Tajikistan shares borders with Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Afghanistan and China. Some of the most useful borders, connecting Tajikistan to Samarkand, the Karakorum Highway and the Kyrgyz Pamir, are unfortunately closed, limiting travel options. Due to conflicts, natural disasters or diseases, the border crossings close unpredictably. Do ask around before you set off.
To see the exact location of all border posts, check the Silk Road border crossing map on the overview page. For more information on getting around Tajikistan, see transport in Tajikistan. For more info on visa requirements, check out the Tajikistan visa chapter.
Immigration card & scams
When exiting, you will be asked for your immigration card: make sure you get one when you enter Tajikistan, border guards tend to forget you need one, in which case you will have to pay a bribe. It is unclear if you actually need one according to the law, but most border guards insist on it, so don’t lose it to avoid issues.
Quite a few scams are being pulled by Tajik border guards, especially if you are self-driving. They can ask for a fee for the health declaration and customs forms coming into Tajikistan. Cyclists will be asked on exiting where their import document is for the bicycle – you do not need one, of course. Just smile and pretend that it’s all a joke, but don’t pay the bribe.
Stand your ground. This post has a good round-up.
Pamir Highway checkpoints are another place border guards can ask for money.
It is now illegal to bring books in or out of Tajikistan without prior permission. How this will play out over the coming tourist season is an open question. Your reports are welcome.
Border crossing map
This map is schematic and only depicts the main border crossings of Tajikistan. For all border crossings and their precise location, see the map at Border crossings of the Silk Road. Status (open or closed) is detailed below.
- Batken – Isfara
- Denau – Tursunzade
- Shir Khan Bandar – Panji Poyon
- Karamyk – Jirgital
Tajikistan – Uzbekistan border crossings
Vehicles with Tajik registration are not allowed to enter Uzbekistan, and vehicles with Uzbek license plates entering Tajikistan are subject for tax. In practice, this means there is no cross-border transport. You will have to get transport to the border, cross it on foot and get another vehicle on the other side.
Crossing into Uzbekistan comes with quite a few peculiarities, see Uzbekistan’s border crossings for the full list.
How to get from Samarkand to Dushanbe with the Penjikent border closed
An issue that confounds many people is how to get from Samarkand to Dushanbe. The 2 cities are close on the map, but due to the closure of the Penjikent border, you need to make a long detour, either north (Oybek border) or south (Denau border). The Denau border is by far the quickest way – it takes around 9h of driving. The northern drive only makes sense if you also want to see Khujand, Istaravshan, Zerafshan, etc.
Since April 2017, a flight has started operating between Tashkent and Dushanbe, for the first time in more than 20 years. Expect confusion in the first few months.
Generally straightforward crossing, but guards on the Uzbek side can be troublesome at times, checking your registration, luggage, etc. Open 24/7.
Uzbekistan -> Tajikistan: The first thing you need to do is get to Kuyluk (Kuluk, Kulyuk, Koylok, Qo’lok) Bazaar in Tashkent. From the bazaar to Oybek you have two choices: You can take a taxi (including shared taxis – 2,5$ for a seat, 10$ for the car) or a bus going to Bekobod (you get off at Oybek, aka Chanak). After buying the ticket, this might be a good time to change your remaining money back into usd. At the border the rate is lower, and in Tajikistan you will get nothing for your som.
A marshrutka ride to the border takes 2 hours, 1,5 hr by taxi. Once across the border, you can take a shared taxi to Buston (5 somoni), then a minibus to Khujand (7 somoni).
Tajikistan -> Uzbekistan: From Khujand, local minibus 33 goes directly to the bus station from where taxis and minibuses depart to Buston. Minibus is 7 Somoni, another 4 somoni for a shared taxi from the Buston bus station to the Oybek border. Taxis from Khujand to the border start from 80 somoni for the car.
On the Uzbek side of the Oybek border taxi drivers are waiting (10$/car). A bit further away on the main road, marshrutkas pass by occasionally.
There are no money changers outside the border post on the Tajik side. However, there is a ‘Duty Free’ hut inside the Tajik border post where you can apparently change money. There are money changers on the Uzbek side. Updates in this post.
Konibodom – Beshariq
On the Khojand – Kokand road heading to Fergana Valley.
Taj – > UZ: There are plenty of share taxis going from Khujand to Konibodom. In Khujand, get any marshrutka south bound on Linen street to avtostansia. From the bus station to Konibodom (also Isfara for Kyrgyz) it’s 8 somoni/one hour journey. From Konibodom, you can take Mashrutka #114 to the border post, which is the end of the line. The small shop nearby can change somoni to Uzbek som. Once in Uzbekistan you’re really out in the middle of nowhere, taxis may or may not be waiting. From Beshariq, a bus goes to Kokand.
Uz -> Taj: Taxi from Fergana to the crossing takes about an hour. Once out, you can get a marshrutka to Konibodom bus station. From there, you can negotiate a taxi or minibus to Khujand, 1 hour. Updates in this post.
On the road to Samarkand. This crossing has been closed for some time. For people who write to me to double-check, sorry, I am sure it is still closed. There is no quick way to do Samarkand – Dushanbe. Quickest is if you go south via Denau-Tursunzade. Count on 9-12h with shared taxis.
Denau – Tursanzade
Uzbek border guards at this crossing are the worst in the country. Definitely check your medications. Border works 24/7. Public transport and shared taxis are available. Direct transport to the border is expensive for solo travellers as route is lightly travelled. Updates in this post.
Uzbekistan -> Tajikistan. Samarkand to border: Shared taxi at the Grebnoy Kanal/Betonka stop outside of the city. 50$ direct to the border for the entire car (7-8 hours). Other taxis will charge 80-90$. Border to Dushanbe: 5-10$ per person direct to hotel in Dushanbe, around 1h drive.
Tajikistan -> Uzbekistan. Zanisar bazaar in Dushanbe to Tursanzade: marshrutka 70mins, 5 TJS, or taxi for 50 TJS whole car. Tursanzade to border: shared taxi, 10 mins, 7 TJS. After immigration, there are limited options, not many people. Border to Denau: shared taxi, 2$. Denau to Samarkand: long wait for a shared taxi, 8hrs. A taxi straight from the border can be had starting from 50$ (whole car) but likely you will pay more.
Ilyos (+998 91 585 74 06) is a taxi driver who lives near the border and comes recommended. There is a hotel in Denau (Denau Hotel) 2min by car from station. If this is full about 3kms along same road is Euro-Asia hotel but is pricey (S180,000) and comes with free bad attitude.
You can also take the train. The Tashkent-Samarkand-Denau service takes about 15 hours (11 hrs from Samarkand) and runs from Tashkent on odd days, and from Denau on even days. From Denau, it’s 40km to the Tajik border by taxi, and then another hour to Dushanbe.
Bekobod: Currently closed for foreigners.
Khatynrabat: In the south, connecting Shahrtuz with Termez. Bilateral border crossing only open to residents of Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.
Tajikistan – Afghanistan border crossings
Shir Khan Bandar – Panji Poyon: The Friendship Bridge connects Dushanbe with Kunduz. It’s an important crossing for freight coming from China through Tajikistan into Afghanistan (and then to Iran). There has been talk about a railroad connecting Kashgar in China through Dushanbe with Kunduz, but it has not materialised yet. Public transport should be available on both sides.
July 2015: crossing the border is possible but not recommended. Kunduz is very unsafe at the moment. Better to head to Uzbekistan and cross from the Termez border. Two friends of mine paid $80 for a private taxi from Panji Poyon all the way to Kabul.
Ishkashim: Coming from Afghanistan, you will need to show a GBAO permit to enter Tajikistan. Coming from Tajikistan, you will need a Wakhan permit if you plan to travel past Sultan Ishkashim, which can be arranged by a tour operator once inside Afghanistan. A tour operator can also pick you up from the border if you don’t have your own transport.
The Tajik border opens at 0800-12.00 and then opens again at 14.00. The Afghan border is closed on Sunday. Opening times 09:00 – 11:30, 14:00 – 16:00.
Beware that it can get very hot there in summer, and the border is a 3km walk out of town on the Tajik side. Ishkashim is about 3 hours from Khorog. On the Afghan side, the border is about 5 km from the city of Sultan Ishkashim. To get the latest on this border, which has closed frequently in the past for different reasons (cholera, violence, mudslides), see this forum post for updates and ask around in Khorog. We have forum topics for updates on the Ishkashim border market, and the Khorog border market.
Khorog – Shegnan: A bridge connects Tajikistan with Afghanistan here, also known as the Tem – Demogan bridge. The border opens Monday to Friday from 9am-12am and 1pm-4pm. The road goes on to Shegnan Bazaar, and from June to the start of the winter snows, you can drive down to Shiva Lake in about 2 hours and then onwards to Baharak (another 4 hours from Shiva to Baharak, bypassing Warduj)…again, only when the snow melts after June.
Kokul – Ai Khanoum: Open for foreigners. Although this is an international border crossing (with customs and immigration checkpoints on both sides), there is NO BRIDGE. The only way to cross is on a decrepit ferry. It’s a ferry in name only; the boat holds only about five passengers arrayed wherever you can find a seat. There are no safety devices (vests). The main purpose the ferry exists is to tow a barge, usually filled with Pakistani cement, from Ai Khanoum, Afghanistan to Tajikistan. Previously there was a cable that pulled the barge back and forth, but it’s been broken for some time. The fee for crossing is $10 USD per passenger each way. Photos are prohibited on the Tajik side. (via Patrick Comey)
Kupruki Vanch – Jomarji Bolo: Bridge over the river Panj. Open to foreigners according to the UN.
Langar: Not open for foreigners. Not sure if it open for locals either. Might be an unoffical drug smuggling route instead.
Ruzvai-Nusai: Bridge over the Pyanj river connecting Afghanistan with Tajikistan. Open to foreigners according to the UN.
Khohon: A new border crossing point is due to be opened end of 2017.
Tajikistan – China border crossing
Qolma pass: The Qolma Pass is open, but sort-of closed for most, but not all foreigners. It’s complicated.
Tajikistan – Kyrgyzstan border crossings
When attempting to cross the high altitude borders between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, make sure that you have checked the weather.
Batken – Isfara: Easy crossing. A seat in a marshrutka from Khojand to Isfara takes 2 hours and costs 10 Tajik Som. A seat in a shared taxi from Isfara to Batken takes half an hour including border formalities and costs 10 Tajik Som. There are no marshrutkas or buses from Isfara to Batken. A seat in a shared taxi from Batken to Osh takes 5 hours and costs 1000 Kyrgyz Som(4 passengers). A shared taxi from Isfara to Osh costs $35 but don’t count on this as the taxi driver will drop you at Batken and leave. Updates in this post, or find out more about enclaves.
Kulundu – Ovchi Kalacha: On the Khojand – Isfana road, this is a valid multilateral border crossing. Driving north out of Isfana (N.B. not Isfara), the first border crossing you encounter is Madaniyat – Madaniyat (bilateral only), but keep going a few km and you will find the multilateral border, which is much busier.
Kyzylart – Bor Dobo: On the road from Sary Tash to Murgab. You will need a GBAO permit to travel the Pamir Highway. Osh – Murgab takes between 17 and 30 hours in a shared jeep. The price for a ride fluctuates between 20 and 50$. Take your precautions if you are traveling over this high pass; especially in wintertime intrepid Westerners have had to be rescued here in the past.
If you have a car, Tajik guards here are some of the worst, inventing all kinds of ‘taxes’. Kyrgyz side has learned from their colleagues and now asks for ‘environmental tax’, and has been known in the past to check all your money for forgeries. Post your updates here.
Karamyk/ Jirigital – Daroot Korgan: Bilateral border crossing, not open to foreigners. It was briefly opened for international travelers during the unrest in Khorog in summer 2012. The road is being repaired now, though rumors about re-opening are as yet unconfirmed. Post your updates here.
August 2012: Dushanbe – Jirgatol: 150 som, 200 for Karamik border. This seems much too high in hindsight as the road is very smooth and flat following a river all the way. There is a section in the middle that is gravel, but still very smooth going, no need for a 4wd. Border is in the midlle of nowhere and pretty empty apart from heaps of trucks. It’s about 10kms along a dusty road between border posts. We started walking and managed to hitch a ride on a truck after 20 mins. Got through kyrgz border without visa no worries, though took about 30mins for them to stamp our passport. There is limited transport: quotes from 200 somoni to 600 Kyrgyz som for the ride from the border to Osh. Road on the Kyrgz side of the border is very good ashpalt all the way. Absolutely no need for 4wd. A few roadworks between Sary Tash and Osh is all. Scenery from Karamyk to Sary Tash was beautiful.
Madaniyat – Madaniyat: Open only for Kyrgyz and Tajiks.
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