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Northern Asia Topics specific to Russia, Central Asia (also known as "the 'stans"), Mongolia, Japan and Korea
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Old 14 Jul 2009
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Question Going East... North or South?

Thinking about planning a round trip to Eastern Russia in 2010.
The idea is to cross Europe and visit
and the Stans
Iran or Azerbaijan/Georgia (depends on the carnet issue)

I've been reading about other riders journeys but can't quite figure what the pro and cons of riding East via Russia and West (on the way back) via the stans or vice-versa?
Which is the best option?
I'll be leaving around May, from Portugal, and I'm guessing 4 or 5 months will be enough. Or not?

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Old 14 Jul 2009
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Your trip does not need a carnet , Iran does one on the border costs $200 , its the visa that is the hassle..

West to East ie Russia first then Mongolia/Stans avoids a biggie russian visa headache ie the no visa 30 or 45 days before travel.

Stans first then Russia and back has the headache that you have to apply for the visa first which they will only issue so many days before travel which means you have to eat into your russian visa if you intend to spend longer in the stans than you intended.

Ie on the original plan applied for the russian visas and left late meaning the russian visa 3 month one would lose an entire month , which depending on circumstances maybe ok maybe very bad , ie the rider who had a broken bike, or myself who had some huge morale problems , meaning I've effectively written off 2 weeks to recover my morale.

Overall I think Russia first (ie burn to the Mongol border on the sealed roads carrying tyres) , slip into mongolia out via Barnaul to Kazak and get the other visas enroute.... you are going to have to get your timing right though for weather conditions as some roads are unridable (ie the M53 to Irkusk) if it rains.
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Old 17 Jul 2009
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I honestly don't think it matters too much. Consider weather, so you're not riding in the rain and mud in the north to start with, then unbearable heat across Iran/Turkmen/Uzbek later at the height of summer.

Visas can be organised underway, though takes a little planning, and there are always hiccups. Last year we left home with only Russian and Mongolian visas and followed a similar route to your plan. Got Kazakh and Kyrgyz in Ulan Bataar, Tajik, Uzbek and Turkmen in Almaty, Iranian in Dushanbe and Turkish on the border.

Vladivostok - Denmark 2008... Finished.
Denmark - South Africa 2010-2011... Finished.
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Old 8 Aug 2009
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thanks for the info.

How long was your trip and when did you leave Europe?
How long did you have to wait for the visas in Ub, Almaty and Dushambe?

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Old 10 Aug 2009
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The trip took 6 months, though we started in Australia and shipped our bikes to Vladivostok (arrived Vladivostok mid-May, got bikes off the dock and left Vlad June 1st, waited 3 weeks in Almaty, arrived in Copenhagen mid Nov). We'd planned on 4, but there was no point hurrying it while on the way.

In UB we got Kazakh and Kyrgyz visas in 2 days (Kazakh consulate can issue both) with an extra 30 USD ea. They screwed my Kyrgyz one up though.

In Almaty, Uzbek we got on the spot (needed a LOI prepared in advance though), Tajik we got in 2/3 days including GBOA permit, Turkmen we just applied for (tourist visa, not transit since our Iranian visa got held up) in Almaty and collected the paperwork at the border. I had to get a Kyrgyz visa again (due to the stuff up in UB) and that took 3 days, again with an express fee.

We should have got Iranian visas in Almaty too, but after waiting for ever, it all fell in an unfortunate heap and no-one knew what was going on. So we eventually got our paperwork forwarded on to Dushanbe (technically impossible) and got the visa there in 2 days.

Vladivostok - Denmark 2008... Finished.
Denmark - South Africa 2010-2011... Finished.
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