Border crossings between Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan
Most travellers visiting the Pamir highway, hire a guide/driver. If you're adventurous enough, you can rent a car and drive yourself. Most trips start/end in Bishkek, Osh or Dushanbe. But this means that you have to cross borders between Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan at least once or even twice. As you probably know, border crossings in Central Asia can be a bit annoying because of bureaucracy and corruption. So here are a few tips to prepare you what you may encounter.
- Entering Kyrgyzstan is mostly uncomplicated since around 90 countries can enter the country visa free.
- For Tajikistan most countries need a tourist visa.
- For driving the Pamir Highway you need to have a prior issued GBAO (Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region) permit for Eastern Tajikistan.
- Be aware and make sure you get a special permit/document for the car at the border when entering Tajikistan. It costs around 25 dollars and you will need it again if you leave the country. Sometimes they “forget” to tell you about the permit. This will give you a hard time when leaving Tajikistan at a different border again. This permit will not be given you by the car rental company.
- If you're asked for money at the border, keep calm and patient. Don't pay a bribe and threaten to inform your embassy in Tajikistan or Kyrgyzstan.
Border crossing at Batken/Isfara (Kyzyl-Bel)
(location on what3words map: flourishes.hobnob.samplers)
This border control lies in the beautiful fergana valley. On both sides this border is very relaxed. The officials are polite and helpful. They even seem to enjoy meeting tourists. Just park your car at the parking lot and show you passport at the counter. If you enter from Kyrgyzstan Isfara will be the first town where you can find ATMs and get Tajik somoni. If you enter from Tajikistan then you probably drive right to Osh to fill up with supplies.
Border crossing at Kyzyl-Art Pass/Bordöbö
(location on what3words map: powers.perceptibly.soupy)
This may be one of the most remote and highest borders in the world. On the way between Sary-Tash and Karakul/Murghab, you will have to drive up to the scenery Kyzyl-Art pass. At around 4000m above sea level there are some lonely containers that mark the Tajik border control. The containers are offices and cabines for the officals at the same time. They seem to work and live in these harsh conditions. The officials here were less relaxed than in Isfara. The best thing is to stay calm and be friendly. If you're with a local guide, he or she will handle your paper work. Otherwise, park your car and enter the different containers. You have to visit all the containers. It's not quite clear what the different purposes are. The Kyrgyz border is almost 20 km further down the pass before Sary Tash. The officials here seem to be more relaxed.