How to get from Almaty (Kazakhstan) to Tashkent (Uzbekistan)
Almaty to Tashkent By Air
The easiest way to travel from Almaty in Kazakhstan to Tashkent in Uzbekistan is to fly. Journey time is only 1 hour and 30 minutes and the route is serviced by Air Astana and Uzbekistan Airways with multiple flights per day.
Fares start from around 40,000 Tenge ($100), but if you book far enough in advance you may be able to get a better rate. Trip.com offers some of the best rates around for flights.
How to get to Almaty Airport
Almaty Airport is 13km north of the city and is easily reachable by bus and taxi. You can take bus 79 from Furmanov (80 Tenge, 40 minutes) or buses 86 and 92 form Sayakhat Bus Station.
A taxi from the centre should cost around 3,000 Tenge but it’s best to order a Yandex Taxi (a bit like Uber) as it should be cheaper.
Allow 30 to 40 minutes to get there by taxi, but rush hour traffic can be very bad around Almaty so if your flight coincides with the morning and evening rush, ensure you leave in plenty of time.
Almaty to Tashkent By Train (& Taxi)
By far the most interesting way to go from Almaty to Tashkent is to take the overnight train to Shymkent and then a taxi to the border following the Silk Road.
Almaty to Shymkent
Kazakhstan has replaced many of its old Soviet sleepers that rattle along at a snail’s pace with deluxe modern trains that travel at twice the speed. The 700km journey can now be done in 10 hours and costs around 6,000 Tenge ($15).
Buying a ticket
You can buy a ticket online from Kazakhstan Railways website but you will need to print out the ticket and swap it at the station before you board the train.
You can purchase a ticket at the ticket office of Almaty 1 or 2 Station, but although usually you can buy for the same day, in summer it’s worth buying a day or two in advance as they can sell out.
The new trains have a restaurant car as well as a bar with a good selection of food cooked in the accompanying kitchen, and drinks for very reasonable prices (there is a menu in English).
The trains will stop at stations along the route from 5 to 30 minutes where you can get off and stretch your legs and buy supplies from the babushkas on the platform selling beer, snacks and ice cream. Each carriage will have the timetable and duration of stops.
From Shymkent to the Uzbek boder
Don’t take a taxi from the station to the border as you will invariably be ripped off. It should cost around 2,000 for the 2 hour trip to the border checkpoint. Go to the bus station on Prospect Respubliki where you can get a shared taxi or minibus to the border.
The Pokrovskoe Border
It’s best to try and time it so you reach the border during the day and not when it opens first thing. I made the mistake of thinking earlier would be better and spent almost 3 hours queuing from 8am in a free-for-all on the Kazakh side. The Uzbek side was much more orderly and took minutes.
There will be plenty of taxis waiting to take you the 10km into Tashkent. Expect to pay between 50,000 and 100,000 som ($5 to $10).
You can change money at either side of the border but make sure you know the exchange rate first and count it out before you walk off. There are more ATMs in Tashkent than there were when I was there in 2017, but it would be best to have US dollars with you to exchange at a bank in Tashkent.
Be aware that some types of painkillers are illegal in Uzbekistan; however the checks have become a lot less stringent since the introduction of VISA free travel for many citizens.
About the Author
Steve Rohan, originally from England, has lived in China for over six years. He has lived in the frozen city of Harbin, the ancient capital of Luoyang and now resides in the tropical paradise of Sanya on Hainan Island.
He has travelled extensively across Europe and Asia, mostly by train, and has written about his travels for this blog as well as self-publishing his first book, Siberian Odyssey.
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