Crossing Kyzyl Art Pass Between Tajikistan & Kyrgyzstan
Updated December 2023, Crossing Kyzyl Art Pass Between Tajikistan & Kyrgyzstan was originally published in June 2020
I don’t know why it’s taken me so many years to finally write this post, but I’ve actually crossed the Kyzyl Art Pass border crossing numerous times between Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan at this point. So without a long intro about all the summers and falls I’ve spent in Central Asia, here is everything you need to know before crossing the Tajik-Kyrgyz border at Kyzyl Art (interspersed with pictures of the pretty colorful mountain in the no-man’s-land between the two countries).
Good news! As of late July 2023 tourists with their own transport (whether that be bicycle, motorbike or their own car are once again able to cross Kyzyl Art. You do need to send an email to [email protected] to request approval.
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A large number of nationalities are eligible for an e-visa to Tajikistan. The Tajik e-visa is quite easy, you just simply apply at the official website here, input the information, upload a scan of your passport info page, pay the fee, and bam! In usually 4-8 days in my experience, you’ll receive an e-visa valid for up to 45 days. You’ll also need to apply for a GBAO permit when you apply for your e-visa too (more on that below).
If you’re not eligible for an e-visa you’ll need to head to an embassy and apply for a Tajik visa. Even if you are eligible for e-visa, you can still apply at an embassy too. Please note that they do not issue double or multi-entry Tajik e-visas, so if you need that you’ll need to apply for a visa through an embassy.
A GBAO Permit (GBAO meaning Gorno Badakhshan Autonomous Oblast) is necessary if you plan to travel at all in the GBAO region (meaning the Pamirs, as well as about half of Tajikistan). If you plan to enter Tajikistan at Kyzyl Art Pass you will need to have a GBAO permit before you cross. If you’ll be starting in Tajikistan’s west, you can apply in the capital of Dushanbe at the OVIR office.
Plan to arrive at OVIR when they open in the morning (8:00 am) and pay 20 TJS for it. In September 2021 we walked back out with GBAO permits 20 minutes later. The man working at the window first told us two hours, but we asked if we could get them any faster and he said, “Okay, 20 minutes they will be ready.”
Kyrgyzstan is quite lax with its visa policy as most nations are eligible for 30-90 days visa-free and the remainder are given either e-visa or visa on arrival.
Crossing The Tajikistan-Kyrgyzstan Border At Kyzyl Art Pass
From Tajikistan To Kyrgyzstan
Make the most of your time in Murghab: The Murghab Travel Guide
Get A Shared Taxi At The Murghab Bazaar
Shared taxis bound for Osh will depart from the Murghab Bazaar early in the morning on most days. I highly recommend trying to arrange a shared taxi the night before you leave that will come to pick you up from your guesthouse or homestay in the morning.
A shared taxi to Osh will cost roughly 200-250 TJS. Some backpackers will only go to Sary Tash in order to make way to the Alay Valley. I’ve never actually gotten out at Sary Tash in all the times I’ve done this border crossing, but on one trip there was a guy in the car that did and the driver charged him only 150 TJS, but I’ve heard of other travelers being made to pay the full fare.
On the way to the border, you’ll pass Karakul Lake. See why you may want to add in a stop there
In my experience, the exit procedures from Tajikistan at Kyzyl Art Pass have always been simple. You’ll drive up to the gate with a shipping container to your right. An officer will come out, usually talk to the driver for a minute, ask for passports, and then take them to the shipping container.
Usually after 10 minutes or so he’ll come back out with them. Sometimes I’ve had the officer come out and chat with me, one time I even had an officer ask me what I did for work back home and when I told him I worked in dentistry he took down my email so that he could ask questions about his kids’ teeth to me later… Pictures of decaying deciduous teeth followed.
Drive Through No Man’s Land
The drive between the two borders is fairly long but gorgeous. There’s a striated colorful mountain you’ll pass and some glaciers that seem to tumble down mountainsides toward the road. At the bottom, you’ll reach the post for the Bördöbo entry into Kyrgyzstan.
Entering Kyrgyzstan is usually simple. You’ll park the car, everyone will get out and walk over to a window and pass your passport through, receive an entrance stamp and you’ll get back in the car.
Start planning: The Kyrgyzstan Travel Guide
Bördöbo Post To Sary Tash
From the border, you can sit back and watch the views of the Alay Valley go by. When you reach Sary Tash most drivers will stop into the cafe and shop on the corner for a quick meal and to grab drinks and snacks. The cafe/shop can usually exchange a bit of Somoni into Kyrgyz Som for you, or at least will let you pay in Somoni.
Sary Tash To Osh
The drive from Sary Tash to Osh takes about 3-4 hours. If you opt to stay in Sary Tash and go onto explore the Alay Valley, know that shared taxis and marshrutkas do depart Sary Tash every day for Osh.
Planning to explore more of the wild east? Check out my Eastern Pamir Travel Guide
From Kyrgyzstan To Tajikistan
From Kyrgyzstan to Tajikistan the process is largely the same, just in reverse. I would recommend spending the night in Murghab Baza the night before you leave Osh as the shared taxis all seem to depart at 3-5 am. You can expect to pay around 2,000 KGS for the journey from Osh to Murghab.
Where To Stay In Murghab
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Read this post learn more about all of Tajikistan’s border crossings with Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, China, and Kyrgyzstan
Where To Stay In Osh
Plan your time in Osh with my Osh Travel Guide
Other Helpful Tips About The Kyzyl Art Border Crossing
- The elevation of Kyzyl Art Pass is quite high at 4,280 meters. Drink plenty of water and it is advisable to spend some time at higher elevations prior to taking it on, especially if you’re cycling the Pamir Highway.
- There are heaps of reports of border officials asking for baksheesh (bribes), especially on the Tajik side. It’s best not to entertain the idea, but know that it’s a possibility (I’ve luckily never had to deal with it here).
- Have all your documents visas/e-visas in order.
- Do not forget you’ll need to have a GBAO permit prior to arriving if you going from Kyrgyzstan to Tajikistan.
- For further planning in either country, I recommend picking up copies of Bradt Tajikistan and Bradt Kyrgyzstan guidebooks.
Have any questions about the Tajikistan-Kyrgyzstan Border Crossing at Kyzyl Art?
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