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  1. #1
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    Visa issues on international tours?

    I am curious to hear any thoughts on which countries pose visa problems for those passing through. For example, I read that Iran can be problematic. And from what I've read, it looks like Myanmar would be difficult also.

    FYI, I'm considering the big tour from East Asia to Europe, but I'd be interested to hear about visa issues in other parts of the world as well.

  2. #2
    cyclopath vik's Avatar
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    You may want to have a read of the Lonely Planet Thorn Tree On Your Bike forum.
    safe riding - Vik
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  3. #3
    Bike touring webrarian
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    If you are a US citizen, check out this part of the US State Dept site: http://www.travel.state.gov/travel/travel_1744.html

    It has a long list of countries and on each country site is entry and exit requirements.

    That might be a place to start.

    Ray
    Visit the on-line Bike Touring Archive at www.biketouringtips.com

  4. #4
    Punk Rock Lives Roughstuff's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by maelstrom77 View Post
    I am curious to hear any thoughts on which countries pose visa problems for those passing through. For example, I read that Iran can be problematic. And from what I've read, it looks like Myanmar would be difficult also.

    FYI, I'm considering the big tour from East Asia to Europe, but I'd be interested to hear about visa issues in other parts of the world as well.

    On my world tour, visas were a problem in some cases. It would be wonderful if you could 'get them all in advance,' but the problem is some of them expire (for example) 60 days after date of issue. You must enter the country by that initial date.

    This means ya can't spend a week in Istanbul getting your visas for Iran, Pakistan, India, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, and Vietnam, because the visas would expire before your arrival date.

    On the other hand sometimes visas aren't available right at the border, and thus you must grind your teeth and your wheels in stupid cities, waiting for applications to be processed, instead of riding like ya want.

    I had no problem getting an Iran visa, in fact i got bumped up in the Iran embassy in Istanbul to a pretty high level official who had my passport and even EXTENDED the amount of the visa that the bureaucracy had given me. But in general there is no justice in the process. Mr. A submits an application and gets 1 month; Mr. B submits identical material and gets 3 months. Try and ask why or ask for the 3 months and doors get slammed in your face. I was in Istanbul during the 1999 quake and i wonder if that was the reason everyone was so coorperative.

    It is not as difficult as you might think, but you have to be patient and listen to what you hear from travelers on the road as ya go along. You'll hear stories that embassies/consulates in different locations have vastly different rules or issue times.

    I think again...being on a BICYCLE really gives you a leg up...cyclists have good reputations as travelers.

    roughstuff
    Electric car sales are on fire! :)

  5. #5
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    When you started collecting your visas, was there a central location (website) you went to ... or did you have to look up information for each country individually?


    And more specifically ... does anyone have any experience with visas and South American countries?

  6. #6
    Senior Member Chris Pringle's Avatar
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    Visas depend a lot on your nationality. In Latin America, for example, an American should expect visa issues entering a country like Venezuela. Fly into Santiago, Chile and expect to pay USD $140 "reciprocity entry fee" into the country (U.S. citizens only.) Expect to pay something similar going into Brazil but with 30 days processing time to get your visa unless you pay more to get it expedited. I think these are the 3 countries that could pose issues, but in general traveling through Latin America on a bicycle is fairly straight forward.

    Having said the above, I understand Chile is an amazing country for bicycle touring - check out the Carretera Austral!
    Last edited by Chris Pringle; 04-18-12 at 11:45 PM.

  7. #7
    Long Distance Cyclist Machka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chris Pringle View Post
    Visas depend a lot on your nationality. In Latin America, for example, an American should expect visa issues entering a country like Venezuela. Fly into Santiago, Chile and expect to pay USD $140 "reciprocity entry fee" into the country (U.S. citizens only.) Expect to pay something similar going into Brazil but with 30 days processing time to get your visa unless you pay more to get it expedited. I think these are the 3 countries that could pose issues, but in general traveling through Latin America on a bicycle is fairly straight forward.

    Having said the above, I understand Chile is an amazing country for bicycle touring - check out the Carretera Austral!
    That's for US citizens ... what about for cyclists from Canada and Australia? Fewer hassles?

  8. #8
    Hot in China azesty's Avatar
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    I am an Australian going to ride from China to Europe this summer and have spent some time working out the visa issues.

    There are some great resources on crazyguyonabike.com.

    East Asia to Europe you must take the northern route because of Myanmar, unless you want to fly over that country. You can travel fairly freely in the center of the country, but not its borders (a U.S. friend of mine just spend a month there).

    I think that the eastern borders of India are also problematic.

    Further, Tibet, western Sichuan and Qinghai are all currently closed. The situation in western Sichuan has relaxed over the last few weeks, but much remains closed, all was open last summer, but there was some trouble. Qinghai? Who knows, but it seems likely to stay closed. So this means that you need to go through either the central 'Stans, or further north, through Russia. I am choosing the central 'Stans.

    China: U.S. citizens can get a 1 month visa in advance, though I have been told that the New York embassy will issue a 12 month visa. I have a Residence Permit that will expire on August 31, so for me there is no problem there. This can be renewed twice, in most cases, but the renewal times vary by which PSB (Public Security Bureau) you go to. It seems, from my reading, that small ones are faster than large ones. While I have spent some time here on tourist visas, when I needed them renewed my prospective workplaces renewed them. I have also spent most of my time on a work visa with a residence permit, so I dont actually know much about the Chinese visa process firsthand.

    The usual exit from China to the central Stans is through the northwestern province of Xing Jiang. The China - Tajikistan border has been closed for ages, they dont agree on exactly where the border is so you go through Kyrgyzstan. You can get the Kyrgyzstan visa in Urumqi, the capital of Xing Jiang.

    I got the following from crazyguyonabike.com

    Quote Originally Posted by crazyguyonabike
    Kazakhstan: link - visa
    Last update: 2011-06-17
    Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Kazakhstan
    http://portal.mfa.kz/portal/page/portal/mfa
    VISA
    I got my Kazakh visa in Urumqi-China applying in person at the local Kazakh Consulate, it cost 134Yuan and took 4 working days to process (they keep the passport but Kyrgyz Consulate don't so you could apply for both simultaneously).
    It was simple to get it, just fill up the form, but you have to give a fix entry date, from that date you have a 30-days period to enter and leave the country. There were Germans, French, Americans and British applying at the same time and we all got the same deal.
    Little note: at the consulate outside it's full of people so you have to push a little your way to enter inside, show your passport at the guardians to have them open the gate.
    Get there between 10am and noon.
    http://www.crazyguyonabike.com/doc/p...id=198186&v=Dv

    Kyrgyzstan: link - visa
    Last update: 2011-06-17
    Ministry of Foreign Affairs
    http://www.mfa.kg
    VISA
    I got my Kyrgyzstan visa also in Urumqi-China applying in person at the local small Kyrgyzstan Visa Section, it cost 455Yuan and takes 5 working days to process (faster options are 3 days at 725Yuan or same day at around 1000Yuan).
    They need the passport only for the last two days so it's possible to apply for both Kazakh and Kyrgyzstan visas at the same time, unfortunately I didn't know it, but here how a French cyclist did it: 10am go to Kazakh Consulate and leave passport there but keep two photocopies of your passport details and Chinese visa with entry stamp, 12pm go to Kyrgyzstan Bureau, leave one of the copies.
    It was simple to get it, just fill up the form and write a letter of intention of travel. Also here you have to give a fix entry date from which a 30-days period starts. There were Germans and French applying at the same time and we all got the same deal.
    Get there between noon and 1pm Monday to Friday.
    I still have to work out how to get the Tajikistan and Uzbek visas.. I think I can get the Tajikistan visa in Urumqi as well.

    You can get the 5 day travel through visa for Turkmenistan visa in Uzbekistan, and you only get 5 days. It is flat desert, and 500 km from Uzbekistan to Iran. Some bus or truck this section, some avoid it by going through Kazakhstan to the Caspian Sea, then catching a ferry to Azerbaijan.

    I believe that getting an Iranian visa is also fairly easy, and from people I know who have been there, and from my reading, nearly everybody who goes there has a great time.

    Australians can get a Turkish visa at the border, 90 days I think. After that it is Europe.

    If you want more information on SE Asian visas let me know.

    @Machka, most of the time Australians get about as good a deal on vias as is available for each country, sometimes U.S. citizens need to pay more than Australians, sometimes they get shorter times as well.

    z
    Last edited by azesty; 04-19-12 at 03:49 AM.

  9. #9
    Senior Member saddlesores's Avatar
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    that 12-month china visa is the validity. check the details...each visit would be 30 or 60 days.
    you'll either have to extend in country, or leave/re-enter.

    burmyanmar is fairly easy. you get pre-arranged visas (pick up at the airport) online with
    some travel agencies. the tourism ministry is now testing an online visa system, set to
    be in operation end of this month.

    thailand/cambodia/laos all have VOA at the borders. cambodia has an online system (print
    off your visa) that is valid at some border crossing, not valid at others. vietnam has pre-arranged
    visa, but only for flying in. no voa for vietnam.

  10. #10
    coprolite fietsbob's Avatar
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    Pre computer, when in doubt, I stopped in at that countries Embassy and asked..

    In my case I was in Copenhagen , asking at Poland's embassy ..

  11. #11
    Senior Member Chris Pringle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka View Post
    That's for US citizens ... what about for cyclists from Canada and Australia? Fewer hassles?
    Fewer hassles possibly only into Venezuela, which most bicycle tourists skip due to its geographical location. If you read or hear that your country is having diplomatic issues with a specific country, that could translate into more hassles for you. Chile, Brazil - the fee is most likely lower. Chile is very expeditious - pay the entry fee and go. Expect similar visa waiting (processing) time into Brazil.

  12. #12
    Senior Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by Machka View Post
    That's for US citizens ... what about for cyclists from Canada and Australia? Fewer hassles?
    My brother and I (Canadian citizens) rode Canada to Argentina, and didn't need a visa for any countries we passed through. Stamp at the border, that's it. The biggest hassle actually was crossing into the US, where it seemed the power went to their heads a little bit. But even that wasn't bad. As far as western South America, Canadians don't need visas to enter any of the countries.

    Also, as far as Americans entering Chile - I believe that's only for flying in. If you cross a land border you don't have to pay the fee.

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