The Uzbekistan – Afghanistan border crossing at Hairatan

Our report from the Uzbekistan – Afghanistan border crossing at Hairatan in 2016. Includes travel times, costs, tips for the crossing, and where to stay.

Crossing the border between Uzbekistan and Afghanistan takes a healthy dose of patience at the Uzbek side, and goes smoothly at the Afghan side. There are no entry or exit fees, and the whole process of crossing the border takes around three hours.

The border opens at eight in the morning, and the nearest city is Termiz. Due to the time consuming procedures at the Uzbek border, we advise you to go early, so it’s best to stay at least one night in Termiz.

Planning out your Afghanistan trip? Don’t miss our travel guide to Afghanistan.

 

Views of the shared taxi to Termiz, Uzbekistan - Lost With Purpose

The ride to Termiz passes through some scenic wasteland (if that’s not a contradiction).

Getting to Termiz

There is a night train from Tashkent to Termiz every other day. At the time of writing, the train went on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, though check to make sure that’s still the case. The ride is about 14 hours, and the train leaves Tashkent around 19:20, arriving in Termiz at 9:50-ish the next day.

Otherwise it’s best to head to Samarkand and take a shared taxi from there. Shared taxis to Termiz leave from “Grebnoy Kanal”. A taxi from Samarkand train station to Grebnoy Kanal should cost around 10,000 som. The shared taxi to Termiz will cost around 60,000 – 75,000 som per person, depending on the driver and your negotation skills.

The ugly as balls clock tower in the center of Termiz, Uzbekistan - Lost With Purpose

Scenic Termiz! /sarcasm

Staying in Termiz

The Surhan Atlantic hotel has great value rooms, at 35,000 som for single occupancy (around $5) with a private bathroom. Just say “Surhan hotel” and the taxi driver should know where it is. It’s a towering concrete block with blue letters on top, you can’t miss it.

Eager to get to Afghanistan, we passed quickly through Termiz, but there are plenty of ancient archaeological sights in the area that are worth a visit.

Beers in Termiz, Uzbekistan - Lost With Purpose

Don’t forget to savor some last beers in the sun before heading into (theoretically) dry Afghanistan!

 

From Termiz to the Uzbekistan – Afghanistan border crossing at Hairatan

To get to the border from Termiz you have to take a taxi. It should cost around 20,000 – 30,0000 som. The driver might say he meant the price you agreed on is per person half way to the border, but just ignore that and pay the agreed upon amount.

The taxi will drop you off about a kilometer before the border. There some military personnel will check your passport and a free minibus will drive you to the immigration buildings. Here the fun begins.

The Uzbekistan side of the Uzbekistan – Afghanistan border crossing at Hairatan

First off, you’ll have to fill in an exit form. This is the same form as the one you had to fill in when you arrived, although this time they have an English version. Make sure to declare all your foreign money.

After this the immigration officers will ask you a bunch of questions, and will probably repeat these questions about five times over the course of the next hour. They will also go through everything in your bag and on your body. And we mean everything: your computer, phone, camera, books, etc. If you have a lot of photos, do hide them, otherwise you might be there for hours.

Make especially sure to hide any possibly sensitive photos, such as any photos showing police or military, religious ceremonies, porn, or guys with long beards. They made Alex delete her videos of Sufi “raves” in Pakistan and all of the Uzbekistan photos (that they could find), as one of her photos contained a guard.

The Registan in Samarkand with an Uzbek guard walking around - Lost With Purpose

The guilty photo. Can you spot the guard?

This process is quite annoying, as the immigration officers seem really suspicious. Normally we ascribe the repetitions of questions to pure curiosity, but here we think they wanted to make sure we gave the same answer each time. Sebastiaan was questioned for 10 minutes about a little good luck charm, a finger puppet, he carries around in his wallet. Just make sure to be polite and patient, and remember the officers are just doing their job.

After all this, you can get your exit stamp at the little roadside booth outside. This is also where you hand over your registration slips. You’re finally free to leave Uzbekistan! Now begins the one kilometer walk over the friendship bridge towards Afghanistan.

The Afghan side of the Uzbekistan – Afghanistan border crossing at Hairatan

At the Afghan side your information will be noted down and your bag will be checked again in a much more relaxed fashion. The whole process takes about 20 minutes. Don’t worry when they ask you how much money you have on you, it’s just one of the questions on their registration form.

To get a taxi, walk outside and leave the immigration post. There might be an English speaking guard who will help you, but if not, a taxi should cost no more than $15. Just mention Mazar and the name of your hotel. Make sure you have an address ready in Farsi in case the driver doesn’t know the hotel.

 

The sign for the Barg-e-Sabz guesthouse in Mazar-i Sharif, Afghanistan - Lost With Purpose

Where to stay in Mazar-i Sharif

We stayed at Barg-e-Sabz guest house, next to the German consulate. It offers decent value at $20 for a double room with private toilet, and is a five minute walk to to Blue Mosque.  Other, more expensive options include Barat Hotel ($30 for a single) and Marco Polo guest house ($50). Both have views of the Blue Mosque.

Make sure to also check out our Afghanistan travel budget report!

 

Sebastiaan

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

More about Sebastiaan

7 thoughts on “The Uzbekistan – Afghanistan border crossing at Hairatan

    Kim says:

    Very useful blog! Love it 🙂
    This is probably a stupid question but how do you suggest to hide the pictures? Hide the SD card? Hide the folders on your laptop,…???

    Glad it’s useful! Hiding the folders on your laptop is the best option for hiding files.

    Hamid says:

    How was Mazar? What did you do during your stay in Mazar/Balkh?

    Sebastiaan says:

    This article should answer your questions https://www.lostwithpurpose.com/bong-rips-balkh/ 😉

    But in all seriousness, the Mosque/Shrine in Mazar is perhaps the most beautiful building we’ve seen to date, and Balkh is full of history. If you’re in Afghanistan, we’d definitely recommend Mazar. It’s worth it just for the shrine.

    Diego Imai says:

    Hi Sebastiaan!
    When you say “make sure declare all your foreign money” why is that? (i got in trouble in Honduras when they found a money pouch hidden and they didnt know the value of the money, so they kept me asking how much it was worth in a weird way).
    How much cash were you carrying? if you don’t mind me asking.
    Your posts are being extremely useful, so thank you for sharing such rich content with us!

    Sebastiaan says:

    They want to make sure you don’t smuggle foreign currency out of the country. So if they find you leaving with more foreign currency than you came in with, you’ll be in big trouble. That’s why you have to declare what you take in and out of. I always have a spare amount of cash on me one way or another, but in usually factor in about $1000 per month to be on the safe side.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Lost With Purpose

Send this to a friend