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

Is the road, border or area open and accessible to foreigners? Is there danger?
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hsuankou00
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Re: Qolma pass (from China) - report

Post by hsuankou00 »

8/3
I just crossed the Qolma Pass. I'm Taiwanese, holding a valid permit to china which, though is an old version, works pretty much like an ID in the mainland. I speak proper Mandarin, but from my experience I would say the custom is friendly, modern and open to any Chinese, Tajik or third country national.

Here is a brief timeline:
0640 I arrived at the lower truck terminal of Murghab because the day before I was told the trucks depart between 7-9 am of Dushanbe time, which I soon realized was wrong when I stood in front of the empty terminal without a single truck.
I therefore asked people around which way goes to China. They were kind and helpful. Just said "Maschine Kashgar" and they would know.

0850 After 2 hours of considering the possibility of staying one more night in Murghab, I hitched a truck!
Bad is not enough to describe the road. But after the 9-day travel in the Pamir mountains, it's no more a huge pain.

1140 I arrived at the Tajik border and, without a surprise, the Chinese side was closed. The Tajik truck driver with his grandpa-like eyes said he would pick me up on the other side of the border.

1220 Tajik border was smooth. They didn't even have a look of my bag. I was asked for bribe but I first pretended I didn't understand and then begged for exemption. They let me through without a second try maybe because I had been very polite. I then waited between the two customs until the end of the Chinese lunch time.

1300 Chinese side opened. There was a thorough inspection with my phone and camera were carefully checked, but the officers were extremely nice. I was once worried that my Taiwanese identity, or my old version of permit, or my experience of military service would pose any risk. However, the custom officers seemed to be updated to the latest policy and open-minded (an officer and I even talked about the comparison of Chinese army and Taiwanese army). They then asked a truck driver drove me to the immigration hall.

In the immigration hall, I was first asked to sit in a room (with a heater for me!), and after 10 minutes I went through a normal and smooth immigration process.

1440 I walked out from the pass, standing on the highway. The inspection of trucks seemed to be meticulous and requires much time, so I started hitchhiking. There were many many cars but the Chinese people were unwilling to stop😡. Many Tajik people were willing to help but they would first have some lunch.

1626 I jumped on a dirty concrete truck with a kind Chinese driver. The road was long and I was extremely uncomfortable due to the backache from the hike a day before, but I tried to smile and respond to the driver's words perfectly because otherwise I would feel guilty.

2200 Arrived in the Kashgar city. I gave the driver a postcard of Taiwan and 20 RMB, but he kindly declined the money. I ended up spending 15 RMB for a taxi ride to the city center, which I believed is overpriced.
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Oldmanpedaling
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Qolma pass border crossing TJ-CN

Post by Oldmanpedaling »

Border crossing Tajikistan 🇹🇯- China 🇨🇳 Qolma (Kulma) pass. If you have the necessary visa (TJ & CN) It's no problem in both directions. We (2 German cyclists) were entering China from the Murghab side. Make sure you have enough time, since it takes at least 4 to 5 hours (Tajikistan & China combined) It's good to be at the border before 11:00am (TJ time). TJ is more relaxed, the CN guys want to see almost everything. I had a drone, so that caused a lot of discussions, but in the end they just told me I should not use it in Kashgar or sensitive places in Xinjiang. All in all they where very friendly with some basic English. Once you are finished with the border post at the pass, they will ask a truck driver to take you down 12km to the immigration checkpoint. Nobody is allowed to go there on foot or by bicycle. After the final checking there you get your stamp and you are free to travel on the Karakoram Highway either to Kashgar or the other way towards Taxkorgan/ Pakistan. On the way from Murghab (about 66km) to the Qolma pass, you find on the right hand side a large Truck-checkpoint with a hotel-like Guesthouse, ( N38°035.15. E074°34.297.) great place with heated rooms, hot showers, toilets, and food!!! Pure luxury ! We payed for a double room 50,-SOM p/person + 14,- SOM for dinner. (Date: Sept. 21.2017)
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Chingyu824
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Re: Qolma/Kulma pass (China-Tajikistan) border crossing reports

Post by Chingyu824 »

I am a solo traveller who come from Hong Kong and I just crossed the border from Tajikistan to China on 26/10. I applied the e-visa to vist Taj, so there was a problem to leave. As the custom claimed that they dont have internet there, so they cannot process my exit. I think they just want me to pay some money to settle. And finally, i have got luck, a tajik driver had good relationship with the custom helped me to persuade them. I got stamped out and crossed the border.
The chinese side was very friendly and nice, though the baggage search was very strict. They checked the photos of my phone, ipad and camera throughly. Later, they helped me to find a car going to the custom 14km away.
Some reminders, the time for chinese truck to depart is ard 6am in Murgab. The opening time of chinese border is beijing time 11am-1pm. Sat and Sun are closed. They claimed that winter is still open but I am not sure coz the border was so cold even in Oct.
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medharahman
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Re: Qolma/Kulma pass (China-Tajikistan) border crossing reports

Post by medharahman »

Dear Travellers,

My name is Medha Rahman.

I crossed the Kulma Pass on the 18th of December 2017 from China to Tajikistan.

Background

I am an Australian passport holder born in Bangladesh. I don’t speak any Chinese or Russian/Tajik.

Context

It had been snowing quite heavily in Kashgar and Tashkurgan. The KKH was closed at certain times as a result of the snow. Many vehicles were adopting chains on their tyres to be safe. The weather on days had dropped to -20 in Tashkurgan. Kashgar was -15 on most days.

Some Admin (Visa and Permits)

I had a Tajik Tourist E-Visa. I had a permit for travel through the KKH region.

Logistics

I hitchhiked from Tashkurgan to Karasu Port. It took about 30 minutes to find a ride and about 80 minutes to drive to Karasu.

Chinese Customs

Overall it was a straightforward process - I have been through more arduous ones in the past. The Chinese officials are polite and ask a few questions. They are mostly about why you are in China and what your onward travel plans are.

In winter there is very little traffic. I was unfortunately/fortunately put into a snow plough on the road to the pass. It was incredibly slow. It took around 90 minutes to complete the 14km path. There were a couple of trucks around.

At the top

Freezing. Incredibly cold. I had no transport once up top as the plough only had one seat. It was also lunch time which meant I was left to my own devices. They also came from lunch 40 minutes late. Overall I spent 1 hour and 40 minutes up top.

Crossing the border and Tajik Customs

The border crossing was easy. No issues. Once getting to the Tajik side, there is a small white shack surrounded by truck drivers. They are really friendly and helpful. I waited about an hour for all the passports to be processed. They will check your e-visa and stamp you through. A guy also found me and offered his taxi. It was 200 somoni. I didn’t haggle.

Border to Murghab

3 and a bit hours of travel. We didn’t actually use the paved road for majority of the way. Just drove through the snow. Murghab is incredibly cold as well.

Tips

1. Try and avoid lunchtime on the border
2. I can’t stress enough how cold and windy it is up top. Be very prepared for cold weather. My thermometer read -40 at times.

Hope this helps.

Thanks,

Medha
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Felice
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Joined: Thu Feb 15, 2018 2:35 pm

Re: Qolma pass border crossing TJ-CN

Post by Felice »

Oldmanpedaling wrote:Border crossing Tajikistan 🇹🇯- China 🇨🇳 Qolma (Kulma) pass. If you have the necessary visa (TJ & CN) It's no problem in both directions. We (2 German cyclists) were entering China from the Murghab side.
Hi Guys!

Thank you all for your last posts off the border crossing at Qolma Pass, very interesting!

We plan an overland trip from Germany to India and would like to travel from Tajikistan to Pakistan (Pamir to Karakorum Highway) with our own car.
What is your opinion/impression/knowledge, is it possible to cross the border at Qolma pass in our own car?

Otherwise the only possibility seems to be an expensive tour trip with guide and other tour members passing the border at Irkeshtam and in 5 Days via Kashgar to the Khunjerab Pass, which we would like to make more easy and simple.

Do you know something about it?
Happy to hear from you,
Felice
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Oldmanpedaling
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Re: Qolma/Kulma pass (China-Tajikistan) border crossing reports

Post by Oldmanpedaling »

Hi Felice,
Sounds like a great trip! But! As far as I know, foreign cars are not allowed to enter China, not via Qolma and not via Irkestham nor any other Chinese border / harbor. You would need a Chinese registered car and a Chinese drivers license to drive in China. The same applies to motorcycles. We were on bicycles and had no problems to cycle freely in China. My friend cycled the Karakoram Highway via Tashkurgan to Pakistan and I cycled to Kashgar. The Tajik and Pakistani truck drivers have a special permit to go as far as Kashgar to pick up goods and then return to Tajikistan or Pakistan. I have seen many EU registered vehicles in Tajikistan, Kasachstan and Kirgisistan, but nobody managed to get into China with their own cars or motorcycles. You might have to look for a different route... good luck Werner
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steven
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Re: Qolma/Kulma pass (China-Tajikistan) border crossing reports

Post by steven »

@Oldmanpedaling, you are wrong. Foreign cars can drive in China, but they do need a Chinese guide or chinese driver's license. That is what Felice is hinting at: by crossing at Qolma, he can shorten the time he needs to spend with a Chinese guide, thereby making his trip cheaper.

@Felice: don't see why you cannot cross with your own car if you have a guide waiting for you at the border. Haven't heard of anyone doing it but should be fine.
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cristiano
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Re: Qolma/Kulma pass (China-Tajikistan) border crossing reports

Post by cristiano »

@Oldmanpedaling, as Steven already told you, you are wrong.

@Felice I never heard of anybody crossing Qolma on own vehicle, but this doesn't mean it is not possible. I saw with my own eyes big custom buildings at the Qolma road/KKH intersection in Kalasu. Things are changing quickly in that region, even regarding Torugart/Irkeshtam crossings, so probably only a local chinese guide can suggest you the best option. "easy and simple" is 99% not what you will get in any case.
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ibex
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Re: Qolma/Kulma pass (China-Tajikistan) border crossing reports

Post by ibex »

I crossed the Kulma pass border from Murgab to Tashkurganon on 22. February. Right after the Chinese New Year holidays. It was without problems or questions, but required almost a day. Since there is no public transport. There were no trucks. From Murgab to the border, I took a shared taxi. The Chinese border is in the middle of no-where. No taxis. I hitch-hiked to Tashkurgan. There is a lot of Chinese police.

The Chinese border control checks the luggage very carefully. Everything has to be unpacked. They even check smartphones and computers.

PECTA in Khorog was not aware that the Kulma border crossing to China is open.
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rfoltz
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Re: Qolma/Kulma pass (China-Tajikistan) border crossing reports

Post by rfoltz »

I crossed today, from Murghab to Tashkurgan, no problems. From Murghab to the border took less than two hours because the driver basically drove off-road the whole way, careening this way and that over the desert sands trying to avoid the bumps. The border guards didn’t check my bags on either side, but the Tajiks’ fingerprinting device couldn’t seem to capture my prints and we wasted a good half hour before they finally just gave up and let me go. Note that on the Chinese side there is no currency exchange, which is also the case in Tashkurgan unless you accept the unfavourable rate at the Crown hotel.
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