You should check with your own health authority as to what vaccinations, if any, are advised before you travel to Kazakhstan. Basic primary health care and initial emergency care for expats and business visitors is usually provided via ISOS clinics. It is important to find out from your own company who is responsible for your medical care before coming to Aktau. Likewise, International Medevac services for expats are supported by ISOS via an air ambulance plane based out of country. Visitors are advised to take sufficient medication for personal use with a letter from their GP and copy of the prescription. ISOS only sources internationally recognised suppliers and brands of medicine.
It is recommended to drink only bottled water, including in hotels. When drinking bottled water it is advisable to check that the seal on the bottle in intact, before opening, as some restaurants have been known to refill bottles using tap water – however the heavy chlorine smell usually gives it away.
Most modern apartment buildings in Aktau have water tanks and purifiers. The water comes from a desalination plant a kilometre out of town.
All the major hotels have restaurants that produce good quality food in hygienic conditions. There are also a good number of private restaurants that produce excellent quality food. However, as anywhere, in some restaurants hygiene levels may be questionable. Visitors are advised to ask around and listen to recommendations of others who have been here longer.
Aktau is no less safe than any European equivalent. Incidents that have occurred usually have happened in the evening or late at night and mostly in and around bars and involve alcohol.
Some common sense safety principles.
Behave in a conservative manner and do not do anything that stands out or overtly attracts interest or attention by manner of dress, behaviour or otherwise.
Ensure you do not visit areas of the city unknown to you or criminal areas.
Do not openly display money or wealth such as wallets, jewellery, smart mobile telephones or other valuables.
Do not walk alone at night.
Avoid consuming excess alcohol.
Avoid flagging down taxis at the road-side; the cars are often in a poor condition and some don’t have seat-belts.
Never allow a taxi you are in to stop and pick up another fare and never get into a taxi if the driver is accompanied.
Always carry your mobile telephone and emergency numbers.
Most Kazakh people are warm by nature and keen to communicate. Be respectful of Kazakh traditions and treat their older generation with authority and respect. If you are not happy with something; suggest rather than tell how you think it should be. Always speak at an equal level to people – do not think yourself or your practices above them.
Do not be derogatory about Kazakhstan; its people, customs or traditions, especially in public places including bars and restaurants. In meetings do not overtly chew gum or put your feet on the furniture.
Do not insult, or make jokes about the President. He is widely respected.