UPDATE: Since early 2016, visa agents in Almaty and Bishkek are saying Chinese borders with Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan are closed for foreigners. This is not true. If you already have a visa, you can enter China overland from Kazakhstan or Kyrgyzstan. Latest updates on the forum.
We have discussed Chinese border crossings on the Silk Road in depth on other pages, see the border crossing articles for Mongolia, Tajikistan, Kazakhstan, Pakistan and Kyrgyzstan. This page is all about the border closures. Chinese borders close often, for several days at a time, and reliable information about the dates is very hard to find.
What do we know?
We have lists of Chinese holidays, Kazakh holidays, Pakistan holidays and Kyrgyz holidays. We know the border closures do not correspond to these holidays though. For instance, in 2014, the Irkeshtam border was closed for the Chinese national holiday from 27th of September until 9th of October, even though the holiday is only 1-7 October. In 2015, Khorgos border was only closed 1-3 October.
Who might know more?
- Kyrgyzstan: Tour operators who arrange the Torugart crossing: Kubat Tour and CBT in Naryn, or CBT in Osh.
- Kyrgyz news website Kabar. There are lots of other news posts so you need to search the posts for words like “Irkeshtam”.
- Kazakhstan: The Almaty bus station runs a daily bus to Urumqi (Tel: 230 25 29, 276 26 44, 276 26 77). They should know.
- China: Your embassy in China. The Swiss embassy definitely knows so if you can pose for a Swiss.
- Mongolia: ?
- Pakistan: ?
If you have a reliable contact, or extra information, let us know! We dedicated a forum topic to the question.