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Driving, Car Travel, Accommodation and taxis in Kazakhstan.
Car Travel and Hire in Kazakhstan.
Driving in Kazakhstan.
On the roads of Kazakhstan survival of the fittest is rule number one, sometimes at the expense of pedestrians. It's important to understand certain local road habits. For instance, the wish to overtake is usually expressed by using the horn rather than the indicator, but the horn can also express simple anger or joy.
Abrupt moves by the car in front of you can occur at any time, either because of holes in the road, or simply because many people have little idea how to drive - few bother to pass a test since they can simply buy a driving licence anyway.
Driving in Kazakhstan is on the right-hand side of the road - at least in theory. Traffic signs are in the European style, but are not always up to standard. The official national speed limit is 90 kilometres per hour except for some modern, multi-lane highways.
Residential areas impose a maximum speed of 50 kilometres per hour. It is wise to observe those limits in order to circumvent holes, cows, sheep and other pitfalls, including the draconian penalties imposed by the omnipresent traffic police.
Using a mobile phone while driving is forbidden in Kazakhstan and attracts a big fine. The minimum fine was raised in 2008 to about US$40, a very harsh measure when one considers that this represents a tenth of the average wage.
Except for city centres, which have modernized systems, traffic lights tend to be on the far side of the crossroads, so you must remain on the lookout for them at all times. Except for a few main routes in Almaty, there are virtually no "green waves" (pedestrian signals) in Kazakhstan; turning right or left means being on the lookout for pedestrians - not giving them priority is a serious offence.
Safety belts are obligatory, even though local drivers limit themselves to thrusting them loosely over their shoulder. Traffic police, however, tend to be less liberal in their interpretation of the law. Whether the payment remains "unofficial" or by the book, payment there shall be.
Traffic police (GAI is their Russian acronym) bearing a "pozhaluysta" ("please") badge can stop any car for a "routine" check. Whenever this occurs, you should step out, documents in hand.
An old habit still used by those who know they have committed an offence, is to place a 1,000 tenge bill discreetly within the documents. Parking is recommended only at guarded parking lots.
Parking at random for the night especially in courtyards, can easily be at the expense of a mirror, a windscreen wiper, a lamp or even the car itself. Available petrol includes European standard (in theory) A98 (lead-free), A95, A92 (similar to the old leaded "Super"), A80 (formerly "Normal").
In cities, prices are in the order of half European prices, in rural areas a bit higher. Since not all grades of petrol are always available, and because outside the cities petrol stations are often very far apart, it is advisable to bring a few jerrycans along to fill with spare fuel wherever you can.
Car Travel and Hire in Kazakhstan.
Travelling to Kazakhstan by car is only for real adventurers or those who travel in convoys - cars can easily be reduced to scrap by the often incredibly rough road conditions. Companies like Hertz and Avis are building up rental car networks these days in the big cities of Almaty, Astana, Aktau and Atyrau, which also sometimes have small car rental firms. An international driving licence is required to drive in Kazakhstan.
More convenient than a self-drive rental car, and possible almost everywhere, is the option to rent a car with a driver. Costs are in the order of US$100 - 150 per day (depending on the route), plus fuel.
http://silkadv.com/en/content/automobile-check-points-motor-vehicles-kaz...Automobile check points of motor vehicles to Kazakhstan.
http://silkadv.com/en/content/obligation-about-return-export-vehicle-pre... The obligation. About return export of a vehicle in the preferential order.
http://silkadv.com/en/content/list-motor-vehicles-customs-entrance-repub... - The list of motor vehicles for customs at entrance to Republic Kazakhstan.
Taxis in Kazakhstan.
There is hardly any distinction in price between regular taxis and ordinary drivers who pick up people for a bit of extra cash. Taxi meters, if there are any, tend to remain unused. You should agree a price before you step into the car. Major hotels have their own taxis, which can be
Accommodation in Kazakhstan.
The quality of accommodation in Kazakhstan covers the full gamut from five-star hotels to the most basic rural hostels and cabins (sometimes complete with rickety, wind-blown toilet sheds in the yard, surrounding a simple hole in the ground).
Prices vary accordingly. In the more remote areas, rustic inns with all the charm of boy scouts' camps prevail. In the A-Cities of Almaty, Astana, Atyrau, Aktau and Aktobe, seasonal shortages caused by MICE events occur in standard hotel accommodation, causing problems for those trying to check in without a reservation.
An alternative option is to try the sanatoriums, which also rent rooms to the "healthy" - this is best done through a local travel agency. Some agencies will also arrange rooms in private homes, which is also quite a convenient option.
For those who can read Russian and are staying in-country longer term, periodicals such as Karavan and Iz ruki v ruku publish both real-estate agencies' offers and classifieds.
http://silkadv.com/en/hotels_kz?country=tid_1 - Hotels in Kazakhstan.
http://silkadv.com/en/hotels_ks?country=tid_2 - Hotels in Kyrgyzstan.
Camping in Kazakhstan.
Two very basic toilets and a tap is the best you can hope for at most campsites throughout Kazakhstan, with only a handful of exceptions. Free camping is allowed almost everywhere and there is no lack of beautiful, convenient sites. Camping is presently forbidden in many national parks or only allowed with a guide. The administration should always be asked, to avoid trouble. Those national parks who do allow camping charge between 300 and 500 tenge. Camping next to a nomad camp requires permission from an elder; the answer will never be no, but be prepared for an invitation to a sumptuous meal and expect to be of attention.
For residential and business accommodation, the best known companies in Almaty - Silk Road Adventures Tourist Company.
The guidebook across Kazakhstan . Authors Dagmar Schreiber and Jeremy Tredinnick. Publishing house "Odyssey". 2010.