Before we went on this Irkeshtam pass land border crossing from Xinjiang to Kyrgyzstan, we realised that there was not much recent information on this online, so I decided to document everything down to make someone else’s life much easier.
*Do note that the Irkeshtam Pass borders are only open from Monday to Friday
**It WILL BE a long day if you intend to do the land border crossing 🙂
We checked out of our hotel at 6.55am – Nuer lan Hotel (very good location btw!) Went out to the main road to flag a taxi. Boarded taxi at a fixed rate of 20yuan to Kashgar bus station (opposite railway station) at 7am (do not be confused with the international bus station, the one you should go to is the bus station opposite railway station)
Reached bus station by taxi at 7.20am. We tried to find taxis to bring us to Wuqia but no one wanted to take us cause apparently there’re alot of necessary documents that they need to bring with them to this checkpoint so they don’t wanna take us. (Read previously on other people’s blogs that they could easily find shared taxis at 7+ am, guess that was the past? Seems like the security has been tightened lately so most taxis don’t wanna take you)
This is how the bus station looks like!
We had to wait for the bus station to open at 9am. (Please do only arrive at 9am, don’t be like us and waste our time!) We managed to buy tickets for licensed shared taxi for 33 yuan at the ticketing counter inside at around 9.15am. (We decided not to waste time, we paid 33x 4 yuan for entire taxi to depart immediately without needing to wait for 2 more passengers). Anyway, don’t worry it’s a taxi not bus even though it’s in a bus station ticketing counter. We paid additional 30yuan for the driver to bring us to the border at wuqia.
9.28am depart shared taxi from bus station.
Here comes the crazy part, there are a total of 5 checkpoints before you get to the Kyrgyzstan side.
Check point 1 before wuqia, passports are checked.
Check point 2 after wuqia at chinese immigration side. Passports are checked, your phones are checked too. They will record down your phone imei number. A driver will then bring you to check point 3 for free.
Check point 3 at Chinese immigration side again, where you will finally get to stamp out. At this point, you’re still 180km from Kyrgyzstan side even though you’ve stamped out, lol. Your passports are checked here, and also, they’ll install some programme on your phone to run a check if you’ve any unauthorised stuff on your phone as part of their security measures. At 12.10pm, we cleared Chinese customs (just before they go for lunch phew). The same driver waited for us and we paid 400yuan for the entire car to bring us through the Irkeshtam pass to Kyrgyz border.
View along the Irkeshtam Pass so incredible.
2.30pm, we reached checkpoint 4, but we had to must for the border to open at 4.30pm, so we ate lunch there.
Border reopen at 5pm (supposed to be 4.30pm though). Security checkpoint 4 here still at China side again. Hopped onto a lorry as told by the Chinese officials to securit check point 5 cause our vehicle could not bring us beyond checkpoint 4.
This was where we stopped for lunch, it’s just right beside the border gate!
We ate yak meat soup(?)
The empty patch in front of the border gates.
Security checkpoint 5 at China side, passports were checked.
Now on no man’s land. Walked for 3-4km to the Kyrgyzstan border from check point 5, cause the lorries had a delay and couldn’t clear for a long time so we decided to walk over to save time, and we were afraid we wouldn’t make it to the Kyrgyz border in time for the afternoon opening hours.
Walking on no man’s land! View was great, but it was quite torturous with our backpacks on us.
Immigration very swift at Kyrgyzstan side, only about 10 minutes at most. There were 2 checkpoints within 400m of each other. After clearing, we told the officials we needed a shared taxi to Osh. It was super ex. They quoted us 800 yuan (8000 som) initially for a shared taxi ride to osh, and we bargained down to 500 yuan (which was still a complete rip off).
We stayed at Biy Ordo Hotel & hostel in Osh.
The entire border crossing took us from 9am (Xinjiang’s timing) to 8pm (Osh timing) when we arrived in our hotel. So after including the time difference, that’s about 13 hours. I’d say it’s quite an interesting land border crossing and would recommend everyone to try it once! 🙂 Being able to speak mandarin really helped us alot in the process.
I’ve read online and realised that there are 2 different passes to cross the land border. Torugat Pass seems to have more information but from what I recalled, only the chinese locals can go through that pass, for foreigners who want to travel via Torugat Pass will need a guide to arrange for you. As it is such a hassle and more expensive for foreigners, most people end up doing the Irkeshtam pass instead.
Hope this post has helped someone cross the border! Do share your experiences with us 🙂
Read about my entire itinerary for Xinjiang to Kyrgyzstan here!