Map of the highways
Asian Highway 2 sign near Ratchaburi, Thailand
A section of Malaysia's North-South Expressway in Penang. Note the Asian Highway 2 signage.
Asian Highway Route Sign. This sign is used on the AH 18.

The Asian Highway Network (AH), also known as the Great Asian Highway, is a cooperative project among countries in Asia and the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP) to improve their connectivity via highway systems. It is one of the three pillars of the Asian Land Transport Infrastructure Development (ALTID) project, endorsed by the ESCAP commission at its 48th session in 1992, comprising Asian Highway, Trans-Asian Railway (TAR) and facilitation of land transport projects.

Agreements have been signed by 32 countries to allow the highway to cross the continent and also reach to Europe. Some of the countries taking part in the highway project are India (Look-East connectivity projects), Sri Lanka, Pakistan, China, Iran, Japan, South Korea, Nepal and Bangladesh.[1] Most of the funding comes from the larger, more advanced Asian nations such as China, South Korea and Singapore as well as international agencies such as the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB).

The project aims to make maximum use of the continent's existing highways to avoid the construction of newer ones, except in cases where missing routes necessitate their construction. Project Monitor, an Asian infrastructure news website, has commented that "early beneficiaries of the Asian Highway project are the planners within the national land transport department of the participating countries [since] it assists them in planning the most cost-effective and efficient routes to promote domestic and international trade. Non-coastal areas, which are often negligible, are the other beneficiaries."[1]

However, in the mid-2000s some transportation experts[who?] were skeptical about the viability of the project given the economic and political climate in both South and Southeast Asia.[1]


The AH project was initiated by the United Nations in 1959 with the aim of promoting the development of international road transport in the region. During the first phase of the project (1960–1970) considerable progress was achieved, however, progress slowed down when financial assistance was suspended in 1975.

ESCAP has conducted several projects in cooperation with AH member countries step by step after the endorsement of ALTID in 1992.

The Intergovernmental Agreement on the Asian Highway Network (IGA) was adopted on November 18, 2003, by the Intergovernmental Meeting; the IGA includes Annex I, which identifies 55 AH routes among 32 member countries totalling approximately 140,000 km (87,500 miles), and Annex II "Classification and Design Standards". During the 60th session of the ESCAP Commission at Shanghai, China, in April 2004, the IGA treaty was signed by 23 countries. By 2013, 29 countries had ratified the agreement.[2]


The advanced highway network would provide for greater trade and social interactions between Asian countries, including personal contacts, project capitalizations, connections of major container terminals with transportation points, and promotion of tourism via the new roadways.[1]

Regional perceptions of the project

According to notable Indian historian Dharampal, "It's an excellent step taken by ESCAP to gather all the Asian countries under one crown but the problem with this project is political disputes between some countries, notably Pakistan and Myanmar, which is delaying the project".[1][dubious ]

Future Development Plans

Route AH1 is proposed to extend from Tokyo to the border with Bulgaria (EU) west of Istanbul and Edirne, passing through both Koreas, China and other countries in Southeast, Central and South Asia. The corridor is expected to improve trade links between East Asian countries, India and Russia. To complete the route, existing roads will be upgraded and new roads constructed to link the network. US$25 billion has been spent or committed as of 2007, with additional US$18 billion needed for upgrades and improvements to 26,000 km of highway.[3]

Numbering and signage

The project new highway route numbers begin with "AH", standing for "Asian Highway", followed by one, two or three digits.[4] Single-digit route numbers from 1 to 9 are assigned to major Asian Highway routes which cross more than one subregion.[4] Two- and three-digit route numbers are assigned to indicate the routes within subregions, including those connecting to neighbouring subregions, and self-contained highway routes within the participating countries.[4] Route numbers are printed in the Latin script and Hindu-Arabic numerals and may simply be added to existing signage, like the E-road network.[4]

The actual design of the signs has not been standardized, only that the letters and digits are in white or black, but the color, shape and size of the sign being completely flexible. Most examples feature a blue rectangular shield with a white inscription (similar to German Autobahn signage) with further examples of white on green and black on white rectangular shields.[1][4][5]

First entire car crossing

What is believed to be the first car crossing of the full extent (East to West) of the new Asian Highway was achieved by Britons Richard Meredith and Phil Colley in 2007 driving an Aston Martin.

Following the AH1 and the AH5 from Tokyo (the Highway grid's furthest point East) to Istanbul (furthest West), they drove a total of 12,089 km (7,511.8 miles) before joining the European motorway network for another 3,259 km (2,025 miles) to London.

Including ferry trips and customs clearance delays, the journey took 49 days and crossed 18 countries.

The completed route was verified by Aston Martin[6] and the UN's Asian Commission (UNESCAP) in Bangkok, whose director of transport and tourism Barry Cable confirmed "I can warrant that, to my best knowledge, this was the first car to undertake this journey".[7][8]

Eurowatch in London provided independent corroboration by tracking the car's location from satellite position reports and plotting the vehicle's location throughout the journey.[9][10]

Meredith, a travel author and veteran of distance-driving events, agreed to make the attempt after attending the Asian Highway Treaty's "coming into force" ceremony in Bangkok on 4 July 2005.

He was lent an Aston Martin V8 Vantage, which had previously been the personal transport of the company's chief executive Dr Ulrich Bez and recruited Phil Colley, a linguist and travel expert from Kennington, South London, to be his co-driver. The car was shipped out to Tokyo by the company and they set off on 25 June 2007.[11]

Although the trip was facilitated by UNESCAP through its member nations, there were still extensive problems[12] including enforced detours and interminable customs clearance delays in China, pot-holed roads in Kazakhstan and leaded-only fuel in Uzbekistan. In Tbilisi, Georgia, the journey car crashed after being left on a hillside with its handbrake unsecured.

When the record-setting car returned,[13][14] a welcome-home reception was staged by Aston Martin at the Park Lane Hotel in London and Meredith later received a civic award from his home town of Milton Keynes.[15][16][17]

The car was sold at auction in December 2007 by Bonhams[18] and the proceeds donated to UNICEF, the United Nations Children's Fund. In March 2008, a total collection of €83,000 was presented to UNICEF China for a campaign to reduce child deaths on the roads of Beijing.[19]


AH1 to AH9: Continent-Wide Routes

AH10 to AH29: Southeast Asia Routes

AH30 to AH39: East Asia and Northeast Asia Routes

Route No. Distance Start End Notes
AH30 2,739 km (1712 miles) Ussuriysk, Russia Chita, Russia
AH31 1,595 km (997 miles) Belogorsk, Russia Dalian, China
AH32 3,748 km (2342.5 miles) Sonbong, North Korea Khovd, Mongolia
AH33 575 km (359 miles) Harbin, China Tongjiang, China Also known as G1011
AH34 1,033 km (646 miles) Lianyungang, China Xi'an, China
AH35 1,305 km (811 miles) Undurkhaan, Mongolia Jinzhou, China

AH40 to AH59: South Asian Routes

Route No. Distance Start End
AH41 948 km (592.5 miles) Teknaf, Bangladesh Mongla, Bangladesh
AH42 3,754 km (2346 miles) Lanzhou, China Barhi, India
AH43 3,024 km (1892 miles) Agra, India Matara, Sri Lanka (Via) Rameswaram, TN, IN
AH44(A6) 107 km (67 miles) Dambulla, Sri Lanka Trincomalee, Sri Lanka
AH45 2,030 km (1269 miles) Kolkata, India Chennai, TN, India
AH46 1,967 km (1,222 miles) Hazira port, Surat, India Howrah, India
AH47 2,057 km (1286 miles) Gwalior, India Bengaluru, Karnataka, India
AH48 276 km (171 miles) Thimphu, Bhutan Changrabandha, India
AH51 825 km (513 miles) Peshawar, Pakistan Quetta, Pakistan

AH60 to AH89: North Asia, Central Asia and Southwest Asia Routes

Route No. Distance Start End
AH60 2,151 km (1344 miles) Omsk, Russia (on AH6) Burubaital, Kazakhstan (on AH7)
AH61 4,158 km (2599 miles) Kashgar, China (on AH4/AH65) border between Russia and Ukraine
AH62 2,722 km (1701 miles) Petropavl, Kazakhstan (on AH6/AH64) Mazari Sharif, Afghanistan (on AH76)
AH63 2,434 km (1521 miles) Samara, Russia (on AH6) Guzar, Uzbekistan (on AH62)
AH64 1,666 km (1041 miles) Petropavl, Kazakhstan (on AH6/AH62) Barnaul, Russia (on AH4)
AH65 1,250 km (781 miles) Kashgar, China (on AH4/AH61) Termez, Uzbekistan (on AH62)
AH66 995 km (622 miles) border between China and Tajikistan Termez, Uzbekistan (on AH62)
AH67 2,288 km (1430 miles) Kuitun, China (on AH5) Zhezkazgan, Kazakhstan (on AH62)
AH68 278 km (174 miles) Jinghe, China (on AH5) Ucharal, Kazakhstan (on AH60)
AH70 4,832 km (3020 miles) border between Ukraine and Russia Bandar Abbas, Iran
AH71 426 km (266 miles) Dilaram, Afghanistan (on AH1) Dashtak, Iran (on AH75)
AH72 1,147 km (717 miles) Tehran, Iran (on AH1/AH2/AH8) Bushehr, Iran
AH75 1,871 km (1169 miles) Tejen, Turkmenistan (on AH5) Chabahar, Iran
AH76 986 km (616 miles) Puli Khumri, Afghanistan (on AH7) Herat, Afghanistan (on AH1/AH77)
AH77 1,298 km (811 miles) Jabal Saraj District, Afghanistan (on AH7) Mary, Turkmenistan (on AH5)
AH78 1,076 km (672.5 miles) Ashgabat, Turkmenistan (on AH5) Kerman, Iran (on AH2)
AH81 1,143 km (714 miles) Larsi, Georgia Aktau, Kazakhstan (on AH70)
AH82 1,261 km (788 miles) border between Russia and Georgia Ivughli, Iran (on AH1)
AH83 172 km (107.5 miles) Qazakh, Azerbaijan (on AH5) Yerevan, Armenia (on AH81/AH82)
AH84 1,188 km (742.5 miles) Doğubeyazıt, Turkey (on AH1) İçel, Turkey
AH85 338 km (211 miles) Refahiye, Turkey (on AH1) Merzifon, Turkey (on AH5)
AH86 247 km (154 miles) Askale, Turkey (on AH1) Trabzon, Turkey (on AH5)
AH87 606 km (378.75 miles) Ankara, Turkey (on AH1) İzmir, Turkey
AH88[21] 1,700 km (1050 miles)[26] Chabahar, Iran (on AH75) Bandar Imam Khomeini, Iran (on AH8)

AH100 to AH299: ASEAN Southeast Asia Routes

These routes were set up by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations as part of an extension to the Asian Highway Network, known as the ASEAN Highway Network.[23][24]

Route No. Distance Start End Notes
AH111 Loilem, Myanmar Thibaw, Myanmar [27]
AH112 Thaton, Myanmar Kawthaung, Myanmar [27]
AH121 Mukdahan, Thailand Sa Kaeo, Thailand
AH123 Dawei, Myanmar Pak Tho on AH2 in Thailand [27][28]
AH131 Vũng Áng, Vietnam Thakhek, Laos
AH132 Quảng Ngãi, Vietnam Thang Beng, Laos
AH140 Butterworth, Malaysia Pasir Puteh, Malaysia
AH141 Port Klang Malaysia Kuantan, Malaysia
AH142 Yong Peng, Malaysia Gambang, Malaysia
AH143 Sengkang, Singapore Senai, Malaysia
AH150 Telok Merano, Sarawak Entikong, West Kalimantan Also known as the Pan-Borneo Highway
AH151 Tebing Tinggi, North Sumatra Bandar Lampung, Lampung Also known as the Central Trans-Sumatran Highway. The highway is also co-signed as Sumatra by the Ministry of Transportation (Indonesia) since 2019.
AH152 Jakarta Surakarta, Central Java The highway is also co-signed by some Indonesian National Route Java by the Ministry of Transportation (Indonesia) since 2019.

Distance by country or region

The planned network runs a total of 140,479 kilometres (87,290 mi).

Country or region Distance in km (mi)
 Afghanistan 4,247 km (2,639 mi)
 Armenia 958 km (595 mi)
 Azerbaijan 1,442 km (896 mi)
 Bangladesh 1,804 km (1,121 mi)
 Bhutan 1 km (0.62 mi)
 Cambodia 1,339 km (832 mi)
 China 25,579 km (15,894 mi)
 Georgia 1,154 km (717 mi)
 Hong Kong 91 km (57 mi)
 India 27,987 km (17,390 mi)
 Indonesia 3,989 km (2,479 mi)
 Iran 11,152 km (6,930 mi)
 Japan 1,200 km (750 mi)
 Kazakhstan 13,189 km (8,195 mi)
 North Korea 1,320 km (820 mi)
 South Korea 907 km (564 mi)
 Kyrgyzstan 1,695 km (1,053 mi)
 Laos 2,297 km (1,427 mi)
 Malaysia 4,006 km (2,489 mi)
 Mongolia 4,286 km (2,663 mi)
 Myanmar 3,003 km (1,866 mi)
   Nepal 1,321 km (821 mi)
 Pakistan 5,377 km (3,341 mi)
 Philippines 3,517 km (2,185 mi)
 Russia 16,869 km (10,482 mi)
 Singapore 38 km (24 mi)
 Sri Lanka 650 km (400 mi)
 Tajikistan 1,925 km (1,196 mi)
 Thailand 5,112 km (3,176 mi)
 Turkey 5,254 km (3,265 mi)
 Turkmenistan 2,204 km (1,370 mi)
 Uzbekistan 2,966 km (1,843 mi)
 Vietnam 2,678 km (1,664 mi)

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f Kamat, Rahul The Great Asian Highway Archived 2010-01-17 at the Wayback Machine, Project Monitor website, 31 January 2005. Retrieved 2009-05-05
  2. ^ "UNTC". Archived from the original on 2014-05-28. Retrieved 2013-05-15..
  3. ^ "Priority Investment Needs for the Development for the Asian Highway Network" Archived July 20, 2007, at the Wayback Machine, accessed July 14, 2007
  4. ^ a b c d e Newswire Archived January 12, 2010, at the Wayback Machine, Tourism Commission of the International Geographical Union website. Retrieved 2009-05-05;
  5. ^ McCartan, Brian Roadblocks on the Great Asian Highway, Asia Times website, 23 January 2008. Retrieved 2009-05-05;
  6. ^ Letter 2007-07-09 Janette Green, Director Brand Communications, Aston Martin, Gaydon CV35 0DB, England
  7. ^ Letter 2007-18-10 Barry Cable, Director Transport & Tourism Division, United Nations ESCAP (Economic & Social Commission for Asia & the Pacific), Bangkok 10200, Thailand.
  8. ^ (2008) Driven Together Published by Mercury Books on behalf of Word Go Ltd. Page vi (ISBN 9780954143244)
  9. ^ Tracking and map log Letter and data 2007-28-09 Dr Sebastian Archer, Solutions ARchitect, EurowatchCEntral Ltd, London EC4Y 0HB.
  10. ^ Driven Together - Outside Back Cover.
  11. ^ Aston Martin on the Asia-Pacific Highway, 2007-09-07. Retrieved 2010-01-01
  12. ^ Driven Together - Various
  13. ^ Reuters Aston Martin drivers set Asian Highway record NZ Herald, 2007-15-08. Retrieved 2010-01-01
  14. ^ Wilkinson, Stephen Hammer Down on Asia's Interstate Highways Archived 2012-02-24 at the Wayback Machine, 2007-23-08. Retrieved 2010-01-01
  15. ^ British Pair Drive Aston Martin into the Record Books Aston Martin, 2007-14-08. Retrieved 2010-01-01
  16. ^ Milton Keynes Citizen 2007-13-09 "Aston adventurer safely home" Page 26
  17. ^ MK News 2007-12-09 "Records shattered on drive home from Japan" Page 22
  18. ^ Record-Breaking Aston Martin to be Sold Archived September 28, 2011, at the Wayback Machine Bonhams, 2007-03-12. Retrieved 2010-01-01
  19. ^ Milton Keynes Citizen 2008-11-03 "Aston adventure" Page 2
  20. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r[bare URL PDF]
  21. ^ a b c d "Asian Highway Agreement with Amended Annex-I 2020" (PDF). UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific. Retrieved 2021-02-11.
  22. ^ "Asian Highway Network" (PDF). United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2023-01-19.
  23. ^ a b ASEAN logistics network map. Nihon Bōeki Shinkōkai. (2nd ed.). Tokyo: JETRO. 2009. ISBN 978-4822410681. OCLC 434492237.((cite book)): CS1 maint: others (link)
  24. ^ a b Master plan on ASEAN connectivity (PDF). ASEAN. Public Outreach and Civil Society Division. [Jakarta, Indonesia]: [ASEAN Secretariat, Public Outreach and Civil Society Division]. December 2010. p. 12. ISBN 9786028411622. OCLC 775662227. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2017-07-06. Retrieved 2018-01-12.((cite book)): CS1 maint: others (link)
  25. ^ Cabral, Maria Catalina. "Asian Highway 26 (AH26)" (PDF). ESCAP. Department of Public Works and Highways. Retrieved September 4, 2021.
  26. ^ "Islamic Republic of Iran country presentation at the Eighth Meeting of the Working Group on the Asian Highway" (PDF). UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific. Retrieved 2021-02-11.
  27. ^ a b c "Status of the Asian Highway in Member Countries | United Nations ESCAP". Retrieved 2018-01-12.
  28. ^ Master plan on ASEAN connectivity, 2025 (PDF). Jakarta. 2016. ISBN 9786026392022. OCLC 970396295. Retrieved 2018-01-12.((cite book)): CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)