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

Is the road, border or area open and accessible to foreigners? Is there danger?
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Re: Irkeshtam Pass: Kyrgyzstan (Osh - Sary Tash) to China (Kashgar)

Postby steven » Tue Apr 09, 2019 7:15 am

Your mistake was that you said you were traveling overland to Xinjiang, where China has 1 million Muslims in concentration camps. They don't like foreigners walking around. You should have booked flights to Beijing, applied for your visa, then canceled your flights.

https://caravanistan.com/visa/china/#visiting-xinjiang
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Re: Irkeshtam Pass: Kyrgyzstan (Osh - Sary Tash) to China (Kashgar)

Postby AlbertoBoero » Fri Jun 28, 2019 8:41 am

Gratsi and Jan wrote:...our phones were taken. (We later saw that they had installed an app on each of our phones.)


This sounds kind of scary and bad. What does the app do? Can you delete it? Does it make your phone slow?

Thanks for the update!
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Re: Irkeshtam Pass: Kyrgyzstan (Osh - Sary Tash) to China (Kashgar)

Postby steven » Sun Jun 30, 2019 4:42 pm

Hi Alberto, please read https://caravanistan.com/east-turkestan/#getting-in, it's all there.
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Re: Irkeshtam Pass: Kyrgyzstan (Osh - Sary Tash) to China (Kashgar)

Postby sebas2day » Fri Jul 05, 2019 7:11 am

Hi,
We want to come by car to this border-crossing. Does anyone know if there is a good place where we can park our car so we can travel further into China by taxi?

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

Postby steven » Sat Jul 06, 2019 1:44 am

I suggest Osh or Sary Tash.
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Re: Irkeshtam Pass: Kyrgyzstan (Osh - Sary Tash) to China (Kashgar)

Postby AlbertoBoero » Sat Jul 20, 2019 2:57 am

From Osh to Kashgar by public transport

Apparently the opening times have changed. For both border controls, the times are (Beijing time):

Summer:
10:00-13:30 and 16:30 - 20:00
Winter:
10:30-14:00 and 16:00 - 19:30

For the short version of our experience, this is what we learned:

If you hand in a phone with no free space, they fail to install the Jing Wang app! Plus they only check the USB's you give them.

Make sure you are at the Chinese border at least 45 minutes before 11:30 Kyrgyz time (around 10:45), or you have to wait for 3 hours and risk to be too late for the second border control.

You may be able to get the stamp at the second control after 20:00 (Chinese time). Although the guards are very strict with their lunch break, the closing time at the end of the day is less strict. They came back to process us at 21:00!

Kyrgyz drivers will have no problem to drive all the way to the geographical border. So no extra charge needed.

Long version:
We decided to leave a day ahead and took the Marshrutka from Osh to Sary-Tash (2pm, see wikitravel). We actually liked the town, but learned the hard way that it is much better to stay at Nura or Irkeshtam (which did not look so attractive) and be at the border earlier.

Next day, we started at 8:00/10:00 and tried to hitchhike, but this was not easy. Soon we were surrounded by local men who did everything they could to scare away the few trucks that stopped for us. After 45 minutes we agreed on a price of 760 som. Negotiate a price for China (Kitai/"keythai"), not Irkeshtam, or they will ask more for the last few kilometres to the geographical border.

After about 50 kilometres (still before Nura) there is a first check point, in a caravan on the left. You just have to show your passport and move on.

When you see a long queue of trucks, you have reached the border. The driver tried to convince us that he was not allowed to drive on. But actually, after we made a small chat with one of the guards, there was no problem and he could drive on. We got out, our backpacks were opened for 10 seconds and we entered the building for two passport checks. Everything went pretty quickly.

After this, you can drive on, along more queueing trucks, almost all the way to the geographical border (just the last couple of hundred meters, where the roads turns to the right and goes uphill a bit, we needed to walk). So no need to pay extra or anything!

Once you pass the geographical border, you have to walk a bit uphill and reach the first Chinese checkpoint (a little office on the left). We had to wait a bit and were then allowed/forced to take a ride with one of the Kyrgyz trucks. You can ignore the large building on the left behind the little office.

After a kilometer the truck has to wait in line and you must walk the rest. There is a building on your right (looks like a big house), which you can ignore. Just continue till you see a blue sign which says that vehicles must go straight and others have to turn right for the Immigration service, there is an entrance with another blue sign just around the corner.

We arrived around 11:30/13:30 and the guards were just about to take their lunch break. We had to hand in our passports and phones and were allowed to go to the other side of the building where there are some shops and restaurants. We were disappointed at first, but this was actually a favour, because they lock the building during the break and otherwise we would have been stuck at the big parking space.

We changed our Som for Yuan for a pretty ok rate at the first shop on the right (0,095 per som while 0,099 was internet rate). After a lunch and 3 hours of boredom, the guards returned at exactly 16:30. It took us 1 full hour to go through the whole procedure. They checked our laptop, USB, camera and ofcourse our phones. They only checked what we gave them, so one of our USB's was not checked.

One of our phones had no storage space left anymore and this way, they were not able to install their app (don't know if this works every time on only with this guard, but it is worth a try). To install the app, they log in to a network called 'Xhunter', I would advise to delete this from your list of saved WiFi networks.

After the X-ray, two border guards went through practically all our stuff and asked a lot of questions. We had some stuff from Iran and Turkey about the Islam, but this was no problem (probably because we are blond and beardless). Our little knife was not discovered (but if you take a train in Kashgar, it probably will and you loose it, along with your deodorant...).

Then we had to wait in a waiting room for other passengers to fill up the taxi. It took a full hour before two Chinese tourists came through and finally we were able to leave for the second border. There was only one taxi driver. We could not choose. Price is fixed at 100 yuan per person and the driver keeps your passport untill after the second border check.

We left around 17:30 and we knew the border would close at 20:00, so we were preparing ourselves for being forced to stay somewhere in between. About 15 kilometres before you reach the second border, there is an extra control (check point). You have to get out of your car and enter the building on the right (like with all road controls in Xinjiang). It is best to do this right away and save you some time because the checking of the cars can go very quickly suddenly.

We arrived at a deserted border control at 20:36, so 36 minutes after official closing. At 21:00 suddenly 10 guards showed up and started our procedure. At 21:38, we were done, got our stamp and rode off. At the gate of the terrain there was another check, so 21:54 we finally really drove off to the bus station.

We payed the driver and our new Chinese friends negotiated a taxi to Kashgar for 40 yuan per person (which is not the best deal, but it was already getting late). On the road to Kashgar there were two other controls (taking about 30 minutes each) and the driver was not allowed to drive into the city centre so we had the walk the last 2 kilometres (we were done with taxis for the day). At 00:42 we arrived at the hostel.
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Re: Irkeshtam Pass: Kyrgyzstan (Osh - Sary Tash) to China (Kashgar)

Postby ThiagoPaiva » Thu Aug 01, 2019 4:49 am

Hello, does anyone knows if the borders are really close during the weekends? I was planning to cross it on Saturday so I could go to the Sunday market in Kashgar. Thanks
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Re: Irkeshtam Pass: Kyrgyzstan (Osh - Sary Tash) to China (Kashgar)

Postby Schaniiin » Thu Aug 01, 2019 3:15 pm

This is a report of our border crossing from Osh to Kashgar.
3 girls from Switzerland with Chinese visa issued in our home country

Thursday, 25th July Osh to Sary Tash:
The bus station is right at the bazaar underneath the bridge. It's called "old bus station". We took the Marshrutka that goes to Sary Moghul. We paid 250 Som each but it was a fierce discussion. The ticlet guy wanted 300 Som each. Because of our big backpack. The marshrutka leaves at 2PM, be there 30mins earlier to get a seat. We got dropped off in Sary Tash at 4.45PM.

We stayed at Eliza Guesthouse. 300 Som per person just for sleeping, 800 Som with dinner and breakfast. Wifi is available. You'll sleep on a normal bed. Squat toilet outside. Only bucket shower.

We checked out Aida Guesthouse and Tatina Guesthouse too, but higher price, you have to sleep on the floor and they looked very shabby!

Our guesthouse called a friend who offered to bring us to the "China border" for 2000 Som. The friend spoke a little English but we had a misunderstanding what "China border" actually means. Fact is, as we found out, the China border is the geographical border, from there you'll have to walk.

Friday, 26th July Sary Tash to Kashgar:
We decided to leave especially early in order to be able to cross in one day. If you're as lucky as we were, then you might be in Kashgar at your hotel at 5PM too and might be able to avoid the lunch break. Please note that we already had Chinese currency from a previous trip.

06:30AM left Sary Tash with the organised taxi
07:15AM Kyrgyz checkpoint before Nura village. Passport check. They wrote all details in a ledger.
07:30AM we continued
After Nura village, there was a long line of standing trucks. Our driver passed them.
07:45AM We arrived at Irkeshtam border. The border was still closed. We were the first car in front of the line, behind us maybe 50 trucks.
08:00AM border opened. We walked to the office. Got the stamp and got registrated.
08:10AM finished. Our driver already went through the checkpoint. We took a soldier with us.
08:15AM We reached the geographical border called "China border". The Kyrgyz drivers can't go beyond that point. So we had to walk. It's about 200m slightly uphill to the first Chinese checkpoint. Trucks will pass you, they can give you a lift for free but they will have to wait in line at the top.
08:30AM/10:30AM Chinese Time: we reached the first checkpoint. All the trucks had to wait, the soldiers were not really here yet. After 5mins some guard arrived, sat into the box checked our passport and wrote everything in a ledger.
10:40AM walk 100 metres to a container with guards in front. A guard checked our passports, stopped the first truck which was allowed through and showed us on a translating app on his phone: "take the big car".
--- from now on only Chinese time as they are 2hours ahead---
10:55AM free ride in the truck to the big checkpoint. Arrival. We were the first people there. One female guard asked if we speak Chinese, we declined even though I do. We were told to wait in a room, where later all the truck drivers came in as well. After 5mins two guards arrived. They could speak English a little. They asked us some questions like: what's your plan in China? What's your job? Is it your first time in China? Do you have friends in China? Do you have enough money for your trip? Where will you stay in Kashgar? That's when I took out my phone and showed them the confirmation. The guard later on - without asking - looked through my picture. She told me that I have a lot of pictures. We had hidden the VPNs in folders with other apps, they never checked. They barely looked through the other phones, didn't want to see our cameras. They didn't put the spy app on our phone, they couldn't have as they didn't have any device with them or nearby. After like 15mins they were satisfied, so we had to go and do a body scan, scan our shoes and bags. Then three guards wanted to search our big bags. They asked for books. We showed them the ones we had: guidebook for Kyrgyzstan and a few novels. We had opened our big bagpack but they hardly looked at it. They didn't ask us to remove anything. Then we were told to go into the waiting room.
11:45AM This is where it got a little confusing. Our passports had long been checked and deemed okay but noone told us. So better ask! Suddenly a uyghur guy in normal clothes came in and started talking to us with a translating app. He mentioned 135yuan per person for a taxi. We knew the right price is 400yuan per taxi. So it took a while until everyone understood how much we wanted to pay/would have to pay, to understand that he is indeed official and trustworthy and that we could actually leave right away. So if you're not by yourself or don't mind paying 400yuan for the taxi, ask the guards immediately for the taxi driver to Uluqat when they tell you to go to the waiting room so you don't lose too much time. So we left at 11:45AM by taxi. There's a camera in the taxi and cameras about every 200metres on the road. The driver will keep your passport.
13:00PM If possible we wanted to avoid the lunch break. Our driver as well. So he drove fast. At 13:00PM we reached another checkpoint. Scan luggage, again the machine which takes a picture of you, the guards wrote sth down and took a picture of our passports with their cellphone
13:10PM we continued. The other checkpoint at Uluqat closes at 13:30PM for lunch break. So on the way, our driver called the guards from that checkpoint and they agreed to wait for us!
13:20PM we reached Uluqat checkpoint. Nobody except us. We had to fill out the entry card. Then go to a different counter to get the stamp on our visa. Then scan the luggage. As they all wanted to go on lunch break they didn't really care much. We had put our Swiss Army Knife into the big backpack but nobody had ever asked for it. They asked if we had fruit: we had bananas. They let us eat them. We also had carrots but we forgot to mention and they didn't check. The guards wanted to leave so it was super quick.
13:35PM back in the car, we drove for like 200metres. Another checkpoint. They took pictures of our passport, wrote sth down and took a picture of our taxi.
13:50PM the taxi dropped us off at the bus station. Luggage check before you can enter the station. You can buy tickets to Kashgar here. It's a shared taxi system, no real busses. You have the option of a car with 4 passengers = 33 yuan or 9-10passengers = 28 yuan. They sold me the more expensive one. Ticket check, then you'll be led outside to a parking lot where you have to wait for missing passengers. We needed 1 more passengers who arrived within minutes so we left. The driver offered to take us to Kashgar using a different road without any checkpoints for an additional 27 yuan (total). We declined so we used the normal toll highway.
14:25PM we arrived at the first checkpoint after Uluqat. We had to get off the taxi. They scanned the luggage and took pictures of the passport.
14:40PM we continued
15:45PM second checkpoint. Same story as above.
16:00PM we continued.
16:20PM the taxi driver dropped off the other passenger somewhere like 4km from the city center and told us to get off too. We had no clue how to get from here to our hotel so we told him to drive to the bus station at the train station. He dropped us off there. We waited for bus number 28
16:40PM bus number 28 arrived. It has aircon and costs 2yuan per person. You need the right amount, no change possible.
16:55PM the bus will pass Mao Zedong statue. We got off at the next stopped around the corner, kinda close to the square with Idakah Mosque. It's marked on maps.me

We stayed at Nuerlan Hotel. 3beds room with ensuite bathroom = 400yuan per night. Booked through ctrip app. Accept foreigners. Staff doesn't really speak English and will therefore ignore you. Rooms are good and really big though! Free Chinese breakfast in the morning.
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Re: Irkeshtam Pass: Kyrgyzstan (Osh - Sary Tash) to China (Kashgar)

Postby murg » Thu Aug 01, 2019 6:04 pm

ThiagoPaiva wrote:Hello, does anyone knows if the borders are really close during the weekends? I was planning to cross it on Saturday so I could go to the Sunday market in Kashgar. Thanks


The Border is definetly closed Saturday & Sunday.
There is s 3 (read 3.5) hour Lunch Break.
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