Safety in Kazakhstan

Hay stacked in fieldsKazakhstan is perhaps the country in Central Asia where you need to take the most care. It has the highest levels of criminality.

You should never leave your bike without putting a good lock around it.

Bar fights are common in the evening and it’s not hard to find an alcoholic wandering the streets drunk at any time of day. Sadly, veterans from the war in Afghanistan and the Chernobyl disaster as well as people who lost their jobs in the changeover from communism commonly turned to vodka to soothe their trauma. This has developed into an addiction for many.

Bribery is also widespread here. We were never asked for our passports by the police but we were asked for a bribe to pass smoothly through the Uzbek-Kazakh border. Police may ask for a fine of around $50 U.S. if they catch you walking around without your passport in Almaty. Ensure your documents are in order and keep them or good photocopies with you just in case.

Things are calmer in the countryside but you should exercise caution while wild camping. We were never bothered but it’s good practice here more than in many countries of the world to make sure you are well hidden. Otherwise, ask permission to camp near a home where you feel the atmosphere is a positive one.

If your Russian or miming skills are good enough, you may even negotiate a small fee to stay the night. While Kazakhstan has many nouveau riche, the vast majority of people would love the chance to earn a little extra income.

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