Kazakhstan offers a wide variety of natural landscapes to the hardier traveler, ranging from forests and mountain ranges to the vast steppes where Kazakh nomads live in tents called yurts and race thoroughbred horses and camels. The old capital, Almaty (Kazakh for "mountain of apples"), has no historic attractions but is an attractive city where tree-lined streets, parks, fountains, and canals give it a European flavor. In the winter, ice skating is popular on its waterways. Air service to Kazakhstan is good, with direct flights to Almaty from Ankara, Frankfurt, Hamburg, and other cities, as well as frequent daily flights from Moscow. Kazakhstan is open to both business travelers and tourists. Visas are required by all visitors and are obtainable upon arrival or through embassies abroad and companies that sell package tours of Central Asia. The principal accommodations are hotels that formerly belonged to the Soviet Intourist system. However, foreign chains are currently developing a number of projects in Central Asia.
In 2000, there were approximately 1,680,000 foreign visitors to Kazakhstan. Tourist receipts reached about $356 million. According to 2001 US Department of State estimates, the daily estimated cost of staying in Almaty was about $264. In Astana, expenses averaged $265 per day, while stays in other parts of the country were about $112 per day.