Tajikistan shares borders with Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Afghanistan and China. Due to strained relations, especiallywith Uzbekistan, the border crossings close unpredictably. Ask around before you set off.
While some border crossings are open 24 hours, the status of most is unclear. The best strategy for success is to come early in the morning and be patient. To see the location of the border posts, check the Central Asia border crossing map. For more information on getting in and out of Tajikistan, see the transport section. For more info on registering yourself and visa requirements, check out the Tajikistan visa chapter.
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.
Oybek: Generally straightforward crossing, but guards on the Uzbek side can be troublesome at times, checking your registration, luggage, etc.
From Tashkent, you can get a minibus going to Bekobod and get off at Oybek (Chanak). Once across the border, you can take a taxi to Buston, then a minibus to Khojand.
From Khojand, 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. Bribes may be asked, but you should simply refuse and play dumb.
On the Uzbek side of the Oybek border taxi drivers are waiting and offering their services for 50$ in the beginning. 10000 som for a ride to Tashkent is a more reasonable price. A bit further away on the main road, marshrutkas await.
Denau – Tursanzade: Open and generally hassle-free border crossing in the middle of wild Central Asian rocky plains. Public transport and shared taxis are available on both sides.
Konibodom: On the Khojand – Kokand road heading to Fergana Valley. There are plenty of share taxis going from Khujand to Konibodom. From Konibodom, you can take Mashrutka #114 to the border post, which is the end of the line.
July 2012: At the border, the Tajik and Uzbek staff were both friendly and helpful. On the Uzbek side in particular there was an English speaking woman who helped us fill out our customs declarations. Even with our slightly irregular visas (the Uzbek embassy in Bishkek screwed up the dates and fixed them by hand on our visas) there wasn’t a hint of anyone asking for a bribe or anything like that. Once in Uzbekistan you’re really out in the middle of nowhere. We paid $30 for a taxi to Kokand, which was FAR too much, but when there’s only one vehicle there you’re kind of at their mercy.
Penjikent: On the road to Samarkand. This crossing has been closed for some time.
To get there with public transport, a minibus Dushanbe – Penjikent is about 7-8 hours. At the border crossing, there are taxis (and marshutkas) on the other side of the border. From there, it’s approx 45 mins to Samarkand. The road is bumpy, and the terrain mountainous.
Bekobod: Currently closed for foreigners.
Tajikistan – Kyrgyzstan border crossings
Kyrgyz-Tajik relations are strained, and the border might be closed for unknown reasons when you arrive. Ask around before you leave.
Kyzylart – Bor Dobo: On the road from Sary Tash to Murgab. You will need a GBAO permit to travel the Pamir Highway. Osh – Murgab takes between 17 and 30 hours in a shared jeep. The price for a ride fluctuates between 20 and 50$. 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.
Tajik guards are corrupt here. Customs, narcotics and registration are fine but the passport control guards are known to take your passport and mess with the immigration cards. It is a well-rehearsed scam, bribes will be asked (10-20$ usually). Don’t let them take your passport inside without you going with it!
Kyrgyz side should be a breeze. Friendly guards with no hassle.
Karamyk/ Jirigital – Daroot Korgan: Closed again. It was briefly opened during the unrest in Khorog in summer 2012. While the road between Sary Tash and Dushanbe is being upgraded, it is scheduled to open in 2014.
Following report dates from 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.
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.
What about the Uzbek enclave? In general, you shouldn’t worry, as locals and taxi drivers are also reluctant to drive there, so making the detour doesn’t cost extra. But, as Matt Mclean points out in the comments, there are some rogues, so watch out!
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 actually bilateral only, but keep going a few km and you will find the multilateral border, which is much busier.
Tajikistan – China border crossing
Qolma pass: Qolma pass is only open to Tajiks and Chinese, despite news to the contrary. It seems Tajiks are willing to let foreigners pass, but Chinese are not.
July 2013: I decided to give it a shot and try to cross through Kulma pass. I’ve passed all of the Tajik checkposts but the guys at the Chinese side weren’t even willing to listen. They said it is open only to Tajiks and Chinese.
China and Tajikistan agreed to open the Qolma pass continuously, instead of the previous 15 days a month. If you are Chinese or Tajik and are planning this, prepare adequately: it was still snowing there in May 2012.
Tajikistan – Afghanistan border crossings
Shir Khan Bandar - Panji Poyon: The Friendship Bridge connects Dushanbe with Kunduz. It’s an important crossing from 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.
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.
The Tajik control may ask for several bribes for not having an immigration card, which you are not given at the Kyrgyz border. Stand your ground. Afghan formalities should be fast. A Russian traveler asked for his passport to be stamped on another page so he could try to use the visa twice, and the border guard agreed.
The border is open for Mujahideen Victory Day.
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.
Langar: Not open for foreigners.
Darwaz: Bridge over the Pyanj river connecting Afghanistan with Tajikistan. Not open to foreigners.
Tajikistan border scams
Some travellers have reported that on crossing the border into Tajikistan the officials on the Tajik side try to make some extra money by asking for a fee for the health declaration and customs forms. Just smile and pretend that it’s all a joke, but don’t pay the fee.