Travel between Pakistan
and China via Karakoram Highway
CBP Journey 2007. Back to:Itineraries, Trek, Destionations, Tibet
On Karakoram Highway (KKH), one of the most
fascinated roads to China, the border crossing from Pakistan
is via the Khunjerab Pass at 4,693m. Neither China nor
Pakistan issues any visa on arrival; so travelers must have
their visas ready for this journey..
To cross into China from Pakistan, one has to catch a bus
from Sost which is the last town on the Karakorum Highway in
Getting to Sost
There are regular buses from Hunza- bus stop is at Aliabad
which is on the KKH below Karimabad - to Sost every morning.
These buses depart at about 6am and travel north along the KKH
passing through towns such as Gurmit and Passu. If the bus is
not full, one can still board at any of these towns; however
the chances are normally not good. If one is at any towns
north of Karimabad, then chartering a 4WD is the most reliable
option to get to Sost.
Another option is to hitch a ride from the numerous trucks
that head to Sost along the KKH (as Sost is the transit for
goods coming in and out of Pakistan and China). Unless one is
prepared to stay a night at Sost, one should attempt to hitch
a ride earlier in the morning to allow sufficient time to get
to Sost to catch the NATCO (Northern Area Transport Company)
bus which leaves at 8am. Getting a ride on a truck heading
north is really relatively easy.
Sost (Pakistan) to Tashkurgan (China)
The bus from Sost to Tashkurgan is run by NATCO. The price
is US$23 or 1,500 Rs. One can pay in either currency. The
price in US$ may be reviewed in view of the declining US$.
Tickets can be reserved the day before, best done by the owner
of the guesthouse one stays in.
Sost is the immigration and customs checkpoint for the
Pakistan side of the border. Every passenger is submitted to
very thorough customs inspection at Sost. Every item in any
bags are emptied and checked by the Pakistani custom
officials- it is advisable not to carry powders of any kind in
one’s backpack. Depending on the number of passengers, this
process can take anything from one to three hours. It is
rather inexplicable for the Pakistani customs to be so
thorough at this departing post when one would expect them to
be thorough at incoming passengers instead. The actual
immigration checkpoint is another building down the road.
After the custom inspection, one cannot leave the bus until
entering the immigration building. The immigration processing
is less time consuming than the custom inspection.
About 35 km after leaving Sost, one will enter the
Khunjerab National Park. The bus will stop for passengers to
pay a park fee of US$4 or 240 Rs- yes, passengers have to pay
a park fee even though none is allowed to wonder or enjoy the
park except to ride on its not-so-fantastic roads on a
reasonable condition bus. There is not much to look at along
this road as the road is inside a deep gorge to Khunjerab
Pass. At the actual border at the Pass, one can ask the bus to
stop for a quick picture.
The road condition changed immediately as one crosses the
Pass. The road on the Chinese side is immaculate and probably
one of the best paved tarmac road that one will see anywhere
in the world. The difference is stark especially after one has
spent some time in Pakistan. A few hundred meters from the
border crossing is the Chinese security and customs
checkpoint. All passengers will have to disembark with their
belongings and subjected to another round of very thorough
inspection. Unlike at the Pakistani checkpoint, the inspection
here is very professional but still takes anything from one
hour depending in the number of passengers.
The scenery after the checkpoint is quite different from
the Karakorams on the Pakistan side of the border. The Pamir
Mountains here are slightly lower and are interspersed with
rolling green steppes with various settlements of mud houses.
Camels and other livestock are also more apparent.
The Chinese immigration checkpoint is at Tashkurgan. The
NATCO bus will finish its journey here. The checkpoint is
about a kilometer from the centre of Tashkurgan town.
Tashkurgan is a small town of rectangular grid, typical of
most Chinese towns. The town centre is very much dominated by
Hans now. There is not much to see here except maybe the Stone
Fortress. There are many accommodation options here, ranging
from the expensive Pamir Guesthouse to the very affordable but
good quality New Traffic Hotel beside the bus terminal. There
are buses from here to most places in the vicinity, including
Kashgar (7.30am). Link: KKH Map
Link: Road to Tibet: From the remote west - Ngari or
Written by CBP in Jan