If you’re traveling on the Trans-Siberian, the easiest way to get from Russia to Kazakhstan is to take the bus from Omsk to Astana, Kazakhstan’s capital city.
It was easy to figure out the next leg of my Trans-Siberian journey after arriving in Irkutsk, Russia from Mongolia. Attendants working at the train station in Irkutsk know a little English and are familiar with the popular train routes that commuters take across Russia. But more travel in Russia was not what I was after; I wanted to go to Kazakhstan.
The problem was that the ticket attendants didn’t have any idea of how to get to Kazakhstan from where I was in Irkutsk. From the information I gathered, writing on a little piece of paper and passing it back and forth to the train station attendant, there were two options to get to Astana.
If you’re wondering how to get from Russia to Kazakhstan while traveling on the Trans-Siberian, the first option is by train via Omsk. The train leaves leaves every four days so you’ll need to plan ahead. The other option is to get there via Novosibirsk where trains leave periodically every few days (although, it’s a bit out of the way if you’re on the Trans-Siberian heading to Moscow).
Kazakhstan was just within reach but with a rushed timeline, a result of my 30 day Russian visa, waiting days for a train wasn’t a possibility. That’s when my friends and I decided to wing it and hoped that taking the bus from Omsk, our next destination was a possibility.
When we arrived at the train station in Omsk, a journey that took another couple nights from Irkutsk, no one spoke English and our options for taking a bus to Kazakhstan started to dwindle. Luckily, we met a cab driver that offered to take us to the bus station for 400 rubles ($12 USD), an expensive ride but a good alternative to what others were offering.
Thankfully, when we arrived at the bus station we were happy to discover that were several direct buses to Astana, Kazakhstan and we purchased a ticket for the 21:20 night bus. To kill time we spent the day at a chicken restaurant in a mall next door to the bus station, and enjoyed some catch up time online (they had free WiFi) until our departure.
Taking the bus from Russia to Kazakhstan was easy. The easiest and most consistent route is to take the bus from Omsk, Russia to Astana, Kazakhstan. Bus ticket costs 967 rubles ($30 USD) and 193 rubles ($6 USD) per bag and the ride takes about 15 hours with a stop for boarder control and another quick one in Kazakhstan.
1. Get your Kazakhstan visa ahead of time: I purchased my visa a month in advance.
2. Bring food – There aren’t many options for stops other than the boarder and a short early morning drop of in a small town. If you want something to eat you can go to the supermarket in the mall next to the bus station and stock up.
3. Buses leave from Omsk to Astana throughout the day. For us only the 21:20 was available.
Tally (Prices as of April 2012):
Bus ticket from Omsk, Russia to Astana, Kazakhstan: 967 Rubles – $30 USD
Bag fee (per bag): 193 Rubles – $6 USD
Snacks: 200 Rubles – $6 USD