Time budget from Baltic Sea to Bangkok
Replies: 4 - Last Post: Feb 12, 2012 2:50 AM Last Post By: hewittj
Jan 29, 2012 1:00 PM
Time budget from Baltic Sea to BangkokHi!
We have had a dream for a few years now and that is to cycle to Bangkok from the shore of the Baltic sea. Now we have got the opportunity to take anything up to 18 months leave of absence from work and it is possible to make that dream come true.
Since we can't afford to be without income for that long time we need to make a budget for both time and money.
How much time should we set aside for this project? There are many routes to choose among and the only thing we know is that we will start from Riga and go through Russia via central asia. We don't intend to go too much zig zag but stick to a rather straight line. We have estimated the distance to around 13000-14000 km.
We have done a couple of month long tours in Europe, Thailand and Central Asia but never any cross continental tour. When we ride fully loaded with camping equipment on decent roads we normally cover anything between 80-120 km a day. We know that the time needed depends on many things, visa hassle, sickness, mechanical issues etc. but it would be very good to get a very rough indication about how much time we should expect this to take.
Thanks in advance.
Jan 29, 2012 4:33 PM
1Well, You can sort your main visas before the trip, this will save you a lot of hassle and give you some deadlines to work with. For example, your Chinese visa is hard to get whilst traveling in Central Asia, so best get it before you leave. However this means you have to get to China within 3 months of getting the visa. So make sure you have the Russian and Kazakh visa before you request the Chinese one.
If you go direct, fastest route, it's all not to bad. The Kazakh border is about 2200 from Riga. But lets be generous and say that you want the B-roads in Russia. Make it 2500km. 5 days a week times 120km is 600km a week, which is reasonable if you're going fully loaded. You'd be in Kazakhstan in 4 weeks.
Kazakhstan itself is difficult, you only get a 30 day visa. You have to indicate when you want the visa to start at the time you're requesting it. Cycling from the North West of Kazakhstan to the Chinese border in 30 days can be done. It's 3000km, in 30 days. However you might want to consider the wisdom of this route, the main road is 2000km of construction site and the window of nice weather in Kazakhstan is very limited. Most of the time it's either too cold or too warm.
Going straight into China is the easy option. However, you'd miss out on the juicy parts of Central Asia, such as Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan. Also, you would have a couple of weeks spare time before you've got to be in China. So you might want to look into Getting an Uzbekistan visa or a Kyrgyzstan visa somewhere before you leave. Getting those visas in Kazakhstan will be harder, especially the former. You're still with the 30day limit in country, and you'd have to backtrack a bit from Almaty.
China, lovely country for touring. Usually you get a 30 day visa, that can be extended twice. If you're lucky you might get a 90 day visa. Extending a 30 day visa takes a couple of days and causes some worries. But most of the time it isn't a show stopper. I recommend Xinning and Leshan as strategically located cities that are great places to extend. There's a couple of routes through China, which one to take all depends on the weather and if you want the hassle of a Tibet Permit. But all of China, from the Kazakh border to the Laos border can be done (have to be done) in 3 months. Usually a week or two less.
In Laos you get a 30 day visa on arrival. It's only 700km to the border with Thailand. No worries. For Thailand you get 14 days at the border, or you'd have to arrange a proper visa in Laos, or any of the other surrounding countries. Laos border to Bangkok is only 700km and can easily be done in the 14 days.
So to sum up. If you get the visa for China before you leave, you got 3 months to get to a Chinese border. The fastest route can be done in 2 months. In China itself you'll need 3 months, give or take a week. Laos and Thailand will take a month tops. So say 6 or 7 months in all. Of course timing is everything and you'd want to leave early spring, otherwise Kazakhstan and Western China will be unbearably hot.
Edited by: hoogerbrugge
Feb 3, 2012 1:54 AM
2Hoogerbrugge - thanks a lot for your quick and detailed reply.
As you understand we are in the beginning of the planning phase and there are two parameters that influences most things, i.e. how much time and how much money we need to budget for this advanture.
You say 6-7 months. Our initial estimation was something around 8-10 months depending on route, timing and how time we would like to spend on visiting cities and interesting places. The visa issue is of course easier to handle if we start the process as early as possible.
It seems that you have done some sort of similar trip. Apart from the time budget, how much money do you think would be necessary per month. We are 2 people and we intend to use our tent quite a lot but also enjoy hotels and guesthouses once or twice a week or when it is cheap. We ususually cook our food whenever we camp but in cities we go to restaurants and cafes. Do you reckon that an average daily budget 40 USD for eating and living for two people in Russia, central asia and China would be enough (visas and side activites not included)?
Thanks in advance...
Feb 5, 2012 4:31 AM
3You can of course take more time, but it just becomes more complicated with visa's. The 6-7 months is purely determined by taking the simple route and only being allowed to spend 3 months in China. If you find additional information about getting a Chinese visa somewhere in Central Asia, you can spend more time traveling before entering China. For example you include countries like Georgia, Azerbaijan and Iran. You can make the route as interesting as possible, and as complicated. I reckon you have to decide whether to take the Pamir highway, which also means having to get the Chinese visa somewhere in Central Asia.
I did a trip in the other direction, but met some guys going East. One Finnish bloke did the 3 months from Tallin to China route, just going fast. He had a hard time, but liked the challenge and simplicity. He had trouble with the water, he left in autumn, had some rain in Russia, but great weather in Kazakhstan (very rare) He would try to deal with the winter in China, but it gets cold there in November. Another guy I met came by way of Turkey and had a hard time getting the Chinese visa whilst traveling, he skipped a lot of China to avoid the cold weather.
Kazakhstan will be your most expensive county. China is cheap as chips. If your bike doesn't brake down, and excluding the flight ticket you can easily live like a king for 25usd a day a person. Camping in Russia and Kazakhstan, paying for just food. In China you can getting hotels, 5 to 10 bucks a night. Camping is harder in China, just more people around, and you really have to hide. I reckon you're estimate for 40usd a day for the two of you is alright. There just aren't many places to spend large amounts of money in Russia, Kazakhstan and most of China, as long as your bike doesn't break down.
Feb 12, 2012 2:50 AM
We've just completed a London to Bangkok route which might interest you. You can read our blog at http://www.rolling-tales.com .
We spent six months and 9,000km getting to Istanbul, then 12 months and 14,000 km from Istanbul to Bangkok via Russia, Mongolia, China, Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. Bear in mind we didn't go in a very straight line.
A few notes which come to mind in response to your query:
1. We budgeted 30 GBP per day for two people which we were easily under every day after leaving Europe. Camping in Russia and Mongolia was a huge money saver, and as soon as you are in China the cost of eating out can drop significantly.
2. Russia's Altai region is a great place to cycle. A three month business visa arranged from your home country will give you a little more time here
3. Mongolia is also a great (if challenging) cycling destination. A three month tourist visa for china was very easy to get from Ulaan Baatar. Check the Visa section of our website for details on Russian and Mongolian visas.
4. Straight lines in China aren't always the most interesting - our favourite memories are from Yunnan provence and the Tibetian plateau.
Feel free to contact us if you need any further information
Justin and Emma
(4 star Hotel)
From US$90.18 per night
(4 star Hotel)
From US$62.91 per night
(4 star Hotel)
From US$144.93 per night