Bishkek to Istanbul overland - visas, budget and cash withdrawl

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Miri
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Bishkek to Istanbul overland - visas, budget and cash withdrawl

Postby Miri » Sat Oct 22, 2016 10:36 am

Hi everyone,

What a great site. I have spent countless hours reading through posts and forums in the past weeks and really want to thank everyone who contributes - especially Steven - so much for keeping this page great. This has really helped to get me excited about my silk road trip and take some of my fear i had when i started with this idea :)

I have been living in India for the past few years. Through this time I begann dreaming about an overland trip from here all the way back home. As the whole India-STANS part sees really tricky, I am planning to fly to Bishkek travel from there overland to Istanbul.

I hope you can help me with some details of the planning. I am still a bit overwhelmed by all the information, especially by budgeting this trip.

I am a 30years old female and I would say that i am well travelled, especially in Asia. I did several long and short backpacking trips, from highlights to remote areas. However, this is probably my most ambitious project yet and I am still a bit nervous about the experiences, especially as a single female.

I am planning to sleep in simple accommodation and couch surf here and there (especially Iran, maybe Armenia, Georgia and Turkey). I would enjoy to camp from time to time, but I am not sure how safe this is if I am on my own. I guess I will take a tent, but keep this as an option if I find other people to tag along. I eat in cheap eateries, get food from supermarkets, or cook if options are given, but splurge here and there on a good meal and drinks.
I want to do a few hiking tours (probably guided) and a horse trek(in Kyrgistan). I hope to find people along the way to split the cost. Generally I want to experience the cities, but also spend a fair share of my time getting out ans see the country side.
For transport i do not need anything fancy and i generally can cope with terrible long distance buses or trains as long as they are ok when it comes to saftey. I also dont mind hitchhiking here and there.

Here is my rough idea, stating: country, travel month, number of days, budget per day, budget total/country, idea on routing

Kyrgistan - Jun - 30days - 40usd/day- 1200usd/total -Bishkek, Karakol, Kochkor , Aslanbob, Osh
Tajikistan - July - 20days, 60usd/day - 1200usd/total - Parmir Highway; Osh to Dushbane (hoping to find people to share car hire)
Uzbekistan - Aug - 14days, 50usd/day - 700usd/total - Smarkaland, Bukhara, Khiva
Turkmenistan - Aug - 3-5days - 100 usd/day - 400usd/total - quite clueless how to approach this best, tour or selforganized
Iran - Aug/Sep - 30days - 30 usd/day - 900usd/total - Mashhad, Garmeh, Tehran, Yazd, Kerman, Persepolis, Tabriz
Armenia - Oct - 14-20days - 60usd/day - 1000usd/total - Yeghegis, Geghard, Yerevan
Georgia - Oct - 14-20days - 60usd/day - 1000usd/total - Tbilisi, Kakheti, Kazbegi, Vardzia, Batumi
Turkey - Nov - 14-30days - 50usd/day - 1000usd/total - Trabzon, Cappadocia, Pamakukkale, Ephesus, Troy, Istanbul

Money
Excluding Visa, this adds up to around 7400 usd. I am really hoping that i over-budgeted and that I will be able to get through with around 5000-6000 USD for the whole 6 months. I took most of the number for my calculation from this blog and forum, as well as lonely planet. I would really appreciate any thoughts and inputs from someone who had done a similar route.

Where will I be able to withdrawl (preferably USD, without going through the local currency)? I read that this is possibel in Kyrgistan and Tajikistan. However, how is the situation in Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Iran? From Armenia onwards, I think I will be fine again relaying mainly on ATMs.

Visa
I was planning to get all my visas in Bishkek, this means Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Iran
As far as i was able to find information on this, that should be fine, but take a good bit of time in Bishkek. I am a bit worried about the Turkmenistan Visa, but i guess i just have to try my luck with it. Any other ideas would also be appreciated.

I am really looking forward on any thought about my budget, the money situation along the route and the visas. Any other inputs are welcome too :)

Cheers
Miri
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jordi_casas
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Re: Bishkek to Istanbul overland - visas, budget and cash withdrawl

Postby jordi_casas » Sun Oct 23, 2016 3:24 am

Hi Miri,

I did the opppsite route changing your Uzbekistan for Kazakhstan. Here are my thoughts.

I think you over budgeted a little bit but it's ok if you want to do all the activities you say. I won't discuss that because on my side, I hichhicked all the way, taking some buses in Iran to go around and a couple of taxis here and there, mainly to cross tricky borders (Turkmenistan/Kazakhstan) so my budget was far much lower. I just want to talk about my camping experiences.

As a general perception, camping in all the countries you state is safe, if you do it properly. My modus operandi for camping while hitchhicking is and have been the following:
-avoid cites and towns, walk or get short rides out of these places. If you are reaching a town on dusk, ask the driver to leave you before
- camp time it's always before dark. It's usually nice to have some light for finding a good place and to pitch the tent and cook.
- you may be invited often to sleep, follow your instinct to trust the person. Generally people just want to help
- when on a ride, always try to look for a good camping site. You can forecast where you will be in an hour but is difficult to forecast how the geology of the place will be. It's tricky. Always hide behind some hill or walk 1/2 km if it's completely flat (like in the desert sometimes).
- take care of dogs, even in places that seem uninhabited. Sheperds are everywhere.
- In the deserts you will cross, bivouac is a fantastic option.
- Always carry from 2 to 4 or even 5 liters of water. Specially in the desert in summer. A filter doesn't help to much but can be useful.
- bring cooking stuff if you want to travel like that and want to eat properly.

99% of the time I camped alone and nobody noticed me.

List of countries from easiest to hardest, in my opinon, to camp (regarding both safety and easiness of the spot to pitch the tent): Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Georgia, Armenia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Iran

Of course this is just my way. You know, every traveler does it their own way. Not better, not worse.

Regarding the money withdrawing in Turkmenistan I couldn't do it so I changed dollars I had. Every person in Ashgabat even in the street wanted to change money. I did it in a shop. In Iran you will not be able neither so have enough cash for both countries. For the rest, ATM works ok.

Hope it helps, good luck
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lissie45
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Re: Bishkek to Istanbul overland - visas, budget and cash withdrawl

Postby lissie45 » Sun Oct 23, 2016 3:26 am

What nationality are you - that makes a huge difference re visas - for example if you are UK or USA Iran is closed unless you join a tour group.

I'm researching a similar trip -though we're not going to Iran this time (want to do another trip to USA with an ESTA which you can't get if you've been ti Iran).

Tajikistan now has an eVisa system operating for most western nationalities so you can probably take that off the list.

If you are prepared t couch surf I think you can drop your costs in both Turkey and Georgia. My feeling was the Uzbeck was a bit cheaper than you have it though you can't really couch surf there because you have to register every night.
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Re: Bishkek to Istanbul overland - visas, budget and cash withdrawl

Postby steven » Sun Oct 23, 2016 10:00 am

Miri wrote:Hi everyone,

What a great site.


Thanks :-)

Miri wrote:Kyrgistan - Jun - 30days - 40usd/day- 1200usd/total -Bishkek, Karakol, Kochkor , Aslanbob, Osh


For the tours, budget around 100$/day, otherwise, I would budget around 20$/day
Miri wrote:Tajikistan - July - 20days, 60usd/day - 1200usd/total - Parmir Highway; Osh to Dushbane (hoping to find people to share car hire)
Uzbekistan - Aug - 14days, 50usd/day - 700usd/total - Smarkaland, Bukhara, Khiva

TJ - probably correct estimate, Pamir is expensive.
UZ - 30$ / day is enough. Souvenirs, entry fees, food, all cost peanuts. Only accommodation costs a bit more, but hostels available for 12$.
Miri wrote:Turkmenistan - Aug - 3-5days - 100 usd/day - 400usd/total - quite clueless how to approach this best, tour or selforganized


I would try for the transit visa or else find a plan B. 100$/day is possible if you join another group, but these are difficult to find. Give it a go but don't try to hard if it doesn't work out.

Miri wrote:Iran - Aug/Sep - 30days - 30 usd/day - 900usd/total - Mashhad, Garmeh, Tehran, Yazd, Kerman, Persepolis, Tabriz
Armenia - Oct - 14-20days - 60usd/day - 1000usd/total - Yeghegis, Geghard, Yerevan
Georgia - Oct - 14-20days - 60usd/day - 1000usd/total - Tbilisi, Kakheti, Kazbegi, Vardzia, Batumi
Turkey - Nov - 14-30days - 50usd/day - 1000usd/total - Trabzon, Cappadocia, Pamakukkale, Ephesus, Troy, Istanbul


Not sure what your plan is in Armenia but it is a really cheap country and people are really friendly like in Iran. Same for Georgia. If you are just backpacking without taking tours, 20$/day is enough. In Iran, sightseeing is expensive, but with couchsurfing 30$/day is definitely fine.

Your Turkey budget sounds reasonable. Sightseeing is expensive, transport /accommodation also more expensive, no option to couchsurf for single girls.

Miri wrote:Where will I be able to withdrawl (preferably USD, without going through the local currency)? I read that this is possibel in Kyrgistan and Tajikistan. However, how is the situation in Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Iran? From Armenia onwards, I think I will be fine again relaying mainly on ATMs.


Tajikistan is also an issue nowadays. It is possible, but with a lot of running around. Same for Uz, TM and Iran. Take all your money with you for this bit to avoid getting annoyed.

http://caravanistan.com/money/tajikistan/
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Miri
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Re: Bishkek to Istanbul overland - visas, budget and cash withdrawl

Postby Miri » Sun Oct 23, 2016 12:15 pm

thanks everyone for your help to straighten our my budget and to help me plan the cash situation. glad to hear, that i budget a bit to much (rather this, than the other way around).

great to know you managed to do the most trip hitchhiking and camping, jordi_casas. while i definitely need a bit more comforts here and there, i am really happy to read that you rate camping in Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Georgia and Armenia as rather easy. these were exactly the places where i hoped to get most my camping done and i will keep your tipps in mind.

thanks lissie45 for your thoughts on the visa issues. sorry, i forgot to mention my nationality. I am from Germany and from what i understood, the iran visa should not be too much of an issue. i was hoping to apply for it in bishkek. apparently i have to enter within 90 days after receiving it and will still be able to stay in iran for the full duration of my visa.
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gateskatherine
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Re: Bishkek to Istanbul overland - visas, budget and cash withdrawl

Postby gateskatherine » Sun Oct 23, 2016 1:10 pm

Hi Miri

We picked up our Iran visa in Bishkek, it was pretty hassle free. We put the application in on Wednesday and picked up on Friday. We arranged the authorisation number through keys2persia.com. I would recommend starting the visa process around a month before you intend to arrive in Iran. You are right that you get 90 days to enter and the visa is 30 days in length. A full report on us getting our Iranian visas in Bishkek is here: http://thetravelators.com/2016/10/12/ge ... nian-visa/

In Bishkek, we took out USD from Demir Bank ATMs. You can take out up to $300 per transaction.

We just arrived in Georgia today after spending 9 days in Armenia - we absolutely loved it! I would highly recommend visitin Noravank and Tatev monasteries if you can. We caught a taxi from Tabriz to the border, then stayed a night in Meghri at Haer BnB which I would highly recommend, mainly because I hate overnight buses :) there's one minibus from Meghri to Yerevan that leaves at around 7.30am.

Enjoy!
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Miri
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Re: Bishkek to Istanbul overland - visas, budget and cash withdrawl

Postby Miri » Thu Oct 27, 2016 3:26 pm

Thanks, gateskatherine. I will make sure to look into the places you recommended in armenia. so far, i was so preoccupied with planning out the trip through the stans that i did not have much time yet to think about anything further then getting into iran. thanks also for the detailed blog post about iran visa. very useful!
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