Kazakhstan Travel Information
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Electrical current is 220 volts, 50Hz. The European round 2-pin plugs are standard.
Kazakh and Russian are the official languages.
All travellers arriving from a yellow fever area are required to have a certificate of inoculation. It is recommended that travellers to Kazakhstan immunise themselves against hepatitis A. Medical care in Kazakhstan is extremely limited and shortages of essential medical supplies are common. Doctors and hospitals will expect payment in cash, regardless of travel health insurance. Blood screening is inadequate and HIV/AIDS is a risk due to contaminated blood or inadequate sterilization of instruments and syringes.
Tipping is not customary in Kazakhstan as a service charge is included in hotel and restaurant bills. There is also a fixed charge on taxi and railway transport.
The general rules of safety in Kazakhstan are the same as in any other developed country. There are the normal risks of pickpockets and petty crime, and travellers are advised to be cautious of corrupt police. Travellers are advised to be cautious at night in and around clubs and bars. Kazakhstan is generally a very friendly country and foreigners are respected.
Kazakh people are known for their hospitality, respect for elders and peace and tolerance. Generosity and cordial behaviour are common in both social and business fields. An invitation to the traditional Kazakh feast, dastarkhan, is the most popular form of Kazakh hospitality. Standards of dress and behaviour are conservative and travellers should take care not to offend. Possession and use of drugs is illegal and if found guilty, could bring about a lengthy prison sentence.
An experienced and proficient interpreter can be of great assistance at business meetings. It is customary to shake hands and call people by their first names at business meetings, as well as at informal gatherings. Business attire is generally a suit and tie for men, and a suit or business dress for women. Small gifts (pens, company logo pins or books) are frequently given at the end of an initial meeting as a token of appreciation. Business cards are widely distributed, both in Russian and English. Many people in Kazakhstan are Muslim so it is not uncommon for them to take breaks from work during the day for prayer; this should be taken into consideration when scheduling meeting times.
The international dialling code for Kazakhstan is +7. The outgoing code is 00 followed by the relevant country code (e.g. 0044 for the UK). Area codes are in place, for example, Astana is 7172 and Almaty is 727. Roaming agreements exist with most international mobile phone companies and reception is good around the main cities. There are Internet cafes in most towns and cities but they tend to be expensive.
The following goods may be imported into Kazakhstan without incurring customs duty: 1,000 cigarettes or 1kg of tobacco products; 2 litres of alcoholic beverages; a reasonable quantity of perfume for personal use and gifts to the value of US$500 for personal use only. On entering the country, tourists must complete a customs declaration form, which must be retained until departure. This allows the import of articles intended for personal use, including currency and valuables, which must be registered on the declaration form. They must be exported at the end of the stay. Customs inspections can be long and thorough. It is advisable to keep receipts for items bought in Kazakhstan in order to avoid difficulties on departure.
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