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 Kazakhstan 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 – 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: Roughly halfway between Almaty and Urumqi, Khorgos has been transformed from a dusty border post in the steppe to a Chinese boom town. The Khorgos special economic zone is a visa-free, tax-free border area straddling the 2 countries, 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 allowed to cross themselves, they do NOT need to take a bus. However, in 2018, several cyclists encountered corruption and very difficult security on the Chinese side. A final ordeal before getting out of terrible Xinjiang.
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
Busiest crossing between KZ and KG. If it’s busy with shuttle traders, you are allowed to skip the queue as a tourist. For transport options, see how to get from Almaty to Bishkek.
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 1500-2500 tenge to Almaty. The 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-drivers should 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. Further updates in this post.
Karkara valley (Kegen – Tup/Kensu)
A scenic crossing, the Karkara valley is a good way to go from Almaty to Karakol, with attractions like Charyn Canyon and Kolsai Lakes on the way. The problem is, there is little public transport for travelers without their own vehicle.
Crossing reports and questions are gathered in this forum Q&A. For those looking to share a ride, please post your travel dates and contacts in our rideshare forum topics: Almaty to Karakol or Karakol to Almaty.
The Karkara crossing opens only in summer, approximately mid-May to end of October, from 9 am to 6 pm. To find out when the border will open/close next, (have someone who speaks Russian) call the border guards at +7 72777 25559 (KAZ) or +996 312 543836 (KG). Opening dates in the past few years:
- 2014: May 19
- 2015: May 13
- 2017: May 8
- 2018: May 1
Closing dates in the past few years:
- 2016: October 30
- 2017: October 31
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.
Check out this example of a 1-day tour from Almaty to Karakol taking in Charyn Canyon.
On public transport
Karakol -> Almaty: From Karakol you can hitchhike or take a taxi for ~5000 som. For details about taking a marshrutka, see Trevor Warman’s blog Long Haul Backpack.
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.
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.
Kenbulun & Sartobe: New since 2017, both of these crossings near Tokmok are bilateral border crossings: only for locals.
Karasu – Khun Chi: International border crossing near Kant. Not recommended to take this border crossing if you are coming by car. A giant line of trucks will be ahead of you. If you are a foot passenger, this is an option.
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, it seems. Updates here.
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 can take this border. Before you could not, instead, having to cross further west at Yalama. This is no longer necessary.
There are no marshrutkas going cross-border. We have heard of a new cross-border bus between Shymkent and Tashkent. It runs 5 times a day between Tashkent central bus station and Shymkent bus station near “Kolos”. Time spent on border: 30 min on each side. Price 40 000 sum (1700 tenge) one-way.
Tashkent -> Shymkent: 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.
Shymkent -> Tashkent: 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: Formerly 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. Money change is available, but nothing else. There are shared taxis waiting on the Kazakh side for locals. Updates posted here.
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.
Tejen: On the Beyneu – Kungrad road; the roads are getting better, but still quite bad in places. There is also a daily train between Kungrad and Beyneu, which takes approximately 10 hours. Border opens at 9am. Shared taxis drive between Kungrad and Beyneu and can also be caught at the border. An example price: 2700 tenge for a seat in a shared taxi from the border to Beyneu. 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
ATTENTION! Russia, like Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, is very strict when it comes to codeine! Make sure you are not carrying medication which contains codeine! It is illegal in Russia.
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.
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.