Travel Guide Turkistan : Exploring the Hidden Gems of Central Asia

 “Turkistan is a pearl of the East, shining with the light of history, culture, and spirituality.” This saying reflects the pride that locals have in their city, which is known for its rich history, impressive monuments, and traditional culture.

Turkistan (Kazakh: Түркістан, Türkıstan) is a city and the administrative center of Turkistan Region of Kazakhstan, near the Syr Darya river. It is situated 160 km (100 mi) north-west of Shymkent on the Trans-Aral Railway between Kyzylorda to the north and Tashkent to the south. Its population has increased within ten years from 102,505 (1999 Census results)[1] to 142,899 (2009 Census results) Source = Wiki

turkestan Travel
Turkistan Travel

Travel Guide Turkistan – Located in the heart of Central Asia, Turkistan is a historical and cultural hub that offers a fascinating insight into the region’s rich history and traditions. From ancient monuments and mausoleums to bustling bazaars and stunning landscapes, Turkistan is a destination that should be on every traveler’s bucket list. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the top attractions and experiences that Turkistan has to offer.

Employees at Tourist Information Center (+7 7253333388, located at 43.297715N, 68.276089E) will be happy to help you with anything. They have maps and plenty of flyers. However, think twice about booking tours or taxis with them, as they are overpriced (about 4x what you one would pay).

As of Feb 2018 : 1 EUR = 471.69 KZT | 1 USD = 445.01 KZT

Discovering the Mausoleums and Monuments of Turkistan

One of the main draws of Turkistan is its impressive collection of mausoleums and monuments. The city is home to a number of important religious and cultural sites, including the mausoleum of Khoja Ahmed Yasawi, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that dates back to the 14th century. Other notable attractions include the mausoleum of Rabiga Sultan Begim, the daughter of Tamerlane, and the Zhosen Mausoleum, which is dedicated to the famous Kazakh poet and philosopher, Abai Kunanbaev.

Mausoleums of Khoja Ahmed Yasawi and Sultan Rabiga Begim
Mausoleums of Khoja Ahmed Yasawi and Sultan Rabiga Begim

Exploring the Bazaars and Markets of Turkistan

Turkistan is also known for its bustling bazaars and markets, which offer a glimpse into daily life in the city. One of the most popular markets is the Kyzylarai Bazaar, which is held every Sunday and is known for its wide range of fresh produce, handicrafts, and textiles. Other popular markets include the Shakhristan Bazaar, which is known for its spices and dried fruits, and the Akina Bazaar, which is a great place to find traditional Kazakh souvenirs.

Bazaars and Markets of Turkistan
Bazaars and Markets of Turkistan, Source – Alamy

Experiencing the Natural Wonders of Turkistan

Beyond the city limits, Turkistan is surrounded by stunning natural landscapes that are waiting to be explored. One of the most popular destinations is the Kazygurt Mountains, which offer breathtaking views of the surrounding area. Other natural wonders include the Bektau-Ata Mountains, the Zhongar-Alatau Mountains, and the Aksu-Zhabagly Nature Reserve, which is home to a diverse range of flora and fauna.

Zhongar_Alatau_National_Park Source
Zhongar_Alatau_National_Park Source – Kazaktourism

Getting Around Turkistan

To fully experience everything that Turkistan has to offer, it’s important to have a plan for getting around the city. One option is to hire a local guide who can help you navigate the city’s attractions and provide insights into the local culture and traditions. Alternatively, you can explore the city on foot or by bicycle, which will allow you to take in the sights and sounds at your own pace.

Places to Stay – You can try one of these places

  • Hotel Edem: cheap hotel close to the mausoleum and the city center. Its bad reviews come from travelers who couldn’t sleep because of the lively party that takes place in its backyard. You can always ask for a room that’s on the opposite side of the building. (from 5000 KZT)
  • Homestay Battey’s B&B: about one hour from the city center (and the mausoleum), it is a mid-budget accommodation in town. Typical Central Asian bed&breakfast home-stay setup and style. (around 7700 KZT)
  • Hotel Khanaka: the expensive option in the city, in case other options fall through. Location right at the center of the city. (around 15,500 KZT)

How to Reach Turkistan

Turkistan, a city located in the southern part of Kazakhstan, can be reached via various modes of transportation. The city is well-connected to major cities in Kazakhstan, as well as neighboring countries in Central Asia.

By Air: The nearest international airport to Turkistan is the Shymkent International Airport, which is located approximately 150 kilometers away. The airport is well-connected to major cities in Kazakhstan, such as Almaty and Nur-Sultan, as well as neighboring countries like Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan. From the airport, travelers can hire a taxi or take a bus to reach Turkistan.

By Road: Turkistan is easily accessible by road, as it is located along the major highways that connect the southern cities of Kazakhstan. The city is approximately 160 kilometers from Shymkent, 800 kilometers from Almaty, and 1,600 kilometers from Nur-Sultan. There are regular bus services that connect Turkistan to these major cities.

  • From Almaty: night bus for 2,000 KZT. Be aware that the bus will probably not stop in the city (unless there are many locals going there), so keep an eye on your GPS app to know when to ask the driver to stop the bus and let you get off. Catch the bus from Sayran bus station (Автовокзал Сайран). You can chill at the Sayran reservoir beach while you wait for your departure.
  • From Shymkent: minibus for 500 KZT. The easiest way is to get on a minibus from the minibuses station, though it is also possible to stop them on the E32/M38 road outside of the city.
  • Out of Turkistan: the easiest way to get out of Turkistan is to stop a minibus on the main road. Prices should be the same as above for the way back.

By Train: Turkistan is also connected to major cities in Kazakhstan via the railway network. The city has its own railway station, which is located in the city center. There are regular train services that connect Turkistan to cities like Almaty, Nur-Sultan, and Shymkent.

Several trains run daily from Almaty (Alma Ata (1 or 2) stations) to Turkistan, and prices start at 16,500 KZT. If booked from Shymkent, the train ride is half the time and half the price. From the west, the train from Kyzylorda costs about 7,000 KZT.

Turkistan is also connected by train from Tashkent (Uzbekistan). Check out Caravanistan’s entry on trains in Kazakhstan for more information.

Surrounded by Uzbekistan to the south and west, Turkmenistan to the south and southwest, and Kyrgyzstan and China to the east, Turkistan is located in the heart of Central Asia. The city’s strategic location makes it an important cultural and economic center in the region. With its rich history, cultural attractions, and natural beauty, Turkistan is a destination that is well worth a visit for anyone interested in exploring the wonders of Central Asia.


Turkistan is a destination that is steeped in history and culture, and offers a unique perspective on the Central Asian region. From the impressive mausoleums and monuments to the bustling bazaars and natural wonders, Turkistan has something to offer every type of traveler. Whether you’re interested in history, culture, or simply exploring new destinations, Turkistan is a must-visit destination that should be on your travel bucket list.


Q: What is the best time to visit Turkistan? A: The best time to visit Turkistan is between May and September when the weather is pleasant and warm. The temperatures can reach up to 30°C during the day, so it’s important to bring appropriate clothing and sunscreen.

Q: Is Turkistan safe for tourists? A: Yes, Turkistan is generally a safe destination for tourists. However, it’s always a good idea to take precautions, such as being aware of your surroundings and avoiding carrying large amounts of cash or valuables.

Q: What are the must-see attractions in Turkistan? A: The must-see attractions in Turkistan include the mausoleum of Khoja Ahmed Yasawi, the mausoleum of Rabiga Sultan Begim, the Zhosen Mausoleum, the Kyzylarai Bazaar, and the Kazygurt Mountains.

Q: What is the local cuisine like in Turkistan? A: The local cuisine in Turkistan is influenced by traditional Kazakh and Uzbek dishes. Popular dishes include beshbarmak (a meat and noodle dish), laghman (a noodle dish with vegetables and meat), and shashlik (grilled meat skewers).

Q: How do I get to Turkistan? A: The nearest airport to Turkistan is located in Shymkent, which is about 170 km away. From there, you can hire a taxi or take a bus to Turkistan. Additionally, there are train services available from Almaty and Astana.

Q: What other countries surround Turkistan? A: Turkistan is surrounded by several countries in Central Asia, including Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan. These countries offer their own unique attractions and cultural experiences for travelers to explore.

Happy Reading


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