Kazakhstan is a large country straddling Europe and Asia with a varied geographical landscape which caters to travelers with an inclination for the outdoors. Whether it’s kayaking the country’s gorgeous bodies of water, hiking the majestic Kazakh mountain ranges or skiing with the arrival of the annual snow, the beautiful and challenging terrain will keep every adventurer on their toes.

There are plenty of things to do for those who prefer calmer, less blood-pumping activities. One of the most popular activities, both in Kazakhstan and the greater central Asian region, is going to spa and sauna complexes. After receiving a relaxing treatment, travelers can engage in retail therapy in one of the many local markets.

Kazakhstan is home many gorgeous mountain ranges just waiting to be explored by curious travelers. The most popular are the Tian Shan Mountains, home to the famous Khan-Tengri Peak which are perfect for hiking and trekking. Most of the routes are challenging so it is best to go with an experienced guide or organized tour. Reputable company Kazakhstan Tours offers a range of hiking options for travelers to choose their own route and journey length.

While most people tend to stay away from Kazakhstan during the cold wintertime, this period provides ideal conditions for skiing. The Zaili Alatau Mountains become particularly snow covered and have become a popular winter break spot. The mountains are quite close to Almaty, which is convenient for many travelers to get to. Those who would like an introduction to the world of cold weather sports should contact Tour Asia, a company specializing in all sorts of outdoor activity.

Kazakhstan also boasts several beautiful bodies of water, including one of the largest lakes in the world. These waterways provide ample opportunity for rafting and canoeing. Lake Balhash and Lake Qapshaghay are popular for such activities, which can be organized by local tour companies. Karlygash Makatova is an independent operator that has built a great reputation for excursions of this nature.

As with most countries in central Asian, Kazakhstan has a strong sauna and spa culture. Sauna complexes can be found in almost every town and are great places to unwind and de-stress. They are usually equipped with all sorts of attached recreational facilities, including massage rooms, billiard tables and karaoke. There are many complexes in Almaty, including the popular Arasan Banya.

Travelers looking for retail therapy will have no shortage of options in the traditional Kazakh markets and bazaars, which can be found in every corner of the country. Almaty alone has over 80 bazaars and everything under the sun can be purchased here, from spices to carpets, as well as an interesting insight into local culture. One of the most popular bazaars which should be paid a visit is the Zelyoni Bazaar in the capital.