Shymkent and Sayram Day Tour
Shymkent, Kazakhstan is well worth exploration for anyone who finds themselves on the Central Asian steppe. Founded in the 12th century as a caravanserai along the Great Silk Road, Shymkent evolved into a trading center between nomadic Turks and sedentary Sogdians, finally surpassing nearby Sayram city in both size and power. Today more than 1 million people reside in this multiethnic and ever-developing city, located a mere hour’s drive from the Uzbekistan border.
The Shymkent and Sayram Day Tour will immerse you in the rich history of South Kazakhstan, preserved today at museums and holy sites. In Shymkent you’ll create pottery and play local instruments at an ethnographic museum, walk down the World War II Memory Alley and learn about Stalinist oppression at a museum for political repression. The tour continues in nearby Sayram, one of the oldest towns in Kazakhstan whose mausoleums are famous historical landmarks and pilgrimage sites.
Our guide and driver will meet you at hotel reception to begin your tour of Shymkent’s highlights:
- Regional Museum of Southern Kazakhstan, where you’ll familiarize yourself with the history of Shymkent region with chronological displays including petroglyphs, topographical maps, a full yurt display, countless artefacts and a giant outdoor diorama of a Silk Road caravan.
- Memory Alley in Abai (Shanshi) Park, a boulevard flanked by the names of every man from the region who served in World War II. The walkway is bookended with a large eternal flame monument and a giant statue of a fighter jet.
- Museum of Victims of Political Repression, which perpetuates the memory of those who suffered under suppressive Stalinist policies with pictures, personal stories and moving sculptures.
- Hakim Abai Museum, a small but informative museum dedicated to the life and works of Abai Qunanbaiuly, one of Kazakhstan’s greatest poets and reformers.
- Kyluet Ethnography Museum, where you’ll delve deeply into Kazakh culture through pottery lessons and exhibitions, musical instrument demonstrations and exploration of an underground hilvet (meditation room).
Drive to Sayram (15km, 30min), where you’ll continue your tour to the following:
- Ibrahim-Ata and Karashash-Ana Mausoleums (13th century), burial site of the parents of Khoja Ahmad Yasawi (a revered Sufi scholar who is himself buried in Turkestan). These tombs are considered sacred, attracting local religious pilgrims.
- Mirali-Baba and Abdulaziz-Baba Mausoleums (dates vary), final resting places of an Islamic scholar and an Arab soldier who spread Islam in the region, respectively. The elaborate burial vaults are historically significant, and the tombs are considered sacred by many Central Asian Muslims.
Drive back to Shymkent, where all of these places and experiences will remain etched in your memory even as you return to modern city life.
End of Shymkent and Sayram Day Tour.
Tour duration: approximately 5 hours
- Private, local guide;
- Entrance fees to the sights as per itinerary;
- Transportation throughout the city tour.