Turkestan Travel Guide

Discover Turkestan with our complete travel guide. We provide you with must-see attractions, best things to do, where to stay, health and safety tips, and much more.

Introduction to Turkestan

Turkestan is a city located in the heart of the Kazakh Desert, in Kazakhstan, Central Asia. It boasts a rich cultural and historical heritage, an abundance of natural beauty, and a thriving food and drink scene. Turkestan is a must-visit destination for those interested in exploring the best of Central Asia.

List of Places to Visit in Turkestan

Culturally Important Attractions: Museums and Historical Places

Turkestan is home to some of the most culturally significant landmarks and museums in Kazakhstan. These include:

  • Khoja Akhmed Yassawi Mausoleum: One of the most revered destinations in the Muslim world, this mausoleum stands as a stunning example of Timurid architecture.
  • Azret Sultan Historical and Cultural Reserve: This site includes several ancient buildings, mosques, and madrasas, with many dating back to the 17th century.
  • Turan University Museum of History and Ethnography: This museum showcases the rich history and culture of the local Kazakh people through a vast range of exhibits, artifacts, and traditional costumes.

Natural Attractions of Turkestan: Outdoor Adventures and Scenic Views

Get ready to be swept off your feet by Turkestan’s natural attractions. These locations are perfect for hiking, biking, or just enjoying a peaceful walk:

  • Turkestan State Nature Reserve: This nature reserve is a unique blend of rare flora and fauna, with over 500 plant species and many resident and migratory birds.

Hiking/Biking Routes of Turkestan

For those looking for some adventure, Turkestan offers some of the most enjoyable and challenging hiking and biking routes. The most notable include:

  • Tasyrpynarbaitang: This stunning hike starts from the top of Shamalgan Mountain, offering a breathtaking view of the surrounding landscape.
  • Sarkandosh: This biking route runs along the banks of the Syrdarya River, passing through some of the most scenic and isolated villages of Turkestan.

Best Things to Do in Turkestan: Activities and Tours

Tourists visiting Turkestan can never get bored with the plethora of options available to them. A few highlights include:

  • Explore the City of Turkestan: Discover the streets, markets, and local communities of Turkestan
  • Kayak down the Syrdarya River: Put on your life jacket and run the rapids of the mighty Syrdarya River.
  • Experience the desert: Head out into the sprawling expanse of the Kazakh Desert and experience the beauty of the arid landscape.

Week-Long Itinerary for Turkestan

Here is an ideal week-long itinerary for tourists visiting Turkestan:

Day 1: Arrival and check-in at a hotel in Turkestan Day 2: Tour of the Khoja Akhmed Yassawi Mausoleum Day 3: Explore Turkestan City and visit Alasha Mosque Day 4: Hiking at the Turkestan State Nature Reserve Day 5: Kayak the Syrdarya River Day 6: Visit Sarkandosh and nearby villages Day 7: Departure from Turkestan

Food and Drink Scene of Turkestan

Must-Try Dishes

Kazakh cuisine is renowned for its unique flavors and ingredients. A few dishes that tourists must try include:

  • Beshbarmak: A dish made with boiled dough and served with boiled meat.
  • Kazy: A sausage made from horsemeat and served cold.

Local Beverages

The drink scene in Turkestan includes local brews and non-alcoholic drinks which include:

  • Kymyz: A traditional drink made from fermented mare’s milk.
  • Shubat: A drink made from fermented camel’s milk, believed to have many health benefits.

Where to Stay in Turkestan: Hotels, Hostels, and Guesthouses

Tourists can find a range of accommodation options in Turkestan, from luxury hotels to budget hostels. A few recommended places include:

  • Rahat Palace Hotel Turkestan: A luxury hotel with all modern amenities.
  • Sauat Inn Turkestan: A budget-friendly guesthouse that offers comfortable rooms and homely hospitality.

What to Buy in Turkestan: Souvenirs and Local Products to Bring Home

Some of the most popular souvenirs and local products to bring back from Turkestan include:

  • Shapan: A traditional Kazakh robe made of silk or cotton.
  • Baursaki: Delicious deep-fried dough typically served with tea.

Local Culture and Customs of Turkestan

The Kazakh people are hospitable and respectful, and tourists are expected to behave respectfully as well. A few cultural pointers to keep in mind include:

  • Dress conservatively: Wear clothing that covers your arms and legs, especially when visiting mosques or religious sites.
  • Remove shoes inside homes: It is considered impolite to wear shoes inside someone’s home.

Best Time to Visit Turkestan

The best time to visit Turkestan is during the spring and fall seasons (April-May, and September-October), when temperatures are mild and the landscape is in full bloom.

Do’s and Don’ts of Turkestan


  • Respect local customs: Be mindful of local customs and traditions, and ask for permission before taking photos of individuals or religious sites.
  • Try Kazakh cuisine: Kazakh cuisine is delicious, and we encourage tourists to try local dishes and beverages.


  • Drink tap water: It is recommended to drink bottled water or filtered water while in Turkestan.

Safety and Health

Safety in Turkestan

Turkestan is considered a safe destination for tourists. However, visitors should remain mindful of their surroundings and belongings. It is recommended to avoid venturing alone into isolated areas after dark.

Health in Turkestan

Tourists should carry any medication they need and visit their travel doctor before arriving in Turkestan. The most common ailments are gastrointestinal problems due to changes in diet and dehydration.

Getting to Turkestan: Transportation Options and Logistics

Turkestan is accessible from various transport options:

Airports Near Turkestan

  • Shymkent International Airport: The nearest major airport with international and domestic flights from multiple airlines.

Bus Stations Near Turkestan

  • Shymkent Bus Station: Located in Shymkent, this is the nearest major bus station with connections to cities across Kazakhstan.

Other Options

  • Taxis and Private Cars: Taxis and private cars are available to hire in major cities.

How to Get Around in Turkestan

The most common mode of transportation in Turkestan is taxis or private cars, which are available for hire.

Where to Go Next from Turkestan: Nearby Destinations and Excursions

Some popular destinations near Turkestan include:

  • Shymkent: The nearest major city, which houses multiple cultural landmarks and several shopping centers.
  • Taraz: A popular destination among tourists for its history and culture.


Turkestan is a hidden gem waiting to be discovered by tourists looking for an adventurous experience mixed with ample heritage and scenic beauty. Visitors will enjoy a unique experience and create memories that will last a lifetime.