Irkeshtam Pass: Kyrgyzstan (Osh - Sary Tash) to China (Kashgar)

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Wegen van de wereld
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Re: Irkeshtam Pass: Kyrgyzstan (Osh - Sary Tash) to China (Kashgar)

Post by Wegen van de wereld »


I crossed from Kyrgystan to China two days ago: August 4th 2016.
Since there was a lot of uncertainty among all the travellers I met taking this route, I feel it's time for a new report:

- Arrived by bicycle at 10am (Kyrgyz time) and welcomed by some very friendly Kyrgys officials. No bagage control whatsoever.
- 1st Chinese checkpost is 5km further
- Bagage control is done one-by-one and you have to wait in a room untill you get send for. Easy going officials of which some even speak some English.
- You have to hand in your passport which you will receive back only after the second checkpost: 140km further. So, when your bagage is checked you need to find a ride to the second checkpost. This is done via the official taxi's which you'll find outside. It should cost not more than 100 Yuan, but they charged me extra for my bike. Make sure to arrange this yourself, no one tells you to and you'll find yourself waiting for hours for nothing.
- The second (and last) checkpost is only opened after 16:30 (Beijing time), but this gives you time to get some lunch right before the gate. The Lagman is very good.
- This immigration building is a nice airconditioned modern place to be and the officers seem to be quit service-orientated. I got through in about 15m.

Overal: nice border crossing which will take some time mainly due to the 140km taxi-ride in between. Kyrgyz side is friendly as ever and the Chinese seem to have installed some kind of costumer-friendly programme.
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Re: Irkeshtam Pass: Kyrgyzstan (Osh - Sary Tash) to China (Kashgar)

Post by tirana2Beijing »

We just arrived in Kashgar from Osh and it went very well! No problems and/or delays at all! Find our story below:

- We arranged private transport from our hotel in Osh (we were picked up at 06:00) to the Irkeshtam border (5000 som, which is around 65 euro) and this ride took a bit less than 4 hours in total. Before the actual border is a small police stop where our driver was not allowed to pass as he only had his ID card with him, but finally after 15 minutes they let us continue to the actual border.
- We walked across the border of Kyrgyzstan (our luggage was not checked) and our passport were checked several times and our names were put in the computer. (they also attended us that all foreigners arrival after the 4th of November have to register themselves within 5 days)
- After several checks (10 minutes in total) we jumped into a truck and drove around 7km to the first Chinese border check.
- At the Chinese border check they checked our passports and we had to open one of our luggages. After 5 minutes we were put into a shared taxi (100 Yuan a person or 1000 som a person) and were waiting for all the passports to be checked and given to the driver (in the meantime some other police officers were playing table tennis) and after 30 minutes we were good to go.
- The drive to the real border takes around 1,5 hour and right before arriving the driver and some passengers decided to have lunch for 40 minutes (after this we found out that the border was not open as they were also on their lunch break) and at 16:00 Beijing time we could finally go into the official building.
- At this official building we waited for around 30 minutes while our passports were checked, then went through the control (again we did not have to open our luggage) and were out in CHINA :)
- There was only one taxi there (the same guy who gave us a bad exchange rate but what could we do, we had to have some Yuan so the best would be to change this already in Osh) but he asked way too much to go to Kashgar (200 Yuan) so we started walking and some guys of the border control just finished their shifts and were going to Kashgar so we were put into one (new) car and our luggage in another car and started driving (the car with our luggage not). After around 45 minutes we arrived at our hotel in Kashgar and asked the guys about our luggage and they told us that it would come in around 5 minutes and luckily after waiting with these guys the other truck came and we could check in into the hotel at around 20:00.
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Re: Irkeshtam Pass: Kyrgyzstan (Osh - Sary Tash) to China (Kashgar)

Post by Serica »

Does anyone can give me a good advice how we can reach in the month of June from Osh Airport via Sary Tash the Irkeshtam border crossing?
Which options are available and what is the price - private taxi, collective taxi etc.?

Many thanks in advance for your help!
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Irkeshtam pass: China to Kyrgystan

Post by Xavgui »


Any recent feedback about this crossing? Need to take a taxi in Kashgar? How much is it?
Need to take a taxi also on the other side, or can you go on your own (cycling)?
Would like to cross (with bikes) early june...

Thanks a lot for any update!
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Gratsi and Jan
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Re: Irkeshtam Pass: Kyrgyzstan (Osh - Sary Tash) to China (Kashgar)

Post by Gratsi and Jan »

We (two cyclists) crossed Irkeshtam border from Kyrgyzstan to China on June 19. Here is our experience:

We spent the night in Irkeshtam village. There is a hotel on the left, about 100m off the road. Else, just ask one of the restaurant ladies (which is what we did). They will let you stay in one of the empty containers for 100 Som per night per person.
We left at 8am the following day. Usual passport controls, then we headed into the 3km of no man's land. On the Chinese side our passports were checked again, and we were allowed to continue. The next checkpoint another 3km down the road is called "China Immigration Inspection". It's quite obvious because you have to leave the main road and take a right turn. We figured it had to be an important building because all the trucks turned right. Our bags were x-rayed, and our phones were taken. (We later saw that they had installed an app on each of our phones.) We were sent into a room where we saw a big tableau on the wall stating the Chinese immigration rules in English, and we were asked to read only one of the rules explaining that we had to take the famous taxi from here on.
The driver wanted to charge us 400CNY, we bargained him down to 350CNY. We know other people who got a deal for 300CNY. It seemed as if we were allowed to choose our taxi driver, and this guy really wanted to drive us, so we think that if you just say "no", they will accept 300CNY or even lower. In case the driver says "no", you may have to wait until the next taxi shows up, which could take a few hours.
No matter when you arrive at this checkpoint, you will almost certainly arrive at the real immigration check point in Ulugqat while it's closed for lunch break due to the change in time zones between Kyrgyzstan and China as well as the long drive in the taxi. We arrived at 14.30, and we had to wait until 16.30 for them to resume service. We got our stamps and were allowed to leave. There was one last passport check after we had left the building.
There is no currency exchange until Ulugqat (not even in Irkeshtam), and our driver did not accept anything but CNY. In order to pay him, we had to ask him to show us where the next exchange office is: Turn right just after the final passport check which is located just before an intersection, then pick one of the small convenience stores on your right, they will exchange Som and Dollar.
Our driver did not want to drive us to Kashgar, so we had to find another one. However, he did take the rest of the passengers to the central bus station from where you can take a bus to Kashgar. You could also try to hitchhike. No matter how you choose to proceed, there will be several checkpoints on the way to Kashgar, and not one of them knew what exactly to do with our passports. We spent one hour waiting at one of the checkpoints until they found out that neither one of our faces could be found in the Chinese "face database".
At last, we reached Kashgar at 8pm, and we stayed at "Old Town Youth Hostel".

Be aware that you cannot cycle into Peyziwat County from Kashgar (#10 on the this map: ... hi_mcp.png). The police at the entrance checkpoint sent us back to Kashgar, saying that we were generally allowed to go everywhere except for this county.

We have written a more detailed blog entry about our experience with the Irkeshtam border on our blog: ... irkeshtam/
Last edited by Gratsi and Jan on Fri Jun 07, 2019 8:10 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Irkeshtam Pass: Kyrgyzstan (Osh - Sary Tash) to China (Kashgar)

Post by Losgelöst »

We, two german cyclists, crossed the border on the 27th of July.
We also spent the night in Irkeshtam. It's possible to put a tent close to the river which is what we did. It was surprisingly quiet, no issues at all. Best to fill up your water bottles in the village before called Nura. There is a pipe next to the main road with good mountain water.
The next day was pretty much as others have already described it. As for our german fellow travelers: the chinese border guards seem to understand the russian pronunced version "Germania" rather than the english "Germany". Perhabs it is the same for other nationalities. Might be a good idea to have your citizenship written in chinese on a piece of paper or take screenshot.
The taxi driver at the chinese border control indeed took our passports. He asked us for 150 RMB per person including bicycle (100pp and 50 per bike), so 300 in total. We didn't bargain cause we knew that this is about the cheapest you get (we know of other cyclists who had to pay 200 pp). Once we got to Uluqgat we had to wait quite a bit for the control station to open again after their lunch break. The people working there are all very friendly but it just takes a lot of time. When we were free to go it was already 6pm (Beijing time). Another taxi to Kashgar would have cost 33 RMB pp plus another 33 per bike and there doesn't seem to be a bus which takes bicycles (or any bus at all?). Too tired to cycle on we decided to stay in a hotel for the night (100 for a double room) even though it should be possible to pitch a tent and hide well about 10 to 20 kilometers behind town. The next day we cycled to Kashgar, very nice because it's about 85% downhill. There are a few control stations and the last 40km or so the police followed us, making sure we'll go Kashgar indeed. While doing so we met another cyclist coming the other way. Naturally we stopped to chat a bit. Soon enough the police car pulled over next to us and one guy told us to move on. We politely but insistently told them that they may continue if they wish to but us cyclists will chat a bit more. That made them pull back and wait till we finished our conversation. So as long as you keep being friendly they obviously can't forbid you to take a break, go to the toilet, maybe buy some fruit from a vendor and so on.
In Kashgar we stayed at Old Town Youth Hostel, got a double room with shared toilet for 100 RMB, seems to be a reasonable price since the dorm is 45pp, so 90 for two persons.
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Hitchhiking eastwards

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Irkeshtam Pass in early March (winter)

Post by MylesDixon »

Hi Guys, was wondering if anyone has done the Irkestam pass in early march or any other time in winter. Any feedback appreciated
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Re: Irkeshtam Pass in early March (winter)

Post by steven »

MylesDixon wrote:Hi Guys, was wondering if anyone has done the Irkestam pass in early march or any other time in winter. Any feedback appreciated
There have been a few posts on this forum, for instance the second one in this thread. It is still the same process.
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Re: Irkeshtam Pass: Kyrgyzstan (Osh - Sary Tash) to China (Kashgar)

Post by Kostia »

Update January 2019:

We just crossed from Kashgar to Osh and all worked out perfectly.
Some Tipps:
1. Kashgar: all taxis refuse to go to custom, that’s true - I think because they are afraid of troubles having tourists on board.
So you should go to the main bus station in the morning (opposite of train station) and book a ticket to uluquat (33yuan). In the winter you start around 10 anfror another 20yuan the driver drop you directly at the custom office.

Border: from here all works out easily. One Check Point, then they guards help you to get a hitchhike to the main office. Second check, stamp, and already taxi drivers in the hall. Also in winter. Amount 400 Yuan (you can split it up if others there) for the 140km kilometer. A lot but you have to take, no chance

Crossing: 4 more checkpoint, the driver will have your passport and will give it to at every check.
Arriving at the border. Two last checks. You walk out of China, 1 km later there is small cabin, first check. 2 km later immigration. Stamp

In winter here it’s now freezing cold, we had -15 and snow with wind. If you have enough money you can pay the prices of the local taxi mafia after the immigration. (4000som to sary tash, 8000som to osh, 2 person, also accepting yuan).

If you travel on budget ANSWER youhave no money when they ask you for taxi service, pass them and 200m down the road there will be a crossing with plenty of trucks coming, with super nice drivers willing to help you out.

We first negotiated with the drivers, so when we left them they (the mafia boss) ran after us and persuaded all truck drivers by steaming and shouting not to take us. After 4,5hours arguing we paid 1000som per person to sary tash.

Sleeping in sary tash easy, Winter for kyrgis drivers no problem, the. Drive like hell. Roads are in very good conditions. Yes a Meter of snow and strong winds, but the drivers manage it.

Sary tash - osh. Hitchhike cost 300som
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Mattias Schul
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Re: Irkeshtam Pass: Kyrgyzstan (Osh - Sary Tash) to China (Kashgar)

Post by Mattias Schul »

Hi Guys,

The latest post are from a while ago, so I hope you're still active. In June we will travel from Osh to Kasghar, continuing to the Kunhjerab Pas into Pakistan. Reading your post, you guys entered China by shared taxi or bus. We want to use that same strategy. Only we are encountering Visa application problems. Our Ambassy in Brussels asks us a LOI of an organisation who will organise our trip in China and refuses indipendant travelling. How did you guys apply for your China Visa? What did you gave as a reason? Or how did you got the LOI? Or can you put me in contact with somebody how can inform me?

Many thanks in advance for your answers!
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