How I Backpacked Solo in Uzbekistan, Russia & Kazakhstan in shoestring budget (8 Cities,3 Countries)

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The Real Beauty of Universe - Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis)

Photo of How I Backpacked Solo in Uzbekistan, Russia & Kazakhstan in shoestring budget (8 Cities,3 Countries) by Tourvashu Jaiswal

"The Ultimate Travel Guide of an Indian Solo traveler Backpacking in Uzbekistan, Russia and Kazakhstan, featuring Murmansk, Teriberka, Arctic Ocean, Sami Village (Lapland) and Husky Park"

I have recently completed my solo backpacking to Uzbekistan, Russia and Kazakhstan (Central Asia and Europe) in shoestring budget of just 88,000 INR.

Quick synopsis and briefing of the trip:

All in One Complete Travel Guide/ All the information you need in one place to travel on a Budget:

Total expenses: I have completed this trip unbelievably under 90,000 INR including flight tickets, visa, accommodation, food and everything (I have already traveled around 10 countries before this trip). All the research, planning and bookings were done on my own.

Cities/towns traveled: Total 8 cities/towns in 3 Countries:

Tashkent, Samarkand and Bukhara in Uzbekistan;

Moscow, Murmansk, Teriberka and Saint Petersburg in Russia;

Almaty in Kazakhstan.

Itinerary:

India (New Delhi) to Uzbekistan (Tashkent):

In Uzbekistan: 5 days-

Tashkent – Samarkand – Bukhara - Tashkent.

Uzbekistan (Tashkent) to Russia (Moscow):

In Russia: 12 days-

Moscow - Murmansk - Teriberka - Saint Petersburg.

Russia (Saint Petersburg) to Kazakhstan (Astana):

In Kazakhstan: 3 days-

Astana – Almaty.

Kazakhstan (Almaty) to India (New Delhi).

Uzbekistan Visa: Free transit Visa for Indians up to 5 days when flying with Uzbek Airways (visa invitation not required for transit visa).

Russia Visa: INR 1300 Embassy charge (now INR 2130), INR 1500 VFS charge and INR 1400 visa invitation.

Kazakhstan Visa: Free transit Visa for Indians up to 3 days when flying with Air Astana (visa invitation not required for transit visa).

Transportation and flight tickets with cost:

Flight from India to Russia with 5 days transit in Uzbekistan: Booked multi-city flight with Uzbekistan Airways (cost: INR 22000).

Flight from Russia to India with transit in Kazakhstan: Booked multi-city flight with Air Astana (cost: INR 16000).

Inter-city transport with cost:

In Uzbekistan-

Tashkent to Samarkand: High speed Afrosiyob or Sharq train (booked with Uzbekistan Railways, cost: INR 550, duration: 3 hours)

Samarkand to Bukhara: High speed Afrosiyob or Sharq train (booked with Uzbekistan Railways, cost: INR 500, duration: 2 hours)

Bukhara to Tashkent: Domestic flight Uzbekistan Airways (cost: INR 2200, duration: 1 hour, booked with Uzbekistan Airways. You can also travel with Uzbekistan Railways)

In Russia-

Moscow to Murmansk: Domestic flight Red Wings (cost: INR4400, duration: 2.5 hours, book any domestic flight)

Murmansk to Teriberka and Arctic Ocean: Tour excursion Road trip (cost: INR 5500, duration: 1 day)

Murmansk to Sami Village and Husky park: Tour excursion Road trip (cost: INR 5500, 1 day)

Murmansk to Norway Border: Northern lights/Aurora Borealis Tour (cost: INR5000, duration: 1 night)

Murmansk to Saint Petersburg: RZD Russian Railways (booked with Russian Railways, cost: INR 3600, duration: 24 hours)

In Kazakhstan-

Astana to Almaty: Domestic flight Air Astana (cost included in the total Air Astana flight from Russia to India, duration: 1 hour)

Transport within Cities:

Tashkent: Metro and Taxi

Samarkand: Taxi

Bukhara: Taxi

Moscow: Metro and public buses

Murmansk: Taxi and public buses

Saint Petersburg: Metro and public buses

Almaty: Taxi and public buses

Airport Transfer:

Uzbekistan: Taxi or public bus

Russia: AeroExpress Train or public bus

Kazakhstan: free pickup and drop from Air Astana and public bus

Accommodations:

Uzbekistan: Hostel and Couchsurfing.

Russia: Couchsurfing.

Kazakhstan: Free stopover holiday from Air Astana and Couchsurfing.

Food: Fast food restaurants and self cooked.

Temperature in Degree Celsius of all the places in February and March:

Tashkent: 12 to 2

Samarkand: 10 to 0

Bukhara: 12 to 2

Moscow: 0 to -5

Murmansk: -5 to -20 (coldest)

Teriberka: -5 to -20 (coldest)

Saint Petersburg: 0 to -5

Almaty: 8 to -2.

I have recently joined Instagram.

My Instagram id: instagram.com/tourvashu

You can follow and contact me on Instagram for any queries.

Most of the details of these three countries are extensively available on internet, so I will not describe them in details. I have explained some essential tips for super budget travel.

All in one Budget Travel Guide/One stop solution:

Important tips for Uzbekistan:

Early morning at Tashkent International Airport, Capital City of Uzbekistan

Photo of Uzbekistan by Tourvashu Jaiswal

You can easily be a Millionaire with Uzbek Som (UZS) ;)

Photo of Uzbekistan by Tourvashu Jaiswal

Minor Mosque in Tashkent, Uzbekistan

Photo of Uzbekistan by Tourvashu Jaiswal

Dzhuma Mosque adjacent to Kokaldosh Madrasa, Tashkent

Photo of Uzbekistan by Tourvashu Jaiswal

A shop at Chorsu Bazaar in Tashkent, Uzbekistan

Photo of Uzbekistan by Tourvashu Jaiswal

Chorsu Bazaar is the traditional market located in the centre of the old town of Tashkent

Photo of Uzbekistan by Tourvashu Jaiswal

Marvelous Architecture and UNESCO World Heritage site of Registan Square in Samarkand, Uzbekistan

Photo of Uzbekistan by Tourvashu Jaiswal

Registan Square, Samarkand- The heart of the ancient city of Silk Road

Photo of Uzbekistan by Tourvashu Jaiswal

Breathtaking view inside Registan Square, Samarkand, Uzbekistan

Photo of Uzbekistan by Tourvashu Jaiswal

Uzbek Non (Traditional Bread) sold everywhere in Uzbekistan

Photo of Uzbekistan by Tourvashu Jaiswal

Baked Somsa (Samsa) a traditional Central Asian Cuisine

Photo of Uzbekistan by Tourvashu Jaiswal

High Speed Afrosiyob Train in Uzbekistan

Photo of Uzbekistan by Tourvashu Jaiswal

Lyab-i-Hauz, a historical site featuring one of the last remaining "Hauz" ponds in Bukhara, Uzbekistan

Photo of Uzbekistan by Tourvashu Jaiswal

Great Minaret of the Kalon in Bukhara, Uzbekistan

Photo of Uzbekistan by Tourvashu Jaiswal

The Ark of Bukhara. A massive fortress located in the old town of Bukhara, Uzbekistan

Photo of Uzbekistan by Tourvashu Jaiswal

Hosted by a family in Bukhara to experience the local Uzbek Culture and Cuisines

Photo of Uzbekistan by Tourvashu Jaiswal

Kalon Minaret, the most prominent landmarks along the Ancient Silk Road in Bukhara, Uzbekistan

Photo of Uzbekistan by Tourvashu Jaiswal

Kalon Mosque, Bukhara

Photo of Uzbekistan by Tourvashu Jaiswal

Chor Minor (Char Minar) in Bukhara. Charminar in Hyderabad-India is inspired by this Architecture

Photo of Uzbekistan by Tourvashu Jaiswal

1) Safety: Uzbekistan, being erstwhile part of Soviet Union (USSR) is very safe for travelers from all over the world.

2) Golden Triangle and Silk Road: Tashkent, Samarkand and Bukhara are historically known as Golden Triangle of Uzbekistan. The famous Silk Road also passes through Uzbekistan. Tashkent is the capital of Uzbekistan and the largest city in Central Asia. Most of the sightseeing places in Tashkent are far away from each other.

3) Samarkand and Bukhara are quite small city. Most of the sightseeing places are very close to each other at a walking distance.

4) Language: As a traveler, the main problem you will face is the Language barrier in Uzbekistan. Uzbek is the national Language and most of the people understand Russian, so install Google Translate App in your phone and download offline Russian Language.

5) Natives: So far I have traveled around 15 countries and have found Uzbek people most friendly and welcoming to the Indians. They are madly in love with the Bollywood movies and SRK. Many locals greeted me by saying “Namaste”. Locals went out of their way to help me several times despite the language barrier. Once I just asked them the direction and they happily dropped me to the exact location. Even Uzbek Police officials are super friendly and helped me out of their way. Most of the people call “Hindustani” to Indians rather than “Indian”.

6) Taxi: Taxi is cheap in Uzbekistan compared to other countries. Every car on road is a potential taxi in Uzbekistan. Just flag any normal car by raising your hand on the street, but make sure you have the exact address beforehand and negotiate as per your budget. You can also book Taxi through the mobile application “Yandex Taxi” or “MyTaxi”. It’s just like Uzbek version of Uber or Ola.

7) Currency: Currency of Uzbekistan is Uzbek Som (UZS) which is the highly inflated. Roughly 1 INR = 120 UZS. You cannot convert INR to UZS directly but you can convert USD to UZS in the ATM machine located in the Airport itself. Most of the Hotels and Hostels also convert USD to UZS without charging much commission. You can easily use your International Debit Card or Forex Card to withdraw the UZS from the ATM in Uzbekistan. Most of the ATM machines are located in the Hotels and Hostels. Be noted that Visa Card is mostly accepted not Master Card in Uzbekistan.

8) Airport transfer in Tashkent: For transfer from Tashkent Airport to anywhere in the city centre you can negotiate well and take taxi for 10,000 – 15,000 UZS (85-125 INR). Taxi drivers will try to quote much higher. Once I booked the Taxi from Tashkent city centre to Tashkent Airport using “Yandex Taxi” and paid just 7000 UZS (60 INR). Public bus also runs from Airport to city centre but not very frequent and hard to locate.

9) Public transport: Public transport is very cheap comprising Buses and Metro in Capital city Tashkent. Metro ride is just 1200 Som (10 INR) per ride irrespective of distance traveled but complicated because most people and officials don’t speak English.

10) Metro/Subway: Tashkent metro is the Central Asia’s oldest subway system and was built during soviet era is one of the most beautiful Soviet Subway ever constructed. After the ban on photography in Tashkent metro for 40 years, officials recently lifted the ban in June 2018 because of its role as a nuclear bomb shelter and it’s still nuclear blast proof.

11) Tourist registration: Mandated by Uzbekistan regulation, foreigners travelling to Uzbekistan have to get them registered within 3 days of the arrival in the country and also need the tourist registration once every three nights from hotel or hostel where they are staying, failing to do so, you might have to pay a hefty fine when you leave the country. (Earlier tourist registration for each night in Uzbekistan was required, now they have eased the tourist registration to attract the tourism)

12) Food: Food is inexpensive in Uzbekistan. Its a struggle to find food for Vegetarian in Uzbekistan and its heaven for meat eaters (“Plov” is their national food made with rice and meat). The key is to ask the food “without meat” otherwise Vegetarian means food with less meat. Lots of restaurants serve the authentic local and international cuisines. You must try Uzbek Non (typical Uzbek Bread), Somsa and Shashlik sold everywhere in Uzbekistan.

13) SIM card: For buying a SIM card in Uzbekistan you need to show your Passport as well as confirmation of your registration from hotel or hostel. Major network operators are Ucell, Beeline, UZmobile and UMS.

14) Free Wi-Fi: Most of the hotels and hostels in Uzbekistan offers free Wi-Fi to their customers. Free Wi-Fi is also available in the Airports and at many public places but requires local SIM card for the registration.

Important tips for Russia:

View from a bridge over Moskva River

Photo of Russia by Tourvashu Jaiswal

St. Basil Cathedral at Red Square, Moscow. The most recognizable icon of the Russian Federation

Photo of Russia by Tourvashu Jaiswal

Zaryadye park covered with Snow

Photo of Russia by Tourvashu Jaiswal

Beautiful Cathedrals inside the Moscow Kremlin

Photo of Russia by Tourvashu Jaiswal

GUM - one of the most beautiful Mall in the world located at Red Square, Moscow

Photo of Russia by Tourvashu Jaiswal

Glittering Nikolskaya Street in Moscow

Photo of Russia by Tourvashu Jaiswal

State Historical Museum of Russia

Photo of Russia by Tourvashu Jaiswal

Skyscrapers in Moscow International Business Centre, Russia

Photo of Russia by Tourvashu Jaiswal

Stunning architecture inside Moscow Metro Station

Photo of Russia by Tourvashu Jaiswal

Metro Station (Underground) in Moscow, Russia

Photo of Russia by Tourvashu Jaiswal

Old Arbat Street in Downtown Moscow

Photo of Russia by Tourvashu Jaiswal

State Hermitage Museum at Palace Square in Saint Petersburg

Photo of Russia by Tourvashu Jaiswal

Kazan Cathedral in Saint Petersburg, Russia

Photo of Russia by Tourvashu Jaiswal

Venice of North. All the buildings and canals in SPB can be considered an attraction. Entire Historic Centre in SPB is listed as UNESCO WORLD HERITAGE site.

Photo of Russia by Tourvashu Jaiswal

Frozen Canal in Downtown Saint Petersburg

Photo of Russia by Tourvashu Jaiswal

St. Isaac's Cathedral, Saint Petersburg, Russia

Photo of Russia by Tourvashu Jaiswal

Frozen Neva River in Saint Petersburg

Photo of Russia by Tourvashu Jaiswal

Inside view of Russian Train (24 hours journey from Murmansk to Saint Petersburg)

Photo of Russia by Tourvashu Jaiswal

Outside view from Train window in Russia

Photo of Russia by Tourvashu Jaiswal

1) Language: Here again language is the main barrier while travelling in Russia. Install Google Translate App in your phone and download offline Russian Language for the ease of communication. Though many young people in large cities can speak English.

2) Natives: Russians are very kind and helpful even if they can’t speak English and they will help with the use of Google Translate App.

3) Currency: Currency of Russia is Russian Ruble (RUB). 1 RUB is roughly equals to 1.1 INR (2019). You won’t find Ruble easily in India and it’s very difficult to exchange INR to Ruble in Russia. You can first buy USD in India and then exchange them with RUB at the Airport or any Bank in Russia (you will get better rates in the Bank).

The best way to get the Ruble in Russia is by withdrawing from any ATM by using any International Debit Card or Forex Card. It will save the double conversion charges (first from INR to USD and second from USD to RUB).

4) Migration Card: When you enter Russia, you will get a migration card. It consists of two parts. The first part is collected by the passport/border control officials. The second part is collected while you leave the country.

5) Visa Registration: According to Russian Law, you need your visa to get registered with local police station or post office if you stay for more than 7 business days in Russian Federation.

In most of the cases, hotel or hostel where you are staying will do it for you for free (some smaller hotels or hostels may charges you small amount 200 to 1000 RUB). Foreign nationals can’t register themselves by their own. If you are staying in an Apartment or private home then it is the responsibility of your host to get your registration done. There are very small chances that you may be asked by officials to show your registration. Failing to do so, you might have to pay a hefty fine when you leave the country.

6) SIM Card: SIM card can be bought from the arrival hall at any International Airport in Russia by just providing your passport. Many SIM card operators are available such as MEGAFONE, MTS, Beeline, Tele2, etc. I bought MEGAFONE SIM for 500 Ruble (INR 550) for unlimited calling in home circle and unlimited 4G internet throughout Russia with the validity of 1 month. It has fastest internet speed and good coverage in all the cities as well as decent coverage in between the cities.

7) Free Wi-Fi in Moscow: Buses, trams, trolleybuses, metro (underground) and many suburban trains provide free public Wi-Fi. You need to register first by providing your mobile number. Most of the hotels, hostels and restaurants in Moscow provide free Wi-Fi to their customers. Many streets, parks, public places in downtown Moscow also have free Wi-Fi access. All the Airports in Moscow provide free Wi-Fi after the registration with the Russian Mobile number.

8) Free Wi-Fi in Saint Petersburg: Airport (Pulkovo 1 & Pulkovo 2) and three main train stations (Ladozhsky, Moskovsky and Baltiisky) in Saint Petersburg provide free public Wi-Fi. Most of the hotels, hostels and restaurants in SPB provide free Wi-Fi to their customers. Public transports in SPB also provide free Wi-Fi. Some public places and parks have free Wi-Fi access too.

9) Taxi: Unlike Uzbekistan, taxi is expensive in Russia. You can use taxi aggregator apps such as Yandex Taxi, Gett, Uber, etc. Most of the taxi drivers don’t speak English.

10) Public Transport: Moscow and Saint Petersburg have excellent Public transport systems, very frequent, reliable and very cheap comprising Metro, Buses, Trolleybuses and Trams. In smaller cities such as Murmansk, Buses and Trolleybuses are prevalent.

11) Reusable Travel Card in Moscow: In Moscow you can buy re-loadable “TROIKA Card” for 50 RUB from any Metro Station which can be used in any public transport (Metro, Bus, Trolleybus or Tram) for just 32 RUB (35 INR) per ride irrespective of distance traveled. Without “TROIKA Card”, you can also purchase separate single ride ticket and it cost 50 RUB per ride. Several unlimited travel ticket is also available for 1, 3 and 7 days. All the stations and stops are written and announced in English along with Russian.

12) Reusable Travel Card in Saint Petersburg: In Saint Petersburg you can buy re-loadable “PODOROZHNIK Card” for 60 RUB from any metro station which can be used in any public transport (Metro, Bus, Trolleybus or Tram) for just 36 RUB (40 INR) per ride irrespective of distance traveled. Without “PODOROZHNIK Card”, you can also purchase a separate single ride ticket and it cost 45 RUB per ride. Several unlimited travel ticket is also available for up to 7 days. All the notifications for stations and stops are written and announced in English along with Russian.

13) Airport Transfer in Moscow: For transfer from any Airport in Moscow, you can use “AeroExpress” train service which connects to metro station in the city centre and departs in every 30 minutes for 500 RUB. Several public buses also run from all the Airports to metro station and cost around 100 RUB but it’s not easy to locate and it takes much more time.

14) Airport Transfer in Saint Petersburg: For Airport transfer in Saint Petersburg, you can use public bus or minibus which connects with the Moskovskays metro station in the city centre and departs in every 20 minutes for 40 RUB (extra charges for multiple pieces of luggage).

Murmansk & Teriberka:

With my Host in Murmansk, Kola Peninsula

Photo of How I Backpacked Solo in Uzbekistan, Russia & Kazakhstan in shoestring budget (8 Cities,3 Countries) by Tourvashu Jaiswal

Murmansk City Centre. One of the world’s most northerly inhabited places

Photo of How I Backpacked Solo in Uzbekistan, Russia & Kazakhstan in shoestring budget (8 Cities,3 Countries) by Tourvashu Jaiswal

Everything Frozen in Murmansk. Temperature -20 Degree Celsius.

Photo of How I Backpacked Solo in Uzbekistan, Russia & Kazakhstan in shoestring budget (8 Cities,3 Countries) by Tourvashu Jaiswal

Peak hour Traffic in Murmansk Region

Photo of How I Backpacked Solo in Uzbekistan, Russia & Kazakhstan in shoestring budget (8 Cities,3 Countries) by Tourvashu Jaiswal

Murmansk Railway Station, one of the northernmost Railway Passenger service in the World.

Photo of How I Backpacked Solo in Uzbekistan, Russia & Kazakhstan in shoestring budget (8 Cities,3 Countries) by Tourvashu Jaiswal

I was the only passenger on the bus from Murmansk Airport to Murmansk City Centre.

Photo of How I Backpacked Solo in Uzbekistan, Russia & Kazakhstan in shoestring budget (8 Cities,3 Countries) by Tourvashu Jaiswal

The Real Beauty of Universe - Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis).

Photo of How I Backpacked Solo in Uzbekistan, Russia & Kazakhstan in shoestring budget (8 Cities,3 Countries) by Tourvashu Jaiswal

Northern Lights (Polar Lights) - God used beautiful mathematics in creating the World. The Earth has Music for those who listen.

Photo of How I Backpacked Solo in Uzbekistan, Russia & Kazakhstan in shoestring budget (8 Cities,3 Countries) by Tourvashu Jaiswal

With Siberian Huskies - The kindest Dogs in the World!

Photo of How I Backpacked Solo in Uzbekistan, Russia & Kazakhstan in shoestring budget (8 Cities,3 Countries) by Tourvashu Jaiswal

Feeding Reindeer!

Photo of How I Backpacked Solo in Uzbekistan, Russia & Kazakhstan in shoestring budget (8 Cities,3 Countries) by Tourvashu Jaiswal

At Sami Village (Laplanders). The Sami are an indigenous people of the Northernmost in Norway, Sweden, Finland and Russia.

Photo of How I Backpacked Solo in Uzbekistan, Russia & Kazakhstan in shoestring budget (8 Cities,3 Countries) by Tourvashu Jaiswal

Teriberka - One of the last inhabited village in the North Pole of the Earth.

Photo of How I Backpacked Solo in Uzbekistan, Russia & Kazakhstan in shoestring budget (8 Cities,3 Countries) by Tourvashu Jaiswal

Arctic Tundra. Miles away from Home.

Photo of How I Backpacked Solo in Uzbekistan, Russia & Kazakhstan in shoestring budget (8 Cities,3 Countries) by Tourvashu Jaiswal

Snow Mobile Safari on the Coast of Arctic Ocean

Photo of How I Backpacked Solo in Uzbekistan, Russia & Kazakhstan in shoestring budget (8 Cities,3 Countries) by Tourvashu Jaiswal

Mighty Arctic Ocean

Photo of How I Backpacked Solo in Uzbekistan, Russia & Kazakhstan in shoestring budget (8 Cities,3 Countries) by Tourvashu Jaiswal

Coast of Arctic Ocean

Photo of How I Backpacked Solo in Uzbekistan, Russia & Kazakhstan in shoestring budget (8 Cities,3 Countries) by Tourvashu Jaiswal

Arctic Ocean, Teriberka, Russia.

Photo of How I Backpacked Solo in Uzbekistan, Russia & Kazakhstan in shoestring budget (8 Cities,3 Countries) by Tourvashu Jaiswal

Thousands of Miles of only Freezing Water and Ice, Teriberka.

Photo of How I Backpacked Solo in Uzbekistan, Russia & Kazakhstan in shoestring budget (8 Cities,3 Countries) by Tourvashu Jaiswal

Teriberka, Russia

Photo of How I Backpacked Solo in Uzbekistan, Russia & Kazakhstan in shoestring budget (8 Cities,3 Countries) by Tourvashu Jaiswal

1) Tourists hardly travel to Murmansk in Kola Peninsula. It’s very offbeat location, much away from touristy places. It’s a city without Sunlight for 24 hours in winters and 24 hours of Sunlight in summers. Temperature in winters can go as low as -25 degree Celsius in Murmansk.

2) Murmansk: Murmansk is a city in the extreme north of Russia and the world’s largest city beyond the Arctic Circle. It is one of the world’s most northerly inhabited places. Passengers and cargo line can go no further.

3) Teriberka: Teriberka is located between the Barents Sea and the snow covered hills on the coast of Arctic Ocean, 132 km north of Murmansk and requires the warmest clothes. It is one of the most picturesque places in the Arctic region and one of the last inhabited village in the North pole of the Earth with the population of merely 957 (Source:Wikipedia).

4) How to Reach Murmansk: You can reach Murmansk by road, train or flight from Moscow as well as from Saint Petersburg. Train and road takes around 36 hours from Moscow and 24 hours from SPB. Flight takes around 3 hours from Moscow and 2 hours from SPB. After thorough research, I took flight from Moscow to Murmansk and Train from Murmansk to SPB.

5) Airport Transfer in Murmansk: Murmansk Airport is located 30 km outside the city centre and takes 1 hour to reach the city. You can either take taxi or public bus (bus number 106) from Airport to Murmansk city centre. Taxi cost around 1000 RUB and public bus for 90 RUB (departs every 30 minutes).

6) ***Attention***: Although Murmansk is a part of Russian Federation, as soon as I arrived at Murmansk Airport, Russian officials detained and interrogated me because foreigners hardly travel solo to Murmansk (that too from India). They investigated me thoroughly for entire 1 hour, inquiring all my details such as Passport, valid visa, return ticket leaving Murmansk, how long and where I’m staying in Murmansk, what I do in my home country, which previous countries I have visited, etc.

They checked every single photo in my phone, even checked my all WhatsApp conversation. Then they took the contact number and called the place where I was going to stay and the Russian travel company from whom I took the tour for Northern Lights, Sami Village excursion and trip to Teriberka-Arctic Ocean.

At last before allowing me to enter Murmansk, they clicked the photo of my visa, address where I was staying and noted all my other credentials. So make sure you have all the valid bookings of transportation and accommodation before reaching Murmansk and thank me later. It was completely horrifying for 1 hour in foreign country. Officials don’t speak English and all the conversation was done using Google Translator App.

7) How and where to book the tour/day trip in Murmansk and Teriberka: After thorough research and contacting several travel companies personally in Murmansk, I booked three different tours for Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis), Sami Village Excursion with Husky park and Teriberka-Arctic Ocean day trip from travel company “Russian Freedom” (earlier the name was Arctic Freedom). I negotiated with them and I was offered the cheapest price among all on condition of promoting and suggesting their travel company among travel communities. “Russian Freedom” provides numerous tours in Murmansk region. Now they have extended their offerings in other parts of Russia as well. You can book with them in advance and can get good discount by referring my name. They will pick you and drop anywhere in the Murmansk City Centre. Email Id: mail@arctic-freedom.com, Website: www.arctic-freedom.com

8) Murmansk Railway Station and train in Russia: Murmansk Railway Station is located in the main city centre. From Murmansk Railway Station I boarded the train to Saint Petersburg (booked in advance, duration 24 hours). Railway ticket cost half the price of flight and the view is very scenic and mesmerizing passing through tundra and snow laden region, you will feel like travelling in Switzerland. Trains are very punctual and very clean. Staffs are also very friendly and speak only Russian. Hot water is provided for free, for everything else you have to pay. You can buy food and snacks on board. You can carry your own food and snacks in train. Train arrives in the main city centre in Saint Petersburg and Metro station connects within the train station in SPB.

9) Language: I struggled a lot and didn’t find anyone speaking English in Murmansk apart from Tour guides, managers of Hotels/Hostels and of course my lovely host. Although people don't speak English in Murmanks, they will try their best to help and guide you.

10) Winters in Murmansk region: Extreme winter of Murmansk region is unbearable when the temperature reaches -25 degree Celsius. Indian winter garments doesn’t work well in Murmansk. I asked for the snow kit from the travel company and they provided me the entire snow kit (snow jacket, snow trousers and snow boots) for free for all the day I was in Murmansk. You must carry snow gloves and snow cap with you from India.

11) Food, Restaurant and Super Market: If you are vegetarian then it’s very hard to find vegetarian food in Murmansk until you cook it yourself. Many international fast food restaurants are there in Murmansk such as McDonalds, Burger King, Subways, KFC, etc. You can find many super markets in Murmansk from where you can buy all your daily needs.

12) Travel within city: For travelling within the Murmansk city you can either use public buses or taxi (by booking through online apps).

13) SIM Card and Network: SIM card which I had purchased from the Airport in Moscow worked flawlessly in Murmansk, Teriberka and Saint Petersburg with 4G connectivity.

Important tips for Kazakhstan:

Falcon Show in Almaty, Kazakhstan

Photo of Kazakhstan by Tourvashu Jaiswal

Zenkov Cathedral in Almaty is made out of wood but without nails

Photo of Kazakhstan by Tourvashu Jaiswal

Local Market in Almaty, Kazakhstan

Photo of Kazakhstan by Tourvashu Jaiswal

Zeleny Bazaar (Green Market) in Almaty-Kazakhstan inaugurated in 1875

Photo of Kazakhstan by Tourvashu Jaiswal

Zeleny Bazaar (Green Market) in Almaty is more than 100 Years old City Trade Market in Kazakhstan

Photo of Kazakhstan by Tourvashu Jaiswal

Local eatery Shop in Almaty, Kazakhstan

Photo of Kazakhstan by Tourvashu Jaiswal

A Turkish Restaurant in Almaty, Kazakhstan

Photo of Kazakhstan by Tourvashu Jaiswal

Almaty Central Mosque

Photo of Kazakhstan by Tourvashu Jaiswal

Shymbulak Ski Resort near Almaty, Kazakhstan

Photo of Kazakhstan by Tourvashu Jaiswal

Medeo - Skating Ice Rink of Almaty-Kazakhstan

Photo of Kazakhstan by Tourvashu Jaiswal

Frozen Big Almaty Lake in Trans-ili Alatau Mountains in Kazakhstan

Photo of Kazakhstan by Tourvashu Jaiswal

Big Almaty Lake is a Natural Alpine Reservoir 2511 meters above Sea Level

Photo of Kazakhstan by Tourvashu Jaiswal

Upside-Down House and Giant Ferris Wheel in Kok Tobe Hill, Almaty, Kazakhstan

Photo of Kazakhstan by Tourvashu Jaiswal

Kok Tobe Recreation Park, Almaty-Kazakhstan

Photo of Kazakhstan by Tourvashu Jaiswal

Kok-Tobe Hills in Almaty, Kazakhstan

Photo of Kazakhstan by Tourvashu Jaiswal

Panoramic View of Almaty City from Kok-Tobe Hills, Kazakhstan

Photo of Kazakhstan by Tourvashu Jaiswal

1) Kazakhstan is the world’s largest landlocked country and largest central Asian country. It is most economically advanced nation among all the “stans”. Being a former part of Soviet Union (USSR), it’s one of the safest countries to travel. People of more than 130 nationalities lives in Kazakhstan.

Almaty is the largest and most populous city in Kazakhstan and served as Kazakh’s Capital from 1929 to 1997. It a major commercial and cultural centre of Kazakhstan surrounded by snow capped mountains.

Astana (renamed to Nur-Sultan in 2019) is quite a new city and took over as Capital from Almaty in 1997.

2) Almaty: Almaty is a large metropolitan and like Tashkent in Uzbekistan, most of the sightseeing places in Almaty are far away from each other. Most of the infrastructure and development in Kazakhstan dates back to the Soviet era.

3) Language: Kazakhstan being a former part of Soviet Union, language is the main barrier when you travel in the country. Kazakh is the national Language and most of the people understand Russian, so install Google Translate App in your phone and download offline Russian Language.

4) Taxi: Same as Uzbekistan, taxi is cheap in Kazakhstan compared to the other countries. Here also every car on the road is a potential taxi. Just flag any normal car by raising your hand on the street (make sure you have the exact address beforehand) and negotiate as per your budget. You can also book Taxi through the mobile application “Yandex Taxi”. Uber is also operational in Almaty but it’s less frequent.

5) Airport Transfer in Almaty: For the transfer from Almaty Airport to Almaty city centre, you can take a public bus (bus number 92) for 80 KZT (16 INR). It stops in front of the arrival area and departs every one hour.

6) Currency: Currency of Kazakhstan is Kazakhstani Tenge (KZT). Roughly 1 INR = 5 KZT. Here again you cannot convert INR to KZT directly but you can exchange USD to KZT in the Airport or from local vendors. Most of the Hotels and Hostels also convert USD to KZT without charging much commission. You can simply use your International Debit Card or Forex Card to withdraw the KZT from any ATM in Kazakhstan.

7) Public Transport: Public transport is very cheap in Almaty comprising Buses, Trolleybuses, Trams and Metro. Metro ride is just 80 KZT (16 INR) per ride irrespective of distance traveled. Tram ride is also 80 KZT in cash. Bus ride cost 150 KZT (30 INR) in cash or 80 KZT (16 INR) using “ONAY TRAVEL CARD”.

8) Registration Card: While entering Kazakhstan, you will get a white Registration Card (most probably you will get the card in the flight itself). Fill the card and retain it throughout your stay in Kazakhstan.

9) Tourist Registration: Mandated by Kazakhstan regulation, foreigners who need an Invitation Letter for travelling to Kazakhstan have to get them registered within 5 days of arrival with the MIGRATION POLICE (OVIR); if you stay for less than 5 days then you do not need registration. Failing to do so, you might have to pay a hefty fine when you leave the country. If you are travelling or transiting on the visa free regime (like I did) then you do not need registration any more.

10) Food: I found that the cost of food in Restaurants in Almaty is almost same as in any Metro cities in India. Many international fast food restaurants are there in Almaty such as McDonalds, Burger King, KFC, etc. It would be a bit struggle for vegetarians to find the food in Kazakhstan. I prefer to cook my own.

11) SIM Card: SIM card can be bought from Airport as well as from numerous shops in the city by registering with your Passport. Major network operators are Beeline, Kcell, Altel and Tele2.

12) Free Wi-Fi: Most of the international fast food restaurants in Almaty such as McDonalds, Burger King, KFC, etc provide free open Wi-Fi without any registration to the visitors even if you don’t purchase anything with them.

Most of the hotels and hostels in Almaty offers free Wi-Fi to their customers. I was also able to use free Wi-Fi in the Almaty Airport after registering with my Russian number.

The thing with travelling is, once you realize how exciting and gratified it is.. the craving get worse!

PS: This trip completely changed my perspective towards Central Asia and former Soviet Countries (USSR) :)

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4 Comment(s)
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Thank you so much for your appreciation.
Thu 05 09 19, 15:46 · Reply · Report
Super
Tue 05 07 19, 19:22 · Reply · Report
Super
Tue 05 07 19, 19:22 · Reply · Report
This is amazing to view and learn your travel places. Good piece of knowledge and very useful for the solo travellers. Thanks for sharing.
Sun 04 28 19, 12:59 · Reply · Report
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