Warning: do not venture into border areas unless you have a border permit or are actually crossing at the border crossing. There are plenty of other beautiful spots in Kyrgyzstan. Foreigners without the correct border permits do get arrested from time to time.
Border crossing map
This map is schematic and only depicts the main border crossings of Kyrgyzstan. 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.
- Aisha Bibi
- Sypatai Batyr
- Karkara Valley
- Torugart Pass
- Irkeshtam Pass
- Karamyk – Jirgital
- Batken – Isfara
Kyrgyzstan – Kazakhstan 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, there is currency exchange on both sides and a decent canteen on the Kyrgyz side. Updates posted here.
Travelers with an e-visa have reported not being processed here, instead having to go 20 km east at Ak-Tilek.
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)
The problem is, there is little public transport for travelers without their own vehicle. A bus between Almaty and Karakol exists, but it goes via Bishkek and takes 11 hours. Almaty-Karakol daily at 21. Karakol-Almaty daily at 16.
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 White Monkey Travels.
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.
Other border crossings
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.
Kyrgyzstan – China border crossings
When attempting to cross the high altitude borders between Kyrgyzstan and China, make sure that you have checked the weather. Double-check that there is no holiday on either side of the border. Crossing on a Friday into China is tricky: if you get held up, you might be stuck for 2 more days. There is little fuel, food or spare parts in these areas. And, the Chinese border operates on Beijing time.
There are 2 passes over the Tien Shan mountains from Kyrgyzstan to China. The Irkeshtam pass is the best choice for anyone wanting to get to China the
easy less difficult way. For others, there is the Torugart pass.
Kyrgyzstan – Tajikistan border crossings
Quite a few scams are being pulled by Tajik border guards. They can ask for a fee for the health declaration and customs forms coming into Tajikistan.
There is no longer an immigration card upon entering Tajikistan, and thus one scam less to watch out for. 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.
When attempting to cross the high altitude borders between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, make sure that you have checked the weather.
Batken – Isfara
Easy crossing. Updates in this forum post. Uzbek exclaves are no longer a problem, Kyrgyzstan has built good new roads around them. In Tajikistan, however, the road on to Khujand passes briefly again through Kyrgyzstan. This can’t be avoided, but there are no checks. Find out more about enclaves.
Taj -> KG: Marshrutka run from Khojand to Isfara (2h, 10 somoni). Shared taxis run from Isfara to Batken (1h including border formalities, 10 somoni). Shared taxis run from Batken to Osh (3-4 hours, 600 som/seat).
KG -> TAJ: Drivers at the bus station in Batken pretend that there are no marshrutkas going to Isfara, just chartered taxis. This is not true, but the marshrutkas do not depart from the bus station. They leave from somewhere in the town centre, in front of a government building – just ask. It’s 50 som from Batken to the border by taxi.
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. Do not get confused! Reports collected here.
From Khudjand, marshrutka 92 will take you directly to the border. Cost: 3.50 Somoni. The bus stop is at repelled.torn.evaded (southern side of the road). From the border, shared taxis await to Isfana (150 som/seat)
Kyzylart – Bor Dobo
On the road from Sary Tash to Murgab. The broken windows, repurposed oil tanks, ravaged offices and lack of dress code on the Tajik side are straight out of Mad Max. The Kyrgyz side is normal. The border works 24/7.
By car, Sary Tash – Bor dobo takes 45 min. Bor dobo – Kyzylart: 1 hour. Kyzylart – Karakul: 1 hour.
You will need a GBAO permit to travel the Pamir Highway. For details on traveling from Osh to Karakul and Murghab, see Pamir Highway by public transport. Take your precautions if you are traveling over this high pass in wintertime. People 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’. You do NOT need to pay the sanitation fee, nor any kind of road card, road tax, border tax, bicycle import tax, … The only fee you need to pay is the import tax for your car or motorbike. But border guards are so corrupt here, you can bribe your way out of that as well. We’ve even heard of people coming in without a visa through Kyzylart.
Not paying and standing your ground will take some time. 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. There is a section in the middle that is gravel, but still very smooth going, no need for a 4wd. Border is in the middle of nowhere and pretty empty apart from heaps of trucks. It’s about 10kms along a dusty road between border posts.
On the other side, 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 asphalt all the way. Absolutely no need for 4wd.
Madaniyat – Madaniyat
Open only for Kyrgyz and Tajiks.
Kyrgyzstan – Uzbekistan border crossings
Crossing into Uzbekistan comes with quite a few peculiarities, see Uzbekistan’s border crossings for the full list. Note that all train travel between Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan passes Kazakhstan. Similarly, minibuses from Bishkek to Tashkent pass through Kazakhstan.
Closed in 2016, opened again in 2017, closed again in 2018. Updates very welcome in the Uchkurgan border forum topic.
Border crossing on the road between Tash-Komur and Namangan. Open daily from 8am to 8pm. Guards on both sides are generally friendly and relaxed, few people pass here. Still, it will take an hour to pass through. On the Kyrgyz side, you can get any transport going along the main Osh – Bishkek road to drop you off there, the border is located at the roadside. Once cleared, it’s a 10 minute, no shade walk (if you don’t have a car or bicycle) from the Kyrgyz side to the Uzbek side. On the Uzbek side, minibuses pass by on their way to Uch-Kurgan town center for 1500 som (if you have Uzbek som, there are no money changers). Otherwise, taxis are waiting who can change money (if you ride with them) and can drive to Uch Kurgan or Namangan. A ride to Namangan costs 10$ for the car.
Main border crossing on the road between Osh and Andijon. Public transport and shared taxis are available on both sides. Open 24/7, closed for lunch 13.15 to 13.45. You can use your foreigner privilege to skip the queue, otherwise you might be waiting in line for hours. Updates and experiences in this post.
UZ -> KG: From the border, big bus #2 goes to the main bazaar in Osh.
Border crossing on the road between Jalal-Abad and Andijon. Latest update dates from May 2018: Jalalabad- Khanabat border was closed, but seemed to open sometimes.
Open for foreigners. Definitely for pedestrians and cyclists, not sure if also for cars and motorbikes. Shared taxis run on either side of the border, a taxi to Andijan might cost 15000 sum.
Unsure of the status of this border crossing near Ferghana. Read this if you are worried about the Ferghana valley enclaves.