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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 30 Dec 2009
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Timing in Russia: Vladivostok to Irkustk, plus customs etc in Vladivostok - 1 month?

Hi everyone
In late April 2010 5 of us will be heading from Vladivostok to London on Suzuki DRs. I'm interested to get peoples thoughts on how long the first Russian leg of our journey may take us.

Ideally, we will get a Russian business visa, in which case we can take as long as we like with the first leg. If, however, we can only get a 1 month tourist visa, I want to make sure we will have enough time to travel through Russia.

We will have our bikes shipped to Vladivostok before we arrive. We also have friends in Vladivostok (both Russian and New Zealanders) who could potentially begin the customs process for us before we arrive.

Once in Vladivostok, we are setting aside a week to complete the customs process and get our bikes sorted out.

That leaves 3 weeks to travel Vlad-Kharbarovsk-Chita-Ulan Ude-Irkutsk-Mongolian border.

Does this sound do-able to you guys? It will be the first time all 5 of us will have ridden together (we will have done week-long trips with 4 of us), first time all fully kitted up on our bikes, first time driving in Russia, etc.

I'd be interested, if possible, in getting a sense of realistic timeframes between each of the major cities/towns on this leg of our route, so we can start properly guaging our timing too.

Mint, cheers!

Have a great New Years.

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Old 30 Dec 2009
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which DR are you using for your trip?
UK to Mongolia 2009, on a DR350
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Old 31 Dec 2009
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These guys made it in 5 days.
Three weeks is more than enough time including breakdowns and sightseeing.
But where are you going from Mongolia?
I hear it is difficult to get Russian visas in Mongolia. So if you need another visa for onwards, you may be stuck in Mongolia...
Japan touring information
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Old 31 Dec 2009
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Make sure you get a double ,or multiple entry visa if thats what you need, before you enter russia.
And buy enough bike insurance in vlad. to cover your whole trip in russia including returning from mongolia, its easier and cheaper.
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Old 31 Dec 2009
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Well - in 2008, I did something quite similar to what you are planning. I arrived in Vladivostok on the start day of a 1 month tourist visa and, through no fault of my own, ended up spending 2 weeks in Vlad waiting first for the car to actually arrive (it was delivered late) and then for the customs clearance. Thus I was left with 2 weeks to make my way across Russia to the Kazakh border.

It was tight.

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Old 31 Dec 2009
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Considering the amount of money it takes to equip then do such a trip, it always amazes me that people piss about trying to save a few pounds on short visas.

The additional cost of a longer one is insignificant in the scheme of things and allows flexibility for delays, forced or self induced if you wish to stay a little longer and explore somewhere more.

Russia is Russia - and things seldom go to plan.

Remaining and exiting after a visa has expired can bring you problems, more delays, fines and possible denial of future visas.

If things go wrong and involve delays you must still leave within visa validity dates even if just to get a new one.
You cannot extend a Russian visa and you can only apply for a new one from outside of Russia.
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Old 1 Jan 2010
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Hi Fella,

Jane and I did vlad to London in 2007 on DR650's Good choice of weapon. The thing is still going strong.

A couple of things I think you should consider.

1... Take your time, you'll probably only get one chance in your life to get into far eastern Russia. It's not race - life's a journey and all that... Lake Baikal is awesome.

2. Are you getting ferry from Korea? You should consider going to Zarubino instead of Vlad - much smaller customs office there sergey will sort you out in no time. Don't forget to bring some US dollars....

3. To get an idea of timing check out my GPS tracks here...

Index of /~earmb/Garmin_Files

and here...

Index of /~earmb/Google_Earth_Files

With 5 guys I would definitely plan to have a group bust up at some point (minor or major). Make sure you've got sufficient provisions to go your separate ways.

But remember weight is the enemy... Don't bring too much junk.

Good luck...

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Old 2 Jan 2010
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Sweet, thanks for the replies and the advice, everyone!

Nath - we have 3 x 650 DRs and 2 x 250 DRs. Small bikes, I know, but all part of the fun I guess.

Chris - we have written to the Russian embassy in Mongolia about getting a second visa to cross into Kazakhstan. They wrote back and said they'd give us a transit visa for up to 10 days, issued within 1-3 business days. I'd definitely rather get a business visa, but good to have this option as a back up.

Jenna - is bike insurance something you buy on arrival at customs?

Mark - awesome, thanks for the GPS tracks. Would you recommend anywhere in particular around Lake Baikal? We got great flights to Vlad and a reasonable deal on shipping so planning to go straight to Vlad.


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Old 3 Jan 2010
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The best advice I can give you is take the back roads! They are often in much better condition than the main roads with far fewer drunks!

We ended up here for a week:

Tourman MC - Øåëåõîâñêèé Áàéê-Êëóá

52° 0'4.85"N

It was Awesome!

You should contact Tourman MC Tourman - Øåëåõîâñêèé Áàéê-Êëóá and see if they are having any crazy parties this year!

This is also an awsome campsite We stayed there for a few days with the legendary Shustrik and his fantastic wife and friends.

53° 0'36.36"N

Panoramio - Photo of Baikal

So is this:

53° 8'56.90"N

On the island.

Check the photos of the place on google earth

Russia is camping heaven. If you take your time to find a good site and don't end up looking in the dark you'll find some great camp sites.

The DR250's will be perfect. I recon a 250 would be more fun than a 650 there a so many cool forest roads. Just don't rev the nuts off it and blow it up because there are no spares available!

All my campsites and petrol stations are on the gps waypoints here:

http://homepages.see.leeds.ac.uk/~ea... Waypoints.kmz

Russia is No Worries fella.

Don't forget to contact these guys too

Áàéê-êëóá «×åðíûå ìåäâåäè» Èðêóòñêèé ÷åïò.

Edit the links are full of crazy characters because of the Cyrillic. I'm not sure what to do about it but don't worry.

Good luck.


Last edited by bartman10; 4 Jan 2010 at 20:44.
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Old 4 Jan 2010
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It will be interesting to hear how you get on with a group split between small and larger bikes. Many people favour 600+ bikes and believe anything smaller will be too slow, I'd be inclined to expect the opposite situation.

You should be able to get another Russian visa in UB if you don't get double/multi entry visas. When I was there this year people of all nationalities were getting transit visas for anything up to 10days, and some/most nationalities were getting 30day tourist visas with just a printed off invitation letter such as you can get off internet agencies for 30usd. I (british citizen) couldn't get a tourist visa, but I met aussies who got them no hassle.

Make sure you ride west through Mongolia after stopping in UB! I did the southern route this year which seemed the most popular with the tourists. Petrol was plentiful, all the cities have markets and workshops, and you can buy food/water/ in even the smallest places. I was expecting it to be tricky but in reality was fairly simple - Kind of wish we'd spent longer crossing the country now.

There was no firewood possibilities on the route we took through Mongolia, and often the road goes through big empty planes which doesn't exactly make for interesting camping scenery. So satisfy all your lust for campfires whilst in Russia!
UK to Mongolia 2009, on a DR350
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Old 9 Jan 2010
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Stoked, thanks for the detailed info on Russia and Mongolia, Mark/Nath. That sort of stuff is real useful. Awesome. I'm sure I'll have plenty more questions over the next couple of months too...
Hey we also have a website up and running, with a fair bit of background info etc. Check it out at 51st Traverse if you have a spare minute.
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Old 17 Jan 2010
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Thumbs up North from Vlad

JUST A SUGGESTION, When heading north from Vladivostok try the east coast, you are out on quiet roads immediately you leave town and away from the highway. You will have enough of highway travel heading west.

Here is our blog from 2009:

My Blog - Member - Chris D (Newcastle) @ ExplorOz

Make time, say 2-3 days for Olkon Island on Lake Baikal.
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Old 21 Jan 2010
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if you have an any Garmin GPS device give me its serial number and i email you Russia road map with FArEast region.
not extra difficult to reach Irkutsk. about 5-6 days with POI
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Old 2 Feb 2010
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You have plenty of time. You will be fine. Just take it easy. I did this route back in 2007 with my daughter in small Suzuki car.
You can read the blog and may give you some idea.
Custom in Vladivostok gave us really hard time.
Be careful with police. they will fine for any reason, even crossing a white line. From Vladivostok to Chita not too many cops.
Western Part of Russia is really bad with corrupted police. However, we got away with total $100 fine, everybody I met paid of $1000 +.
Best of the luck.

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Old 2 Feb 2010
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Originally Posted by arunp View Post
Western Part of Russia is really bad with corrupted police. However, we got away with total $100 fine, everybody I met paid of $1000 +.
$1000?! Guys, some very simple advice--if you don't want to pay any fines, don't speed or pass in a no-passing zone. If you get caught speeding or passing illegally, in my experience it usually costs 1000-1500 rubles ($33-$50). Or bring along some extra international licenses and just let them keep them (although the smart ones will ask for your home-country license as well).

PS-Don't drive after drinking anything alcoholic in Russia--this is a very serious offense and from what I have heard, very very expensive.
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