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

Postby CallumT » Mon May 21, 2018 12:31 pm

Three of us crossed on the 7th of May from Tashkurgan to Murghab.

Spent two hours trying to hitchhike from Tashkurgan to the Kala suu checkpoint with no success. Only three people stopped and quoted ridiculous prices. Eventually the bus from Tashkurgan to Kashgar came past around 9 local time and picked us up for 100 yuan altogether.

At the checkpoint one person spoke a little English and he dealt with us. He simply asked if we had maps, books, or photos. We showed all of these and then our bags were cleared, not a thorough inspection at all. Our Chinese map was carefully looked at though. My partner had a hard drive and SD cards all of which weren't checked. Only the photos on the cameras and laptop were looked at, our phones weren't checked at all.

From there we were stamped out and then put in passing trucks to the actual border which took around an hour. After the border guards finished their lunch we walked into an office where our details were recorded and then we were walked over to the Tajik border post.

The Tajik border staff were quite friendly. Usual procedure for passport control. Hand over the passport and visa, couple of confirmation questions and we were stamped in. We were then led to a another building where they wrote down our details and gave us a big 'Welcome to Tajikistan!'

From here we waited half an hour before a car arrived and offered to bring us to Murghab for 120 Somoni each. On the way there we stopped at the truck weighing station where we picked up a Canadian man who had been stuck there for 6 days. Apparently he had hitched a ride with a truck which turned out to be too heavy to continue. So be wary of getting on heavy trucks.

We arrived into Murghab around 4:30 local time and altogether the process was a lot easier than expected. Much less stressful than the Irkeshtam crossing from Sary Tash to Kashgar.
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Ray brochure
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Re: Qolma/Kulma pass (China-Tajikistan) border crossing reports

Postby Ray brochure » Fri May 25, 2018 6:12 am

On the 2nd of May two friends (British passports) and I (the Canadian who was stuck at the trucker stop mentioned in the previous post) made the trip from Kashgar to the Tajik border. The British couple took the 10am(beijing time) tashkurgan bus from southwest of the old city. After three security checks and some sightseeing stops they arrived at the Chinese customs at 5pm(bt), for 75rmb, a slow yet reliable method of transportation. I hopped on the #4 city bus from southwest of the old city to the last stop (the split in the g314). I tried hitching from the southern branch of the highway and after ten minutes of no luck moved to the northern branch. Much more long distance traffic seemed to be travelling through here, as there were many buses and big rigs. I found a ride within five minutes that took me half way and another ride within an hour that took me the rest of the way. I arrived at an identical time to Chinese customs as the couple . Initially the customs told us we would be spending the night on the chinese side due to our late arrival, but quickly revoked the statement and said there was a truck going over the pass now @ 5:30(bt). The security process on both sides was hassle free with a little help from the gbao and visa. The truck brought us to the weigh in station/ trucker den 60km before Murghab and we spent the night as it was late and a storm was coming. Decided to stay an extra day after the British couple left as I was having the time of my life. A day turned into six. It seemed the truckers overloaded their rigs and surpassed the 45 ton limit. So their was going to be a meeting in Dushanbe to see if they could drive above the weight limit. I didn't hang around to hear the results from the meeting and lucky snagged a ride with the folks in the last post. Highly recommend this joint if you're into trucker culture and 'Shining-esque' accommodations. Deserves three stars and a spicy beef taco ⭐️⭐️⭐️🌮
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lalg3002
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Kyrgyzstan to China

Postby lalg3002 » Wed Jun 06, 2018 2:50 am

Hi guys,
I'm about to leave on June 26 from Bichkek, Kyrgyzstan to loop around Tadjikistan and China for about a month (2200km) and I am wondering if the Kulma Pass from Tadjikistan to China is open (for cyclists)?--> (38.149542 ; 74.802578). I have two maps (Freytag & Berndt + China West National Geo) that don't give the same info... Thank you !
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New Day Adventures
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Kulma Pass (Tajikistan to China) border crossing report

Postby New Day Adventures » Sat Jun 09, 2018 12:38 pm

Hey everyone,

I (a solo UK passport holder) hitchhiked across the border from Tajikistan (Murgab) to China a few days ago. I spoke no Chinese, but this was no problem. Below is the essence of what happened, find the full story on http://www.newdayadventures.net :)

My driver and I ascended gradually to the Kulma pass at 4360m where a light snowstorm made us move quickly between the vehicle and the buildings needed for the various checks.

I had a long wait for a truck driver to take me and there, it seemed that only a few dozen go there a day. Get on the roadside very early in the morning.

We arrived just after 13:00 and the crossing had just reopened after lunch. The Tajik side stamped my visa, making meaning I could no longer turn back. The Chinese seemed friendly, and separated themselves from the job they were required to do of searching me and my things thoroughly. They even filled my water bottle up, seeing as I now had only one which was empty.

It was the first time my whole body had been x-rayed, and seeing my organs and bones was a strange feeling. One of the guards pointed something out in my stomach. What it was, I will never know.

My bag was x-rayed too, and I was simply asked to show them my gas bottle, survival kit and hip flask. They checked my phone, camera and tablet, finding the naughty images downloaded for private time.

Three officials then gathered around my passport, trying to decipher the Latin alphabet which none of them were able to read. It is advisable to learn how to say the name of your country in Chinese, and after I said "Engwen" (England in a Chinese accent), they were satisfied.

They then found me a truck to take me the 12km across no mans land, as no one is permitted to cover it without a motorised vehicle.

The official at the stamp desk poured over it for 15 minutes, purely out of curiosity it seemed, as it was likely the first time he had seen a British passport.

After learning a few Chinese phrases while I waited with the other officials, I was stamped in and free to enter China!
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SteveL
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Re: Qolma/Kulma pass (China-Tajikistan) border crossing reports

Postby SteveL » Sat Jun 23, 2018 10:52 am

We're 2 canadian cyclists who crossed from Tajikistan to China over Kulma pass on June 21, 2018. We have a couple things to add.

We left Murghab at 8am and arrived at the control zone check point at 13:30 with a good tail wind (70km). About 20km of the road is rough, the rest paved. After passport, visa and destination confirmation, we we're allowed to pass into the control zone. We climbed up the towards the crossing and at 16:00 met the border guards heading down at the end of their shift. They told us the border was closed, and we'd have to cross the next day. We asked if we can camp in the control zone, which they had no problem with.

Tip #1: You can camp in the control zone. We camped 7km from the crossing, but you should camp 1km from the crossing (91km from Murghab). At that point you have an open and flat alpine meadow with a stunning view of Mustagh Ata.

The Tajik border opens around 10am. Passport details are taken in the big building (go around to the side facing China) then you're sent to passport control (small building on the left).

Head across to the Chinese side, get your stamp and details confirmed and head to the inspection building as directed. There passport details are taken and bags are sent through the x-ray. They had us empty 2 panniers due to some unidentifiable items and a language barrier. The guards are very kind, so you shouldn't stress too much during the process.

After inspection we waited for the first truck to come through. It was empty and the guard arranged for us to be taken down to passport control. Fully loaded bikes were lifted over head and into the truck (!!).

At the bottom first check point, bikes were lifted out and you are sent to the large grey building for passport control. The border agents were friendly and spoke enough English to get by. All bags were sent through the x-ray.

Tip #2: All our fresh fruit, vegetables and eggs were confiscated. This amounted to more than half the food we'd brought to make the ride to Kashgar. Fresh apricots were taken, dried apricots were ok. This is important because there is no atm or currency exchange until Kashgar, so prepare accordingly. Our eggs were hardboiled and we should have shown them as they MIGHT have been ok cooked, but not fresh.

They did a basic examination of my laptop, but did not check the phone or camera. Overall the process was not overly onerous and the guards were friendly and helpful.

Total time for crossing was 2 hours and 15 minutes (10:15am to 12:30pm).

Tip#3: Fill your water bottles at passport control. There aren't many great options for filling up in streams that don't appear to be polluted. We ended up filling from a lake just past karakul that looked like a cleaner option to anything else we saw..

Finally, don't let anyone tell you the border is closed for foreigners. People who say this include:

-The Tajik border guards at the Saritash/Karakul crossing
-The Pamir Hotel in Murghab
-Every Murghab resident we spoke to
-Many cyclists on the road who 'heard' something or 'thought' something.
-Most websites other than Caravanistan

Assume it's open until you hear a first hand account of someone being turned away due to being a foreigner.

Riding the Karakoram to Kashgar was awesome, no issues there either. Just 3 checkpoints where you take your passport inside to confirm your stamp and identification. No x-rays, body scans, extreme searches etc that you've read about.

Enjoy your trip!

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

Postby Corni » Tue Nov 06, 2018 2:11 am

We crossed the Kulma Pass border end of august 2018 no problem but it took us a long time. The border is closed on the weekend (opened monday to friday). In Murgab, we went to the truck "terminal" where the truck drivers stay, approx 2 km from Murgab Centre and organised ourselves a ride for the next day (speaking russian helps!). There are loads of trucks crossing the border every day. You can also go to the Pamir Hotel and ask for a taxi and see if other tourists are around (we were told a price of 700 somoni (expensive!) for the taxi to the border).

By truck, It takes 3 hours to the border, then several controls, another short ride organised by the chinese officers to a chinese checkpoint some 15 km further (in total around another 3 hours for all border controls. Add waiting time when you arrive around noon as they do lunch break). Then you need to get another truck to Kashgar (just wait at the street behind the last checkpoint). The truck takes another 5 hours from here to Kashgar including other controls.
Our truck stopped 40 km before Kashgar so we tramped the rest.
Everything for free but in total 13 hours, 12 passport controls and four different trucks so better start early.
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kgh
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Re: Qolma/Kulma pass (China-Tajikistan) border crossing reports

Postby kgh » Wed Nov 07, 2018 10:37 am

I went through the Kulma Pass from China to Tajikistan on Monday November 5th 2018. I had transport arranged on both sides. West China Expeditions took me to the main Chinese border post and also drove me the final 20 km up to the top border post, which was really helpful. On the Tajikistan side, Pamir Off-Road Adventure met me and took me down to Murghab.

The Chinese border post didn’t open until 12:00 Beijing time and it took them about 20 minutes to get organized. But they then processed me out quite efficiently. They x-rayed my bag, but didn’t ask to check inside, let alone review my laptop or phone. (But you can’t rely on that, obviously.) It all took about 30 minutes. At the top, the final Chinese passport review took only a couple of minutes and the Tajikistan entry took about 20 minutes.

There were roughly 20 or so trucks queued waiting to go through in each direction. But I saw no other cars or travelers.
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hovo
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Re: Qolma/Kulma pass (China-Tajikistan) border crossing reports

Postby hovo » Fri Jan 11, 2019 11:11 am

Hi, this is my first step on Caravanistan. Great site!
I got alarming information that starting from 5th January 2019 Kulma border is closed. As I am planning a tour from Kashgar to Murghab in May using this border, I wonder what the present situation is.
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steven
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Re: Qolma/Kulma pass (China-Tajikistan) border crossing reports

Postby steven » Sun Jan 13, 2019 9:36 am

Could you give us the source of this information?
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hovo
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Re: Qolma/Kulma pass (China-Tajikistan) border crossing reports

Postby hovo » Tue Jan 15, 2019 9:47 am

The source of my information about the closure of the Kulma border crossing is Tour Operator "Fan Mountain Travel". His latest message from 14 Janunari: About the border, I visited the Tourism Ministry, until February nothing is clear.
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