Irkeshtam Pass is one of the world’s most remote border crossings. Located between Kyrgyzstan and China lies at an elevation of 3.005 m above the sea level. This is a popular border crossing for travelers journeying across Central Asia. It’s located east of the Alay Valley in southern Osh Province, Kyrgyzstan.
The Kyrgyz and Chinese border posts are separated by almost 10 km but it’s forbidden to walk across this no mans land. The road still remains an adrenaline-pumping journey and is definitely not for the faint of lungs, heart, or legs. The drive is definitely worth it. The pass is rarely taken, ‘poor condition’ being a dry, almost hopeful assessment of the road, but the spectacular scenic rewards far out weigh a few hours of discomfort; breathtaking natural landscapes of such magnitude are rarely found without a strong spirit of adventure and the Irkeshtam Pass will not disappoint.
Road conditions on the Kyrgyz side are pretty good as long it's not snowing. On the Chinese side, the road has been rebuilt and is in a good state. Irkeshtam Pass is one of the two main border crossings between Kyrgyzstan and Xinjiang, China, the other is Torugart, 165 km (103 mi) to the northeast. It is not allowed for Kyrgyz cars to cross the border, so you have to change to a Chinese vehicle at the border. The border crossing is open only during the day and it is closed on weekends and holidays. Crossing the border can take anything between 1 and 3 hours, so you better be early.
Crossing this border is difficult. Immigration can be very rude. Irkeshtam is approached from Osh, the second city of Kyrgyzstan, in the South of the country. This narrow road twisting its way across the mountains, travels south along the valley of the Taldyk and Gulcho river gorges to the village of Sary Tash (“Yellow Stone” in Kyrgyz), which sits on a cross roads.