Why Kazakhstan deserves more attention

Kazakhstan is one of the most fascinating countries I’ve ever visited. It has mountains, great hiking trails, interesting culture and history, beautiful cities and really lovely locals. The best thing about it was that I was almost completely alone there as a tourist! I have to admit, the only reason I wanted to go there was because I had no idea what Kazakhstan was all about. No one travels there and that’s why I wanted to. But it was still surprising to me when I arrived to see empty hostels and locals who were fascinated with tourists. Nowadays, when it’s become so much easier to travel and more accessible for more people, it’s quite rare to come to a country that‘a unfamiliar with tourists. Perhaps that’s why I liked it so much.

Kazakhstan is, first of all, massive. It would take me years to travel around the country, so I had to settle with a few cities. But the short time I spent in Kazakhstan made me realize that it’s probably one of the most underrated countries in the world. The thing with Kazakhstan is that there’s so many opportunities for it to become a big tourist destination. But many people seem to think these parts of the world are “dangerous”, because no one really knows what’s going on. This couldn’t be further from the truth. When I traveled there, as a female solo traveler(!), I felt completely safe and taken care of. Even though the language barrier does make it trickier, the locals were always patient and curious so you could count with them helping you if you were lost.

Since there aren’t many tourists in the area, it could feel a bit lonely at times, but the few that had made their way there became close friends. It also helps that locals are always willing to chat with you, and besides, it’s part of the reason why we travel – to get to know the people who lives there. I’ve been to places where the locals had no interest in engaging with the tourists (and perhaps rightfully so), but locals in Kyrgyzstan always greeted me with a smile. I never felt lonely because of this.

When it comes to the landscape… wow! For mountain lovers, or anyone who likes stunning landscapes, this country is for you. Kazakhstan also offers canyons, lakes and rolling hills as far as the eye can see. There’s plenty of tours you can join when you’re in Kazakhstan. It’s by far the easiest way to get to these specific places, but you can also rent a car or rent a driver that’ll take you to where you want to go. It’s a bit tricky in the beginning to figure out how everything works, but when you got the hang of it, you’ll be stuck in Kazakhstan for longer than you thought you would be.

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Exploring Azerbaijan in 8 ways

Azerbaijan is one of the lesser-known places to visit. In Asia. Its proximity to Eastern Europe makes one of the former states of Soviet Union an interesting country to see.

There are a lot of places you can visit if you are looking to visit and tour the country. The capital city of Baku for one can be the highlight of your trip.

If you are looking for some others, here are eight other ways you can explore Azerbaijan:

Absheron Peninsula

The Absheron Peninsula is in the capital city of Baku. The place is the country’s gold mine as  natural resources such as oil, lime, sand and salt are all abundant in the peninsula.

The peninsula has a number of lakes with Masazir, Khojahasan and Boyuk Shor being the more famous ones. Several ancient oil wells can also be found here.

Old City

Old City is pretty much self-explanatory. It is the most ancient part of Baku which is surrounded by stone walls for protection during ancient times.

The ancient landmark has been listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site for its religious, political and cultural significance. The Old City still looks like ancient civilization in some parts, particularly the shops.

Upland Park

Upland Park is another one of the significant places in Baku. It is located at the centre of the country’s capital.

One of the unique things about the Upland Park is the panoramic views of the city, Baku bay and beyond into the Caspian Sea.

The Park commemorates the victims of Black January 1990 as they are buried along with the soldiers killed in the Karabakh war in the Alley of Martyrs.

The park has a very calm and peaceful surrounding just like all parks should be. It’s a perfect place to unwind and de-stress when traveling.

Heydar Aliyev Center

Heydar Aliyev was the third president of Azerbaijan. He served as the country’s leader from 1993 to 2003.

The Heydar Aliyev Center was built in his honor. The 57,500 square meter building complex is known for its unique architecture.

The design consists of flowing, curved style angles. It was designed by Iraqui-British architect  Zaha Hadid, who was the first woman to receive the Pritzker Architecture Prize.

World class exhibitions are featured here regularly.

Palace of the Shirvanshahs

The Palace of the Shirvanshahs is a 15th-century palace in Baku. It was built by the Shirvanshahs during the 15th century.

UNESCO describes the palace as one of the pearls of Azerbaijan’s architecture. It’s design reminds us of how advanced architecture was in the eastern part of Asia during that period.

The palace is complete with ancient royal facilities such as baths, shrines, mosques, and tombs.

Diri Baba Mausoleum

We go away from Baku one moment with a famous tomb in Maraza city, Gobustan Rayon, Azerbaijan.

The Diri Baba Mausoleum looks like an ancient tomb for somebody significant. Legend has it that the imperishable Saint Diri-Baba had been buried there.

This 15th century mosque has served as a landmark for pilgrims and curious visitors. What makes its architecture wonderful is the fact that the structure was actually built into the rock formation behind it.

It gives the impression that the tomb is suspended in the air.


Shamakhi is a city of rich heritage. It has become a backdrop for major political events for two millenniums.

This part of northern Azerbaijan’s has been a prominent trading and cultural center for centuries already. It is because Shamakhi was a key town in what was the Silk Road.

Some of the places to visit in Shamakhi are the Juma Mosque, Yeddi Gumbaz Mausoleum, Gulustan Castle, and the House-Museum of Mirza Alakbar Sabir

Gobustan National Park

Gobustan State Reserve is one of the few national historical landmarks left in the world. It was declared such by the Azerbaijan government in an attempt to preserve the ancient carvings, mud volcanoes and gas-stones in the region.

There are around 6,000 rock carvings all over the reserve, a testament to the land’s primitive roots. Carvings are of primitive activites such as rituals, battles, hunting, and animals.

Some of these rock carvings date back as far as 5,000-20,000 years. Almost half of the planet’s mud volcanoes can also be found in Gobustan.

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Why you shouldn’t go to the hyped tourist spots

You’ve probably read articles describing why you should go to London, Barcelona, Venice, Paris, etc. We all know that these cities are extremely touristic too, yet we are drawn in by these articles because if everyone else is going there, why shouldn’t we? I’m not saying that these cities, and other places that are very popular, aren’t worth visiting. But there’s so many other places in the world that you can go to, that offers just as beautiful landscapes, bustling atmosphere and sights like these places. Unfortunately, many people don’t discover them because they’re not marketed enough. So instead, people go to the most hyped up tourist spots. But here’s why you shouldn’t go to them and instead think outside the box:


Unfortunately, many of these places suffers from what is called “over-tourism”, when there’s simply too many tourists in one place. When this happens, the locals will start complaining because they feel tourists has taken over their home, places become way too crowded and prices rise. It might not always be the most pleasant experience either to be in a place where you can barely see anything because there’s too many people around. If that’s not really your thing (I don’t think anyone really likes it), try to visit other places.

Prices are usually higher

Whenever a place becomes more popular, you can surely expect prices to rise. Lisbon is a great example. A few years ago, no one hyped about this charming city. Nowadays, you can barely walk in the city center without bumping into people. This has for example resulted in higher accommodation prices, for both tourists and locals. It’s a given that popular places will cost more than they did before it became “a thing”. If you don’t mind paying a bit extra then go for it. Otherwise, start looking for other alternatives.

The places lose authenticity after a while

Unfortunately in tourism, the locals have to conform to the tourists and not the other way around. This results in locals opening up shops, restaurants and even hotels that will remind you of home. After all, some people don’t want to travel without having all the comforts from home. If you’ve ever traveled to Thailand, you’ve perhaps come across Swedish restaurants or British ones. I wouldn’t really say that’s very authentic to Thailand…

So, if you’re feeling a bit adventurous and would rather experience something different, why not go to a place close by the hyped up places? If you’re going to travel to Lisbon for example, why not go to Porto instead? Or rather than Venice, why not head south to Palermo? There’s so many beautiful destinations in the world, but for some reason, only a few of them are constantly listed as places that one “must visit”. If you’re looking for authenticity, look outside of these places. You’ll be pleasantly surprised by how much the world has to offer.

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