Istanbul to Xian - how long?

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Spailpin.Fanach
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Re: Istanbul to Xian - how long?

Post by Spailpin.Fanach »

Good luck with your journey. I'll be going in the opposite direction around the same time. I'm an Irish citizen and travelling from Dublin to Moscow, trans-Russian to Vladivostok, then to Japan, Korea and Chine where I'll spend a few weeks. I worked there last year. Then train to Urumqi on Silk Road and then back to Europe. The journey will all be by train or ferry. I'm looking at about 3-4 months or as long as the money lasts! I'm not rich so budget travel will be the way.

Still haven't worked out my silk road leg yet but this site is giving me lots of ideas.

Oh, by the way, I'm an old 'un too; even older than you!

G'luck

Brian
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sakara
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Re: Istanbul to Xian - how long?

Post by sakara »

Hey, considering your trip a few thoughts.
Kazakhstan and Kyrgizstan will be visa free (according to caravanistan) for you. For Tajikistan and Azerbaijan you can get a e-visa. I guess Georgia and Turkey are visa free for you (I dont know it). So the only visas you ll need to get at an embassy are China and Turkmenistan.
Turkmenistan is complicated. Did you think about skipping Turkmenistan and cross the caspian sea from Azerbaijan to Kazakhstan(or opposite direction)?
Considering learning Russian: it will be of very great use from Azerbaijan to the chinese border. Dont expect anyone in between to speak any (not even numbers) English. Knowing some basics including number will help a lot!
If you want to enjoy warmer weather in the Pamir and decrease the risk of snow you should start in China - although at least the Pamir highway is open all year round. Winter in Turkey is no problem - depending on the places you want to visit you will have very enjoyable temperatures.
Also consider that Turkey is a very big country (and Istanbul far away from the geoegian border) with an enormous amount of interesting places - so plan enough time there.
Considering your accomodation budget: central Asia in general and Tajikistan in particular are among the countries with the worst value for money considering accomodation. You will find something for your price - but don t expect it to be a double, particularly clean or comfortable.
I think doing the whole thing you plan in 3 months is realistic and gives you sufficent time to see many things - especially if you do not intend to go trekking or skiing.
I know there s many different ways of spelling the central asian countries - using the official ones will probably give you better results when doing your research.
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lissie45
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Re: Istanbul to Xian - how long?

Post by lissie45 »

Yes it's evolved - we are starting from the Chinese end - and the visas for China are the biggest pain. With the need for an itinerary that doesn't include Xinjang and the need for a fake outward flight I'm still looking at options - latest is to book and then cancel a flight via expedia.com At this point we'll skip Turkemenistan- so the only visa we need to get at an embassy is Uzbeckistan

Enrolled in Russian class - the pronounceable is doing my head in - hopefully speaking to others who are using it as a 2nd language will be easier than speaking to Russians!

We have flight to Shanghai and will use the bullet trains within eastern China, and I still think we're going to struggle with a 3 month timeline.
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sakara
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Re: Istanbul to Xian - how long?

Post by sakara »

Your thoughts about speaking russian in central Asia with 2nd language speakers are correct. Although I am fluent in russian, I find it still easier to speak to people in central asia. I am actually in Qinghai province in China, and interestingly it is the same with speaking Mandarin to Tibetans.
For your chinese visas: My suggestion would be to book a hotel in Shanghai for the whole time you want a visa and book a flight home from shanghai at the end and cancel both once you have a visa. Then you will not have to struggle with an itinerary... Although I dont know if it is possible to cancel flights for free.
Shanghai Xian takes 6 hours by train. Xian Lanzhou as well and from Lanzhou it is about 10hours by bullet (yes it exists) to Urumqi (no bullet between Xian and Lanzhou). Travel times within China won't be your biggest problem.
Considering travelling in China I d strongly recommend to use ctrip.com (exists as well as an android app). It allows you to book all traintickets online (in English) in advance for a small commision (20yuan - for which you actually get refunded with hotel vouchers) and as well as book hotels for rates nelow the rates they give you when you show up.
Now that you go to China first, is it sill fixed to 3 months?
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lissie45
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Re: Istanbul to Xian - how long?

Post by lissie45 »

I hadn't realised that there was a bullet train between Xian and Langzhou - weird. We are currently considering flying Xian - Xiahe and then bus back to Langzhou. My partner's never been to altitude and we'd like to check how he goes before committing to the Pamir Highway!

We aren't fixed for 3 months but we will run out of weather - if we take much longer. We have flights to Shanghai arrive 26 July - arriving in Istanbul in November isn't going to be that great weather-wise. For airfares we need to be flying out of Europe before the end of November.

The only problem I have with ctrip is that sometimesthey dont have hostels - agoda seems better for those- and some ofthe cheaper hotels they advertise on the English site - don't take foreigners!
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sakara
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Re: Istanbul to Xian - how long?

Post by sakara »

Between Xian and Lanzhou there is no bullet train. There is on until Xian, and one after Lanzhou.
Xiahe is nice, we`ve been there 3 days ago. You could also take the bus from Xiahe to Tongren and then rom Tongren to Xining - the route ise more beautifl then Lanzhou - Xiahe.
The issue about ctrip hotels not accepting foreigners exists, but is rare. I ve been travelling in China for more than one month using ctrip to book hotels (never more than 35USD per night for a double) and it happened to me only once (and ctrip informed me by e-mail within a few hours that it was refused). I dont know about agoda, never used it. Dont know if you can use it to buy train tickets.
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sakara
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Re: Istanbul to Xian - how long?

Post by sakara »

small update about Ctrip and foreigners: maybe I was just lucky until now - it happened today with two hotels in Zhangye ;-)
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bwv812
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Re: Istanbul to Xian - how long?

Post by bwv812 »

The farther west you go, the stricter the government is in restricting where foreigners can stay. Of course, this goes hand in hand with increased restrictions on locals and where they can go and what they can do, too.
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lissie45
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Re: Istanbul to Xian - how long?

Post by lissie45 »

bwv812 wrote:The farther west you go, the stricter the government is in restricting where foreigners can stay. Of course, this goes hand in hand with increased restrictions on locals and where they can go and what they can do, too.


I was wondering about that! We will predominantly stay in private rooms in hostels in China I think - not sure which is the best site for booking though - hostelworld?
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sakara
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Re: Istanbul to Xian - how long?

Post by sakara »

Hostelworld lists only very few places in xiinjiang (e.g 1in kasgar, 2 in urumqi). if you want absolutely to stay in internatonsl backpackerstyle hostels this is the way to do it. But in many towns theres just no such places (theres a reason for it, we've seen the last foreigner about 2weeks ago, still in gansu).
I d still recommend you ctrip. since I ve only booked hotels with a review in english dating from the last 3 months or do I havent had any issues anymore. And its cheap (100-150 yuan, roughly 15 -20USD for a nice central ensuite room is realistic outof season.
Also if you book the hotels a day in advance or so they have the time to tell you, incase they dont accept foreigners.
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