When I was Kyrgyzstan, I wanted to cross the Irkeshtam border into China. However, the internet provided me very little information on how to cross this border from Kyrgyzstan to China, going from Osh to Kashgar and the other way around. Therefore, it is time for some ins and outs of my own experience!
About the Irkeshtam border
- The Irkeshtam border is the border crossing between Kyrgyzstan and China
- It takes one full day to cross the border, but the landscapes are absolutely gorgeous
- The Kyrgyzstan checkpoint is only open from Monday to Friday
- Start early on both sides of the border
- Prepare for lots of waiting
- Times are in Beijing time on the Chinese side, not Xinjiang
- Remember to save some RMB for your border crossing.
Opening hours and border closures
The Kyrgyz checkpoint:
Open from 9am to 11am and 2pm to 6pm, Monday to Friday. Although, it is said they let people in round the clock.
The Chinese checkpoint
Open from 10:00 to 19:45 with a break from 13:00 to 16:30.
Crossing the border from Kyrgyzstan into China
Unfortunately, I did not take any notes of this border crossing. However, I remember I left early in the morning with a shared taxi (1500 som) from my hostel (the highly recommended backpackers gathering place ‘Biy Ordo Guesthouse‘). Somewhere along the way in the border area, I was put on a truck to another checkpoint and I also had to walk a fair bit at some point. I arrived in Kashgar in the evening.
Timeline of my border crossing from China into Kyrgyzstan
For this border crossing, I noted down the exact times and steps, so you know what to expect.
07.15 Leave Kashgar by minibus for 50 yuan per person (I booked the minibus through the Old Town Youth hostel in Kashgar, plenty of people were crossing). You can also take a shared taxi from the Kashgar bus station, which is slightly cheaper.
09.00 First checkpoint with a passport scan and a photograph.
09.15 Another checkpoint with gate. Walk 15 minutes to immigration.
10.10 At immigration or the border processing center for a luggage check.
11.50 Start driving again towards Kyrgyzstan
13.00 Lunch break with delicious noodles in a small restaurant.
14.40 Chinese checkpoint
14.55 Final Chinese checkpoint with gate and lonely soldier
15.10 Kyrgyz checkpoint. Here we were able to get a mini bus for 100 som for the final 2 kilometers to the Kyrgyz immigration.
15.30 Kyrgyz immigration (quick and efficient)
16.00 Shared taxi directly from the border to Osh for 1500 som. You can also hithhike to Sary Tash and take a bus the next day to Osh.
20.00 Arrival in Osh. You made it!
Places to stay in Osh
Biy Ordo guesthouse: I thoroughly enjoyed my stay here. The dorms and private room are well-maintained and large. The garden is a good place to meet fellow travelers and they have OK pizza.
Places to stay in Kashgar
Old Town Youth hostel: A beautiful hostel with a lovely open-air courtyard, which is a good place to meet fellow travelers. Central location.
Pamir Youth Hostel: Also, a cool hostel with a central location and friendly dogs. You can chill out on their rooftop.
Let me know if you have any questions.
Check out these other Central Asia articles
Portraits of the Pamirs
How to cross the Irkeshtam border from China into Kyrgyzstan?
Five top adventure destinations in Kyrgyzstan
An overview of backpacking the Silk Road
40 photos that will inspire you to travel to Tajikistan!