Central Asian Visas
As I have already cycled extensively in Eastern Europe and parts of Turkey and due to weather / time restraints, I decided to start the trip in Asia. Normally travelling on a UK passport is beneficial and gets you places that many other passports won’t – at least without a visa. However this time that was not the case.
My intended starting point of Iran is unfortunately now off track for independent travelers with British passports. So this meant shifting the starting point to Turkmenistan.
It is fairly well known that Turkmenistan also requires visitors to take a guide with the only way around this being to travel on a transit visa. There are various reports of people travelling through the country overland on transit visas but no details if this is possible when arriving by air to Ashgabat and leaving overland.
A quick call to the embassy cleared up this point. I sent off my application and within a week had the Visa attached to my passport. Very efficient service.
Following this I applied for the Uzbekistan Visa which was equally easy and then following that the Tajikistan visa and GBAO permit. From my experience, at least using the Swiss embassies, the process was fairly easy and quick.
The Chinese visa was more bureaucratic and required the presentation of return flights and a hotel booking. Despite obviously not needing these, I booked the cheapest possible flights I could find (HK–>Ningbo, Kunming–>Bangkok) and presented these at the embassy in Zürich along with my hotel booking which I would later cancel. Within 4 days I had a 6 month visa 🙂 .