Beach recreation and health resorts in Kazakhstan

Beach resorts of Kazakhstan: a brief overview of the best places

Despite its location within the continent and the lack of access to the seas (not counting the internal Caspian Sea), Kazakhstan has a large number of places to rest, moreover, most resorts in Kazakhstan can be called not only climatic, but also beach resorts. However, these beaches are not located on the coast, but on the shores of numerous lakes. In our selection we have listed the largest and most famous resort areas of Kazakhstan, in one way or another related to recreation on the water.

Our list includes both large fresh and salt water bodies, and quite small mountain lakes, as well as one inland sea – the Caspian Sea. All of these resort places have more or less developed infrastructure, but so far none of them has become a global resort. However, if you like the unique Central Asian nature, mountain and lake oases and cordial Eastern atmosphere, then the resorts of Kazakhstan can be a great alternative to a vacation at the sea.

Lake Alakol, Eastern Kazakhstan

Alakol is a salt lake, located in Eastern Kazakhstan, has mineral springs, and therefore it is considered therapeutic. The main resorts are Kakanbai (tourist beach destination) and Barlyk-Arasan (balneological destination). Alakol is located in a zone of semi-deserts, so typical for most of Kazakhstan. Alakol, as well as the absolute majority of reservoirs of Kazakhstan, has a drainless nature, and therefore is well mineralized and can be used for medicinal purposes.

However, despite its properties, the lake is not considered “dead”, there is a large number of different species of fish, and the coastal zone is well developed flora and fauna. The whole point is that the lake is moderately saline and does not belong to the bitter-saline reservoirs. There are various boarding houses, sanatoriums and tourist bases in the recreation areas of the lake, so the rest on Alakol is not a “wild” beach vacation. However, a certain difficulty is brought by transportation problems. If you don’t drive up to the resort by your own transport, the trip by public transport can take quite a long time (9-10 hours from Almaty by bus) or about 15-16 hours by train, which runs only in “high” season (from June to September).


Bayanaul climatic resort, Pavlodar region

The Bayanauul national park was formed in the north-east part of Kazakhstan back in the 80’s, so your stay in Bayanauul is not limited to purely beach holidays, the place is famous for its lakes, mountains and unique nature, which were combined into a national park.

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The area around Bayanaul is considered a climatic resort, because the combination of the proximity of the Bayanaul mountains with lakes and vast coniferous forests make the air exceptionally healing and healthy. On the territory of the park there are tourist centers, resorts and recreation centers, and by local standards, the infrastructure is considered quite developed. Mountain-forest complex Bayanaul is represented by Bayanaul mountains, lakes Zhasybai, Sabyndykol and Toraygyr, caves, grottoes, waterfalls and steep rock gorges. Resting in Bayanaul, you can try not only the traditional beach vacation, but also all the possibilities of hiking and even rock climbing.

Bayanaul National Park is located in the Pavlodar region, 100 km from the large settlement of Ekibastuz. After reaching Ekibastuz, you can take a shuttle bus that goes directly to Bayanaul. Moreover, you can get to Ekibastuz by regular buses from all big cities of Kazakhstan, including Astana, Karaganda and Pavlodar.


Borovoye Resort (Burabay), Northern Kazakhstan

Borovoye Resort or Burabay is a part of the Northern Kazakhstan uplands and that is why the nature here can be considered unique, not like the general relief of Central Asia. There are no semi-deserts and deserts, saline and bitter-saline reservoirs, as on the larger territory of Kazakhstan, on the contrary, mountain forests and freshwater reservoirs formed by underground springs prevail here. The largest are Lake Borovoye (Burabay) and Shchuchye, on the banks of which lie the main part of the resort area, including tourist centers, rest houses and hotels of various types.

Recreation at the resort is not limited to water and beach activities, hiking and rock climbing are actively developed here, and the unique size and shape of local rock formations alternately with the wooded mountains (hills) cause a great interest from year to year, tourists who come to rest in Borovoye or Shchuchye.

The place is located on the territory of Akmola region, but the distance between the capital of Kazakhstan Astana and the resort is about 250 km. About the same distance separates the resort from the Russian city of Omsk, from where in the “high” season regular buses go directly to the resort of Borovoye. So you can get to the resort by flying to Astana or Omsk and then taking a regular bus directly to the resort.

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Lake Balkhash, South Kazakhstan

Balkhash is one of the largest reservoirs on the territory of Kazakhstan, not counting the Caspian Sea. The lake is located in the southern region of the country in a zone of semi-deserts, the coastal zone has a typical steppe relief, turning into sandy semi-deserts with sparse vegetation. In summer air temperatures are sometimes extreme and water is heated up to the state of steaming milk. The peculiarity of the lake is its chemical composition: divided by the strait, Balkhash from one side (more) is a salty lake, and from the other side – fresh.

The resort infrastructure is rather developed, there are numerous resorts and guest houses, many people come to Balkhash not only for beach rest, but also for exotic fishing, because some species of fish in the whole territory of Kazakhstan are found only here. The lake is so big, that it is located in 3 regions of Kazakhstan at once, which also explains the variety of relief in the coastal zone. But the biggest advantage of the lake is probably its long extensive sandy beaches, not without reason the lake lies in a climate zone of semi-deserts.

You can get to Balkhash from Karaganda city by bus. The distance between Karaganda and Astana, the capital of Kazakhstan, is about 200 kilometers. Astana has an international airport, so it is the main arrival point for citizens of other countries to visit any of the northern or eastern resorts of Kazakhstan. To visit Kazakhstan’s southern resorts, you can make Almaty, the country’s second most important city, your point of arrival.

Both Astana and Almaty are quite large, modern and interesting in terms of attractions, so a visit to Kazakhstan’s resorts can always be combined with sightseeing in these cities. In order to determine where to stay in Astana, see our special selection of budget hotels in the Kazakh capital: Astana: review of inexpensive hotels.


Big Almaty Lake, Almaty

Big Almaty Lake is one of the must-see places when visiting Kazakhstan’s second most important city, Almaty. The more so because the lake is located just 15 kilometers from the city in the Alatau Mountains. The lake is considered a high-mountainous and freshwater lake, and its mirror-like waters framed by snow-capped peaks make a lasting impression on tourists. The lake is of tectonic origin, formed as a result of earthquakes, which periodically take place in the city of Almaty. Its length is only a few kilometers, but this is a case where it’s not the size that counts, but the amazing natural beauty of the area.

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Crystal clear turquoise waters on the background of three peaks create picturesque landscapes, which can be seen, if you come by bus from Almaty. There are direct flights from Moscow to Almaty, from other Russian cities only connecting flights in Moscow or Astana. A visit to the Great Almaty Lake is a great idea for a 1-day trip from Almaty.

Big Almaty lake

Kolsai Lakes, South Kazakhstan

The Kolsai Lakes are located in southern Kazakhstan on the border with Kyrgyzstan. In total there are 3 lakes, located at different heights, all three lakes are considered high-mountain lakes, belonging to the Tien-Shan mountain range. Why are these lakes so attractive? Since the Kolsay lakes are high-mountain lakes, the water here is always crystal clear and transparent with a turquoise hue. All three lakes are framed by mountain peaks and coniferous forests.

It is hardly possible to bathe in the lakes, even in the best case the temperature rarely gets higher than +10, +12C because of the altitude. However the magnificent views more than compensate absence of a beach infrastructure. In general, a trip to Kolsay is more suitable for hikers and lovers of natural attractions than for tourists who prefer a traditional beach-bathing vacation. Nevertheless, Kolsai Lakes are gaining popularity among travelers. Often tourists combine a visit to Kolsai lakes with a further trip to Kyrgyzstan to Lake Issyk-Kul, which is just famous for its beach recreation and well-developed resort infrastructure.

To get to the Kolsay Lakes, you must first fly to Almaty. Then you will have to overcome a distance of almost 300 kilometers. To do this you can use an intercity bus (you need to get to the settlement of Saty). Also from Almaty you can regularly take a variety of sightseeing tours, designed for different durations, from one day to a week.

Kolsay lakes

Caspian Sea, Aktau

The main resort city on the Caspian coast on the Kazakhstan side is Aktau. It is a southwestern city, located in the desert zone, has a fairly developed infrastructure, both hotel and transport. And this infrastructure develops from year to year. That is why Aktau, as a Caspian Sea resort, is becoming more and more popular and interesting for tourists to visit. The only problem why this Caspian Sea resort is not so popular yet is the difficulty of getting there. The easiest way is to fly to Astana or Almaty and then change to Aktau, and the change is possible by plane, train or bus. The second and third options are more time-consuming, and not always comfortable because of the summer heat that hits southwest Kazakhstan in the summer.

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Another, more original way of getting to Aktau is by ferry from Baku, Azerbaijan, which is also located on the Caspian coast and is probably the most popular Caspian Sea resort today.

Beach recreation and health resorts in Kazakhstan

It would seem that what can be seen in such country as Kazakhstan? How can the nomads with their yurts attract tourists? Is it only for extreme people, who want to feel the nomadic way of life and immerse themselves in it? But it is not so. In fact, Kazakhstan is a vast country that has a smooth transition from Central Asia to Central Asia.

In Kazakhstan perfectly developed infrastructure, and the big cities (such as the capital of Kazakhstan – Astana), equipped no worse than Dubai, you can see the highest skyscrapers, and the ancient architectural monuments, the stunning nature. You can relax on the sea and lake beaches, which are not inferior to the best European beaches, as well as improve their health at the best medical resorts in Kazakhstan.

Beach recreation and health resorts in Kazakhstan - Photo 2

Beach recreation and health resorts in Kazakhstan

Three best resorts of Kazakhstan.

In Kazakhstan, there are many beaches for comfortable recreation. However, these beaches are not sea beaches, but lakes. In this country, there are more than 40 thousand all kinds of lakes, and on the banks of many of them are the best resorts in the country, in recent years gaining popularity among tourists from different countries. For the fans of the unique Central Asian nature, mountain and lake oases and hospitable eastern atmosphere, the Kazakhstan resorts become the best alternative to the rest on the seashore.

One of such resorts is Lake Alakol, located in eastern Kazakhstan. Alakol is a salt lake, which has mineral springs, and therefore is therapeutic. Alakol is situated in a zone of semi-deserts, which are very typical of Kazakhstan.

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Beach recreation and health resorts in Kazakhstan - Photo 3

Beach recreation and health resorts in Kazakhstan

On Alakol perfectly developed flora and fauna, along the coast of the lake is a lot of tourist centers, resorts and sanatoriums, which not only comfortably rest even children and elderly tourists, but you can go through various medical procedures conducted by doctors, resort therapists the highest level.

No less popular with tourists and climatic resort Bayanaul, located in the Pavlodar region. Bayanaul is a national park, located in the northeastern part of Kazakhstan. Here tourists are welcomed not only by the beach rest on the lakes, but also by the stunning nature, mountain ranges, clear air, caves, grottos, waterfalls, gorges and much more. For fans of hiking and recreation this place is a true paradise, not for nothing is considered a climatic resort area. The climate is truly unique.

In Bayanaul you can also relax in rest homes, sanatoriums, resorts with European level of service. Here are treated as well mineral water and clean air, which is especially useful for travelers with lung diseases and cardiovascular system.

Beach recreation and health resorts in Kazakhstan - Photo 4

Beach recreation and health resorts in Kazakhstan

The resort Borovoye (having another name – Burabay) is situated in the north of Kazakhstan. It has as well unique nature which differs considerably from the usual Central Asian nature. The lack of semi-deserts, so characteristic of all Central Asian plains, salty lakes and reservoirs, is more than off-set by mountains, fresh water reservoirs and underground springs with medicinal properties.

Resting in the resort Borovoe, tourists are not limited to beach holidays, for fans of active recreation, these places are ready to provide equipped trails for hiking, mountain ranges for climbing, two to three day tour deep into the woods, to relax with tents and watching the local animals, the cleanest forest air and stunningly delicious and healing water from underground sources.

Beach recreation and health resorts in Kazakhstan - Photo 5

Beach recreation and health resorts of Kazakhstan.

Kazakhstan is developing and trying to match the level of the world’s popular resorts. It will be very pleasant for fans of beach recreation and Asian exotics who want to rest in comfort without going to three or nine lands in far away countries. A trip to Kazakhstan is impossible to forget, as impossible to learn the whole Eastern culture at once. You have to come back here for sure.

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