Tips: Crossing Khunjerab Pass from Tashkurgan, China to Pakistan

By Ali Karim
This post is part of a series called Silk Road China May 2016
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My wife and I recently (May 2016) made this trip and since I had a lot of difficulty getting updated and real information about this border crossing, I decided to post this in the Forum to provide updated info to help fellow travelers. Ask me questions if you still need more info.

First, to do this crossing from China, you have to have your visa for Pakistan in advance from your home country or other place, you cannot get a Visa in Tashkurgan or Kashgar for Pakistan. Also, there is no stop to purchase food/snacks/drinks along the way (Tashkurgan to Sost); so ensure that you take enough snacks/food/drink with you to last you this 4+hr drive

Second, you have to take a local bus to make this crossing. You can take a private car, but we were informed by multiple people that it was very cost prohibitive. I never got a quote, so I don’t know the cost. The bus that goes from China to Pakistan is run by the Xinjiang Province Govt; whereas the bus from Pakistan to China is run by NATCO, a Pakistani govt service.

Third, the border is ONLY open between April – Nov; but opens based on weather conditions. So better to check locally at the bus stop to ensure the border is open.

Fourth; the buses ONLY run Monday-Friday. The border is CLOSED on Saturday and Sunday. We had planned to cross the border on a Saturday, but had to change plans at the last minute. So plan ahead.

Fifth, The bus tickets cannot be bought in advance. You can only purchase them on the day of travel. I only saw one bus making the trip per day, so what happens if you come to purchase a ticket and the bus is full? Tough luck I think. There are some mini-van drivers who were looking to take passengers on this same path, but not sure of cost or of the reliability/safety of these. The bus only had men on them; my wife was the only female. The men on the bus were mostly Pakistani businessmen who run small shops in Tashkurgan, and return to Pakistan for the weekend to visit families.

Sixth. The purchase of the bus ticket and the start of the bus route for this border crossing bus is NOT at the bus stop in Tashkurgan town. INstead, go to the Customs/Immigration building on the outskirts of Tashkurgan (towards Pakistan, about 2km outside Tashkurgan downtown); and buy the tickets (RMB 225 each, cash) at the small building at the far end of the parking lot of the Customs/Immigration building.

Seventh: The Bus is supposed to leave at 11:30AM Beijing time (9:30AM Uyghur time). However, the departure time for us was closer to 1PM, as all travellers have to clear through Chinese Customs and Immigration. Then, you wait till the chinese search the bus and then clear all the paperwork for departure, All this time, you keep your luggage with you, as the bus is not allowed to be loaded until it is cleared by Chinese Customs. We spent a lot of time waiting for something to happen; no information is provided to the travellers; you just have to be patient.

Eighth; There is a bathroom on the edge of the parking lot of the Customs building. Once you are through Customs/Immigration formalities, you cannot go anywhere unescorted (since you have officially left China). So bathroom visit here once you have cleared Customs/Immigration has to be escorted to the bathroom at edge of the parking lot. No other restrooms are provided

Ninth; Once you board the bus and leave, there is one Chinese soldier will join the bus and escort it all the way to the Khunjerab Pass Police border post. Along the way, there are multiple (at least 4) Chinese police posts where your passport/visa will be checked; sometimes you have to get off the bus and line up for this inspection. There are NO bathroom facilities on the way; jungle bathrooms are your only choice. We asked at several of the Police checkpoints to use the bathroom, but were refused. The police are pretty unfriendly and unhelpful along this route.

Tenth; At the border, the bus simply crosses over into Pakistan without stopping on the Chinese side, crosses over from right hand drive to left hand drive, and stops on the Pakistani side for a jungle bathroom break, and to take pictures.

Eleventh, the KKH on the Pakistani side had multiple landslides and ice slides that the Pakistani’s cleared, but only enough to make it a one lane opening. Quite a contrast to the KKH on the Chinese side, So going was a little slower on the Pakistani side.

Twelfth; in Pakistan, the Pakistan Customs/Immigration is in Sost, which is another 60+kms away. Along the way, you have to cross a National Park; for which foreigners are required to pay US$6 each (cash only, US$’s only). Pakistani and Chinese nationals dont pay anything. So make sure you have the cash on hand. The bus does not stop in this National Park for you to enjoy your $6’s worth.

Thirteenth; the end of the ride for us was Sost, Pakistan; where we got off the bus, and cleared Pakistani Customs and Immigration. Foreigners have a separate line, and takes much longer than Pakistanis and Chinese nationals. Make sure your Passpost+ Visa are totally in order as they check everything very carefully. We had arranged to have a car/driver pickus up here for the rest of our trip in Hunza/Gilgit-Baltistan in Pakistan.

Hope this helps future travelers. Message me if you have any questions and I will do my best to respond.

This entry was posted in Asia, China, Silk Road China May 2016

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