5 minute read
Unless flying, there is no direct link between the two cities. However, you can take the Almaty to Tashkent train and shared taxi across the border. The journey is relatively straightforward and requires one change in Shymkent.
I have made this journey both ways on multiple occasions and will outline everything you need to know before travelling the Almaty Tashkent route.
Please note: This site contains affiliate links to products. We may receive a commission for purchases made through these links at no extra cost to you.
How Long Does the Almaty to Tashkent Train Take?
If you travel on the fast trains, then the journey can be done in a little over 12 hours. There are multiple trains per day between Almaty and Shymkent, with the fastest taking ten hours.
From Shymkent, a shared taxi to the border takes just under two hours.
Almaty to Tashkent Distance
The distance between the two cities is 800km.
The border between Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan is less than 10km from the centre of Tashkent. Once you cross the border, it will take no more than twenty minutes to reach the city.
Almaty to Shymkent
Kazakhstan has replaced many of its old Soviet sleepers with deluxe modern trains that travel at twice the speed. The 700km journey can now be done in 10 hours and costs around 6,000 Tenge ($15).
Buying a ticket
Tickets are available to buy online from the Kazakhstan Railways website. You will need to print out the ticket and swap it at the station before you board the train.
You can purchase a ticket at the ticket office of Almaty 1 or 2 Station. Usually, you can buy for the same day, but in summer it’s worth buying in advance as they can sell out.
The new trains have a restaurant car as well as a bar with a good selection of food cooked in the accompanying kitchen, and drinks for very reasonable prices (there is a menu in English).
The trains will stop at stations along the route from five to 30 minutes where you can get off and stretch your legs and buy supplies from the babushkas on the platform selling beer, snacks and ice cream. Each carriage will have a timetable and duration of stops.
From Shymkent to the Uzbek Border
Don’t take a taxi from the station to the border as you will invariably be ripped off. It should cost around 2,000 for the two-hour trip to the border checkpoint. Go to the bus station on Prospect Respubliki where you can get a shared taxi or minibus to the border.
The Pokrovskoe Border
It’s best to try and time it so you reach the border during the day and not when it opens first thing. I made the mistake of thinking earlier would be better and spent almost three hours queuing from 8 am in a free-for-all on the Kazakh side. The Uzbek side was much more orderly and took minutes.
There will be plenty of taxis waiting to take you the 10km into Tashkent. Expect to pay between 50,000 and 100,000 Som ($5 to $10).
There are places to change money on either side of the border but make sure you know the exchange rate first and count it out before you walk off. Now there are more ATMs in Tashkent than there were when I was there in 2017, but it would be best to have US dollars with you to exchange at a bank in Tashkent.
Medicines in Uzbekistan
Be aware that some types of painkillers are illegal in Uzbekistan; however the checks have become a lot less stringent since the introduction of visa free travel for many citizens.
Places to Visit in Tashkent
Although Tashkent doesn’t have the splendor of cities like Samarkand, Bukhara and Khiva, it is still worth spending a few days there and exploring this laid-back former Soviet city.
Below are a few of the top sites in Uzbekistan’s capital:
- Amur Timur Museum
- Chorsu Bazaar
- TV Tower
- Hotel Uzbekistan
- Independence Square
- Hazrat Imam Complex
- Navoi Park
Budget: Topchan Hostel (where I always stay when visiting Tashkent)
Mid-range: ATECA Hotel Suites Tashkent (a standard king room with a double bed)
Luxury: Ichan Qal’a Premium Class Hotel (a superior king room with a double bed)
We hope you found this guide to taking the Almaty to Tashkent train useful. For other railway journeys in the region, you can see my other articles how to get from Almaty to Bishkek (Kyrgyzstan) and Almaty to Urumqi (China).
About the author: Steve Rohan, originally from England, has lived in China for over six years. He has lived in the frozen city of Harbin, the ancient capital of Luoyang, the tropical paradise of Sanya and Hong Kong.
He has travelled extensively across Europe and Asia, mostly by train, and has written about his travels for this blog as well as self-publishing his first book, Siberian Odyssey.