Khorgos border crossing Q&A (Almaty - Urumqi)

Is the road, border or area open and accessible to foreigners? Is there danger?
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Re: Khorgos border crossing Q&A (Almaty - Urumqi)

Post by steven »

With 8 cars: I would budget 3 hours.
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A Few More Miles
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Re: Khorgos border crossing Q&A (Almaty - Urumqi)

Post by A Few More Miles »

We crossed from China to Kazakstan just the other day on 2 bicycles. It was pretty simple, once we found out where to go on the Chinese side... No one seemed to know. But like someone mentioned earlier here, just go where all the big trucks (and farm equipment) are going. Keep going forward until someone yells at you to stop, then say "Chu Kazakstan Ma" and they point you in the right direction, snaking through tiny little gates while you feel there is no way this could be the real way... It is the real way!

Inside the Chinese customs and immigration office, it was pretty easy. Put the panniers through an Xray machine that no one looked at, then got a stamp in our passports. We were allowed to cycle the silly 10km U-shaped road in no-mans land.

Arriving on the Kazakstan side, they also guided us through to the correct building and doors. Got a 30 day free visa (US citizens). Had 2 stamps on the paper slip and when I asked if we need to register with OVIR, he said "30 days, no register, is ok". We'll see what happens when we leave the country, but I'm optimistic. They hurried our panniers through the X-ray machine and some guys were getting impatient that it was taking a while since they were more concerned with all the "trading goods" being brought through by the locals. Eventually, one official just pushed us through to the next room without scanning a few of our bags. We loaded back up and went down the long, dusty, silent road into Kazakstan. There were 2 more gates to get our passports checked, and then we were off on our own.

Good luck to future travelers! And thanks to everyone on this site for all the advice and inspiration!
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Re: Khorgos border crossing Q&A (Almaty - Urumqi)

Post by Silvio »

Hello travellers

We took the bus from Urumqi to Almaty.
We had to wait a few days because the border was closed because of Nauruz holidays in Kasachstan.
The bus leaves at 19:00. But we had to be there at 17:00.

The bus driver wanted us to pay 50 yuan for each luggage in the trunk of the bus; additional to the normal bus ticket. We asked why we have to pay that. They said they have to pay it to the border staff. We said that we want to carry our luggage over the border ourselfes. After that there have been several discussions within the bus staff, which we didnt understand. They also refused to put our luggage in the trunk, maybe to increase the pressure. Finally they said we should pay 25 yuan for each luggage and we did. Well ... still we didnt know why we have to pay that but at least we could reduce the costs. We asked them, if we can pay to the border staff ourselfes and if we should put our luggage next to our beds, but they didnt answer our questions. We also asked by dint of google translator, but either they didnt want to answer our questions or they really didnt understand our questions. We dont know.

On the way to the border we had several shorter and longer stops for unknown reasons ... Well we slept.
Before we crossed the border we had a very long stop in Khorgos at a bus station. During that stop the bus went away and came back. I dont know if they checked the bus in the meantime. During that break we changed money with some people on the street and we could get food.
The whole border crossing was a pain; especially leaving china. Everything took very long. I dont know how often we had to show our passports. At one passport check at the bus station the staff made notes about the essential information but didnt understand the passport and mixed the information. My nationality German was made to my first name. My firstname was made to my last name .... As we said that this is wrong, the staff didnt want to correct that. After the border we also had a new driver. Maybe they had a problem with the passport or the visa of our driver. We dont know.
Finally crossing border was finished at 18:00 Bejing time. We arrived in Almaty at 22:00 Bejing time after 27 hours. (instead of 24)

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A Few More Miles
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Re: Khorgos border crossing Q&A (Almaty - Urumqi)

Post by A Few More Miles »

For what it's worth: Here's video from our crossing in summer 2017.

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Re: Khorgos border crossing Q&A (Almaty - Urumqi)

Post by cyclodyssey »

Tried to cycle across the border crossing from Khorgos to Kazakhstan. Not allowed at the moment. Must catch a bus through. You are free to cycle from the Kazakhstan side, but not on the China side. In China you must catch the train from Khorgos to Urumqi. No restrictions after this.
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Re: Khorgos border crossing Q&A (Almaty - Urumqi)

Post by Lb1211 »

Hi all, two British cyclists who have just crossed the border at Khorgas here.

Just to let you all know of how we seemingly got scammed by an official looking rules.

We arrived at the border in the morning with our bikes to be told by a man in military clothing that cyclists were no longer allowed through and that we would have to get a bus through. H
Accordingly we got a ticket to the other side for RMB70, waiting THE WHOLE DAY for the bus to arrive, and drove back to the same border where we crossed Chinese customs. HOWEVER, on the way out we spotted the same man at the bus satation and our suspicions were aroused. It was confirmed by the border guards that in fact, cyclists are allowed through, and the man appears to have been working for the bus company.


Happy riding, friends.
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Re: Khorgos border crossing Q&A (Almaty - Urumqi)

Post by avelolasticot »

Worst border crossing eveeer !

We arrived in Khorgos by bike, struggled to find the entrance of the border check, as nobody knows where it is. At 6:40pm we are in front of the main gate, negotiating to change our last yuan to tenge, when a policeman shows up and asks us for our passports. Naive as we are, we give him our passports and hope he's going to help us cross the border quickly.. He puts us aside, starts checking our papers, as slow as it is humanly possible. When we tell him that all we want is to leave China, and that we need our passports back quickly, he just says with the translator "seems like you will not cross today".

And he's right, because the border closes (7:30pm) and he is still checking our passports. When he is finally done, he gets into his car and tells us to follow him to a hotel, "for our safety". We really struggle during another 20 minutes before managing to get our passports back, with the help of all the people that had gathered around us in the meantime, and the military men on the other side of the fence that assure us the policeman has no right to keep our passports.

We finally crossed the border the next day, spending another hour finding the right entrance, as wherever we would go, the security blocked us the way. At the end we went where all the trucks were, without listening to the security shouting at us, went to the military at the gate, and after insisting a bit they opened the side door to let us in. YAY! Then it went pretty fast, we were the only one crossing the border, we could cycle in between the chinese and the kazakh custom, and finally, out of terrible Xinjiang !
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Re: Khorgos border crossing Q&A (Almaty - Urumqi)

Post by gpl »

i crossed border from China to Kaz beg. of August. i was cycling. Infamous side door was locked and guy refused to open it. guy is not police, he works for bus company. i asked Customs, military and police to intervene but they told ne they have no authority there. after 1h yelling at everybody i went to bus station. paid 70 yuan but could cycle and not take the bus
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Re: Khorgos border crossing Q&A (Almaty - Urumqi)

Post by Jake »

Crossed the border from Almaty-Xinjiang at Khorgas at the start of September 2018.
At Sairan bus station in Almaty you can buy a ticket in advance for the daily 7:00am bus to China. The price depends on how far you will ride it.
Almaty->Khorgas 8,000 Tenge
Almaty->Urumqi 16,000 Tenge
The bus used to be able to make a stop in Yining/Ghulja (in fact Yining is still written on the schedules above the ticket office), but I was told this option no longer exists. I wanted to go to to Ghulja for a couple of days, so I got the Almaty->Khorgas option. It's still a sleeper bus with beds, even though you're only on it for a few hours. Most of the people on my bus were backpackers or Central Asians headed to Inner China for studying/working, I think they were just using Urumqi as a transit point.

You first get off the bus with your luggage right before the Kazakh exit border, where the check was pretty relaxed, although we waited around an hour for the bus itself to come through. After that you get back on the bus with your luggage and it takes you across the no-mans land right to the entrance of the Chinese border (I understood you can't cross this area by foot.)

The Chinese check is more strict as you can imagine. The initial screening involved walking through some sort of scanning device and having all 10 fingerprints and my photo taken. The border officer asked me questions about my itinerary, but was generally pleasant. She could tell I spoke Chinese so just asked me a few more questions about my previous visits to China. After she let me pass I had to go through the "security check". An officer asked me to unlock my phone, and examined my phone's contents, mostly looking at the photo gallery. Apparently one of the people in our group's phone had run out of battery, and the officer actually asked them to charge their phone so that they could examine it. As far as I know, no one in our group had any surveillance apps installed on their phone by the officers like in other reports. After that I put my baggage in another scanning machine and just walked through - Some people in our group had their baggage opened up and very thoroughly checked however.

After that I was officially in Khorgas/霍尔果斯/Huoerguosi! You can walk around the town pretty freely but it doesn't seem there's like there's much to do:
*There are money changers right as you leave the border area. You can haggle with them a bit on the exact rate but they put up quite a fight.
*If you are going on to Urumqi, you need to head with your luggage to the International Bus Station and meet your bus there (weird). A taxi to the station might be around 10 yuan.
*I was able to buy a local China Mobile simcard at the 精英通讯 store on 6-16 East Youyi Street (友谊东路) right next to said bus station. Employees do not speak English however, and it takes them quite a while as they need to fill out a "passport translation" form.
*There are hotels in the city that accept foreigners, but why would you want to stay there?

I just sat with my bus-mates for around an hour having dinner before they got back on the bus to Urumqi. Then I caught a shared cab on to Ghulja (either stop any taxi or ask around.) Going price should be 40 yuan for a single seat.
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Re: Khorgos border crossing Q&A (Almaty - Urumqi)

Post by laghubhara »

We did the Khorgos crossing from Kazakhstan to China in the middle of October with the bus from Almaty to Ürümqi.

First, the bus:
  • A ticket is still 16,000 Tenge.
  • The bus does not go every day. We asked our hostel manager to call the bus station the day beforehand and on the day we originally planned (Thursday), we were informed that the bus would not go. We went the next day (Friday), bought tickets and were informed after an hour that the bus would not go after all (they didn't sell enough tickets). So the day after that (Saturday), we finally went.
  • The ticket office opens officially at 6 am and you can buy your tickets on the day of departure. In fact, we were not allowed to buy tickets for a day in the future.
  • The bus really is surprisingly comfortable. I rode with two >185cm guys and they were fine. However, the bus drivers are not terribly nice, shouting a lot etc. It's not a relaxed drive.
  • You constantly have to take off your shoes and put them back on. Makes sense to wear shoes with which it's easy to do that.
I wrote down some times:
  • 07:30 - The bus leaves.
  • 08:30 - We're out of Almaty after cruising around for a while, picking people up. Finally, they switch on the heat.
  • Two toilet breaks on the way.
  • 13:00 - We reach Khorgos and the border.
  • 16:00 - Done with the border, we are on the Chinese side. The bus picks us up immediately after the border.
  • From here on, Beijing time.
  • 18:45 - We reach some restaurant in Khorgos where we can eat. We can only pay in Yuan. It's Uigur food.
  • 20:00 - We start driving again.
  • Two toilet breaks on the way.
  • 04:50 - Passport check shortly before Ürümqi.
  • Toilet break and we stop at a reststop for an hour to sleep.
  • 07:30 - We arrive at Ürümqi Nianzigou Bus Station.
About the border: The Kazakh side was fine, we were asked some questions about itineraries. The Chinese side is more intense, with an X-Ray machine you're driving through with your luggage, fingerprints, etc., as described above.
The only important change: After our passports were stamped, someone came and asked for our phones. The phones were taken away into a separate, closed room for about 10 minutes, then returned. Both Android and iPhones, of all travellers in the bus. We asked repeatedly what had been done with them, we were told that it was a "normal check and nothing has been moved or deleted". We currently don't know, but this sounds like the app installs are back. (If someone has information for how to find out if the app was installed, I'd be very grateful!)

There was one traveller with us who had a dumbphone and a tablet. When he was asked for his phone, he produced his dumbphone, which the officers didn't want. This could be an idea to circumvent the app installation, although I don't recommend it. He was taken for a luggage examination, during which time his tablet was checked for photos, but nothing was installed.
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