Almaty-Urumqi bus: reports, Q&A

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Re: Almaty-Urumqi bus: reports, Q&A

Post by Travellingtnt »

Does anyone know if the bus to Khorgas from Almaty crosses the border or would we then have to find a way over it as it sounds like we can’t walk? Perhaps we should get the bus that goes all the way to Ürümqi? We’re keen to split the journey to Ürümqi up a bit, could we stay in Yining and from there get a train to Ürümqi? Thanks a lot for your help
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Re: Almaty-Urumqi bus: reports, Q&A

Post by esther »

We took the Almaty - Urumqi bus on 1 September 2019. Hopefully my report below can help others to plan this cross-border bus trip.

You can buy the bus ticket at Sayran Bus Station in Almaty, ticket window no. 3. Price: 16.000 Tenge. You can buy it three days in advance, not earlier. At first I thought I also had to buy a separate ticket for my luggage, but this was not the case. I would recommend to buy the bus ticket at least a day in advance. Bus departs daily, once a day: at 7.00 in the morning and it takes 24 hours (our bus took longer, 28 hours). They will open the gate to the buses at 6.45, not earlier. There is a waiting area at the station, toilets (40 Tenge) are located in a building outside.

Our bus did not depart at 07.00 but at 08.00. I did not understand why there was a delay, because everyone was on the bus. The drive to the Kazakh border took 4,5 hours. The bus parked outside the gates and everyone had to get out. A Kazakh border guard inspected the bus, while all passengers stood outside in the hot sun for 15 minutes. We then had to show one by one our passports and Chinese visa before getting back on the bus. Before continuing to the actual border control the bus first drove to a gas station (and mini market) inside the gates of the border control. We spent another hour there. Then we continued to the border control, but had to wait for 1,5 hours. Don't know why we had to wait, because there were only two of three other cars there. Maybe the border was understaffed? After a long wait we finally arrived at the Kazakh passport and baggage inspection. There was a German Sheppard sniffing all passengers.

Then it was time for the Chinese border. The passport inspection building is super modern and way too big for the number of passengers coming through (but that is the case with all Chinese government buildings). The process here was efficient and quick. They scanned our luggage twice, scanned our passports twice and I was asked questions by two different border guards. But nothing too serious. I think we were in and out within 1 hour.

Coming into the Chinese Xinjiang border, I was pretty nervous that they would ask me a million questions and would check my luggage, photos on camera, photos on laptop, browser history and photos on phone, etc. But they did not. They asked the standard question: Is this your first time coming to China? I said no, because it is my second time. And this changed everything, because from that point on they smiled and only asked what our China itinerary was going to be like. We did not have to show any hotel reservations or proof of onward travel after China. They also did not ask to see our camera photos, laptop or phone. There was another British guy on our bus and it was his first time coming to China. He was taken to another room, questioned about his itinerary and had to show his camera. But also he mentioned, the inspection was quite alright.

Overall, the Kazakhstan-China border crossing took almost 6 hours and most of this time was spent on the Kazakh side.

After the border the bus stopped for dinner in Khorgas (there were a few restaurants and you can use the toilet for 1 yuan in a small shop) and then drove on to Urumqi. Unfortunately, the bus broke down just outside Urumqi and we had to change to a different random bus on the highway. We arrived at Urumqi around 11.30 in the morning, the next day (Sept. 2).

About the bus: it is comfortable, the chairs have a handle to recline. But the person in front of you can lean back almost so far that he/she ends up in your lap and your legs are stuck. Also, you don't get a seat number. You can sit everywhere. Sounds good, but the disadvantage of this is that when you come back to the bus after a break you have to find a new spot every time.

I hope this information is useful!
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Re: Almaty-Urumqi bus: reports, Q&A

Post by nielba »

Thx for the report..!! may I ask why u didn't decide to go to zharkent, minibus through the border and then a train or something after to urumqi..?
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