Thirsty Thursdays: Top 5 Bars in Almaty, Kazakhstan

Thirsty Thursdays: Top 5 Bars in Almaty, Kazakhstan

Thirsty Thursdays: Top 5 Bars in Almaty, Kazakhstan

Almaty is a massive city, spreading far and wide in its elevation beneath the mountains of southern Kazakhstan. At first, finding a bar seemed like a difficult task for the walking backpacker. So I used my maps and advice from the staff at the Almaty Backpackers hostel and soon I knew I was able to tour some of the city’s bars by day and night, securing a favourite in Bochonok, one of my top bars from the last month or so of travel. I was in Almaty for five days and managed to visited five bars that I liked. Of course there are many more I didn’t get to, but for this time, on this journey, these are my top 5.

Enjoying a beer in Bochonok, Almaty, Kazakhstan

Enjoying a beer in Bochonok, Almaty, Kazakhstan

1.Bochonok
Standing head and shoulders above the rest is the lively and welcoming Bochonok bar. I headed here with a local lady, Mira from the hostel on Christmas Eve and before we knew it we were up singing and dancing with Kazakhstani versions of Santa Claus and Mary Christmas. We won competitions for free food and beer on a a memorable night.

A marvellous night on Christmas Eve 2015 at Bochonok

A marvellous night on Christmas Eve 2015 at Bochonok

Bochonok became a regular haunt for the next four nights and the staff knew me by the end of it. I also spent a quiet afternoon in here typing up articles and responding to e-mails. It has fast WiFi.

Bochonok

Bochonok

For a central bar (it’s on Furmanov Street), the prices were brilliant. Beers for 499 Tenge, local Kazak beer too. That works out at under £2 a pint. The bar also shows live football from Spain, England, Russia, Germany and Kazakhstan. This bar is the cheapest on the list, has the best food, the best décor, the best staff and is an overall gem. If you’re backpacking in Almaty, don’t miss it!

Food in Bochonok

Food in Bochonok

Lunch in Bochonok

Lunch in Bochonok

2.Shakespeare Pub
This British themed pub was a fair bit more expensive, and also has WiFi and live music. However it was definitely worth the walk to (it’s down towards the bottom of Dostyk Avenue) as they have a beer called Line Brew on tap, which is local and I didn’t see it anywhere else. The staff speak good English and were in a happy Christmas vibe on my visit.

Line Brew beer in the Shakespeare Pub

Line Brew beer in the Shakespeare Pub

A party on Christmas Night in the Shakespeare Pub, Almaty

A party on Christmas Night in the Shakespeare Pub, Almaty

It is popular for British and American immigrants which may have helped with the price inflation. As a result they also have foreign beers on tap for a premium.

The Shakespeare Pub

The Shakespeare Pub

3.Yard House
Relaxed by day and like a party bar by night, Yard House is a good option and one of the closest pubs to my hostel at Almaty Backpackers. I popped in for my fix of Russian beer and Mexican food(!).

Russian beer and Mexican food in Yard House

Russian beer and Mexican food in Yard House

It also has WiFi, live music in the evening and football on TV. It’s probably the most upmarket looking on my list, yet prices seem more reasonable than in Shakespeare.

A beer in Yard House Pub

A beer in Yard House Pub

Yard House Pub

Yard House Pub

4.Guinness Pub
With a name like Guinness Pub, this one caught my eye but failed to live up to expectation. The Guinness sign was just for show really, as inside it wasn’t really an Irish Pub. More of an odd bunker bar and with Guinness and Kilkenny costing more than 1,100 Tenge (more than double the price of my beloved Kazak beer in Bochonok), it was a quick beer (cheapest on the menu was 800 Tenge) and then I left.

Guinness Pub in Almaty

Guinness Pub in Almaty

Guinness Pub

Guinness Pub

5.Cafe Central
Situated on the edge of Dostyk Plaza on the corner of Dostyk Avenue near my hostel, Café Central is a dearer option with a bit of class. I popped in for a quick Corona and bite of Sushi, they have no beer on tap and only a few local food types.

Beer and sushi in Cafe Central

Beer and sushi in Cafe Central

It’s worth a quick beer and they have live music on piano here and it’s where the richer folk hang out. Wearing a Northern Ireland shirt and tracksuit bottoms, I loved it though!

Living it up in Cafe Central, Almaty

Living it up in Cafe Central, Almaty

Piano in Cafe Central

Piano in Cafe Central

So that is my cool top five, but from reading it, you’ll gather I could have made it a top 1, with Bochonok the clear winner. What a bar!

Up dancing on Christmas Eve in Bochonok, Almaty, Kazakhstan

Up dancing on Christmas Eve in Bochonok, Almaty, Kazakhstan

Here are some videos of my time in the bars of Almaty:

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3 thoughts on “Thirsty Thursdays: Top 5 Bars in Almaty, Kazakhstan

  • I had to do a double take of your review of the Yard House Pub as the Yard House is a popular sports bar chain in the United States. I’ve been to the Los Angeles and Indianapolis locations within the past year. I love it for its ambience, numerous television screens playing North American professional sports, and the fact that they serve over 100+ American craft beers. And from what I can tell from your photos at the Almaty location, it is set up similarly to the ones in the United States, as well. However, the only thing they have in common is the name only as the Yard House has no International franchises yet from what I know. That is an awesome freak coincidence!

  • Hi Ray,

    I must be honest, I have never heard of Yard House pub before but from what you tell me, it seems like a perfect chain of pubs that I would love, right?! Similar to the way JD Wetherspoons covered that market in England and Wales. Next time I’m in the USA I will check it out for sure. Also, it’s important to note that Kazakhstan is a very forward thinking country, despite being so friendly with Russia, they also love having the USA as allies and they aim to be as economically successful as the USA. It’s no wonder, chains and pubs like this are popping up – the locals love them and though I was the only tourist in there, it’s nice to see countries like Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan doing this. I have also now watched 2 AFC Bournemouth matches live in Bishkek, pretty amazing, both times, the bars were so so happy to stay open for me to finish the matches. Amazing really. A great part of the world to backpack through. Up next – hopefully the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous region, Tajikistan and Afghanistan. Safe travels. Jonny

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