Qolma/Kulma pass (China-Tajikistan) border crossing reports

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TaPi
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Re: Qolma/Kulma pass (China-Tajikistan) border crossing reports

Postby TaPi » Tue Aug 20, 2019 4:24 pm

Hi all.
Here is our Kulma Pass crossing report from Tajikistan to China in August 2019.
We (2 Swiss on bicycles) crossed the border on 16.08.19. We left Murghab the day before.
From Murghab approx. 10km are paved, then 40km is not paved and in bad condition so that the trucks created alternative routes left and right of the original road. After approx. 50km from Murghab the road is well paved.
We arrived at the first control post (70km from Murghab) in the morning at 08:30. Quick passport check then we were allowed to climb up to the pass. We arrived at the pass/border at 12:15 -> waited until 13:00 because of the lunch break. Then we went thru another passport control and got the exit stamp and off to china! We had a normal chinese visa, no special permission or something similar.
There a bus with police men was waiting, asking questions about duration of stay, itinerary, money and they checked the phone (fotos and some installed apps). They were friendly. Then a transport (normal car) was organised who brought us down (15km) to the chinese immigration check. Again check of phones and this time as well the camera. No installation of strange apps or so. But we were lucky: a storm had shut down the energy for an hour so we had to wait, in the end the police did not check or X-Ray any luggage as it was already late. We think normally they’ll do a proper check there.
From Qulma to Kashgar then no problem, a lot of police around but they don’t care about you. We could easily camp. There were 2 police checkpoints on the way but they only wanted the passports (5min). On the way is also a tunnel - all downhill and well ventilated and bright so no problem as well.
For us it was a really nice way to enter China fron Tajikistan also because you are directly at the bottom of the Muztagh-Ata Peak!
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globetraveler
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Re: Qolma/Kulma pass (China-Tajikistan) border crossing reports

Postby globetraveler » Thu Aug 22, 2019 10:09 am

Hi folks. I traveled around Xinjiang province of China for 4 days (hitching, night trains). Practically, it's a war zone, a bunch of guns, police, you really don't enjoy. I departed from Kashgar at 2 pm and managed to get Tashkurgan by 9pm. 7 hours of pure hitching, 300km.There were three checkpoints. The first one comes after 100km. If I understood a policeman well, if you don't have any reason (proof) why you go further, they won't let you go! Luckily I had my Tajik evisa and didn't have problem. My "problem" in the whole province was my Serbian passport. We don't need chinese visa (visa free 30 days), and I had work&businesa visas so every time stuck 20-60 min at the checkpoint. They don't speak any English so I used my bad Chinese. Really painfully slow. Tomorrow morning (July 1st 2019) came back from Tashkurgan to Kalasu border by hitching again (2 hours). They opened at 12.10, noon (close at 6pm if understood well?). First X-ray check of my belongings and camera&phone check. Then the main building. Bunch of questions, second X-ray (!!!), again detailed camera & phone check. I was nervous because of some previous experiences where the cops deleted the whole SD card photos because of God knows why. Luckily they didn't delete mine, eventually 20 photos but not sure 100%. Spent one hour there then nice police young woman helped me to load me on the truck, me and another Tajik driver. Then ascending to the pass and waiting for the lunch break on the Tajik side (3 hours time difference and they didn't synchronize their work hours, so effectively they both work maybe 2 hours a day). There we waited for 2 hours or so. Then we decided to walk and cross on foot. It took 20min. Gestapo border finally over! Then freedom. Tajik side, cool and relaxed guys, 30min in total. They even showed me the elevation marker (4365m). After that I was lucky enough to catch a ride to Murghab. First 30-40km nice paved road, after that, horrible. :D The pass is really beautiful as you are crossing the Pamirs. The weather was excellent, and views... So enjoy, have a nice trip!
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StephParis
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Re: Qolma/Kulma pass (China-Tajikistan) border crossing reports

Postby StephParis » Tue Sep 10, 2019 7:50 am

Crossed this border China => Tadjikistan early september 2019.

I started in Tashkurgan (pleasant place for one day visit by the way) with the 10am bus to Kashgar, that actually left at 11:15am. I paid the full price (65 yuans) even if I left after one and a half hour. Beware : the road is in pretty bad conditions because huge works are in progress.

On chinese side I was alone. A good experiment for chinese police ! They were 4 or 5 around me, always polite. They checked all my devices, even the movies I had on my laptop (luckily nothing too embarrassing 😛). They asked me some questions too.

Process is smoother on tadjik side, where facilities are really old fashioned compared to China. There, only one car was waiting. At first the driver asked me 500 somoni, finally we agreed on 200 yuans. Very few cars cross there and Tadjikistan is a poor country, so I didn't want to bargain harder for what ? 4, 5 euros ?

I arrived in Murghab at 3:30pm local time. Road was horrible. Good introduction to the east of Tadjikistan.
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Blindcapitals
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Re: Qolma/Kulma pass (China-Tajikistan) border crossing reports

Postby Blindcapitals » Tue Sep 24, 2019 3:40 pm

I was having dinner yesterday in Dushanbe with a Chinese businessman who tried to arrange me to go with a truck from his company to Kashgar - result was the border shuts 28th September for Chinese national day celebrations and doesn't reopen until 4th October. Less sure about reopening date, and 28th is a Saturday so I'm going to try 27th. Anyway, I was planning on going Monday 30th, but it will be closed apparently. Obviously his word isn't gospel but he does do a lot of business across the border so would trust him.
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Blindcapitals
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Re: Qolma/Kulma pass (China-Tajikistan) border crossing reports

Postby Blindcapitals » Tue Oct 01, 2019 6:53 am

Found this surprisingly easy. I've done some freelance journalistic work on China before (although I was entering on a tourist visa for purely touristic purposes) so I was a nervous as hell. Especially since I was entering a few days before national day, and the 70th anniversary - very sensitive time, very sensitive region. My plan is/was also to just stay in Kashgar then go straight to Kyrgyzstan, so also a bit of a weird travel plan. Woke up early Friday 27th at Murghab truck stop just outside of town (there is a 25 somoni room you can get and decent cafe). Friend who speaks much better russian than me helped arrange a lift with driver. About four hours journey in truck with appalling road, but very nice views. Left seven, think I arrived around 11, and was through other side by 12 or half past (1500 Beijing time) so only 1-2 hours border crossing. I walked across, changed some money into yuan at a truly, truly, extortionate rate, so try to get some beforehand... Did some customs stuff on Tajik side and then headed towards the flags and heavy armour of the Chinese side. They were thoroughly pleasant throughout. I sort of downplayed my Chinese so I could understand better then Chinese speaking officer was asking the English speaker to ask, but the English speaking guard spoke much better English than my Chinese anyway. They searched my stuff, and didn't even take my multitool. I have two British passports, which was a bit of a problem, but the English speaker sort of seemed on my side with regards to explaining this is allowed in UK. Other problem was that I didn't have an entry stamp for last time I was in china, but didn't really make them sucpicious, they just wanted a decent explanation, which I provided (old passport destroyed). We then went on bus to a further checkpoint and the English speaker interviewed me/chatted while the chinese speaker asked me to turn on my devices and he looked through phone while we chatted. He was obviously trying to extract info, but it was a fairly light grilling. I just talked a lot and joked, and luckily no dangerous questions came up - I just told the truth but obviously didn't mention my sort of profession as a writer. They asked what I do and I said I was just travelling this year, but hoped to study in Beijing next year (the truth). He asked me why I had chosen this time of year to visit Kashgar, I obviously didn't mention national day, just said I wanted to see Kashgar, and I needed to do so now so I could get to Kyrgyz before snow starts. Luckily they didn't ask me if I'd been to Kashgar before, as I think this might have made them sucpicious. Phone wise I had been ultra cautious in deleting all my WhatsApp, Gmail, etc as well as any photos I thought would be at all sucpicious. They went through all my files and only think they didn't like was a photo I took of a fellow travellers passport ( I explained I was helping him get a visa), and embarrasingly some nudes id been sent in a WhatsApp folder, which the English speaker asked me very shyly to delete! I'd had a lot of reading materials about china on my laptop, but I'd wiped everything, and explained I just used it for browsing and they were fine. My VPN actually popped up when I turned it on, but the English speaker closed the window quickly, I don't know whether he was helping me out or just not a problem... Then I waited in a room for half an hour for someone to finish lunch who then escorted me to customs building, where I had to explain my travel plans and two passport thing to about five officers, but they were fairly chill once they got it... Then I had my almonds from tj confiscated and I was free to go! No transport on other side at all. I hitchhiked with two cars all the way to kashgar with not much problem.
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