15 Photos
  • Kazakhstan
  • Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan Explorer with Shymkent Otrar and Turkistan Mini Tour

Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan Explorer with Shymkent Otrar and Turkistan Mini Tour

12 Day Escorted Tour With 6 Day Extension

Kazakhstan, Central Asia

On this 5-night extension, immerse yourself in Central Asia's finest exhibition of vibrant Islamic architecture. Discover a rich culture laying in the heart of the ancient Silk Road.

2022 Dossier

2023 Dossier

Tour Highlights

  • Discover Shymkent in the south of Kazakhstan
  • Explore Kazakhstan's Capital Nur-Sultan
  • Marvel at Medeo's skating rink & venture to the alpine resort of Shymbulak
  • Journey through the Tien Shan mountains to Almaty Lake
  • Experience a Spectacular Falcon show
  • Discover Charyn Canyon and the Eco village
  • Wander the city of Karakol
  • Visit the Ancient Petroglyphs of Cholpon-Ata
  • Unwind at a guest house nestled in the lush mountains of Chon Kemin
  • Enjoy a tour of Kyrgyzstan's capital Bishkek, the gateway to Ala Archa National park
Number of nights

This map is for the main tour only


Day 1
UK to Nur-Sultan

Depart London on your scheduled overnight flight to Kazakhstan's capital city, previously known as Astana, now Nur-Sultan, via Istanbul.

Day 2

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Upon arrival at the airport early this morning, you will be met by your local guide and transferred to your hotel. Enjoy a relaxing breakfast and morning before being taken on a walking tour of the city after lunch. As well as taking in the architectural wonders that crown this sprawling metropolis, a trip to the National Museum of the Republic of Kazakhstan, famed for its blue-glass-and-white-marble facade, will allow for a full historical and cultural immersion from ancient to modern times. Replete with an incredible collection of artefacts across several themed halls and numerous interactive displays, there is much to discover at this magnificent museum. Be sure to check out the Golden Hall which houses thousands of Bronze Age ornaments, including the famed 'Golden Man' - a 3rd or 4th century warrior whose gold clad remains were uncovered in 1969 and remain the prevailing national symbol of Kazakhstan. After this, observe the awe-inspiring Nur Alem monument; an utterly breath-taking example of human ingenuity, this legacy of the 'Future Energy' Expo 2017 stands at an astonishing height of 80 meters and is the world's largest spherical building. Tonight, enjoy a welcome dinner.

Day 3

Breakfast & Lunch

Set off on a tour offering a new perspective on the city, including a visit to the majestic Palace of Peace and Accord - a 77 metre high pyramid and one of Kazakhstan's most striking cultural landmarks. An imposing symbol of unity, it hosts delegates from all of the world's major religions in its circular chamber and houses a 1,300 seat opera house. From here, go on to the architectural brilliance that is the Baiterek Tower and ascend this iconic landmark for breath-taking panoramic views of the city, 90 meters up. Next, make your way to the mesmerising Khan Shatyr Entertainment Centre; with its fabulous neofuturist design and huge variety of things to do under its tent, it is an urban paradise. Return to the hotel for a leisurely afternoon.

Day 4
Nur-Sultan to Almaty

Breakfast & Lunch

Take a flight to Almaty, the former capital and Kazakhstan's largest city. Once settled, the full splendour of the city will be revealed on an afternoon tour, including visits to the iconic Independence Square - the Soviet influenced old quarter, featuring the bright and quirky Ascension Cathedral, comprised entirely of wood without a single nail; Panfilov Park, named after the General who orchestrated the famous defence against the advancing German army during World War 2, and the enchanting Museum of Kazakh Musical Instruments.

Day 5

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

After breakfast, venture to the national park, Ile Alatau and set off on a scenic drive to the Medeo skating rink - nicknamed the 'Factory of Records' due to 138 world records having been set here. Continue your journey up the mountainside to the alpine resort of Shymbulak; at 2,260 meters above sea level, delight in a visual feast of incredible views. Today's last stop is Kok Tobe, enjoy a cable car ride and admire magnificent panoramic view of the city.

Day 6

Breakfast & Lunch

Hunting with eagles and hawks is a unique feature of traditional life in Central Asia. Visit the only falcon farm in Kazakhstan - 'Sunkar', where you will enjoy a spectacular show with specially trained hawks, golden and bald eagles, owls, vultures and falcons.

Day 7
Almaty to Karakol, Kyrgyzstan

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Today travel from Almaty to Karakol on the eastern tip of Kyrgyzstan with a stopover at the Charyn Canyon; dubbed the mini Grand Canyon, it is a fascinating contrast to the snow-peaked mountains of Almaty. Venture into 'Valley of Castles' to see the canyon from the inside, before reaching the Charyn river and the eco-village with a complex of yurts and an open air cafes. Continue onward to Karakol, where you will have an evening at leisure.

Day 8

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Begin your Karakol city tour at the Dungan Mosque - a colourful century old wooden edifice in the Chinese Buddhist architectural style, yet built in the Kyrgyz traditional wood feathering style, instead of metal nail construction. Later, visit the striking Holy Trinity Orthodox Cathedral, before driving to Jety-Oguz canyon where you can enjoy a light hike through the magnificent canyon of red sandstone. Return to the hotel for dinner and an evening of leisure.

Day 9
Karakol to Chon Kemin

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

After breakfast, take a scenic drive to Chon Kemin valley along the North Shore of Issyk Kul Lake. En route, familiarize yourself with tremendous geographical feats at the Museum of Nikolai Przhevalsky, where you can see 19th century artefacts from this famous Russian explorer's great expeditions in Central Asia and West China. Next, visit Cholpon-Ata - an impressive site of ancient rock carvings, followed by a trip to the temple of the Scythian civilizations which existed from 900 BC until 400 AD. Continue your journey to the lush mountains of Chon Kemin before arriving at your Guest House accommodation.

Day 10
Chon Kemin to Bishkek

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

On the way to Bishkek, make a stop near Tokmak city to visit the striking ruins of the medieval city Balasagun and marvel at its famous Burana tower; formerly one of three capitals of the Karakhanid Empire, Balasogun was one of the most developed cities during the peak of the Great Silk Road era. After this, take a look at a collection of Balbals, Turkic ancient tombs before arriving at Bishkek to tonight's hotel.

Day 11
Bishkek to Ala Archa National Park

Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

After breakfast, get to know the capital city on an exciting sightseeing tour. Visit Manas Monument - the main national hero of the Kyrgyz people. Next, sample the State History Museum and take a walking tour around main Ala Too Square to watch the ceremony of the changing of the Guard of Honor. Finish at the Old Square, containing the sole remaining Parliament House in Central Asia. After lunch, drive to the captivating Ala Archa National Park situated in the Tien Shan mountains. You will be in the alpine gorge through which the fast-flowing Ala Archa River runs. The gorge is flanked by tall, snow-covered, peaks with steep-sided, forested, mountain slopes. In the National Park you can easily hike along the main gorge of Ala Archa and back to enjoy views of magnificent peaks of the Tien Shan. Finish with dinner at a local restaurant and enjoy a traditional folklore show, before returning back to your hotel.

Day 12
Bishkek to UK


After breakfast transfer to the airport for your return flight home via Istanbul, or onto your chosen extension.

Day 13
Bishkek to Shymkent


After breakfast, transfer to Korday border and drive to Shymkent city via the Korday border and Taraz. Along the way, stop off at Shymkent and visit the UNESCO listed Aisha-bibi and Bibi- Khanym mausoleums.

Day 14


Tour Kazakhstan's third city - Shymkent and witness the magnificent Archaeological Museum, Green Market and Flower market, before heading to Central Square, Memory Alley and the Museum of Political Repression.

Day 15
Shymkent to Otrar & Turkistan


Journey to Turkistan, stopping off en-route at the Asian ghost town, Otrar, formerly an important trading centre of the Great Silk Road. Next, drive to the Mausoleum Arystan Bab followed by a trip to the mosque, with an afternoon visit to the Mausoleum of Khoja Ahmed Yasawi, discovering medieval bathhouses and the underground mosque.

Day 16
Shymkent to Almaty


Enjoy some free time, before transferring to the railway station and taking the overnight train toAlmaty.

Day 17
Shymkent to Almaty


Upon arriving in Almaty in the morning, transfer to your hotel and spend the day as you wish or take the optional excursion to Kazakh ethno village.

Day 18
Almaty to UK


Enjoy some free time, before transferring to the airport for your flight back to the UK.

View Full Itinerary

Dates & Prices

Price (per person)
Dates available
May 2023
from £2,828
2 Dates
2nd May - 18th May
23rd May - 8th Jun
July 2023
from £3,128
1 Date
4th Jul - 20th Jul
August 2023
from £3,128
1 Date
22nd Aug - 7th Sep
September 2023
from £3,028
1 Date
5th Sep - 21st Sep


The hotels listed below are provided for guidance only and final confirmation of your accommodation will be sent to you approximately 90 days before you travel
Aidana Plaza
3 nights
Shymkent, Kazakhstan
More details
Overnight train Skymkent Extension
1 nights
, Kyrgyzstan
More details
View More

Important Information

A visa is not required for your trip to Kazakhstan or Kyrgyzstan (Passport Validity can be no less than 6 months). Further advice should be sought from the applicable tourist authority for other nationalities and for general queries. We strongly advise you check your destinations- Tourist Board or Embassy for the most up-to-date guidelines regarding passport validity.

Please note that if you are travelling on the Main Tour only, we will require your passport information at least 30 days prior to departure. if you are travelling on the Shymkent Extension also, then passport information will be required at least 45 days prior to departure. Failure to provide this information could result in an impact on the tour.

We strongly recommend that you and all members of your party are suitably insured as soon as you book your holiday. It is a condition of booking that you must have suitable travel insurance. It is important that you purchase travel insurance that suitably covers your participation in whatever activities you may undertake at the time that you make your booking. To assist you with this, we have arranged travel insurance in partnership with Holiday Extras. To arrange your travel insurance with Holiday Extras, please call 0800 781 4237 and quote 'WK830' for preferential rates. Please ensure you provide us with the name of your insurer, policy number and their 24-hour emergency contact number as soon as possible. Mercury Holidays will not be liable for any costs incurred by you due to your failure to take out suitable travel insurance from the date of booking.

If booking more than 10 weeks before departure a deposit of £250pp will need to be paid at the time of booking with the full amount payable at 10 weeks prior to departure. The deposit applies to adults and children. If you are within 10 weeks of travel then the full balance of the holiday will be payable.

Your initial flight is to Nursultan International Airport via Istanbul with Turkish airlines departing from London Heathrow Terminal 2. Each passenger is entitled to 20KG of hold luggage plus 1 item of hand luggage not exceeding (Max 7kg - 55cm/40cm/ 23cm) in size Weight restrictions will be finalized on final documents. Should you wish to take additional luggage you will need to pay extra at check - in. Check-In should be at least 3 hours before departure. IMPORTANT: Please note that final flight details will be confirmed on your final documentation which will be sent to you approximately 10 days before departure. A printed E-ticket is no longer required at check-in, all you need to do is present your passport to the staff at the desk and your boarding pass will be given to you. If you wish to arrange Airport car parking or accommodation at preferential rates, we recommend you book this in advance with Holiday Extras on 0871 360 2000, quoting HX313.

It is your responsibility to check any health and vaccination requirements applicable to your booked arrangements. We can only provide general information about this. Health and hygiene facilities and disease risks vary from country to country. You should take health advice about your own needs as early as possible and in good time before your departure. Sources of information include; www.fco.gov.uk, www.travelhealthpro.org.uk, www.hpa.org.uk, your General Practitioner or a specialist clinic.

This tour is accessible to most people with a good level of fitness and normal mobility. It involves climbing of steep stairs and getting on and off coaches and boats. This tour is not suitable for anyone with walking difficulties.

The minimum number of travellers in your group will be 10 and the maximum will be 30. In the unlikely event there are fewer than 10 passengers booked on your tour date, you may be asked to change to a different date. A full refund will be made available to you should this alternative not be suitable.

This is a fully escorted tour meaning that you will be met by a local guide in each of the cities that you visit, ensuring that you have first-hand knowledge at all times.

Kazakhstan The currency in Kazakhstan is the Kazakhstani tenge, we recommend that you exchange your cur-rency before you leave the UK. Cash machines are available in all the major cities to withdraw money in the local currency. Kyrgyzstan The currency in Kyrgyzstan is the Kyrgyzstani som, we recommend that you exchange your curren-cy before you leave the UK. Cash machines are available in all the major cities to withdraw money in the local currency.

Tipping is not compulsory and is at your discretion. We would recommend $2-3 pp per day for the guide and $1-2 pp per day for driver. Should you wish to tip, this will be collected by your guide at the end of your stay in each destination for your convenience. You will need to take some extra money with you to cover any meals that are not mentioned on your itinerary and personal purchases, such as souvenirs, extra drinks and snacks. Approximately £400-£500 per person should be sufficient for the duration of your tour.