Irkeshtam pass report – Kashgar, Xinjiang to Sary Tash, Kyrgyzstan

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Re: Irkeshtam pass report – Kashgar, Xinjiang to Sary Tash, Kyrgyzstan

Postby steven » Wed Dec 05, 2012 9:54 am

Please read and post reports on the Irkeshtam border crossing from China to Kyrgyzstan below.

We summarize all info on the Irkeshtam pass page.

For reports on the crossing in the opposite direction (Kyrgyzstan -> China), see this forum topic.
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Irkeshtam pass report – Kashgar, Xinjiang to Sary Tash, Kyrgyzstan

Postby Iridium » Mon May 02, 2016 7:28 pm

This is my detailed chronicle in April 14, 2016. I traveled single. I use Beijing Time all over the journey for sake of simplicity.

07:45 – Arrived early (as recommended) at the International Bus Station of Kashgar. The station was totally dead. It opens at 09:00. Nobody was there except 3-4 taxis at front. None of them was going to Wuqia/Ulugqat. After some time, more taxis arrived. The first taxi driver asked for 200 RMB, then another offered me 150 and only one said finally 120 RMB. I decided to wait until the bus station opens, cause I didn’t want to pay a whole taxi by myself. The woman behind the counter told me to wait at least 10 minutes until more people for Wuqia appear, as the bus departs when there are at least 4 passengers on board. At 09:20 she called me to get my ticket and wait a little bit for the fourth passenger to come.

Official Taxi to Wuqia inside the Bus Station of Kashgar.
Official-Taxi-to-Wuqia.jpg (223.87 KiB) Viewed 7898 times

09:40 – Departed for Wuqia. To my surprise, the expected bus was finally a taxi! like the others outside the bus station, but this one was officially booked for the itinerary. Thus, the ride cost me only 33 RMB instead of 120 RMB.
10:58 – Police check point on the new national road, just 5 klm before entering Wuqia. We had to show our passports.
11:11 – Arrived in Wuqia downtown.
11:14 – Taxi to the Border Processing Center (BPC). We got it together with another passenger. He paid, so I am not sure how much was exactly, but I think around 10 RMB. Instead, you can walk the distance of 2-3 klm.
11:18 – Arrived at the gate of BPC. We hopped on a truck for around 500m and the rest 500m we walked to the building. The staff of the BCP had started working around 11:00, while the official opening time is 10:00.
11:25 – In the BPC, I had been given two cards to fulfill. The Departure Card (in English) and something like immigration card (in Chinese). The passport was checked 3 times from different officers and the last one kept only the DC and stamped the passport. Fortunately, among the 10-15 local travelers was an American-Chinese young female backpacker. She was a passionate hitchhiker and tried intensely to persuade the two border police officers to let us jump into a truck instead of the “official” taxi for the long ride to the border. From the begging one looked positive, but the other one was so reluctant that he only accepted to offer her a generous discount of 50% off of the tariff. I paid the whole fare, 100 RMB.
12:20 – Departed for Irkeshtam. 5 people on board (the taxi was a van). After a few minutes we stopped at a checkpoint and a guard checked once again our passports.
12:35 – 2nd police checkpoint.
13:35 – 3rd police checkpoint.
14:30 – Arrived at the Final Checkpoint. We had lunch in one of the two-three hole-in-the-wall places for eating. There is also a mini market to spend your last RMB. For example, I got a fine bottle of 52%! vol Xinjiang liquor for 20 RMB. I also exchanged 140 RMB = 1400 SOM.
16:40 – Final Checkpoint. Just a few vehicles in queue. The guards glanced at our passports and we passed immediately. We hopped again on our taxi for the last few klm, till the very last point on Chinese territory. It was prohibited to walk the distance. From there we got our stuff and walked around 300m, till the Kyrgyz checkpoint. The Kyrgyz officer checked the passports and told us to wait for a taxi to take us to the custom processing center. I asked the officer if he could let me hop on a passing track instead of waiting more for the taxi or at least to let me walk the distance of approx. 1 klm to the building and he refused.
17:20 – At last, the taxi arrived. For the short distance till the processing center asked for 100 SOM each and when I said that my final destination is Sary Tash he asked for 500 SOM. I didn’t pay a single penny. The other three passengers were locals and paid the 100 SOM each, but I am not sure if they paid more for their final destination.
17:30 – In the Kyrgyzstan Processing Center, it took just 5 minutes to check my passport and stamp it. They didn’t even ask for scanning my backpacks.
17:40 – Outside I had a bad encounter. When I approached the taxi drivers and asked how much for Sary Tash one said 2000! SOM and then another one 1000! SOM. I went back to the border guard and complained about the situation and then asked him if I could hop on a track instead. Meanwhile, the taxi driver with the locals had come out and talking with his fellows obviously and suspiciously about me. The guard called a guy who was arranging things for the truck drivers and he explained him the situation. He could also speak little of English and he told me that he would arrange a track to get me for free up to Sary Tash. After a while, the “Boss” of the truck drivers arrived and he gave a call to a driver. The driver came and we went together to the truck, waiting for his co-driver to bring the papers from the immigration center.
19:10 – At last, the co-driver showed up with the papers and we left. The route up to the snowy mountains of the Pamir Alay was spectacular and the high viewpoint from the truck gave me some unforgettable views.

Pamir_Alay.jpg (107.97 KiB) Viewed 7898 times

21:00 – Arrived in the picturesque village of Sary Tash! Luckily, none of the bloody taxi drivers were out there to get me…:)
Last edited by Iridium on Tue May 03, 2016 7:11 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Irkeshtam pass – Kashgar, Xinjiang to Sary Tash, Kyrgyzstan

Postby steven » Tue May 03, 2016 6:19 am

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Re: Irkeshtam pass report – Kashgar, Xinjiang to Sary Tash, Kyrgyzstan

Postby Cheddar-bearer » Sat May 14, 2016 7:06 am

New to the forums and just thought I'd add our experience crossing Irkeshtam mainly by private hire:
*We got a taxi from Kashgar to the initial border point for 50 yuan each. I believe this was a standard price so we were initially a group of 4 but ended up a 6 and the price did not change. We arranged this through out hostel (in our case KKH Breeze Hostel but I think most hostels will arrange this as the lady who ran it mentioned about calling other hostel to coordinate) with no problems.
*After getting through the chinese passport section we had to get another taxi that took us basically the entire way to to the Kyrgyzstan border for 100 yuan. The driver kept our passports for the duration and there were several stops where they were needed.
*Once we eventually got to the Kyrgyzstan border there was a short walk from where the taxi drops you off to the actual border post. From there we had to take a taxi from the border to passport control. I believe we paid 100 som each for this but I can't be a hundred percent sure (I've got a terrible memory).
*Finally got a taxi from the border to Osh. In the end we paid 1750 som for this however the hostel later advised us that 2500 som is the normal price. I believe we only got it this cheap as we were in a large group and because one of our group is a pretty relentless haggler.
All in all it was a long but pretty easy border crossing and we had the added bonus of the taxi driver being nice enough to stop a couple of times to let us take photos of the Irkeshtam pass!
Hope this is helpful for anyone looking for a rough price guide for crossing the pass via private hire.
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Re: Irkeshtam pass report – Kashgar, Xinjiang to Sary Tash, Kyrgyzstan

Postby b.b. » Mon Oct 17, 2016 8:20 am

I attempted the border crossing from Kashgar alone on a Friday in Oct and did not make it.

But I speak some Russian and Chinese and managed to get quite a bit of info (which may or may not be completely accurate) from very friendly border guards, drivers, etc. I also have tips for the part I did complete.

Which Kashgar bus station?
Both bus stations, international and local, are connected to the city centre by city bus route 20路. (But routes change often.) On one end of the route is the international bus station and on the other end is the train station. Just before the train station is the local long distance bus station.

If you want to take a bus all the way to Kyrgyzstan direct, then go to the international bus station.

However, if you want to go to Wuqia, where the customs port is, you should NOT go to the international bus station in Kashgar (喀什国际汽车客运站). It is in the middle of nowhere and is mostly for traffic to Pakistan and Tashkurgan. If you get there early enough and have enough people, I could see how it's possible to get an unofficial car to Wuqia eventually, but this is inconvenient and expensive. I could not even find a driver who was interested.

Instead, go to the local long distance bus station (喀什汽车客运站) near the train station. You simply buy a seat on a shared taxi to Wuqia at the ticket counter for 33 yuan. The picture in the post by Iridium above is in fact the local long distance bus station, not the international bus station.

From the Wuqia station, you can walk to the customs port (a couple km) or take any licensed metered taxi for under 15 yuan, as described on this site.

Can you do it alone in October?
After going to the international bus station and then transferring to the local long distance bus station and then taking a taxi where the driver maintained a 40 kph speed and stopped at every construction site to look, I arrived at the customs port after it closed for lunch.

In a cafe in Wuqia, some Kyrgyz truck drives who just crossed from Kyrgyzstan told me the taxis on both sides of the border are there to serve tourist traffic, which obviously peaks in the warmer months. So they thought I would have a hard time in the off-season finding others to fill a car. They asked me if I was prepared to pay a total of 1000 yuan / 10,000 som for "spacious vehicles to myself" from Wuqia to Sary Tash!

When I went to the customs port at opening at 16:00 Beijing time, it was deserted. The only two taxi drivers told me in broken Chinese that I was the only one and that my only option would be to pay 500 yuan for the whole car to the border. They were very friendly and seemed genuinely sorry that we were all out of luck. The Chinese customs official came out from the massive unlit building to chat and also said he didn't really expect others to come. They were kind enough to warn me early enough so I could decide not to pass customs and not get an exit stamp. We waited an hour for others to show and then all gave up.

If you are alone, make sure you get to Wuqia as early as possible, and be prepared to wait. Getting a group together at a hostel to fill a car might be a better idea, especially in the off season.

The Kyrgyz truck driver told me crossing this border is an unforgetable experience, but I couldn't wait until Monday. I went back to Kashgar and took the new direct Kashar to Bishkek flight with Air Manas for $150.
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Re: Irkeshtam pass report – Kashgar, Xinjiang to Sary Tash, Kyrgyzstan

Postby sakara » Mon Jan 09, 2017 8:45 am

@b.b. thanks for your report. Why did you choose to fly? the 1000 RMB to Sary Tash that they offered you seems to be an ok price, and your flight also cost 150 usd. Off course from Sary Tash to Bishkek you d still have to spend some money, but you could have enjoyed all the scenery... In the end you just saved about 60 USD travel cost but missed everything between Kashgar and Bishkek?

we are in Kashgar right now, no bus today(monday) and thursday because of snowfall. We ll still give it a try tomorrow. I ll report.
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Re: Irkeshtam pass report – Kashgar, Xinjiang to Sary Tash, Kyrgyzstan

Postby sakara » Wed Jan 11, 2017 4:18 am

Trip report: winter crossing kashgar - osh through irkeshtam pass
Precondition: no bus on monday and thursday due to heavy snowfall.
we are 2 swiss. I am fluent in russian and sort of ok (smalltalk) in chinese.

time=beijing time
Arrived at the bus station ( near railway station) at 9:30.
were told that due to snowfall and ice there's no shared taxis or buses to wūqià. we allready wanted to go back to the hostel, when a local arrived who also wanted to go and proposed to look for a private taxi. we agreed and went out. the negotiations were not to good, as drivers refused as they thought it was too dangerous. after a lot of screaming and yelling in uighur he finally found a driver who still wanted 300rmb for the vehicle. the local guy quickly found a 4. passenger and we started around ,10. The road was covered by hard pressed snow/ice. would be no problem with snow chains, wintertyres or a snowtruck passing a single time. but as none of these conditions were met it took us nearly 3hours. we arrived in unqia and took a taxi to to the border thing (kǒuàn). Arrived there at 13:15 and here comes the news: still open. Lunch break only from 13.30/14.00 to 16.00. leaving china was easy and friendly. two chinese travellers were waiting so we could share the taxi (100yuan each
). driver was super cautious so it took 2.5 hours to reach the final checkpoint. After this the kyrgiz driver (100sum each) took us 1.5km to kyrgiz immigration. He didnt care about ice and snow and drove like crazy. kyrgiz immigration was fast and super friendly for us (no visa for us). they forced the chinese guys to give them money (600sum each for no reason). when the next borderguard took their passports trying to get money from them as well we stepped in and told the guards (i speak good russian) that they are our friends and we would like to travel further. he returned them the passport and told me as they were my friends he d make an exception.
The taxidriver outside wanted 10000sum for the vehicle and wouldnt go down, so finally we agreed (border gard told me it should be 2000 per person). On the kyrgiz side amazing landscape with a lot of snow and very cold. driver drove rather fast given the conditions, still took about 5hours too reach osh.

key points:
- lunch break at wūqià starts only at 13.30/14.00(was not clear)
- 20cm of snow can stop the official traffic between kashgar and wūqià for probably a week.
- when buses are cancelled because of road conditions it can still be possible to cross
- kyrgiz side can deal with snow (theres even snowtrucks)
- chinese nationals are subject to harrassement by kyrgiz borderguards)
- the views with all the snow are amazing.

sorry for spelling errors, typed on my phone
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Re: Irkeshtam pass report – Kashgar, Xinjiang to Sary Tash, Kyrgyzstan

Postby GiacomoLuppi » Sat Feb 25, 2017 7:31 am


I crossed the Irkeshtam border (from China to Kgz) with no particular issue.
The road in chinese side in mainly clean, in Kyrgyzstan it's just a path one-vehicule-wide of compact snow, truck get stuck easily, so expect some troubles. We stopped once for creating a new path beside the "road" where a truck was stuck. Though, beautiful landscapes.
In chinese side I got my backpack controlled three time. They took my razor for shaving, hopefully I hid and saved my pocket knife. They check for any blade and lighters. I don't remember how many times I had to show my passport, around ten. They were surprised (and I think, happy) to meet a foreigner in this period. Kyrgyz side is faster, 3/4 passport controls and one backpack control.
From Kashgar I got a shared taxi (they call that "bus") to Uluqqat for 33 RNB. On the way there are some passport controls and a backpack control too.
Now is very hard (maybe impossible) to do Uluqqat-Irkeshtam without a taxi. It seems there is an accord between guardians and taxi drivers. The fare was 400 RNB for the whole taxi...I was the only one and I had to pay 400 RNB. Just before the first kirgiz border I ate a very nice soup in a small restaurant on the right side with truck drivers. While you wait for the kirgiz border to be opened again (normally you do the chinese part before lunch and kirgiz part after lunch) you can talk to the truck driver and bargain for a ride...if you are lucky you can find a free ride to Osh.
Taxi to Osh costs 100 RNB (I still paid with the chinese currency).
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Re: Irkeshtam pass report – Kashgar, Xinjiang to Sary Tash, Kyrgyzstan

Postby Pamirski » Sat Feb 25, 2017 10:27 am

For that one, I've also a long crossing story (Link) in German from 2013.
In short. Border was closed for 9 days due to dragon boat festival. There was no possibility to get this information beforehand. After many action we managed to get over the border within 2 days.
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Re: Irkeshtam pass report – Kashgar, Xinjiang to Sary Tash, Kyrgyzstan

Postby reexyyl » Mon May 22, 2017 11:30 am

Crossed the border a week ago.
Not much to add, we were 6 people who went through the Chinese checkpoint in the morning. So your chances of sharing a taxi are good at this time of the year.
400 yuans/car from Chinese checkpoint to the border and then 8000 som/car from the border to Osh

Just take the first shared taxi from kashgar bus station to Wuqia (leaving shortly after 9a.m.) and the rest should be fine.
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