Istanbul to Xian - how long?

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lissie45
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Istanbul to Xian - how long?

Post by lissie45 »

I'm doing some preliminary planning for a Silk Rd trip next year.

We are an "older" couple - my partner retires next year -so we have the time. We've travelled a lot always indepedently - we are moderately fit - though my partner has never been at altitude so we need to play that by ear.

We are NZ passport holders

Basically we are planning a trip Istanbul to Xian. Istanbul because I love the place, my partner's not been, and we can get visas there, plus it's fairly easy to get to from NZ. Xian because it seems like the right place to stop and we can get a cheap flight from there out to South East Asia and home.

From all that I've read it seems that we may finally have to hire a guide and/or tour for Turkemenistan. Given that and we have far more flight options out of Asia than we do out of the Middle East - I'm thinking we should start in Istanbul. If we're going to have to spend a weeek getting visas (Uzbekistan, Kharzikstan )

My main question is how long will we need to do: Istanbul-Black Sea Coast- Georgia- Azerbijan-ferry to - Turkemenistan- Uzbekistan-Kharzikstan-Kyrzikstan-Kashgar-Urumpi-Xian

I'm vague in the middle- Georgia has been highly recommended to me - and the random ferry across the Caspian really appeals! Must dos are Samarkland- Karakoram mountains.

We like trains - so I'm keen to include some trains -I'd rather overnight a train than fly.

Our Chinese visas are a pain - from what I understand we need to apply in NZ and we will have 90 days to enter China from approval.

We can't leave NZ before the end of July - but I don't want to not be able to get through the mountain passes into Kashgar - I'd rather deal with heat than cold if I have to choose.

Ideally for airfares I'd rather fly after 1 September (Its cheaper)

So September - Turkey - Georgia - Azerbijan - Turkmenistan
October Uzbeck-Khazik-Tajikistan
Nov Kashgar-Xian

Too rushed? Too late in the year for the mountain passes? Any suggestions are welcome? We're very flexible - will avoid dorms if I can - Ideally happy to pay $30/night for a guesthouse double with facitliies down the road is just fine.

Also should we take the time to learn some Russian? Obviously we'll need to know the alphabet and numbers - but I'm htinking a bit more than that might be handy?
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bwv812
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Re: Istanbul to Xian - how long?

Post by bwv812 »

Personally, I think three months is a bit quick. But if the condition is three months to enter, then there's no need to be in Kashgar by the end of the second month. Three months between Istanbul and Kashgar definitely gives you more breathing room. Otherwise, I would recommend starting in China and working West, as you can easily pick up the necessary visas along the way.

I don't think you'll have any snow-related issues, as the roads should remain open.

Russian is helpful but not necessary, especially since it would really mainly help you only during one of your three months.
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lissie45
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Re: Istanbul to Xian - how long?

Post by lissie45 »

Thanks for that. I've done more reading and yeah I can see it either rway. We may get cheaper tickets coming out of Europe in November too rather than to Europe in August
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steven
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Re: Istanbul to Xian - how long?

Post by steven »

My 2 cents. If you have 3 months you have 3 months, which means rushing through a few places if you are keen to do the whole trip. But if your goal is exactly to experience how all these countries relate to each other, it is perhaps not a bad strategy.

October
Week 1: Turkey
Week 2: Georgia
Week 3: Azerbaijan
Week 4: Turkmenistan (3-5 days is enough for most travelers, it's cheaper and is enough time to see ashgabat and door to hell - 2 main highlights for tourists)

November

Here I would leave out Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan and go straight from Uzbekistan into Tajikistan. Traveling Pamir Highway takes time; if this is a highlight for you I would take 3 weeks for it and just pop into Kyrgyzstan to cross the border into Kashgar. Or otherwise, take time out of the rest of your itinerary.

Week 1: Uzbekistan
Week 2-4: Tajikistan

No advice on China, it's not my expertise.

You can also pick up visas in other cities than Istanbul. Russian is great from Georgia to Tajikistan, but it is difficult, so depends how much time and motivation you can spend on learning it.

The roads are open in winter but it will obviously be very cold in the mountains!
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bwv812
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Re: Istanbul to Xian - how long?

Post by bwv812 »

steven wrote: Week 3: Azerbaijan
Week 4: Turkmenistan (3-5 days is enough for most travelers, it's cheaper and is enough time to see ashgabat and door to hell - 2 main highlights for tourists)
Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think one problem is that the ferry to Turkmenistan is unpredictable and makes it difficult to travel on a transit visa.
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steven
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Re: Istanbul to Xian - how long?

Post by steven »

bwv812 wrote:
steven wrote: Week 3: Azerbaijan
Week 4: Turkmenistan (3-5 days is enough for most travelers, it's cheaper and is enough time to see ashgabat and door to hell - 2 main highlights for tourists)
Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think one problem is that the ferry to Turkmenistan is unpredictable and makes it difficult to travel on a transit visa.
True, you need to have good overlap with Azeri and Uzbek visas, but you can arrange it with the tour company to start the tour whenever you arrive, so you don't need to book an 7-day tour just to make sure you will get to do 4 days. They can be flexible.
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lissie45
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Re: Istanbul to Xian - how long?

Post by lissie45 »

Done some further research - and I'm now thinking China to Europe will work as a direction better - I may have some issues around a Chinese viasa with out a flight out of the country but there are ways and means apparently.

What I've got now is
Weeks 1-2 Xian to Kashgar
Week3-6 Krygistan- Pamir Highway
Week 7 Kharzakistan (Almatay and Astana )
Week 8 - 9 Uzbeckistan
Week 10- western Khazikstan-boat-Azerbijan
Week 11 Georgia
Week 12 Turkey

Its the weather driving the timetable - we can't leave NZ before end of July - but November in Turkey won't be pleasant! We'd have to pick up a Kharzikstan visa in Kyrgsikstan and an Uzbeckstan visa in Kharzikstan or Kyrgistan. Hoping that with the big Expo next year that Kharzikstan may celebrate by extending their visa-free entry list!
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Re: Istanbul to Xian - how long?

Post by roro »

Hi Steven,

You wrote: "November

Here I would leave out Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan and go straight from Uzbekistan into Tajikistan. Traveling Pamir Highway takes time; if this is a highlight for you I would take 3 weeks for it and just pop into Kyrgyzstan to cross the border into Kashgar. Or otherwise, take time out of the rest of your itinerary.

Week 1: Uzbekistan
Week 2-4: Tajikistan"

That means 3 weeks for Tadj...too much for our plans.

How long it tooks for Pamir Highway with a 4wd (mine) without doing many détours and not in a hurry (from Dushanbe to Kirg border)?

Thanks in advance.

RR.
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steven
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Re: Istanbul to Xian - how long?

Post by steven »

Hi roro,

see http://caravanistan.com/transport/bus-s ... ajikistan/ for approximate driving times. If there is landslide etc, you need to count an extra day minimum.

You can do Dushanbe to Osh over Pamir in 4 days if you drive 8-10 hours per day.
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Re: Istanbul to Xian - how long?

Post by roro »

Thanks a lot, Steve , for your reply and the very useful link!

RR.
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