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Barakholka Market

Venture out to Almaty’s notorious district of shops in shipping containers, where we’ll dive into traditional Kazakh culture at a crafts bazaar and dine on Afghan pilaf.  

Barakholka Market

When we started doing this tour, it made headlines! That’s because Barakholka is a place with a reputation that looms large in the Almatian imagination, a district of largely black market bazaars that’s known as a world of chaos and counterfeit goods — but certainly not as a tourist destination. We wanted to change that. 

Barakholka may be looked down upon by Almaty’s cultural elite, but it is a major motor of the local economy, What started as an underground trading point for black market goods in the Perestroika era (barakholka is Russian for "flea market") would later sprawl into a city-within-a-city of stores in shipping containers, selling everything from underwear to construction supplies. Now, tens of thousands of Almatians work and shop there every day, and for many rural migrants in particular, Barakholka is a place to hustle and chase the Almaty Dream. 

For travelers who want to look behind the curtain and experience Kazakhstan’s largest city like a local, Barakholka is a dream as well. We start our adventure at the Arlan Market, a stand-alone bazaar that’s almost entirely dedicated to Kazakh crafts, including traditional clothes, cradles and wedding gifts. If Arlan is where couples go to get their traditional party favors, our next destination, Baisat, is where brides try on distinctive Kazakh wedding outfits - including conical saukele headdresses fitted with fur and feathers. Baisat is also Barakholka’s foodie mecca, so we finish our market crawl with a meal at a legendary Afghan palaukhana (a cafe with fragrant pilaf).     

What You'll See

  • Arlan Market (Kazakh crafts bazaar)

  • Baisat Market (Kazakh wedding bazaar)

  • Afghan palaukhana (pilaf restaurant)

  • Lots of super-authentic Almaty traffic!

  • …and more!

What You'll Learn

  • Why are Kazakh pillows decorated with ram's horns?

  • What was Nicholas Cage given when he visited Kazakhstan?

  • How do Kazakh cradles have their own plumbing system?

  • Why is Barakholka an overlooked culinary paradise? 


 Starting Point 

Guest's Preference

Any address (hotel, home, etc.) within 45 minute drive of Barakholka

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1 km (0.6 miles)

Not a lot of walking - think "window shopping"!

Route map here

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Everything you'd ever want

A charming tour guide!

Transportation to/from Barakholka!

A delicious plate of Afghan plov!


 Ending Point 

Guest's Preference

Any address (hotel, home, etc.) within 45 minute drive of Barakholka



3-4 hours

Walk fast? We might finish early.

Have a lot of questions? We might finish late. 

This tour requires an above-average amount of time in the car, getting there and back


 Not Included 

Various indulgences

Kitschy souvenirs

Horse milk

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