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.
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.
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.
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.
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.