Despite being both located in the Caucasus Region, Georgia and Armenia are two countries that offers different travel experience among its tourists and visitors. These countries are adjacent to each other and the distance between its capital cities Tbilisi (Georgia) and Yerevan (Armenia) is only 286 km, thus the reason why a lot of travelers usually opt to do land trips and visit these two places.
According to my research and to some people who I have asked, there are different modes of transportation available to cross these two countries. You can either ride a mashrutka (term for mini bus), rent a private vehicle, catch a bus or try an overnight train. During our trip, we decided to go with the first two since these are more convenient and would entail lesser travel time.
Tbilisi, Georgia to Yerevan, Armenia by Mashrutka
It was around 8:00 in the morning when the taxi dropped us at the Ortachala Station in Tblisi to ride a mashrutka going to Yerevan. Despite the articles that I have read saying “you have to ride at the bottom part of the bus station and not on the surface parking,” we still did what we should have not done. The fare for a regular mashrutka is priced at GEL 30 (USD 12), but since we didn’t follow what we have been told, we paid a bit more. This mode of transportation is usually available from 8:00am to 11:00 am and they leave once they filled up. In our case, the vehicle got full after an hour.
The mashrutka or mini bus that we rode. Make sure to ride on a vehicle with the sign Epebah, it is the Russian term for Yerevan.
We drove for almost an hour before we arrived at Sadakhlo, the exit point for Georgia. We went down with our passports, have it stamped and went back to the vehicle. The whole process only took less than 20 minutes, they were fast and they don’t check the bags upon your exit. This area also have a restroom and a duty-free, which you can use and visit before proceeding to Armenia.
Approaching Sadakhlo. They don’t allow taking pictures once you’re in the border.
After passing through a bridge, which is the border of the two countries, we finally arrived at Bagratashen, the entry point for Armenia. This time, we went down together with all of our luggage. We went inside and instantly saw the window with the sign “Visa.” Since Tep and I are Filipinos, we need to get a visa on arrival before proceeding to the immigration. We didn’t filled up any form, we just handed them the passport, paid AMD 3,000 (USD 6.22) and they printed and stamped the visa on our passports. I would suggest having an exact Armenian currency on hand, since they don’t accept other currencies. But in case you don’t have any, go to the exchange booth or use the ATM which are both available at the border. It took us almost an hour to complete the process, since the lines were long because the immigration officers scrutinized all of us thoroughly.
The travel time between the two countries usually takes around 5 to 6 hours, which you can actually enjoy because of the beautiful sceneries that you will pass by. We made two stop overs to use the loo and to buy some snacks. I believe it was nearly 4:00pm when we reached Yerevan in Armenia and the driver dropped us at the city center.
Note to drivers: Cows crossing. This was the scene on our way to Armenia.
See the beautiful scenery?
Note: The mashrutka that we rode was spacious and have enough room for our luggage. I have heard that the regular ones have limited space for baggage, so I guess this is also what you have to consider in case you have big and bulky bags when you travel.
Yerevan, Armenia to Tbilisi, Georgia by Private Vehicle
After spending 3 days in Armenia, we went back to Georgia, but this time we hired a private vehicle to take us there since we wanted to visit some places along the way. In my previous posts, I have already mentioned about our driver named Artur, well he is the one we hired for this particular trip and we paid him AMD 50,000 (USD 100).
We left our accommodation around 9:00 am. Before bidding goodbye to Armenia, we made few stops at the following must see attractions and here they are:
Ararat Charent’s Arch – the place where you can see great views of Mt. Ararat.
Temple of Garni – the only surviving Pagan Temple in Armenia
Geghard Monastery – a monastery partly carved out of the mountain. It is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Sevanavank and Lake Sevan
It was already close to 5:00 pm when we reached the border to exit Armenia. The process was easier and faster this time. Upon our arrival to the border of Georgia, we presented our passports and Qatar ID. We are residents of Qatar, thus we don’t need a visa once we enter Georgia. As far as I can remember, we brought our luggage with us for security checking.
Artur dropped us at the Ortachala (Bus) Station in Tbilisi around past 6:00pm. From the station, we rode a taxi going to our hotel.
Both of our trips went smooth. I would recommend going on a private vehicle if you will be doing a one way trip and you have somebody with you, as some of the famous places in Armenia are on the way. But, if you will be doing a back and forth trip, I recommend doing what we did or you may consider trying the overnight train. If you would like to know more information about the overnight train, this post by Seat 61 would be really helpful.
What you Need to Know?
- Be careful when dealing with some drivers in Georgia and Armenia. Some of them may charge more once they knew that you are a tourist.
- Make sure that you acquire the necessary visa or travel document for Georgia and Armenia, based on your passport or residency.
- Bring some snacks during your trip.
Have you tried crossing between Georgia and Armenia? Let me know your experience by commenting down below.
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