Shymkent is southern Kazakhstan’s most lively city with a distinctly Central Asian feel, due to its proximity with neighbouring Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan.
Shymkent has it all on its doorstep – beautiful mosques and mausoleums, bustling local markets, rivers and mountains, untouched wilderness and monuments to more modern history too. It’s an intriguing blend.
Top things to see and do in Shymkent
- Stroll around Shymkent’s 8 leafy parks – Abai Park has a ferris wheel, Park Ken-Baba has miniature famous buildings, and Dendropark is a green, shady collection of trees
- For a musical interlude, head to Philharmonia for concerts and a new museum built in the shape of a traditional yurt
- Have a laugh at the Satire and Humour Theatre of South Kazakhstan and the Puppet Theatre
- Try baursak, Kazakhstan’s national dessert - puffy fried sweet bread, rather like doughnuts
- Shop for the region’s freshest local produce piled high at Shymkent’s bustling covered market
- Discover the unique Central Asian architecture of Sayram, untouched by any Soviet-era building – just a 20-minute bus ride from the city centre
Tips for travellers
Get out of Shymkent into the rugged wilderness of the Aksu-Zhabagly nature reserve – you may see wolves, bears, ibex, lynx and marmots, and snow leopards roam the higher mountains.