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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 4 Aug 2010
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Join Date: May 2009
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stans visas and travel - our experience

Have been meaning to put up a post re the visa circus for the Stans. Here it is.
Our experience was actually pretty easy:
look in Donkey and the Mule - Home for more details and pics.
Applied for Kaz, Kirg and Uzbek in Istanbul. All were obtained without LOI, although the Kaz one took some explaining to the consulate. They took from 5 days (Kaz) to 3 days. Cost varied but sorry I cant remember what they were. (we are travelling on Australian and Italian passports)
Tajik visa and GBAO was obtained in Ankara, again without LOI, same day.
Turkmenistan… the tricky one.
We used Stantours who arranged the visa and a guide. They were pretty good to deal with but I would do some things differently next time. Wouldn’t ask for a guide, only a driver (cheaper) and wouldn’t book any accommodation with them either – their idea of ‘budget’ and our idea of ‘budget’ were very different, the 3 star hotels they booked were way too nice for us, and 2x more expensive than what we would have used (the driver will find you cheap accommodation without problems).
Although not really a stan, Azerbaijan visa was obtained in Georgia, pretty straightforward, no LOI, 3 days. The rumor of only being allowed in AZ for 3 days with your vehicle is true. 72 hours after you enter you will need to park it in the customs carpark. Ridiculous but true. We met a guy who didn’t know and had been riding his Yamaha for a week there, and he was still in customs 3 hours after he went to ask about it, “big problem” he said…
The ‘ferry’ from Baku to TM is not really a ferry, it’s a cargo ship that also takes people. Very rundown, and no booze on the boat, but there was a restaurant. It took 5 hours to leave port, 12 hours to get to TM and another 16hrs to dock and disembark. Then it took 5 hours to process through immigration, no problems just a whole lot of red tape.
At Baku, you don’t really buy a ticket for the boat, you go to the well camouflaged ticket office, ask about a boat, and are told to come back in 4 hours. Repeat this ?? times until the ‘captain’ says ‘maybe boat tonight, come back at 2am’ when he may or may not sell you a ticket. Expect delays.
The ferry from Baku to KAZ is a whole lot less regular, we met others in Baku who had been waiting 10 days, and then the next boat was a petroleum boat so no passengers, they were back to square one!
The riding in the Stans was breathtaking though, well worth the effort of getting in there. Take a look in our blog for more accounts and pics if interested. (Kirg is quiet now, we went thru both Osh and Jalalabad without any probs at all).
Oh and we were warned against using 2 different passports in the area, but it was no problem at all.
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Old 20 Jan 2012
Ekke's Avatar
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Join Date: Jun 2000
Location: Redwood Meadows, AB, Canada
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Just the info I was looking for!

Thanks Dean,

We are just starting the processes for our upcoming trip. We'll apply for the Russian and Chinese visas at home in Canada but getting all the 'Stans figured out ahead of time would be a nightmare. We're coming from the north so we could get the Kazahkstan visa in Moscow and then the other 'Stans plus Mongolia in Astana.

When I checked the Stan Tours website it gives instructions on how they can help in obtaining the visas but reading a little more closely it seems all they're really doing is getting the Letter of Introduction (Invitation). Then you need to apply at your local consulate/embassy with the LOI. Since you didn't seem to need the LOI that seems like a waste of time and money.

Ekke Kok

'84 R100RT 141,000 km (Dad's!)
'89 R100GS 250,000 km (and ready for another continent)
'07 R1200GS Adventure 100,000 km (just finished Circumnavigating Asia)

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Old 1 Feb 2012
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Well done Dean

At first I started looking at the info from Europe to the Stans, cause this is where I am heading summer of 2013. Then I saw you guys had been through Arlit, Assamak and in to Algerie, and I recognised my guide from 2007. Great to see he is still doing what he does really good. I have great memories from that Sahara crossing.

Check out: North Africa 2007 and The Great African Run
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