3-Day NurSultan Itinerary And Travel Guide w/ Budget All-in

3-Day NurSultan Itinerary with OverAll Budget & Travel Guide

By DAN FORTEZA

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The city of Astana, now called NurSultan, was my first stop on an extended Central Asian adventure last October 2019. Known today as Kazakhstan’s futuristic capital city, NurSultan certainly is a tough place to live because of its harsh cold climate but still, it is well worth a short visit. You can see NurSultan’s main sights and its fascinating buildings in a couple of days. That’s why to help you jumpstart your next holiday here, I’ve put together the perfect 3-day Nursultan budget itinerary and travel guide which includes my overall travel expenses! Are you ready?

Hi there! First of all, I am Daniel – a solo backpacker from the Philippines. If you don’t know my story yet, feel free to read this article where I talked about how I quit my job in order to travel. This article was also featured on TripZilla Philippines.

A dinner treat from a Kazakh friend Akniyet on my first night in NurSultan | Dantravels.org
A dinner treat from a Kazakh friend Akniyet on my first night in NurSultan | Dantravels.org

DO YOU NEED A VISA FOR KAZAKHSTAN?

First things first–do you need a visa to enter Kazakhstan? Well, depending on your nationality, you may or may not need a visa. See the information below which category you fall in. Other countries not listed below require a Kazakh visa.

Citizens of the following countries and territories can visit Kazakhstan without a visa:

*90 days
Armenia
Azerbaijan
Belarus
Georgia
Kyrgyzstan
Moldova
Mongolia
Russia
Ukraine

**30 days
Argentina
Brazil
Ecuador
Serbia
South Korea
Tajikistan
Turkey
United Arab Emirates
Uzbekistan

***14 days
Hong Kong

Citizens of the following countries do not require a visa for stays of fewer than 30 days as part of a visa-free policy for countries with the large foreign direct investment in Kazakhstan’s economy:

All European Union citizens
Australia
Bahrain
Canada
Chile
Colombia
Iceland
Indonesia
Israel
Japan
Kuwait
Liechtenstein
Malaysia
Mexico
Monaco
New Zealand
Norway
Oman
Philippines
Qatar
Saudi Arabia
Singapore
Switzerland
Thailand
United States
Vatican City
Vietnam

With my Philippine passport, I fell under the visa-free program and was able to enter Kazakhstan through NurSultan airport with no issues last October 2019!

Well wait, not really… The visa-free program of Kazakhstan for Filipinos was just recently announced and took effect on September 30, 2019. I was backpacking in Tehran, Iran that time when it was announced. So I actually entered Kazakhstan through NurSultan airport a few days after it took effect. And upon checking in to my airline carrier, I waited for almost AN HOUR because the airline crews are verifying if Filipinos can really enter Kazakhstan visa-free. But anyway, the important thing is GOT IN and got my boarding pass! 

WHERE IS NURSULTAN (ASTANA)?

Nursultan, formerly named Astana, is located in central Kazakhstan on the Ishim River in a very flat, semi-arid steppe region which covers most of the country’s territory. It is a little more than 3-hour flight away from Moscow and roughly a 4 ½-hour flight from Dubai.

NOTE:  In March 2019, the city was renamed NurSultan after the departing Kazakh president, Nursultan Nazarbayev.

Language: Kazakh and Russian
Currency: Kazakhstani Tenge (KZT)
Airport: TSE
Preferred mode of transportation: Bus
Time Zone: GMT +6

FLIGHTS TO NURSULTAN (ASTANA):

Finding a cheap flight ticket to NurSultan from Europe and the Middle East is relatively easy. In my case, I got a direct flight coming from Yerevan, Armenia to NurSultan, Kazakhstan. My flight carrier was SCAT Airlines.
I suggest you check Kayak (click HERE) as they usually offer cheap fare rates compared to other booking sites.

HOW TO GET AROUND NURSULTAN?

    • By Bus. NurSultan has an excellent city bus network, with bus route maps shown at many bus stops. Buses start between 6:00 AM and 7:00 AM and finish between 10:00 PM and 11:00 PM. Single-trip tickets cost 180 KZT (0.52 USD) if you pay by cash. The very useful 2GIS offline map app helps you plot your route and shows you in real-time which numbered buses are due to arrive at which bus stop. The 2GIS app also works even without internet data.

NOTE: It is cheaper if you pay by card costing to only 90 KZT (0.26 USD) but I don’t really recommend it for short-term travelers.

    • By Foot. Get your feet ready as you will walk to many places in Astana, too. Just make sure you are dressed appropriately depending on how cold the outside temperature is. And as I mentioned in my budget travel tips blog – “walk as much as you can!
    • By Taxi. Taxis are excellent but rather expensive. Also, Uber works in NurSultan.

HOW I GOT TO THE CITY:

I arrived at Nursultan Nazarbayev International Airport (TSE)  at around 5:00 AM from a 3-hour flight from Yerevan, Armenia.

To get from NurSultan airport to the city center, you need to take either bus or taxi. I took the bus since I’m on a budget. I don’t really remember which bus number it was but I was told by a local that it goes to the city center.

Using my pre-downloaded Google Maps (I wasn’t aware of the 2GIS app yet), I got off near the Infiniti Apartment Building along Qabanbay Batyr Avenue where my hostel (Hostel Infiniti) is 3 to 5 minutes walk.

Later that day, I searched on 2GIS app which buses run from/to the airport and those are buses 10, 12 and 100. It should cost you 180 KZT (0.52 USD).

OMG NOTE: I actually did not pay for the bus fare on my way to downtown NurSultan from the airport. Because I only have 10,000 KZT (highest banknote denomination in Kazakhstan) with me which was freshly withdrawn from the ATM, the bus driver refused to accept my payment as he has no change to give. He also does not speak English at all so communicating is such a challenge. So I just sat down in silence. When the bus stops at my preferred location, I just simply exited the bus door alongside with others as if I have no payment issue. OMG!

WHERE DID I STAY?

  • Hostel Infiniti (click here to book)
    • Hostel room type: Bunk Bed in Male Dormitory Room
    • Hostel rate: 1,700 KZT (4.4 USD) per night
    • How to get there:  3 to 5 minutes walk from the nearest bus stop

NOTE: This hostel is in a big apartment building. That’s why it was a challenge and a bit confusing for me to find this hostel as there so many entrance /exit doors in the building. Good thing there was a local Kazakh who helped me find my hostel. I gave him the phone number of the hostel and he called the owner. Phewww, I was about to die from the outside cold!

Anyway, you can book a room at any hotel in Astana through Agoda or Booking.com. I usually book my room accommodations through booking.com. Room accommodation ranges from cheap hostels to luxury hotels. Book hostels through booking.com as they have free cancellation or pay-at-the-hotel option.

Use my link to book your hostel and you’ll get 10% of your booking back after your stay. Click this link to get that discount.

If Astana hotel isn’t to your liking, try AirBnb. Airbnbs are immersed in neighborhoods, condos, and townhomes. There is a feeling you get when you stay in an Airbnb that makes you feel like you belong in that city or town. Since it is someone’s home, there is a certain amount of pride you feel while staying there. I have used Airbnb on some of my other trips and I loved it!

If you’re new to AirBnB, then you can get up to 42 USD free travel credit by signing up via this link.

MY 3-DAY NURSULTAN ITINERARY

DAY 1:

1st Stop: Bayterek Tower

This tower is meant to embody a folktale about a mythical tree of life and a magic bird of happiness: the bird, named Samruk, had laid its egg in the crevice between two branches of a popular tree.

Bayterek Tower from my Nursultan Itinerary (Astana)
The iconic Bayterek Tower | Dantravels.org
    • Duration (getting there + visiting): 1-2 hours
    • How I got here: By Bus (using my 2GIS Maps app)

2nd Stop: City Park

The City Park in Astana is huge. Lots of things to see and do with the sculptures, the Presidential Palace at one end and past that is the Presidential gardens which are magnificent and lovely green space.

Nursultan City Park
City Park | Dantravels.org
    • Duration (getting there + visiting): 1-2 hours
    • How I got here: By foot from Bayterek Tower

3rd Stop: NurAstana Mosque

As a non-Muslim, I have not visited many mosques but found this one welcoming, bright, and peaceful. The external architecture attracts and internally the big open space and carpets created a sense of calm. It’s free and worth a visit regardless of your religious affiliation.

NurAstana Mosque
NurAstana Mosque | Dantravels.org
    • Duration (getting there + visiting): 1-2 hours
    • How I got here: By foot from the City Park

4th Stop: Lover’s Park

Don’t worry–it’s not really a park only for lovers! Haha. It is a lovely walk, a vast open space with lots of activities for children and for anyone really!

Lover's Park in Nursultan
Lover's Park | Dantravels.org
    • Duration (getting there + visiting): 1-2 hours
    • How I got here: By Bus (using my 2GIS Maps app)

5th Stop: The National Opera Building

The national opera building in Astana is beautiful. From an exterior perspective, the modern building was designed as a classical temple, complete with columns and tympanum.

The National Opera Building
The National Opera Building | Dantravels.org
    • Duration (getting there + visiting): 1-2 hours
    • How I got here: By foot from the Lover’s Park

6th Stop: Khan Shatyr

Khan Shatyr which literally means ‘Royal Marquee’ is said to be NurSultan’s most extraordinary building (so far). It may resemble a leaning circus tent from the outside, but it is actually a big shopping mall with various attractions (e.g. food court, swimming pool, sandy beach, water slide, etc.)

Khan Shatyr in Astana
Khan Shatyr | Dantravels.org
    • Duration (getting there + visiting): 1-2 hours
    • How I got here: By foot from Opera Building

DAY 2:

7th Stop: Palace of Peace and Reconciliation

A monumental pyramid-shaped building built and completed in 2006 to commemorate the Meeting of Congress of Leaders worldwide and traditional religions.

Palace of Peace and Reconciliation
Palace of Peace and Reconciliation | Dantravels.org
    • Duration (getting there + visiting): 1-2 hours
    • How I got here: By Bus (using my 2GIS Maps app)

8th Stop: Independence Square and Kazak Eli Monument

It was great to see this monument and photograph it. It looks majestic and is right across the Palace of Peace and Reconciliation. This was one monument in Astana that I wanted to see most of all, and it looks stately.

Independence Square and Kazak Eli Monument
Independence Square and Kazak Eli Monument | Dantravels.org
    • Duration (getting there + visiting): 1-2 hours
    • How I got here: By foot from the Palace of Peace and Reconciliation.

9th Stop: Hazret Sultan Mosque

The Hazret Sultan Mosque is the second largest mosque in Central Asia after Turkmenbasy Ruhy Mosque. It is mostly visible from many places in Astana, the mosque stands out whichever aspect it is viewed from.

Hazret Sultan Mosque
Hazret Sultan Mosque | Dantravels.org
    • Duration (getting there + visiting): 1-2 hours
    • How I got here: By foot from the Kazak Eli Monument.

10th Stop: Kazakhstan Military History Museum

I was very impressed by the exhibits and thought that it was the best in Astana. The Museum is designed as a yurt (Kazakh nomad’s home). The museum had external exhibits of WW2 equipment in a small display area to the left of the museum, and many sculptures of ancient warriors around the museum. The chariot sculpture at the main entrance was the most impressive.

Kazakhstan Military History Museum
Kazakhstan Military History Museum | Dantravels.org
    • Duration (getting there + visiting): 1-2 hours
    • How I got here: By Bus (using my 2GIS Maps app)

11th Stop: Quay Astana Bridge

This is an amazing place to visit in Astana. You can walk on the bridge on the river–it’s a very nicely built architectural structure.

Quay Astana
Quay Astana | Dantravels.org
    • Duration (getting there + visiting): 1-2 hours
    • How I got here: By foot from the Military History Museum

DAY 3:

12th Stop: Triumphal Arch Mangilik El

Another of Astana’s monuments and it is in the center of a roundabout in the city. There are underground passes to get to the monument, and this is your best chance to take a pic with an ‘I love Astana’ sign in it. 

Triumphal Arch Mangilik El
Triumphal Arch Mangilik El | Dantravels.org
    • Duration (getting there + visiting): 1-2 hours
    • How I got here: By Bus (using my 2GIS Maps app)

13th Stop: Expo 2017 Complex

The design of the building in itself is amazing, a true engineering marvel. Each floor houses a unique exhibition to educate the public about, wind, solar, hydroelectric energy sources, etc. to help mankind sustain life on planet earth and the future it holds for our survival.

Expo 2017 Complex
Expo 2017 Complex | Dantravels.org
    • Duration (getting there + visiting): 1-2 hours
    • How I got here: By foot from the Triumphal Arch.

14th Stop: MEGA Silk Way

Just across the expo site sits this brand new shopping center. There are many restaurants available for all budgets. It’s also a good option for spending a long layover from the airport as it is fairly close to it.

MEGA Silk Way
MEGA Silk Way | Dantravels.org
    • Duration (getting there + visiting): 1-2 hours
    • How I got here: By foot from Expo 2017 Building

On my last day in NurSultan, I stayed with a Kazakh host from Couchsurfing. His name is Darkhan and he calls me Teddy Bear because he said I look like one. Haha!

Darkhan a couchsurfer from Nursultan Kazakhstan
Darkhan and I with the meal he prepared | Dantravels.org

MY 3-DAY EXPENSES IN NURSULTAN

  • Day 0 (Arrival, Rest)
    • 206 USD (79,135 KZT) – Yerevan to NurSultan flight
    • 0 KZT – Airport to the Hostel (See my note above on “how I got to the city”)
    • 5,100 KZT – 3 Night stay at Hostel Infiniti
    • 1,717 KZT – Groceries (Rice, Canned Tuna, Noodles, Coffee)
    • 300 KZT – Laundry at Hostel
    • NOTE: It’s OK to cook at the hostel I stayed in. 
    • Subtotal: 86,252 KZT (224.5 USD)
  • Day 1
    • 180 KZT – Bus fare from Hostel to a bus stop near Bayterek Tower
    • 180 KZT – Bus fare from Bayterek Tower to a bus stop near Lover’s Park
    • 90 KZT – Food (bread)
    • 250 KZT – Drink (Orange Juice)
    • 90 KZT – Food (bread)
    • 180 KZT – Bus fare from a bus stop near Khan Shatyr to Hostel
    • Subtotal: 970 KZT (2.53 USD)
  • Day 2
    • 180 KZT – Bus fare from Hostel to a bus stop near the Palace of Peace
    • 180 KZT – Bus fare from a bus stop near Hazret Mosque to Kazakh Military Museum
    • 240 KZT – Food (2 x hotdog with bread)
    • 300 KZT – Drink (Orange Juice)
    • 180 KZT – Bus fare from a bus stop near Quay Astana to Hostel
    • Subtotal: 2,050 KZT (5.34 USD)
  • Day 3
    • 180 KZT – Bus fare from Hostel to the Triumphal Arch
    • 1,200 KZT – Combo Meal at Burger King (MEGA Silkway Mall)
    • 312 KZT – Food (Raisin Bread)
    • 130 KZT – Drink (Bottled Water)
    • 180 KZT – Bus fare from a bus stop near MEGA silk way to my Couchsurfing host’s apartment
    • Subtotal: 2,002 KZT (5.21 USD)
  • Day 4 (Departure)
    • 6811 KZT – Train ticket from Nursultan to Almaty. I booked it online with the help of my friend Akniyet.
    • 180 KZT – Bus fare from Hostel to Airport Bus #50 transfer
    • 180 KZT – Bus fare from bus transfer to train station
    • 230 KZT – Food (Pie cake)
    • Subtotal: 7,401 KZT (19.27 USD)

Read also my Almaty budget itinerary and travel guide blog.

Total Expenses: 256.8 USD (13,024 PHP)

What do you think of this 3-day Nursultan itinerary?

I hope that you find this 3-DAY NURSULTAN BUDGET ITINERARY and TRAVEL GUIDE blog useful!

If you have any questions, please feel free to ask in the comment section below.

RECOMMENDED PACKAGE TOURS

In case you’re also looking for package tours to simply jumpstart your actual itinerary, I highly recommend booking tours through Viator which is perfect for your NurSultan (Astana) itinerary. See tours and packages I personally handpicked for you:

BOOKING ESSENTIALS

  • Hotel / Hostel
    • Booking.com. I usually book my hostel accommodation at booking.com. Thus, I recommend you guys trying it for your Astana itinerary.  Room accommodation ranges from cheap hostels to luxury hotels. Book hostels through booking.com as they have free cancellation or pay-at-the-hotel option.
    • Airbnb. Try Airbnb in finding comfy and cozy rooms for your Astana itinerary! I have used Airbnb on some of my other trips and I loved it!

Have you tried Airbnb? Sign up with my link and you will get up to 42 USD (2,200 Php) off your first stay. Click this link to get that discount.

  • Flights
    • KAYAK. All of my flight bookings are all from KAYAK. Kayak is one of the world’s leading travel search engines and searches hundreds of travel sites.

I suggest you check Kayak (click HERE) as they usually offer cheap fare rates compared to other booking sites.

  • Train ticket
    •  Tickets KZ. Click HERE to book train ticket from NurSultan to Almaty.
  •  Kazakhstan Package tours
    • Viator. Viator is the world’s leading resource for researching, finding and booking the best travel experiences worldwide.

Click HERE to find the best Viator deals in Astana

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