Report: The Kazakhstan – Kyrgyzstan border crossing at Kordai

We used the Kazakhstan – Kyrgyzstan border crossing at Kordai to get from Almaty to Bishkek. Here’s our report of the crossing, including transport times, prices, and places to stay on either side of the border.

 

Coming from Almaty to Bishkek, or visa versa,  this border crossing is very straightforward.

Almaty, Kazakhstan to the border

The journey begins at Almaty’s Sayran bus station. To get there from the superbly budget-friendly Amigo Hostel, we took a taxi for 300 tenge.

The marshrutka to the Kazakhstan - Kyrgyzstan border crossing at Kordai, at the Sayran bus station in Almaty

The marshrutka from Almaty to Bishkek

Regular marshrutky from Almaty to Bishkek leave from Sayran between 6 and 11 in the morning. The minibuses depart every half hour, or when full. A ticket costs 1,500 tenge per person, and there’s no need to buy one ahead of time–just show up when you’re ready to go. The ride to the border takes about four hours, including a stop or two for snacks and toilet.

The inside of a marshrutka driving through the Kazakhstan - Kyrgyzstan border crossing at Kordai

 

The Kazakhstan – Kyrgyzstan border crossing at Kordai

This border is open 24/7, though is reportedly busier in the evenings.

Immigration services at the border go smoothly, but timing depends on how busy it is. It took us about half an hour to actually cross the border. On the Kazakh side there are no forms to be filled out, no departure fees, and no questions are asked. On the Kyrgyz side your passport will be taken into a side room to be stamped, which takes only five minutes.

Once you’ve crossed the border, you’ll have to wait for your marshrutka, so make sure to remember the license plate number. Many people only take the marshrutka to the border, so following your fellow passengers might not be helpful. We spent many a panicked minute frantically searching for fellow passengers and/or our marshrutka, only to have it roll through customs half an hour later.

Heading to Kyrgyzstan? Check out our Kyrgyzstan backpacking budget report!

Waiting for a marshrutka at the Kazakhstan - Kyrgyzstan border crossing at Kordai

… and our marshrutka is… where?

If you don’t have further transportation, there are several local marshrutky and a million and one taxi drivers waiting around at the border. A taxi to the center of Bishkek shouldn’t cost more than 300 som.

Changing money at the border

There’s a small money exchange booth with reasonable tenge-som spreads. One tenge got 0.19 som at the time of writing. Spreads in the city are a bit better though, so if you have a lot of money to change, it’s better to do it there.

Arriving in Bishkek

After a short 20 minute ride, the marshrutka from Almaty drops you off at the western bus station (Zapadny Avtovokzal or Западный Автовокзал). To save yourself a bit of effort, we recommend the Apple Hostel, only a three minute walk away from the station. It’s reasonably priced, the staff are all incredibly friendly and knowledgeable, and the western bus station makes for a convenient landmark when navigating Bishkek’s marshrutka network.

So there you have it, a quick guide on getting from Almaty to Bishkek. Let us know in the comments if anything changes.

Sebastiaan

Just another Dutchie. Extrovert with introverted tendencies. Some say I'm lazy, I say I'm masterfully inactive.

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10 thoughts on “Report: The Kazakhstan – Kyrgyzstan border crossing at Kordai

    Beautiful article guys!This will be so helpful to us when we get there.Seems like this border crossing was extremely smooth ( except for not knowing where your minibus was) This article is so rich and full of useful information.We’ll definitely follow your advice and change money in the city.How long did you stay in Bishkek? Can’t wait to make it to Kyrgyzstan, it looks like an amazing country!!

    Glad it’s helpful guys! Hope it’s the same when you cross (two years form now). ?

    Bishkek is not that interesting. We had to stay for a while to get our visas sorted out, but we wouldn’t recommend staying longer than two days, considering the beautiful nature it’s surround with.

    Emma says:

    Does the driver collect the passports

    Sebastiaan says:

    No, you leave the bus and cross customs yourself.

    Damien says:

    Just crosses the border of Kyrgzystand into Kazaghstan last night, I dont know if things have changed or its because its midnight but i was told to queue up with the Kyrgzystan citizens with passport queue (at least thats what i think because everyone on my queue had passports while the other were holding documents and ID).

    Everything was smooth and on the Kazaghstan side, I had to fill up a simple customs form and thats about it, everything smooth.

    Alex says:

    Thanks for sharing your experience, I’m sure it’ll be helpful for future travelers 🙂 Enjoy Kazakhstan!

    Alana says:

    Hi, do you know roughly what time the first marshrutka leaves from Almaty? We want to get one as early as possible as we will only be in Bishkek for a day.
    Does anyone know roughly when the last one leaves from Bishkek?

    Thanks!

    Meena says:

    Hi,

    buses from almaty to Bishkek are leaving from 6:00am to 7:pm.

    Alex says:

    Thanks for the tip! I’m sure it will be very helpful to future travelers 🙂

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