Where is Taraz? (And why would you visit?)

Taraz sits on the route between Tashkent and Shymkent, and Bishkek and Almaty. So if you’re going between any of these destinations by road, it’s a logical stop off point.

Taraz is one of the oldest cities in Kazakhstan, but dear old Genghis Khan levelled the place and it didn’t really start to grow again until the 19th century . Hence, much of the layout and older buildings are soviet style. There is a regional museum, and a few medieval mausoleums to see if you’re keen. We figured we weren’t going to beat the UNESCO world-heritage listed site in Turkistan, so didn’t bother.

If you’re keen to read how our day went, then read on…

Sleepless in Taraz

Remember, when we said how lucky we were to be able to check in to our room in the Hotel Ordabasy at 8.30 am. Well that one cam back to bit us on the morning we were to leave.

Taraz was the next obvious stop off on our way south to Kyrgystan. It was only 180 km or so away, so there was no need to get up too early.

The receptionist, however had other ideas; banging loudly on the door at 8am. It was then we realized we were booking the room for 24 hours. So if you check in at 4 am in the morning, then you better be out by 4 am the next day. Lesson learned!!! 😲🕓 🌅

The trip from Shymkent was uneventful in a comfortable Mashruska. We did pity any cyclists on this road as there were a couple of large rises and the heat was unrelenting. 🥵 🌡️ 🚴‍♂️

From the stop, we grabbed a local bus into town. I was pretty sure we could find the Taraz Hotel on the main road and it stuck out like a sore thumb when we finally came upon it….. A large Soviet area concrete block that had seen far better days. The rooms were way less comfortable for the same price as the one in Shymkent. No air-con, paint falling off the ceiling in the bathroom and a toilet that wouldn’t shut up. Oh well, only one night. How bad could it be??  😱

Taraz itself was nice in the centre. But of course, we weren’t in the centre! We took a hot and dusty 2km walk to find the bazaar which was closed because of it being Friday. Dang!!! 😒

Kazakh Blue building - Taraz Kazakhstan


Thankfully, we found a nice café serving shaslicks, salad and cold beer. Many of the buildings around the main area, including a couple of the more up-market hotels, were very grandiose and well kept.

We found a couple of other places to drop in for a beer on the way back. The first, was a trendy beer bar with high vaulted ceilings, a large undercover beer garden and a range of local draft beers on tap.

The second was a lovely courtyard restaurant with a cooling fountain in the centre, reasonable beers and our new favourite snack…stringy cheese. A couple of hours later and we wandered home with full tummies and…. every reason for a good night’s sleep.

Taraz - Kazakhstan

Unfortunately that wasn’t to be as we found ourselves rudely awakened by loud cars, blaring sound systems and bright lights at about midnight. The back of our building appeared to be a meeting spot for some kind of nefarious activities and there wasn’t going to be a real lot of peace and quiet until almost day break. In conjunction with the hot still night and lack of airconditioning I think we got about 2 hours sleep at best. As I said…only one night!! Thank God.

Next stop Kyrgystan! 🇰🇬

Handy Hints

  1. I have no idea why we booked the hotel we did. It may have been in the Lonely Planet. Personally, if we went back again, I would check out other options, closer to the centre. Start HERE.
  2. Confirm your checkout time when staying in hotels in this part of the world, especially if you arrive early in the morning. Otherwise, you might get a rude shock like we did.