Silk Route Train & Visa'a
Replies: 15 - Last Post: Oct 23, 2012 1:19 AM Last Post By: everbrite
Jul 31, 2012 6:35 AM
Silk Route Train & Visa'aHi everyone.
I am currently on an overland journey from UK to Oz. We are now in Turkey but soon to be in Bulgaria, then Romania before taking a train from Moscow to Xian in China, via the Silk Route as read about on the seat61 website (Almaty in Kazakhstan). We will also travel up through Ukraine to get to Moscow.
My main question is about Visa's and train tickets;
I understand that Nina (AUS) will need a Ukraine visa. We will be transiting. Does anyone know if we can get a transit visa on the border?
We will then need to get our Russian visa. We will hope to arrive in Moscow and leave the same day so it seems we will be in Kazahkstan four days later. Does anybody know if we can get a transit for this too? And what is the normal process for this if we can?
I am sure we will need a Kazakh visa so I will check it out but any hints would be well appreciated. We hope to check out the wild apple orchards so will need more than a transit visa I think.
The next question is about tickets. Can we rock up in Moscow and get the train ticket? If so it seems that we cannot present a ticket with the transit visa application. Any thought?
I also wonder if we can book our onward journey from Almaty once we arrive?
Any help and advice on this little lot will be very greatly appreciated.
Jul 31, 2012 7:45 AM
1No Ukrainian visas are available at the border. To get a Ukrainian transit visa you need to show tickets into and out of the country. Same with Russian transit visas. You need to show tickets for travel into and out of the country. The only alternative for either of these may be to show a visa for onward travel.
You may have a difficult time getting tourist Russian visas anywhere but the UK, and the Australian passport holder may not be able to obtain one in the UK without showing residency. Transit visas can often be obtained in other countries but it is not uncommon for these to take a 5 business days to obtain.
Actually, I have an alternative suggestion for you which may be cheaper and easier than your current plans. Don't head to Bulgaria and then Ukraine. Head to Georgia. You can both obtain a Georgian visa at the border and you should be able to obtain a Russian tourist visa without any difficulty in Tbilisi at the Swiss interest section which handles Russian affairs. Cross the border from Georgia to Russia on the military highway at Verkny Lars.
Aug 1, 2012 12:09 AM
2Many thanks for all of the advice provided Ruth.
I will be sure to check the Kazakh embassy information. So it seems we may be better to buy our train/bus tickets for Ukraine in advance to get a transit visa. The same with the Moscow to Almaty ticket.
Does anybody know how to go about getting a visa from your own country when you are not there?
I also really appreciate the advise given about going via Georgia. This was the original plan but I have since been given the opportunity to do some teaching at a permaculture course in north Romania so it seemed the obvious choice to continue north and get the train from Russia.
Thanks again for the info
Aug 1, 2012 2:25 AM
I found out that it is not easy to get Ukrainian train tickets in advance which means we will need the Russian Visa to show we are moving through in order to get the Ukrainian Transit Visa.
This leads to another question. Which city would you advice getting the Russian visa between Istanbul, Bulgaria and Romania. I'm asking this because maybe people have had better experiences in different places.
Aug 1, 2012 4:58 AM
4I can't recall any recent reports for any of these places.
The only recent reports from elsewhere in the world suggest that when possible outside the country of your passport, it will take 10-15 days to get a Russian tourist visa.
There is no information on the website of the Russian consulate in Istanbul that is helpful except that the process requires that you fill out the application online and print the documents. I checked the websites for the consulates in Bucharest and Sofia and the same is true but I am pretty sure there is an agreement regarding application from EU passport holders. The problem will be the Australian passport holder who may have to wait 10-15 days for the visa anywhere you apply.
Aug 6, 2012 1:07 AM
Aug 6, 2012 4:16 AM
Please let me know you experience if and when you do apply for these visas.
Aug 11, 2012 12:19 PM
Does anybody know how to go about getting a visa from your own country when you are not there?
In the case of the Russian visa and for UK residents applying in Edinburgh. I know some agencies which provide the invitation letter can also submit your papers on your behalf. Asla services offered me the service the last time I applied for business visa a couple of months ago (I didn't use it because I normally apply in London). But I am partial with how they service works. For me, doing business with them was a bad experience, short of a nightmare. But they kept saying my case was very particular and that they do the same stuff thousands of times a year, that it was just me :). I know I'm not so bad because this is my third visa, for the previous two I used a company in Russia without problems, I thought a UK based company will give me at least the same kind of service but noup. So can't say I recommend them. But at least I know there is a way to do it.
The agency only needs your passport info to process the invitation. Then when they are ready to submit, you send your originals to the agency, then they submit on your behalf. Your papers will be in the consulate for a week. Then they send them back to the agency and then the agency sends them back to you. I will say no less than 2 weeks. Plus the time it takes to get the invitation ready.
When searching for the guys who can get you the invitation ask them if they can also submit the application and send you the papers.
Sep 19, 2012 10:16 PM
8Many thanks for all the info. We actually ended up teaching in Romania but decided to come back down via Georgia as we made it overland from Romania to Batumi for £70 (train and bus).
So we are now looking for the best way to get to Almaty from Batumi in Georgia. We are 3 people now as we have a friend with us. Hitch hiking is a bit tricky.
Seems we have the Baju ferry option but I would like to know if anyone has any experience on the military road into Russia and joining a train service onto Almaty?
Sep 19, 2012 10:57 PM
9Try looking for some posts specifically about the Verkhny Lars (try alternative spellings such as Verkhniy) crossing as I know there are reports. Asking this question here on a thread about the Silk Road is unlikely to get the information that you seek.
But yes, the crossing is open and has been for some months in both directions.
Russian visa should be available from the Swiss Interest Section in Tbilisi though I don't have any recent reports.
I don't think there is public transport across the Verkhny Lars crossing but once you reach Vladikavkaz you should be able to get a train. Point of connection with train to Almaty would likely be places like Volgograd and trip is likely to take 4 days or more.
Ferry is from Baku which means going to Azerbaijan which means getting that visa which of late has become complicated to obtain by many reports.
Sep 19, 2012 10:59 PM
10Just to add a note to the last post... I wonder if anyone has experience getting from Vladikavkaz after we cross into Russia up to join the trans-silk route train towards Almaty. It looks like we can join in Saratov but I have no info on getting to Saratov from Vladikavkaz. Any help would be greatly received,
Sep 19, 2012 11:15 PM
Sep 20, 2012 12:18 AM
12Thank you Ruth. The website is super helpful. We will travel to Tbilsi tonight and try to get our Kazakstan visa their. Once obtained I think we will get a Russian Transit Visa using our Kazakhstan visa and a train ticket from Volgograd over the border to Aksaraiskaia. We thought maybe presenting a printed itinerary from the die bahn website might be enough. What do you think?
Thank you for your great info
Sep 21, 2012 2:07 AM
13I seriously doubt that you can get a transit visa with just a printout from the die bahn website but with an onward visa for Kazakhstan, the itinerary from the die bahn site might actually be sufficient. OTOH the last information I had from the Embassy of Switzerland Russian Affairs Section was that the costs for a regular tourist visa were quite inexpensive so if you want to linger a bit in Russia, you might want to consider this.
Please report back your experience.
Oct 23, 2012 12:09 AM
14We collected our Kazakhstan visa in Tbilisi with no problems. Number 66 bus drops you at the front door. THe lady was very helpful. There were no queues.
Once we had our Kazakh visa we were able to apply for the Russian transit visa. The Kazakh visa is enough proof that you are leaving Russia and we received a 10 day transit visa without presenting any tickets/itinerary. We were able to wave our "foreign" passports and jump the queue. It helps to know the young man's name who comes out to call people in - Edgar.
We were actually offered back our passports in case we wanted to travel to Armenia during the 10 day processing time. We took them and tried for our China visa whilst waiting but you cannot get a China visa in Tbilisi unless you are a Georgian citizen.
We are now in Kazakhstan after taking the Military Highway from Georgia to Russia and then by train from Vladikavkaz, Russia to Astana, Kazakhstan. Very pleasant and enjoyable 4 days by train (4 trains.
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