Irkeshtam pass report – Kashgar, Xinjiang to Sary Tash, Kyrgyzstan

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Re: Irkeshtam pass report – Kashgar, Xinjiang to Sary Tash, Kyrgyzstan

Postby vistetequenosvamos » Wed Apr 24, 2019 4:31 pm

08/04/19 - The Irkestam border China -Kirguistan continues with its hours and customs at lunch time.

From the bus station of Kashgar we take a bus (4 seater taxi for 33 CNY/person) towards Ulugqat. This was a Sunday (close border).

We wanted to sleep in Ulugqat that night, so on Monday morning in the early morning do the long Chinese border procedures.

In the police control 3 Km before arriving in the city, they held us for 2 hours. Many questions. They checked in all corners of our backpacks, including mobiles, camera and computer. They tried to install some program in the Android but they did not get anything.

After that time, they told us that we could not sleep in Ulugqat. They proposed us to return to Kashgar but we refused.

Finally, they took us to a hotel next to the border control, near an industrial zone, 3 Km from Ulugqat. We had no choice. They isolated us. We paid 80 CNY/night/room with three beds and a private bathroom.
There is nothing to buy, just four stores and a restaurant. Evidently, we were accompanied by the police and their patrol car in the work of looking for food. Very kind and friendly.

The next day, in the morning, they came to look for us at the hostel and accompanied us to the border control gate. It took us 3 hours to get the exit stamp from China. They did not check our backpacks but they asked a lot of questions and they reviewed the camera and mobile phones again.

Finally, exit stamp and we rode in the taxi (100 CNY/person) that took us to the last Chinese border control. Previously we passed a couple of simple controls more. The buffer zone China is all militarized are about 180 Km.

Once in no man's land, we walk 1 Km to Kyrgyz territory where a military passport checks you. From this point to the custom there are 3 Km. We went walking but some Chinese asked the military for a taxi, he called and a taxi came to look for them. We do not know price.
With a Spanish passport, easy and fast border control in Kyrgyzstan, we not need visa and were even welcomed. We were free!

To get out of Kyrgyzstan's custom, we recommend hitchhiking to Sary Tash. Taxis ask for 100 CNY/person from Irkestam to Sary Tash, but it is achieved in half. There is place to sleep in Irkestam. In Sary Tash there is only one cashier who accepts Visa and does not charge commission. At the gas station of Sary Tash they change money easily.

Thanks to China for the border experience never lived, and for the landscapes Absolutely incredible! :)

We hope our experience helps other travelers.


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

Postby Jade » Mon Apr 29, 2019 3:15 am

Hey fellow travelers,

Wanted to share some updates from our experience making the crossing a few days ago (April 2019):

- In Kashgar, public bus #28 will take you to the long distance bus station from a stop just across the street from Id Kah mosque (on the night market side). The streets are empty, but this bus does run early enough to get you to the bus station before it opens (we were told it opens at 9am, but they started letting people in at around 8:40 Beijing time).

- The woman at the counter refused to sell us tickets to Wuqia at first. With some pestering she told us "there is no car going to Wuqia now. Maybe 9:30." We hung around and shortly thereafter saw her sell a ticket to Wuqia to a Han Chinese guy. It seems to be that they're now only willing to put foreigners in a separate car because there's one very lengthy security check en route that holds up foreign travelers for an annoying amount of time. We were a group of 3 and met 1 Japanese woman at the station, so with the group of 4 we were able to convince her to convince a driver to take us. We paid the usual 33 yen at the counter and then the driver refused to go until we paid for the full car. Another Japanese guy showed up, so we only had to split 2 extra seats between 5. Moral of the story: being in a larger group is definitely an advantage.

- The first and most severe (really just tedious, time-consuming, and invasive) security check for us was actually before entering Wuqia. The driver had to wait for over an hour while they took everything out of our bags and very inefficiently scrolled through all of our electronic devices at least twice and asked a few sporadic, mostly useless questions.

- The second security check was about 1.5km later. Since we were all headed the same place the driver very helpfully dropped us off here, at the somewhat distant entrance of the customs center. Here they did a half-assed bag search (yes again only 1.5km later!) and again collected all of our electronic devices to look through and made the same documentation of our passports. We put our bags through another scanner and then were instructed to walk about 1km to the customs building.

- At the customs office, they took our passports and called us back individually to go through all of our electronic devices again (for the 4th time in 3km). All very polite and stress-free, but it did take about 45 minutes again. Meanwhile, we asked about an official taxi driver, and they procured one pretty promptly, who asked the standard 100 yen/person. After another quick bag scan, they stamped us out of China (good riddance!) and passed our passports to the driver.

- We were lucky to have a pretty speedy driver, and there was only 1 security check in the no man's land past customs. We passed through security with a quick and painless baggage/passport scan – no issue with it being 2:30ish Beijing time.

- The driver dropped us at the actual border around 4:30 Beijing time, and they checked our passports and stamps before letting us through. Then a redundant check about 200m later – as a reminder of why we're leaving China. ;) Then about 1km downhill to the first Kyrgyz border post. Here they checked our passports briefly, and we opted for the 20 yen taxi to the customs building about 3km down the road. Could have walked it, but wanted to save some time and had spare yen to get rid of.

- At Kyrgyz customs they stamped our passports with a smile and we were out in the fresh mountain air within 5 minutes.

- Taxis were waiting just up the hill to take us to Osh. 8000 som for a car which can take 4. We couldn't find anywhere to change money on either side of the border (though we did ask), but the driver was happy to take us to an ATM + exchange office when we got to Osh. We made good time and arrived in Osh at around 7:45 (Kyrgyzstan time), about 14 hours after leaving our hostel in Kashgar.
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Re: Irkeshtam pass report – Kashgar, Xinjiang to Sary Tash, Kyrgyzstan

Postby Granite2018 » Wed Jun 12, 2019 8:22 am

Kashgar to Osh in early June.

I met two cyclist in the hostel in Kashgar that wanted to leave on the same day as I did, so we organised a taxi direct to the customs checkpoint. Iskander, the guy who runs the Tourist Service Centre close to the big mosque, was very helpful and his English is excellent. We ended up paying 600 RMB total for a seven seater that could fit the bikes.

The plan was to leave Kashgar at 08:30, but we realised the evening before that we didn't have enough cash to pay our hostel bill, so we went to the ATM. ATMs in Kashgar only operate from 10:00-17:00 Beijing time (don't ask me what the logic behind that is), so we left 90 minutes later than planned the next morning. The taxi driver said there was an ATM in the customs building, but we didn't see one.

The first check, approaching customs, was much easier than expected. A very half hearted bag search and they didn't even check my phone or camera (although they did check the others'.

The checkpoint before the customs building itself was a breeze. They wrote down passport details, xrayed bags, and then sent us to the customs building.

The lunch break is from 13:30-16:30, although you're better off planning with 13:00-17:00. We arrived at 13:00 and were told I could go but the cyclists would have to wait until after lunch. Lots of messing around by the police, with seemingly every cop in the building coming over and asking for our passports for no reason. Was then told I'd have to wait until after lunch as well. They locked the building but let us leave our bags there.

They returned at 16:35 but we waited another hour until things got moving, coincidentally when some guy with a video camera and a tripod arrived. Without asking permission, they filmed a cop check one of the cyclist's passport and then asked him to fill out another departure card on camera. Then the guy filming wanted several takes of us going through passport control and drafted the taxi driver who was going to take us to Uluqqat in as well. I flatly refused and after one take, the cyclists' patience ran out as well and we grabbed our bags and started loading them into the taxi. We waited in the taxi when the guy who checked our passports came out and asked us to help him, he needed pictures with us. We refused, telling him we had to get going.

The inside of the customs building looks pretty new and I think they were filming some PR or training video. Probably why we had to wait an extra hour after lunch, for the camera man to turn up.

Bags were only Xrayed and no phone or camera check.

We were stamped out in the customs building. Then the taxi to Uluqqat, where we arrived at 20:00 to find the border closed and no cops in sight. After a few phone calls, we were let through at 20:20. The driver drove us up to the actual border gate, which was padlocked. We asked a soldier to open it and he told us to wait, they were eating. After another 20-30 minutes, one guy finally came out to let us through. It got pretty cold here. Worth changing into warmer clothes in the Chinese customs building before the taxi.

We entered Kyrgyzstan at around 21:00 Beijing time, 19:00 Kyrgyz time. I didn't ask for it, but a taxi with three guys in it pulled up and told me 2000 Som to Osh, but because there were still empty seats I'd have to pay 6000 Som. He went on to tell me that there's a taxi mafia at the border, with no other taxis allowed, so he was my only option. Cold and tired, I paid the 20 RMB he demanded for a lift to passport control.

Kyrgyz passport control was a breeze, five minutes and a warm "welcome to Kyrgyzstan" from the soldier. He told us to ask about accommodation at the canteen/cafe right beside the mosque (you can't miss it). They have a three bed room which we paid 600 Som for (200 each). The room was good and had a heater. Normal Kyrgyz food available at a good price. Outdoor toilet wasn't great.

I hitch hiked to the outskirts of Osh with a trucker the next day. Didn't have to wait long. Head for the petrol station about 5 minutes walk from the border. A lot of guys park up for the night there and leave the next morning. Trucks crossing from China start arriving at 14:00, I was told.

It took about 8 hours, as the trucks are slow on the steep mountain passes. I reckon the ideal cost/time balance would be truck to Saray Tash and then Mashrutka to Osh. Give the extortionist taxi drivers a miss. A seat from Osh to Bishkek costs around 1100 Som, which is around twice the distance of Irkeshtam to Osh.
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