As one of the most famous countries in Central Asia, Kazakhstan is for sure appealing for tourists. Rich local color, unique traditions and friendly locals are only a few of the aspects tourists desire to experience for themselves when planning a trip to Asia. You might think of embarking on a journey to this country and therefore, you are for sure concerned about how safe is Kazakhstan for tourists.
This is why we compiled this Kazakhstan safety travel guide: to help you be very well informed about how safe is Kazakhstan and to give you the proper tips that will make your holiday trouble-free. Make sure you take into account all the factors that might pose some troubles during your journey, as one of the best ways to avoid them is to have all the needed information at hand.
Highest Risks You Expose Yourself to When Visiting Kazakhstan
As the world’s ninth biggest country by size, Kazakhstan seems appealing for many tourists. It might not have significant historical sites or fascinating landscapes, but Kazakhstan is still one of the richest countries in Central Asia and the largest landlocked country. This is why some of the people are still attracted by the emptiness and mystery of this Goliath state. If you’re one of those who think of adding Kazakhstan on your destinations list, don’t forget about getting informed first about how safe is this country for you and your travel companions. Check out our Kazakhstan safety guide to find out everything you need to know about this country.
Overall Risks in Kazakhstan: MEDIUM
Apart from the terrorist risks that appear here, Kazakhstan does not stand out for its high degree of crime or natural disasters. This does not mean that a high degree of caution should not be kept when travelling here. Authorities do not advise against travelling to Kazakhstan, but we recommend you to pay attention to everything and everyone around you, as you for sure desire to have a wonderful journey, with no troubles along the way.
You can and will avoid trouble if you really desire to visit this interesting country. What you should do is get informed in advance about the area you’re about to visit, about the people here and about the local customs and laws. You’re all set to enjoy a pleasant journey if you take the right precautions and check out our Kazakhstan safety travel guide that helps you overcome any danger you might encounter during your stay. Read on to find out more about the risks you expose yourself and your travel companions to when embarking on a journey to Central Asia.
Picpocketing and Theft Risks in Kazakhstan: MEDIUM
Even if the crime rate in Kazakhstan is quite low, crime is still present here, as in any other country. Petty crime is something that occurs quite often, through mugging and theft, especially in big cities where they can easily happen unnoticed. Apart from these, many robberies have occurred in public transports and this is why trains and buses are to be avoided when you’re there.
What you should also consider when planning a trip here are the violent attacks that happened in the expatriate community in Atyrau or Aktau, Astana or Almaty. These usually happen at night, in isolated places and in unofficial taxis. They can, nevertheless, be avoided, if you follow some important tips.
- How to avoid pickpocketing and theft in Kazakhstan?
In order to avoid encountering crime in Kazakhstan, you should know that walking at night, especially in isolated places is not a good idea. This is because attacks are easy to carry out and therefore, you expose yourself and your travel companions to great risks while you’re here.
Another important piece of advice you should remember is to hide your valuable objects, as they might catch the eye of potential thieves. Not only will you get stolen from, but also suffer traumas caused by such unpleasant experiences so far away from your home.
In unfortunate cases in which you get attacked, try to keep useful authority numbers at hand, but do not count on their help too much. Policemen in Kazakhstan have a quite poor reputation and this is why you should be very vigilant and careful with your belongings. By doing these, you make sure your trip is trouble-free.
Violence Risk in Kazakhstan: LOW
Violence is not an aspect that should worry you too much when travelling to Kazakhstan. This is because demonstrations do not occur very frequently and religion is part of the local people lives and it imposes a peaceful attitude of the Kazakhs. Nevertheless, such violent acts have been registered and, when noticing such things, you should know how to stay away.
- How to avoid violence in Kazakhstan?
You can avoid violence and stay safe in Kazakhstan if you have common sense. Be polite, exercise a normal degree of caution and stay away from large gatherings and demonstrations.
In case you’re attacked, try not to resist the attacker and contact the authorities. Trouble can be avoided if you follow our Kazakhstan safety travel tips closely.
Scam Risk in Kazakhstan: MEDIUM to HIGH
When it comes to scams, you might encounter one as soon as you get off your plane - namely, criminals often check non-private planes passenger lists, find a victim, prepare a sign with their name, and wait for them on the arrival gate.
They will then claim that your accommodation has sent them to take you to the hotel - obviously, you will end up in a remote area where you will be robbed and maybe even assaulted. It is well known that criminals relying on this type of scam operate usually in provincial airports.
Then, we have the so-called "wallet-ploy" scam, where a stranger claims to have found a wallet on the ground and then offers to split the money with you - presumably, they plant this wallet in your vicinity and approach you soon after. While you think of denying or accepting the money, a second person will approach you two and claim that the wallet is, in fact, his/ hers.
You will then hand over the walled to this third person and, at the moment, they will require to see the insides of your purse/ bag so that they make sure you haven't stolen anything from they wallet - in this moment, they'll snatch whatever they can and run away.
There have also been some incidents or criminals posing as police officers and demanding money from tourists claiming the latter have broken a law or made an offense. Moreover, actual police officers are known to approach tourists and randomly charge them with offenses and demand money from them. Bribery is common in Kazakhstan.
- How to avoid getting scammed in Kazakhstan?
Now, in order to avoid any of the aforementioned, one thing's for sure - you have to ignore any strangers that approach you, mind your own business, and require the police officers approaching you to identify them before doing what they ask you.
If actual police officers demand you pay them for something you have not done, you might want to ask them to resolve this dispute within the police department - however, keep in mind that all of the police officers might support one another and, thus, this might not be the best call. In such situations, it is somewhat better to comply and then later alert the authorities, the consulate, or other forces that are able to help you and be unbiased.
Kidnapping Risk in Kazakhstan: MEDIUM
The most common type of kidnapping that occurs in Kazakhstan is the so-called "bride kidnapping" - this usually happens in remote areas or villages, where law has little effect. It basically means that a man can just kidnap the woman he wants to marry, be it consensual or forced.
However, there are little to no reports of foreigners being kidnapped while traveling through Kazakhstan - still, it is better if you come prepared for such cases and know what areas to avoid.
- How to avoid getting kidnapped in Kazakhstan?
We have classified this type of incident as having a medium risk because, if you happen to visit a village, you might get into some trouble - mainly because you are a foreigner. Still, you should not be worried about kidnapping, as situations don't tend to escalate that much.
In this respect, we recommend you to never travel alone in remote areas or villages - have someone accompany you in your trip or have a tour guide with you. Other than that, you should not leave your hotel after midnight and stick to the areas that are meant for tourists.
Terrorism Risk in Kazakhstan: HIGH
With the great global threat for terrorism, you can never be sure that you do not encounter such violent acts anywhere you go. Asia is one of the parts of the world where terrorist groups often operate and this is why terrorist attacks are things that you really need to consider before planning a trip to this country.
Such attacks are often indiscriminate and they often include public places that are often visited by foreigners.
- How to avoid terrorism in Kazakhstan?
In order to stay safe even in cases in which such unfortunate events happen during your stay, you should always be alert to any security-related announcements made by Kazakh authorities. Such news need to be followed when planning your trip. Contact your embassy when you find yourself in such dangerous situations and make sure you keep yourself safe.
Because such attacks usually happen in public places, try to keep away from places that are visited mainly by foreigners and avoid large gatherings. If you notice some strange things, make sure you find shelter and call the authorities.
Risks for Women Traveling Alone in Kazakhstan: MEDIUM
Even if you choose to visit Kazakhstan by yourself, you can still enjoy wonderful experiences if you are well informed about everything in advanced. When embarking on a journey to Kazakhstan, women traveling alone need to avoid isolated places and walking alone at night on streets. Violent attacks have been registered, as women traveling solo in Kazakhstan tend to be target victims of criminals, but this does not mean that, with the proper precautions taken, you cannot have a wonderful trip. Read on to find how to stay safe in Kazakhstan if you’re a woman traveling alone.
- How to avoid crime as a solo woman traveler in Kazakhstan?
Women traveling alone in Kazakhstan can stay safe if they keep in touch with the news, exercise a high degree of caution and have common sense. You can enjoy wonderful experiences if you hire a trustworthy local guide, have a well-planned schedule and are aware of your surroundings.
Try not to exhibit any valuable objects and do not leave your luggage unattended at all times. By following these Kazakhstan safety travel tips, you will have a safe journey and manage to enjoy everything this country has to offer.
Rape Risk in Kazakhstan: LOW to MEDIUM
Back in 2009, the country of Kazakhstan had a rape rate of around 8.4 cases per 100,000 population - however, in 2015, this rate grew up to 13.3 cases, decreasing after 5 years of continuous increase. In this respect, one cannot entirely rule out the risk of such incidents.
Still, there are little to no reports of violent sexual attacks towards foreigners/ tourists - the criminals in Kazakhstan mostly rely on muggings, pickpocketing, and violent assault, mainly in order to get some profit, so to say, out of you.
- How to avoid getting raped in Kazakhstan?
As currently there's no actual threat of you being raped while in Kazakhstan, you should take only basic precautionary measures - namely, don't travel alone, avoid remote areas and villages, and limit the time you spend outside after the sunset.
You should be extra careful around bars and night-clubs, as a lot of the attacks towards foreigners have been carried out in the surroundings of such facilities. However, if you take care and know where and when to travel, you should not experience any unwanted scenarios.
Risks for People Traveling with Children in Kazakhstan: MEDIUM
When it comes to traveling with children, you should apply all of the aforementioned safety measures - on top of that, you have to take care of your children as well, obviously. You can't really get in trouble while having your children with you, as this implies you having to be more than just cautious when traveling.
You will definitely not travel into remote or dangerous areas while having your children with you - therefore, if you stick to the plan, visit what you want to visit and such, you should really not come across any issues involving your children.
- How to avoid unwanted scenarios?
Any unwanted scenario can be avoided if you keep an eye on your children at all times - this is really everything you have to do to keep them safe. Don't let them get too far away from you and, obviously, don't let them explore areas on their own.
Natural Disaster Risks in Kazakhstan: MEDIUM
In terms of natural disasters, we mainly have flood, with a frequency of 58.8%, extreme temperatures (17.6%), and earthquake, landslide, storm, and wildfire, all with a frequency of 5.9%. When it comes to the severity of these natural disasters, the deadliest is clearly storm, with a mortality rate of 49.1%, followed by flood with 27.2%, and by landslide, with 21.1%.
In order to avoid any situations involving a natural disaster, we recommend you to monitor the local news as well as the online news/ weather reports, as the latter might be a bit more accurate than the first.
If you plan to travel while a natural disaster is ongoing, it is advised that you prepare well for your trip, especially if you are driving. If the disasters come with a severe status, it might be best if you postpone traveling for the day.
Transportation Risks in Kazakhstan: MEDIUM to HIGH
Threats regarding the road travel are very common in Kazakhstan. As in other urban areas, you might find criminals operating in public transport and even in taxis. You will find dangers on trains, as thieves usually operate there or encounter unlicensed taxis that may take advantage of solo travelers.
Scams are quite common here, as well. You might encounter local people who will claim to be your guide for free, taxi drivers who will charge you a lot more than he is supposed to and also get in touch with thieves who use scams such as “the lost wallet ploy”.
In order to stay away from such unpleasant events, there are some tips that you should keep in mind during your stay in Kazakhstan. Foreign people are also the most vulnerable ones, especially when travelling by themselves to another country.
In order to stay away from trouble in Kazakhstan, try not to trust everyone you meet. Scammers are quite common and you might get in trouble if you are not skeptical enough especially when you’re in public transports, airports or taxis.
In order not to attract their attention, keep your luggage attended and do not exhibit any valuable objects. Be discreet and polite with everyone, kindly refusing the offers that do not seem appealing to you.
Night-Clubs, Pubs, and Bar Risks in Kazakhstan: MEDIUM
As mentioned before, a lot of attacks have been carried out in and around night-clubs, pubs, or bars, especially during the night. In this respect, we advise you to either limit the time you spend in such facilities or avoid them entirely, as you may never know when a situation is going to escalate.
Moreover, be extremely cautious when getting inside a cab to get back to your accommodation - you have to check that it is registered/ official. There might be criminals posing as drivers, taking advantage of the fact that you are a foreigner and perhaps slightly drunk as well. It is only natural that criminals operating unregistered taxis will try to mug you if you have one take you from a night-club, pub, or bar.
You should not get inside a cab if there's already another passenger in it - you can never truly know if the driver and the other passenger know each other or not and if they plan to assault or rob you. You should not be traveling alone in and around night-clubs, pubs, and bars, in order to avoid any sort of unpleasant situations.
Health Risks in Kazakhstan
In case of a medical emergency, be aware of the fact that the medical facilities of Kazakhstan are usually not as advanced as those in the USA/ UK. You might have a hard time getting the treatment and/ or medicine that you need.
When it comes to health risks, you should be careful when traveling through southern Kazakhstan, as there are quite regular outbreaks of the tick-borne disease called hemorrhagic fever - these outbreaks usually occur in spring and summer and are known to have caused deaths.
The emergency medical assistance number is 103 - keep in mind that the operators speak only Russian or Kazakh, so you might want to learn a phrase or two on asking for medical assistance. Moreover, you might have to wait more than enough for an ambulance, mainly because the operator will have a hard time understanding you and you might not know exactly how to pinpoint your location to them.
In some cases, it might be a better call to take a taxi to the nearest hospital rather than waiting for an ambulance.
Naturally, make sure you have proper travel health insurance and enough funds to cover any medicine/ treatment that you might have to take while in this country.
Vaccines You Need in Kazakhstan
Before leaving for Kazakhstan, you should make sure you pay a visit to your medical care provider before traveling to this Asian country. Make sure you have the right medical assurance and do not forget to get the right vaccines at least 6 weeks before embarking on your journey, respectively the routine vaccines against: measles and rubella, diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio, varicella, influenza and others.
Medical facilities in Kazakhstan are quite limited in some parts of the country and therefore, you must have all the proper precautions taken before leaving. Public hospitals are quite easy to be found, but depending on the area you find yourself in, you might need to research information about these places in advance.
Most Dangerous Areas in Kazakhstan
As any other country, Kazakhstan is a country where safe areas combine with some dangerous ones, which you might want to avoid. In order to stay safe in Kazakhstan, try to stay away from the following places. Risks are not necessary when you go to another country, so in order to make sure you have a pleasant journey, try to avoid going to:
- All parts of Almaty below Tashkentskaya Street
- Small districts such as Shanyrak
- Small towns such as Uralsk, Taraz, Semey, Shymkent, Taldykorgan, Ust-Kamenogorsk
These areas are notorious for the violent attacks that have been registered here. When planning your trip, make sure you get to see and explore places that will bring joy and wonderful experiences. By avoiding these places, you keep trouble away.
You should keep in mind that you can travel to most places in this country, but travelling to any closed area will require advance permission from the Kazakh government. Stay informed and plan your route well. It’s the key to have a trouble-free journey.
Concluding Remarks: Is Kazakhstan Safe to Visit?
With our Kazakhstan safety travel tips in your mind, you’re all set to embark on a wonderful journey that can be trouble free if you are well prepared for what is to come. Even though some of the threats mentioned above might have made you think twice before deciding how safe is Kazakhstan for tourists, you can still enjoy everything Kazakhstan has to offer if you keep our tips in mind:
- Make sure you have a medical insurance and the vaccines needed in order not to get exposed to dangerous viruses;
- Do not carry valuable objects with you and, in case you do, do not let them unattended;
- Avoid isolated areas at night, as well as very crowded areas, especially when you travel alone;
- In case of trouble, do not resist the attacker and ask for help to the local authorities;
- Keep up with the news and check the recent reports on indiscriminate terrorist attacks;
- Always be aware of the surroundings and keep a high level of precaution at all times;
- Avoid all demonstrations or political gatherings.
If you take all these things into account, your stay in Kazakhstan is already all set to be enjoyable. Make sure you consider all the risks above seriously and plan your journey thoroughly and Kazakhstan will only bring you wonderful experiences.