Hairatan, Friendship Bridge, Uzbekistan-Afghanistan border

Crossing The Uzbekistan-Afghanistan Border At Hairatan 

Crossing The Uzbekistan-Afghanistan Border At Hairatan was originally published in June 2021

If you’re planning to head into Afghanistan from Uzbekistan, here is everything you need to know to cross the Hairatan border. 

After a couple of days checking out the historic sites around Termez, it was time for me to make yet another journey into Afghanistan, this time entering the country through the Hairatan border. 

In all, the border crossing process into Afghanistan was pretty smooth and painless in my experience, though I was prepared for several hours of bureaucracy (after all I’ve been visiting the region for several years, all the way back when border crossing procedures could take hours upon hours). 

Uzbekistan-Afghanistan Border Information 

  • Opening time: 8:00 am
  • Time crossing: In all, it took me about 28 minutes to cross the border to Afghanistan at midday, though older reports have said to expect up to 3 hours. Several recent crossers report about an hour.  
  • Visas: All foreigners need a visa to enter Afghanistan. Uzbekistan can require an e-visa, be visa-free, or a full visa to enter depending on nationality. 
Fayez Tepe, just outside Termez

Getting To Termez

Getting to Termez is pretty straightforward. There are trains from Tashkent several nights per week, you can check the schedule at Uzbekistan Railways. Prices start around 110,000 UZS and go up from there depending on the compartment you book. The ride takes 14 hours. 

The other option is by shared taxi from several cities including Tashkent, Samarkand, Denau, Qarshi and more. Shared taxis depart when full. 

Where To Stay in Termez

  • Budget: The Surhon Hotel offers up basic rooms for a steal. It came highly recommended by other backpackers. 
  • Midrange: The Asson Hotel is located conveniently next to the Termez Archeological Museum. Rooms are simple and beds are comfortable (not the usual rock hard mattresses you find everywhere in Central Asia!). They have a pool, but it was unfortunately being renovated at time visit. 

Getting To The Hairatan Border

Grab a taxi from Termez and let them know you’re planning to go to the Hairatan border. You’ll need to do a little negotiating but you’ll usually end up paying around 30,000 UZS. 

You’ll be dropped at a checkpoint about one kilometer before the Uzbek immigration office. There will be hawkers there offering to drive you across to the Afghan side of the border for a steep 400,000 UZS. Ignore them. 

A shuttle bus or marshrutka makes the journey across so if either are not there, just wait a few minutes and one will show up. The driver will as 5,000 UZS for the ride. 

On the shuttle bus to Uzbek border control

Border Procedures

Getting Out Of Uzbekistan

Once inside the Uzbek border office, you’ll need to put your bags through an X-ray. Once finished, collect your bags and walk over to the immigration counter where your passport will be checked and stamped out. Once you’ve received your exit stamp, proceed outside. 

Outside, you’ll likely find another marshurtka waiting. They will ask 5,000 UZS to take you across the ironically named Friendship Bridge to Afghan border control. If you’d like to walk the kilometer across you can opt to do that instead. 

Entering Into Afghanistan 

Once on the Afghan side of the bridge, you will enter into the Afghan immigration office. Here your visa will be checked, you may be asked a couple questions and then be stamped in. Note that as of May 2021 you are supposed to have a negative Covid-19 PCR test to enter Afghanistan taken no more than 24 hours prior, though more than likely you won’t even be asked for it. 

Once you are stamped into Afghanistan, you’ll proceed into the next room where your bags will be scanned through an X-ray and then you will proceed outside to the parking lot. 

Waiting for a ride in the lot outside Afghan border control

Crossing From Afghanistan Into Uzbekistan 

Crossing back into Uzbekistan is essentially the same process, only in reverse though it is a bit more arduous, owing to the extensive check you’ll go through on the Uzbek side of the border. Getting out of Afghanistan is a breeze. Your visa will be checked, stamped, and you’ll be sent on your way. 

Once to the Uzbek side of the Friendship Bridge, expect to have your bags and belongings finely combed through before you’ll be allowed back into Uzbekistan. Uzbek officials are suspicious of those coming in from Afghanistan for obvious reasons. 

Playing in the sand dunes of the Hairatan Desert on the way to Mazar e Sharif

Getting to Mazar e Sharif

You can grab a shared taxi from the lot outside Afghan immigration for about 200 AFS with a bit of haggling. There are money changers right across the street from the lot if you need to exchange. 

Otherwise, you can plan to organize a ride in advance if you are traveling with guide, or are being hosted. 

The ride between the Hairatan border and Mazar e Sharif takes about 90 minutes. 

Where To Stay In Mazar e Sharif

  • Midrange: Arsalan Hotel $40 USD per night 
  • Splurge: Royal Oak Hotel $70 USD per night

Have any questions about crossing the Uzbek-Afghan border at Hairatan?

Ask in the comments below. 

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