In this article, you will get to know the border crossing and China entry procedures for China Overland travelers who cross from China to Kyrgyzstan border at the Torugart Pass/Port border crossing (status late 2018).
Torugart Pass/Port border in Xinjiang Province is one of two border crossings open for foreign tourists and Overland travelers in between China and Kyrgyzstan (the other one being Irkeshtam Port). The general procedure at Irkeshtam Port is similar.
Torugart Port border is located here:
When you come from Naryn direction, the first China Kyrgyzstan border checkpoint is located roughly 60 kilometers before Torugart Pass on the A365 road. At this border checkpoint, your Chinese visa will be checked. There are no additional documents required, even if you are on the road with your own vehicle (some internet sources suggest you need some kind of proof that you can enter China with your vehicle – this is not the case). The immigration checkpoint of Kyrgyzstan, where your passport is stamped, and you officially leave the country, is only 5 kilometers from Torugart Pass or 55 kilometers from the first China Kyrgyzstan border checkpoint. The procedure is usually swift if you arrive in the early morning.
The best place for accommodation before entering China on the following day and in order to cross the border as early as possible is Tash Rabat Caravanserai (GPS: 75.28882420000002, 40.8228708 / 3113m ). If you can not make it for some reason to TashRabat, Naryn (GPS: 75.98405869999999, 41.4273946 / 2044m) is the only alternative. Note that Tash Rabat has only very limited accommodation; booking in advance is a must.
Before reaching Torugart Port you have to cross Torugart Pass. The Pass, 3,750 meters high (GPS: 75.4166669999999, 40.583333), is the border between China and Kyrgyzstan. At the pass itself, a metal gate is installed which is patrolled by Kyrgyz and Chinese military. This gate is only open in the mornings from 9 AM and afternoons until 6 PM but closed during the lunch break from roughly 12 PM to 2 PM. From our experience, the gate (regardless the “official” opening hours) is often only opened at or after 3 PM. This border is closed during holidays and weekends. Between Kyrgyzstan and China is a time difference of 2 hours. The times mentioned in this article are Chinese times (Beijing time GMT+8).
When crossing the gate at Torugart Pass, you need to present your passport and Chinese visa for an initial check by the Chinese military. If you enter with your own vehicle, your local border fixer/guide will wait for you at the gate with all necessary vehicle documents which have to be presented to the military. If you do not have legal entry documents for your vehicle, arranged by a licensed Chinese tour operator in advance such as TIBETMOTO, your journey will end here.
Torugart Port, the official entry point into China, is 4 kilometers down the road. The road is lined with high barbed wire fences on both sides. It’s not allowed to take pictures in this restricted military zone, so its best to remove your action cams from your vehicle and pack your DSLR cameras into your luggage bags, so you don’t give authorities a wrong impression. This should be done lately at Torugart Pass before entering China. Note that it’s not allowed to enter China with drone equipment.
At Torugart Port your China Overland vehicle will be checked thoroughly and even scanned by a gigantic vehicle scanner. The procedures can easily take several hours, so prepare some snacks and drinks in advance. Beside your vehicle, your bags/luggage will also be examined and scanned, and it’s possible that authorities will check your photos on your devices in order to exclude the possibility that you took photos of restricted military areas or that you bring pornographic material, which is illegal in China, into the country.
108 kilometers from Torugart Port or 62 kilometers from Kashgar on the S212 road, Chinese immigration is located. Only there you will formally enter the country, there you get your entry stamp into your passport. In between Torugart Port and Chinese immigration are 2 more checkpoints where your passport will be checked and where your guide/fixer has to present your entry documents. It’s likely that you will arrive at immigration only after dark.
Beside Chinese immigration, Chinese customs are also located there. In order to process your temporarily imported vehicle, the vehicle must be parked there overnight. There is no accommodation available and you will be transferred to Kashgar for a short night´s sleep.
The road from Naryn all the way to Kashgar is entirely paved. On the Chinese side are some minor stretches of gravel and pot holes.
The next day will start early. You will be transported back to the parking lot to pick up your vehicle. After customs procedure including quarantine disinfection, your vehicle will also have entered China successfully. The next stop will be the traffic administration in Kashgar. Your vehicle has to pass a brief technical test and you will have to pass a medical examination (bring your glasses!) before your provisional Chinese driving license and number plate is issued. After that, you are on the road in China legitimately and your China Overland Tour can begin. You successfully pass China Kyrgyzstan border!