visas, rules and planning in the Caucasas
Returning to original question. We went through through the region in 2010 on our RTW. I don't think there is a way round the Azeri 72 hour rule - particularly frustrating when you've paid $101 for a 30 day tourist visa!
Officials at the border were VERY clear about what would happen if we exceeded the 72 hours - you do not want to go there.
We had our Iran visa app rejected 3 times so ended up riding via Georgia which was really nice, Azer (in our humble opinion) wasn't up to much but Baku is a pretty grand town.
With regards to the Turkmenistan. A transit visa is the way to go. You get 4 days to go through which, in all honesty is enough - it's bloody hot, mostly desert and there's not a whole lot going on in the highly surreal capital.
Regarding visas, we can't recommend doing things in Istanbul highly enough. We had a slightly prolonged stay following an accident but used the time to pick visas up. Did the rest of the Stans there too and didn't require a single LOI or use of an agent like Stantours..
Regarding Turkmentistan, we applied in Istanbul (took twenty minutes) and asked to be able to pick it up in Baku. This way you can have the visa timed to coincide with your landing date in Turkmenbashi. If you pick up a visa elsewhere, as far as i know, you'll need to commit to a precise date and your four days will start from there.
If you need any more information, give me a shout or visit our website.
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