View from the mountain top
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How to Get from Almaty to Shymbulak

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Almaty, Kazakhstan is the gateway for exploring Shymbulak, Kazakhstan’s premier ski resort. Likely if you are visiting Almaty you will be heading from Almaty to Shymbulak at least once. Whether it is during the winter for skiing in Kazakhstan or in the summer for hiking the Zailiyskiy Alatau Mountains, you will not want to miss this opportunity to explore some of the nature that abounds in Kazakhstan.

While travelers can stay at Shymbulak, in fact, some of the best hotels are in the Shymbulak resort, many people (including us) chose to stay in Almaty and make the trek to Shymbulak each day. Almaty has access to more restaurants, bars, and cultural activities to spend your time when you are not skiing or hiking.

Luckily, getting from Almaty to Shymbulak couldn’t be easier with a direct bus line servicing the ski resort. If you do, however, want to avoid the hassle of taking a bus, the Shymbulak cable car at Medeu-Shymblak station is also easily accessed by private taxi.

Almaty to Shymbulak By Taxi

Get from Almaty to Shymbulak by Yandex Go tai
Yandex Go Taxi in Almaty, the easiest way to get from Almaty to Shymbulak

The easiest way to get from Almaty to Shymbulak is by taxi. You may be wondering if you can get there by Uber, but unfortunately, Kazakhstan does not have Uber (as of February 2023). They do, however, use another ride-sharing app called Yandex Go. Yandex Go operates in the same way as Uber. You request a ride using the app based on your location and where you want to go. You can pay in cash or by card on the app.

The cost of a Yandex Go taxi from the city center to Shymbulak should cost between 1,600 ₸ ($3.50 USD) to 3,000 ₸ ($6.75 USD) one-way to the Medeu-Shymbulak Station at the foot of the mountain. From here, you will need to catch the cable car to reach the top. A Yandex Go taxi may be willing to drive you to the top of the mountain depending on the road conditions and the willingness of the driver, however, we did not catch a taxi to the top.

Almaty to Shymbulak by Bus

Waiting on the bus from Almaty to Shymbulak
Waiting on Bus No. 12 from Almaty to Shymbulak on a cold winter’s morning

The second best option for getting from Almaty to Shymbulak is by public transportation. Almaty’s public transportation network is very good and makes it easy to get around town and to the Medeu-Shymbulak station.

The bus route to reach Shymbulak is number 12. The number 12 bus starts at the Alma Alta 2 train station and runs along Abylai Khan Avenue before taking a left onto Kurmngazy Street. From here the No 12. bus takes a right onto Dostyk Avenue where it continues until it runs into Gornaya Street which ultimately leads to the Medeu-Shymbulak station. Click here for further details of all of the no 12. bus route stops.

The bus journey takes approximately 45 minutes if you catch it close to the beginning of the route. (We caught the bus at Mämetova St transit station.) If you jump on the bus from Dostyk Avenue, the journey should take approximately 30 minutes. The bus route runs every 16 minutes from 6:00 am to 10:00 pm each day.

A ticket to ride the bus costs 150 ₸ (less than $0.50 USD) per person and should be paid in cash. Bus drivers are usually willing to provide small amounts of change (i.e., pay with less than 1,000 ₸), but I would be hesitant to try to ride the bus with any large denomination. There is an app available for download for Almaty public transportation called ONAY!, but the app information is only available in Russian or Kazakh.

Traveling with your ski gear is permitted but will likely incur a surcharge, although we only had to pay this once or twice during the season as it is entirely dependent upon the mood of the driver.

The best way to monitor transit times and make sure you are not standing outside after just missing the bus is to use the Yandex Go app. The Yandex Go app provides up-to-date transit information allowing you to track the bus’ exact location. This can be extremely helpful on cold winter mornings.

Shymbulak Cable Car

The Shymbulak cable car line
The line to get on the Shymbulak cable car to the Shymbulak Ski Resort base station

Ok, so you have reached the base of the mountain and the Medeu-Shymbulak station. The last leg of the journey is quite possibly the best as you get panoramic views over the beautiful Zailiyskiy Alatau mountain range.

The cable car to the Shymbulak Ski Resort takes approximately 25 minutes. Tickets for the Skymbulak cable car can be purchased online in advance (we did not try this) or at the ticket window. There is usually no line or a very short line.

The Shymbulak cable car is open from 8:30 am – 6:00 pm daily (and during the winter until 11:00 pm on Thursdays and Saturdays for night skiing). For those hitting the slopes, the price of the cable car ride is included in your ski pass. For those who are hiking or simply want to enjoy the views from the top, cable car only passes may be purchased.

As of January 2023, the Shymbulak ski resort and cable car prices were as follows for adults:

  • Full day skiers (weekdays)= 11,400 ₸ (or $25 USD)
  • Full day skiers (weekends/holidays)= 7,600 ₸ (or $17 USD)
  • Morning skiers from 9:00 – 13:30 = 6,800 ₸ (or $15 USD)
  • Afternoon skiers from 13:00 – 17:00 = 5,800 ₸ (or $13 USD)
  • Shymbulak cable car only to base station = 3,500 ₸ (or $8 USD)
  • Shymbulak cable car only to the highest station (3,200m) = 4,000 ₸ (or $9 USD)

For the most up-to-date price list, check the Shymbulak Ski Resort website.

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As you can see getting from Almaty to Shymbulak is pretty simple. Whether you choose to travel to Shymbulak by taxi or if you prefer to travel from Alamaty to Shymbulak by bus, you will be at the Shymbulak cable car in less than an hour!

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