Bordercrossing Iran - Turkmenistan a.k.a. Sarakhs - Saraghs

Is the road, border or area open and accessible to foreigners? Is there danger?
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Re: Bordercrossing Iran - Turkmenistan a.k.a. Sarakhs - Saraghs

Post by Jealgu »

@MarieEmilie, any information about the train schedule between Mary and Sarakhs, on which days foes it run?
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Re: Bordercrossing Iran - Turkmenistan a.k.a. Sarakhs - Saraghs

Post by MarieEmilie »

There is no train between Mary and Sarakhs, you have to take a taxi
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Re: Bordercrossing Iran - Turkmenistan a.k.a. Sarakhs - Saraghs

Post by kunibald »

Mashhad – Sarahs – Mary

November 2018

The train from Mashhad to Sarahs leaves at 10:45 AM and arrives three hours later. The train was very empty, so no ticket trouble. The train station Sarahs is 5 km away from Sarahs and the border. I hitchhiked to the border. There‘s a small shop in front of the gate, your last chance to buy cheap cigarettes and change rials to dollars (or maybe even manat) with one of the guys hanging around there on chairs. Rate was not good, but not a total ripoff.

At 14:30 there was not much traffic at the border. Iranian side was totally straightforward and got my stamp after five minutes. After that waiting for marschrutki as mentioned above.

Total check on the turkmen side, as mentioned above. Health check, fingerprints, questions, etc. An older woman basically ripped my backpack apart and throw the insides in the sorrounding 2 or 3 meters, checked medication etc., but kinda lost the motivation when she just found backpacker stuff. I had pills where you couldn‘t read the name anymore on the package, but she was not interested in them. Searched for hidden stuff in the walls and the weightlift system of the backpack, but did not find anything. It‘s one of those fancy Osprey packs with thousand features where you easily get confused over all the different layers of fabric. Took some time. Sun was going down when I left the building, only one taxi left, agreed on 35 Dollar to Mary after some time because all the other guys that crossed the border just brought cola and cigarettes into their village. He helped me to get a hotel room for 10 Dollar near to the train station. Left of the train station is open air restaurant which is open until 00:00, where you can get Döner for 30 cents, a liter of chai for 5 cents and beer, if you ask for it and are craving for it after your time in Iran ;).

Türkmenabat – Farap – Bukhara

Arrived with night train from Ashgabat, took taxi to boarder. The easiest land border ever. I was through both of the boarder points in less than 2 minutes for each. A smile, a handshake, a stamp. Everyone let me skip line. Waiting for the marschrutki took some extra time, but the people insisted on me getting the front seat of the first marschrutka coming. I used the above mentioned trick for the taxi kartell. No one dared to speak with me before big boss arrived, but he was not in a good state and I was not in the mood for dealing with him. After the first few bargains I just showed him the money, said „This is all I have“ and sat down in front of him. One minute later I was sitting in the car to Bukhara. Afrosiyab to Tashkent leaves at 3:48 PM and arrives in Tashkent at around 8:00 PM, I still had time for a lunch and searching for internet before I had to go to the train station.
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Re: Bordercrossing Iran - Turkmenistan a.k.a. Sarakhs - Saraghs

Post by kunibald »

Btw there was a train from Mary to Sarahs on the timetable in the trainstation in Mary. So I would say there should be one back, too.
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Re: Bordercrossing Iran - Turkmenistan a.k.a. Sarakhs - Saraghs

Post by hh2sg »

What crossed the border on 30th May 2019.

On the Iranian side, a female officer asked us to open all our bags and she thoroughly checked a few of them (we have 12 panniers), and then ignored the rest. She also asked to see our photos, so we clicked through them on our cameras for her to see. Once, she asked us to go back a few photos to see a map of Persepolis. After a while more, she also lost interest in seeing more photos (we spent 2 months in Iran and have tons of photos). We are not sure what she was looking out for. While our bags were being checked, another male officer (not in uniform) took our passports and presumably passed them to the passport control office. He also asked us if we had other passports - we passed him a second German passport, which he checked and then returned. After the bag check finished, the male officer took us aside and questioned us in detail about our route, and whether we had any contacts or phone numbers of any local friends. He asked this last question multiple times, to which we always said no, as we didn't want to get any of our local contacts into trouble. We are not sure why they wanted these numbers. He then finally returned our passports. We took about 45 min at the Iran side customs.

The Turkmenistan side, in comparison, was orderly and efficient. We were first directed to a doctor's room, where he took our temperatures, asked us for our route, and we were out in minutes. Next, we were directed to the passport control window, where the officer also asked us for our route, took a photo and thumbprints from each of us, and then directed us to pay the entrance tax at the bank, which was basically the room next to his. We paid ($14/person, we got change for a $100 bill and a receipt) and returned to the passport control window, got passports back. We were then directed to customs control, where we had to put all our bags through the x-ray machine. They asked to check one of the bags. The officer filled up the customs form for us, and we only had to declare to her how much $ and € we had - they didn't ask to see the actual cash. They also asked us for our route again. Then we were free to go - also took about 45 min altogether.

Just outside the border crossing, there were a few people standing around with their cars. We changed money with them for 18 Manat to 1 USD.
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Re: Bordercrossing Iran - Turkmenistan a.k.a. Sarakhs - Saraghs

Post by Haenslein1 »

Iran very curious about local friends, wanted phone numbers and see photos. Not a nice experoence.
Turkmenistan wanted 14 dollar fee.

Border closes at 3 (finding that out cost us a day of our visa - not pleasant for cyclists). Please update! Opens around 8:30. already there was a queue of turkmen people. Iranian Computer system didn't work so we had to wait for a couple of hours on the iranian Side. Got out at 13:30.
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