Crossing from Turkmenistan to Iran at Bajgiran

There are several border crossing points from Turkmenistan into Iran, but there are two that stand out as the most popular; that at Sarakhs, and the one at Bajgiran (also called “Howden” or “Gauden” on the Turkmenistan side). Both crossings are popular because of their proximity to a large city; in the case of Sarakhs, it’s near Mashhad in Iran, while Bajgiran is near to the Turkmen capital Ashgabat.

(Source: Google)

I found the experience of transiting the border at Bajgiran fairly easy. I was travelling in Turkmenistan with a tour booked through Advantour. Click here for more information about my crossing into Turkmenistan at Farab (Uzbekistan) and how the visa process works.

That road? Straight outta Ashgabat!

Being with a tour, I was picked up from my hotel in Ashgabat, the Aziya Hotel, and we began our short journey to the border. The border runs through the mountains to the south of Ashgabat, and the plains beyond are Iranian territory. The hotels in the south of Ashgabat are much closer to the border than the centre, so after about 40 minutes on the road my Turkmenistan experience came to an abrupt end.

(Source: Google)

Just a few swift bends in the road and we pulled into a large complex. I walked in with my luggage in hand, and was asked to open my case for inspection. Turkmen officials are fastidious, and these guys did their job properly – the photos on my camera were inspected too. After they were satisfied that I wasn’t a spy, they stamped me out of the country, and it was here that I said goodbye to my lovely guide. At no point during the border crossing are you permitted to take photos.

A few minutes walking across the border, and I was in the Iranian customs building where the process was efficient, but more relaxed. Within 20 minutes, I had walked out of the building and into Iran, and was sitting in an overpriced taxi to the town of Quchan. I paid around $10, which was more than double what I was told it should have been.

Vendor and his nephew at the Quchan bus station

(Source: Google)

Quchan isn’t much to look at, and indeed I didn’t hang around – I got on a bus straight for Tehran (an overnight bus – it took around 12 hours). The other option is to head for Mashhad, about 2 hours away.

How would you feel about customs officials looking at your camera? Comment below!

Comments (10)

  • Anna @ shenANNAgans Reply

    I’d be totally down with customers looking at my camera, lots of food, coffee, Little Chef and selfies. Haha. 🙂 Looks like a fairly arid part of the world, not sure I would find myself here any time soon/ever, but cool I can see it via you. Thanks friend.

    May 2, 2017 at 4:41 pm
    • Tim Blight Reply

      Thanks for reading, Anna! I hope things are starting to work themselves out up there!!

      May 3, 2017 at 5:22 am
  • Fay Blight Reply

    I was travelling on a train from Athens through what was known as Yugoslavia in the early 1970s. It was very controlled and guards patrolled the train carriages. I remember other travellers taking photos of the countryside which was really scenic. The guards made them expose the film on their cameras. You wouldn’t want to argue with them as they carried machine guns. End of the holidays snaps for them and very unnerving.

    May 3, 2017 at 10:25 pm
    • Tim Blight Reply

      Sounds like a similar experience. You always have to be careful with taking pictures in countries with a heavy military/police presence. The Turkmenistan guards were methodical but friendly enough, but I still wouldn’t mess with them!!

      Thankfully digital cameras would allow them to only delete the “offending” photos, and keep the rest. Unless they go for the “nuclear option” and ask you to reformat the whole memory card – then that’s the end of it.

      May 5, 2017 at 3:46 am
  • Agness of Run Agness Run Reply

    Thanks for sharing your experience, Tim! 🙂

    May 3, 2017 at 10:37 pm
  • Renuka Reply

    I think your blog is a great source of knowing some offbeat destinations. ….And, knowing really deeply! These Persian countries sound so fascinating…love the landscapes. I must say they are unsung gems.

    May 4, 2017 at 6:27 pm
    • Tim Blight Reply

      Thanks Renuka! I hope to inspire and help people who want to travel to these places – they’re only distant in our imaginations!!

      May 5, 2017 at 3:40 am
  • Andrew Boland Reply

    i didnt realise it was so close to the border!

    June 14, 2017 at 10:10 pm

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