Kazakhstan shares borders with Russia, China, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. Note that there is no common border between Kazakhstan and Mongolia.
To see the location of the border posts, check the Silk Road border crossing map on the overview page. For more information on getting around Kazakhstan, see the transport section. For more info on visas, check out the Kazakhstan visa chapter. If you are heading to/coming from Mongolia by bus or train, see Kazakhstan – Mongolia by public transport.
Kazakhstan might close its borders around 6th of July, the birthday of the president.
Kazakhstan – China border crossings
Kazakhstan has 7 border crossing points with China. Not all of them are operational though. Be sure to read up on the intricacies of Chinese border closures.
Maikapchagai-Jeminay: Connecting North Kazakhstan with Turkestan (Xinjiang province) in China on the Ust-Kamenogorsk – Altay road. Closed on Saturday and Sunday. During the week open from 10:30 to 14:00 and from 15:00 to 19:30 (Chinese time). You can not walk or cycle though, and your obliged to take a bus across, two actually.
June 2012: The border police was utterly friendly, but a little bit slow and it took me in total about 4 hours to cross the border. I was caught in a lunch break and a power cut caused an extra delay. I’m not sure but it seemed that the border police provides a bit of food and tea if you are stuck at the border during lunch, very interesting.
Crossing was dead simple, fill out a form, no questions asked. After the border a swarm of Chinese people will rush towards you like a swarm of mosquitoes asking you if you need a taxi, if you need to change money et cetera. Try to change a little bit of money because I couldn’t find a working cash machine nor a exchange point in Jeminay. Hitchhiking is quite possible if you take a stroll away from the border.
Bakhty-Tacheng: Another, smaller border crossing between North Kazakhstan and Turkestan/Xinjiang.
Dostyk/Druzhba – Alashankou: Main border crossing for passenger rail and road travel. By train, count on 8 hours at the border. China and Soviet railroads use different gauges, and the wheels of the train need to be changed.
Khorgos – Khorgas: Khorgas, also known as Huoerguosi, Huocheng, Khorgos, Chorgos and Gorgos. The Khorgos border area is now a visa-free zone allowing Kazakh shoppers to easily hop into China and back to buy cheap things.
The border opens at 10.30 Beijing time, it opens every day. Once you are through Chinese immigration, there are many buses to Almaty. Expect to pay 5000 tenge. A marshrutka from Zharkent to the Chinese border post costs 1500 tenge (November 2014).
Cyclists are not allowed to cross themselves, they need to take a bus. If needed, there is a very nice trucker home on the left roadside right before the first pre-border barrier.
Kolzhat – Dulart: Bilateral border crossing open only to Kazakhs and Chinese nationals.
2 other border crossings between Kazakhstan and China are not operational: Narynkol – Muzart in the southeast, and Alekseevka- Aheytubiek in the northeast. See the border crossing map for more information.
Kazakhstan – Kyrgyzstan border crossings
Kordai: Busiest crossing between KZ and KG. Many heavily-packed shuttle traders from Dordoi market wait to cross on the Kyrgyz side, especially on weekends. As a foreigner you are allowed to pass them and go straight to the front of the line.
Usually, the later it gets, the busier (night time is fine though). In case you are left without transport after the border, on the Kyrgyz side there are many buses going straight to the centre of Bishkek and Dordoi for 20 som. On the Kazakh side, shared taxis vie for your business for 3000 tenge to Almaty. Border is open 24/7. Updates posted here.
On the Kyrgyz side, you are not stamped in or out by the people in the booths, but instead by the guards sitting inside the central room. Knock politely and give them your passport, wait 2 minutes to get it back.
Self-driving, watch out for the traffic police just beyond the border on the Kyrgyz side. There is a stop sign that should not be ignored; even when stopping, a bribe could be solicited.
Karkara valley (Kegen – Tup/Kensu): Updates collected in this forum post. The Karkara crossing opens only in summer, approximately mid-May to end of October, from 9 am to 6 pm. In 2014, it opened on May 19th, in 2015 on May 13th. In 2016, it closed on October 30th.
It is a good way to go from Almaty to Karakol, but there is no public transport for travelers without their own. It is a very scenic crossing.
For those with their own transport: It’s 30 km from Kegen and about 85 to Tup on the Kyrgyz side. Come prepared, there is little in the way of supplies between these towns. The road is rough gravel for the last 15 km on the Kazakh side and the first 50 or so on the Kyrgyz side.
Karkara and Kegen don’t have money changing facilities. If you are coming from Kyrgyzstan, try to get tenge in Karakol. On the Kazakh side, the offroad route from Turgen to Bartogai Reservoir comes highly recommended, although it is very steep if you are cycling.
On public transport
Karakol -> Almaty: From Karakol it is possible to get a local minibus to the beginning of the final road to the border (roughly 5km) for 150 som. The minibus does not run often, do not rely on it. You can try to catch it from the west side of Ak-Tilek Bazaar, just ask around for Karkara, and they will kick you out near the border. On the Kazakh side, there is no public transport, but people will be willing to give a lift if you can wait for them. The border guards can call their taxi friends in Kegen: expect to pay 20$ for the car to Almaty. Camping or staying in a yurt with locals is an option if you get stuck near the border.
Karakol to the border will cost around 20$ with a taxi.
Almaty -> Karakol: A shared taxi from Almaty to Kegen will cost around 10$ for a seat. Shared taxis in Almaty to Kegen hang out around Sayakhat bus station and tend to leave early. In Kegen , taxi drivers hang out near the petrol station, they ask 10$ for the ride to the border. From the border to Karakol, you need to wait for a car to hitchhike, or organise a ride in advance with a local tour operator.
Kegen -> Khorgos (China border): hitchhike or bargain for a ride to Shonzhy with a taxi driver in Kegen (2000 tenge/seat). From Shonzhy, there are shared taxis to Zharkent (1000 tenge/seat). From Zharkent, you need to be lucky to quickly find another hitched ride or shared taxi to Khorgos. Updates here.
Alatau: A hiking path from Almaty to Lake Issyk-Kul. This was once one of the top hiking trails in the Soviet Union, but at the moment this border post cannot be crossed by foreigners, or even locals.
Karasu: Not recommended to take this border crossing near Kordai. A giant line of trucks will be ahead of you.
Sypatai Batyr (Chaldybar): Border crossing on the most direct road between Bishkek and Taraz, between the villages of Merke (KAZ) and Kara-Baltynin (KG). Easy-going.
Aisha Bibi – Chongkapka: Border crossing between Taraz and Talas. In Taraz, finding transport to the border can take time. Taxi costs perhaps 2000 tenge. Money exchange is available at the border. On the other side, transport options are low again. 200 som for a taxi to Talas is reasonable. There is a small restaurant on the Kyrgyz side if you are hungry. Updates posted here.
Kazakhstan – Uzbekistan border crossings
Crossing into Uzbekistan comes with quite a few peculiarities, see Uzbekistan’s border crossings for the full list.
Chernayevka/Gisht-Kuprik/Zhibek-Joly: It is the main road and rail link between Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, connecting Shymkent and Tashkent. Generally straightforward crossing nowadays, but there can be considerable waiting time with fisticuffs breaking out occasionally due to the stressful circumstances. If it’s busy, try to stay calm and wait your turn. Many Uzbeks cross the border every day. The border is open 24h with a few breaks daily. If you are self-driving, you cannot take this border. Instead, you have to cross further west at Yalama (below).
From Tashkent: There are no marshrutkas going cross-border. From Tashkent you can take a whole taxi for 10$ from the city center, or a taxi or Damas marshrutka for a miniature sum to the border, leaving from the bus stop at the Yunusobod Univermag supermarket. Marshrutkas to Shymkent are possible during the day, however shared taxis are more likely to be found. 1000 KZT would be a reasonable price for a seat in the car.
From Shymkent: You can pick up a shared taxi to the border here, but make sure it is going to Zhibek Zholy, not Yalama!
B. Konysbayeva / Yalama: The place to cross for self-drivers coming to Tashkent. It’s not as convenient as Chernayevka, but should you be here without your own transport, at a guess the simplest route from Uzbekistan would be to get to Chinaz and jump in a car to Yalama. There are shared taxis waiting on the Kazakh side for locals.
Shardara: According to this government document, this is a multilateral checkpoint. There are no accounts of travelers passing this way, however. Advised to use the main Shymkent-Tashkent highway.
Tajen: On the Beyneu – Kungrad road. There is also a daily train from Kungrad to Beyneu, which takes approximately 10 hours. No issues reported here. Updates reported here.
Kazakhstan – Turkmenistan border crossing
On entering Turkmenistan you have to pay 12$ entry tax, to be paid in dollars only. The borders are usually closed for lunch.
Temirbaba: Remote border crossing on the (very bad on both sides) Zhanaozen-Turkmenbashi road. There is no public transport available, and taxis can be expensive: 6000 tenge to Zhanaozen, 45$ to Turkmenbashi. Take 3,5 hours for 180 km on the Turkmen side. Expect a long wait on either side of the border when driving, it’s still quite busy. A 4WD is preferred.
Turkmenbashi to Garabogaz/Bekdash – pure desert. There is a hotel in the main square next to the beach should you wish to stay overnight. Shared taxi to the border from Garabogaz: 10$, 1 hour drive Without transport, you can walk to the Kazakh side of the border, some 3km. Very hot in summer. You can buy water and some shitty food at the border. The first 50 km of road are really bad, then it gets slightly better. Hitchhiking this road is possible, but might take some time, and perseverance to wait for someone willing to take you for free.
Kazakhstan – Russia border crossings
Kazakhstan and Russia share the longest continuous border in the world at 6846km length. So quite a few border crossings here.
Zhanaul: On the main road from Atyrau to Astrakhan, this is a big and generally smooth border crossing. Also a major railroad border crossing.
Taskala: On the main road from Uralsk to Saratov. Very basic, but easy-going. No problems reported so far.
Mashtakov: On the main road from Uralsk to Samara. Reasonably straightforward.
August 2013: “Approaching from the Russian side, the official at the entry gate provides you with a small piece of blank paper on which he writes: (i) the number of persons in your vehicle; and (ii) your vehicle’s registration number. Once through this initial gate, you proceed to the joint passport and customs control area. You show the official your passport, the entry slip that was provided to you when entering Russia and the piece of paper provided to you by the official at the entry gate. The official will stamp your passport out of Russia and retain the entry slip. We were not required to provide the border officials with our hotel registration slips. Before leaving the passport control office, you need to obtain a stamp on the slip that was provided to you at the initial gate (you may need to ask for this stamp) – you then provide this to the next official on your approach to the Kazakhstan check point.
At the Kazakhstan checkpoint, you need to obtain an immigration card from the small building on the left hand side of the road immediately next to the entry gate. You need to complete this slip and show it to the gate official along with your passport and vehicle registration documents before you are permitted to enter the border control area. Once inside the border area, take your passport, immigration slip and the vehicle ownership documents to the large building to the right hand side. They will provide you with a stamped immigration card, passport and register your vehicle’s details. Once obtained, you can leave the border area. Importantly, as you leave the border area there are a number of small temporary buildings on the right hand side from which you are required to purchase car insurance from, however, there are no signs directing them to you. Insurance for 1 month for a 2005 Land Cruiser Prado cost 4,000 tenge.”
Dimitrovo – Ilek: On the main road from Uralsk to Orenburg.
Zhaisan: On the main road from Aqtobe to Orenburg. If you are taking the train here, take notice, you will need a double entry Kazakh visa. Better to take the bus!
Traveller report: I travelled by bus from Uralsk to Aktobe. Nobody in Uralsk knew if I could or couldn’t travel by train through Russia having one-entry visa so I didn’t try to. Later, when I was crossing the border from KZ to RUS (Zhaysan-Sagarchin BCP), I asked the officer about my issue and he said that my passport would have been stamped while leaving KZ at the first border crossing (Chingirlau) so they won’t let me in at the second one (Zhaysan). Seems that only for Moscow train one-entry visa is sufficient…
Kairak – Alimbetovka: On the main road from Aqtobe to Orsk.
Podgorodka: On the main road from Kostanay to Chelyabinsk. Further south is a railroad border crossing, on the Kostanay – Magnitogorsk line.
Kazancevskoe: On the main road from Petropavlovsk to Chelyabinsk.
Isilkul – Roslavka: International road and rail border crossing between Omsk and Petropavlovsk. Operates at night. After 6pm, Petropavlovsk is connected to Omsk only by shared taxis.
August 2016: I was taking a Russian train that only dips into Kazakhstan to stop at Petropavlovsk to then go back into Russia. Russian officials do their work on the train at the last station before the border. After that the Kazakhs came on and did their job while the train was driving on to Petropavlovsk. Neither sides were interested in people not getting of in Kazakhstan, hence no double entry Russian visa/Kazakh transit visa seemed to be needed to take the train between two Russian stops. Overall a very smooth border crossing as I didn’t even have to leave my bed.
Karaagash: On the main road from Pavlodar to Omsk.
Oktyabrskiy: International rail and road border crossing between Pavlodar and Barnaul.
Zhezkent: International rail and road border crossing between Semey (Semipalatinsk) and Rubtsovsk. A349 is a good road.
Shemonaika:International road border crossing between Ust-Kamenogorsk and Rubtsovsk. Roads are fine, and you avoid the busier Semey (Semipalatinsk) border crossing. Updates can be posted here.
July 2015: Definitely open by road and very easy-going.
May 2014: This border crossing is (at least by rail) according to 1 report, now bilateral – not for foreigners!
There are several more bilateral border crossings between Russia and Kazakhstan, open only to citizens of Russia and Kazakhstan. For more information on those, see the border crossing map.
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