pack versatile and casual basics for optimal comfort.

 

  • Sneakers and flat sandals or boots (depending on the season) are recommended footwear for all the walking you’ll do from landmark to landmark.
  • Astana’s growth in recent years has also created an upscale dining and nightlife scene. Bring a pair of heels and dress shoes, along with blouses, dresses, and nice slacks and shirts.
  • Summers are mild but winters in Kazakhstan are downright freezing. Temperatures can drop as low as minus 30 degrees Fahrenheit. If you’re visiting during this time, bring thermal underwear, sweaters, thick coats, gloves, hats and scarves!  
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Day Trips

The beautiful lakes and exotic flora and fauna scattered throughout Burabay National Park make for an ideal escape from the city. Bring along the essentials for a day spent outdoors.

 

 

  • Pack plenty of sunscreen and bug spray to stay protected in natural settings.
  • Layers are a good idea for summer, along with a light jacket or sweater for chilly evenings.
  • Bring hiking boots and workout clothes to trek along the park’s paths in pursuit of stunning views.  
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Don’t Forget:

Astana has an extreme continental climate that makes for warm summers with the occasional rain shower. Stay dry by bringing a rain jacket, umbrella and waterproof shoes. Also, Kazakhstan is a country with an interesting history informed by years of Soviet influence — consider bringing a travel guide to put your trip into better perspective.


Astana’s rapid development, stunning architecture, veritable dining scene and proximity to magnificent landscapes have helped put Central Asia, and particularly Kazakhstan, on the world map. Below, some suggestions to fill your itinerary.

Dining Reservations

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An outpost of the buzzy Moscow establishment, the cheekily named Selfie, in The Ritz-Carlton, Astana, is as innovative and unique as the city’s skyline — plus, the views here are unbeatable. For great steak, head to Line Brew, which also serves beer from its own microbrewery. If you’re feeling adventurous, order the horse meat steak. For the best Uzbek food in town, go to Alasha, which is decorated like an Uzbek palace and features live music and traditional dances every night. And to get a taste of Kazakh cuisine, book a table at Astana Nury, which also serves European fare and has the added perk of live jazz.

Spa Appointments

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Retreat to The Ritz-Carlton Spa, Astana for some well-deserved rest and relaxation. The signature Traditional Body Bliss was crafted with the city in mind and will indulge you with an exfoliation, marine mud or algae wrap, and full body massage. Look like you’ve spent hours at the gym without even stepping in one with the Contouring Body Ritual, which will detoxify, fight fluid retention and boost vitality. If you prefer to DIY, The Ritz-Carlton, Astana also has a state-of-the-art fitness center, where you can book a session with a personal trainer.  

Museum Tickets & Cultural Sights

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Legendary architect Norman Foster has his fingerprints all over the city. He designed the Palace of Peace and Reconciliation, which holds summits of all the religions of the world and also houses an opera house, a museum, a library and a research center. He also did the Khan Shatyr Entertainment Center, a massive neofuturist tent (big enough to fit 10 football stadiums) containing an urban park, shopping center, boating river and indoor beach resort with sand imported from the Maldives. The tent’s transparent material lets in sunlight, while special systems make sure the interiors are at optimal temperatures, even during frigid winters. To get a history lesson on the country, pay a visit to the National Museum of the Republic of Kazakhstan.

Outdoor Excursions

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Less than three hours away from Astana is Burabay National Park, a stunning landscape of pristine lakes, lush flora and picturesque pine forests. Strap on your hiking gear and spend a day exploring — you’re guaranteed to pocket a few good wildlife sightings. Bird-watchers ought to visit Korgalzhyn Nature Reserve, a UNESCO World Heritage site and the largest national park in Kazakhstan, which is home to over 300 species, including pink flamingos, Siberian white cranes and Dalmatian pelicans.

In 1998, Astana, formerly Akmola, was named Kazakhstan’s new capital city. Amid the seemingly endless parade of cranes and construction in this ever-evolving futuristic capital, travelers will discover the delightful charm of old-world Kazakh culture. While the city seems like a modern oasis springing from the land, just a short trip outside the city will uncover virtually untouched natural reserves and picturesque landscapes. Whether you prefer the comforts of the city or getting some fresh air, these are the best things to see and do in Astana.


Day Trips

As new developments pop up on the skyline almost daily, there is an ever-growing list of things to experience in Astana. While the city is quite literally the newest cosmopolitan destination on the map, with less than 20 years in existence, there’s much more to see beyond the bustling urban core. Just a short drive from the capital, visitors can explore all the natural wonders of the picturesque Kazakh countryside. 

 

 

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The Perfect Weekend

Over the years, Astana has transformed into a modern capital city set in the heart of Kazakhstan. Often dubbed the Dubai of Central Asia for its relatively new presence on the map, Astana feels like a city of the future. But even with its rapid urban development and strikingly modern skylines, the Kazakh capital has preserved its old-world charm while paving the way for world-class attractions. Spend your weekend sampling the best dining, shopping, art and culture the city has to offer. 

 

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