Transport in Shymkent
Air - Shymkent's airport is some 10km out of the centre. Leave town on the Temirlan road, taking the signposted left turn for the airport after 9km. Bus route 12 will bring you here. Air Astana offers one or two flights daily from Almaty, and two a week to Atyrau via Kyzylorda. The local airline, Scat, has a daily flight to Astana, two a week to Almaty, two a week to Atyrau, and three a week to Aktau (the last with onward connections to Baku, Yerevan, Tbilisi, Rostov and Mineral nye Vody). It also flies twice a week to Sharjah and once to Moscow. Transaero flies twice weekly to Moscow.
Bus, Van & Taxi - For Almaty, comfortable air-conditioned buses (12 hours) depart from Avtovokzal Samal, 4km north of the centre, every half-hour from 6pm to 8pm; from Avtovokzal Ayna (corner Zhibek Zholy & Aymautov), 3km northeast of the centre, at 6.30pm, 7pm and 7.30pm; from the train station at 6.30pm; and from beneath the MiG plane monument opposite Ordabasy ploshchad at 7pm. You can go and book seats for all of these earlier in the day. For Taraz, marshrutkas (three hours) depart Samal from 7am to 7pm. Shared taxis go from just outside Samal’s entrance. For Turkistan there are marshrutkas (two hours) and eight daily buses (three hours, 9am to 6.20pm) from Samal. Buses to Kyzylorda (eight hours, four daily) go from Samal.
Train - The railway station sits south of the centre, at the southern end of Kabanbai Batyr Avenue. From the train station at least five trains a day go to Almaty (13 to 16 hours), Kyzylorda (9 to 10 hours), Taraz (four hours) and Turkistan (four hours) and three or more to Aralsk (16 to 18 hours), and at least two to Aktobe (28 to 31 hours). The best service to Almaty is train 12 at 6pm. There are also trains to Astana and Aktobe at least daily, to Moscow most days and to Mangyshlak (Aktau) every two days. Trains to Tashkent (8,5 hours) go in the early hours of Monday and Thursday.
Other options - Marshrutkas to Zhabagyly village (two hours) leave Shymkent’s Ayna bus station around 11am and 2pm. Alternatively, there are marshrutkas about every half-hour, 7.30am to 3pm, from Ayna to Turar-Ryskulov (also called Turarkent or Vanovka; 1,5 hours) on the Taraz highway, where you can get a taxi from the market for the 20km trip to Zhabagyly. Transport to Tulkibas is also available at Turar-Ryskulov. You can also take a train from Almaty, Taraz or Shymkent to Tulkibas and arrange with your accommodation to be picked up from there. Train 11, departing Almaty-II station at about 5pm daily, reaches Tulkibas at about 5am. Or come by bus or taxi from Taraz or Almaty and get out at Akbiik, 7km east of Turar-Ryskulov, then take a taxi for the 12km trip to Zhabagyly.