The Irkeshtam pass is the easy border crossing between Kyrgyzstan (Osh – Sary Tash) and China (Kashgar), and really, it’s not that easy (the landscape is spectacular though). The other border crossing from Kyrgyzstan into China is the Torugart pass. Tajikistan’s crossing with China, the Qolma Pass, is still closed to foreigners.
Many people manage to cross between Kashgar and Osh in one long day, but it is not certain, so stock up on food (there are some dining options at the border, though). The Irkeshtam pass is busy year-round. The Kyrgyz checkpoint at the pass operates from 9am to 11am and 2pm to 6pm, Monday to Friday. An early start is recommended. Reports and questions can be read and posted here for China to Kyrgyzstan, and here for Kyrgyzstan to China.
In China, the new border is 143km inland at Wuqia/Uluqqat 乌恰. A map showing the correct immigration building (use satellite imagery and ignore the route, which is offset quite a bit as Chinese maps tend to be). The immigration building is called customs clearance area / 口岸 / kou an. All your documents and luggage are checked at the actual border. The process of passport checks seems to have been streamlined now, so there is less time-wasting, but from the mountain top border to Wuqia, several checks to show your passport are normal. Guards are generally friendly on both sides.
The whole road from Osh to Kashgar has been rebuilt in 2013 and is in a good state. You can exchange RMB into som or US$ and vice versa at the border. Note that the hours on the Chinese side are in Beijing time, not Xinjiang time.
The border operates year-round, but with long closures during Chinese and Kyrgyz public holidays. All info regarding Chinese border closures is being gathered here.
There is now a flight from Kashgar to Bishkek, operated by Air Manas.
It’s quicker and cheaper to do the route by shared taxi, but if you want, there is a Kashgar – Osh – Kashgar bus: see the following chapters for more details on the schedule.
2 new bus routes should open soon or have already opened. One bus will run between Kashgar and Jalal-Abad, and another will run between Artux and Osh. No details yet here, please let us know if you find out.
To get into Kyrgyzstan from somewhere else, see the other Kyrgyz border crossings.