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Almaty is the largest city in Kazakhstan.
Drivers coming from the north, west, or southwest who cannot take you to the city centre can drop you off at Altyn Orda on the western outskirts of the city, where you can take a bus into the city costing around 50 tenge (as of Summer 2008).
The exit point for northern, western, and southwestern destinations is Altyn Orda, a market at the western outskirts of the city. This can be reached by any bus that runs the length of the street Tole Bi. In the centre one can, for example, catch a bus from the bus stop on the northwestern corner of Ablay Khana and Tole Bi. Due to Almaty's persistent traffic jams, this bus journey may take up to an hour.
Just along the route going out of the city from the main gate of Altyn Orda, the so-called Tashkentskoe shosse begins. There are various mashrutkas and unofficial taxis parked along the road, and people who are willing to pay for transport to a nearby village are waiting. Walk a little further west than the crowd and raise your thumb. You may have to wave several drivers on before you can find one who is willing to take you for free.
Southwest to Bishkek (M33)
Option 1: From Altyn Orda take any westbound car. Any driver turning off can drop you along the side of the road, where you can quickly hitch on. The point at which the westbound motorway splits from the road going to Bishkek is a town called Korday. The border is south of this town and you can walk across it and hitch from the other side if necessary.
Option 2: Take bus Nr. 54 from Raiymbek Street which passes close by Almaty 2 train station. Get of the bus when it turns left after the big market. From there you can start hitchhiking or you can walk 1km more to the next gasstation. From there a lot of cars will go towards Bishkek as mentioned above.
North to Balkhash, Karaganda, Astana (M36)
From Altyn Orda, take a car to where the M36 splits off from the Tashkentskoe shosse', only a few kilometers outside the city and near a large car market (Russian autorynok). One can walk up along the ramp, or cut across a field, to a parking lot full of local trucks and hitch from alongside the road there. Most drivers who will stop here are going only to the villages near Almaty, and it may be difficult to find a driver willing to take you for free. Try to get lifts to about 30km away, always ensuring that you stay on the road with direction Karaganda. From after the last major village in the hinterlands of Almaty, you can try to stop long-distance traffic. Local villagers who wait around to hitch a ride claim that most northbound trucks leave Almaty in the evening. During the day traffic is sparse.
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