Taraz (or Taras) is in the Kazakh Desert.
Nowadays a near-border city between Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, Taraz was once right in the heart of the Silk Road. Taraz first entered the history books over 2000 years ago when Han and Xiongnu forces warred here. The Soviets changed the name of the city to Zhambyl in the 1930s but soon after Kazakhstan's independence, the name was changed back to Taraz.
There's a low speed train from Almaty onto Shymkent. The Almaty-Saratov. Many other trains on the same line from the station south of the city. Bus 47 from the center. You can book tickets on tutu in advance. Traveling third class be ready for a crowded but friendly train.
The collective taxi station is north of the city with taxi to Bishkek and Shymkent.
Local bus drivers were quite helpful and friendly. 70 tenges per ticket.
- Zhengis Park.
- 1 Aisha Bibi Mausoleum, Aisha Bibi (18 km west of Taraz), ☏ . It was built in the 11th or 12th century as a homage to the noble woman Aisha Bibi. The Kazakh government restored the mausoleum to its former glory in 2002. Free entry.
- Dautbek Shamansur Mausoleum. A mausoleum created by Genghis Khan to honor the Mongol governor ruling over the area, who was killed in an uprising.
- 2 Prezidentskiy Park (Presedential Park), Tole Bi St 95, ☏ . The park is clean and maintained well with beautiful gardens as well as wide open spaces. A good place for an evening walk.
- Main square for monumental and flashy Kazakh urban architecture.
- Sunday Animal Market. Hundreds of sheep, goats and cattle are bought are sold. This noisy and chaotic experience is worth it and you will come across the welcoming and hospitable nature of Kazakh culture firsthand.
- GolPas. Diverse dishes on offer. Pasta, pizza, seafood and steaks. Cozy atmosphere though a little expensive.
- 1 Malikakhon, 133 Keshenei St, ☏ . Fresh and juicy shish kebabs and salad. The waiters do not speak English and at times the music in the background can get quite loud.
- SushiLove, Dinmukhamed Qonayev Street (Kunaeva/ Кунаева) 51 080000 (walk almost directly east along Kunaeva street from the southern corner of Zhenis Park for about 900 metres, SushiLove is on the right). Daily 11:00-02:00. Incongruous but charming sushi restaurant, popular with locals apparently. Nice garden out the back. Serves sushi, pizza, a good selection of drinks and dessert. Vegetarian and vegan sushi available. Friendly staff, some speak good English. Free open Wi-Fi. Cash, Visa, MasterCard all accepted. 800- 1,500 tenge for a whole roll of sushi.
- Churchill Pub, Komratova St., 94, ☏ . Daily 12:00-02:00. English-style pub with a British-themed interior.
- Hotel Zhambyl, Tole Bi St 42, ☏ . Most staff speak at least a little bit of English. Free Wi-fi.
- Hotel Ark MS, 1a, Al Farabi St. Free shuttle service, onsite dining, has a garden, spacious terrace and minibar. There are 24 rooms altogether. The restaurant on the third floor serves European and Kazakh dishes.
- Voyazh, ul.Michurina 1B. Clean and comfortable rooms in a smallish hotel.
- Venture southwest to Shymkent.
- Cross the border with Kyrgyzstan and see the impressive dam at Toktogul.
- Almaty - Marshrutkas leave from the main Avtovokzal north-east of the city. A back seat in an 18-person marshrutka can cost as little as 2,500 tenge. Not likely less than this, but don't pay more than 3,000 tenge (Apr 2019). They take about 6 hours and arrive at Sayran station in Almaty. Buses stop once just past halfway, but only for a loo break, not food.