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While many may associate Kazakhstan with a certain Sacha Baron Cohen film, the country has been on our travel bucket list for a while now. Unfortunately, the cost of the visa for US citizens hoping to visit has always been pretty steep: $160 for US passport holders plus $25 for a single-entry visa.
Next year, the capital city of Astana will host EXPO-2017, an event taking place from June to September dedicated to energy conservation and sustainable living. In order to create more favorable conditions for foreign visitors, the Kazakh government is terminating its visa requirements for US citizens and those of 21 other countries — including Austria, Canada, Mexico, Singapore and New Zealand — allowing free entry for up to 30 days. The changes take affect January 1st 2017, making the off-the-beaten-path country more accessible.
First-time visitors should head to the city of Almaty for a rewarding mix of European, Asian and Middle Eastern cultures. Once an important stop on the Silk Road, the city maintains its eclectic mix of bazaars, cobblestone streets and natural beauty. Outside the city, you’ll find ski resorts in the winter, canyon hiking in the summer and several UNESCO World Heritage sites.
Have you ever been to Kazakhstan? Tell us about your experience, below.
Featured image of Astana, Kazakhstan, courtesy of Shutterstock.
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