Need help with best route!
Replies: 4 - Last Post: Jan 12, 2013 9:54 AM Last Post By: Wanderinz1
Jan 10, 2013 10:57 AM
Need help with best route!Hi All--
As part of an 18 month trip, I am visiting Mongolia and the ‘stans. My question is about route: I am starting in SE Asia, and coming up thru China. Original plan was the Transmonglian railway from Beigjing to Ulaan Batar in early May, a month in Mongolia, then on to the ‘stans. But what is the best route for going from Mongolia to the stans?
Details about me/my trip that might help:
Prefer to go overland, but willing to fly
Prefer not to go into Russia
Not restricted by time, other than what the country visas allow
Have a US passport, am female, traveling solo, experienced with travel to “tough” places, but usually meet up with others to do the toughest parts of these routes
From what I can tell, there are only two Mongolia border crossings open to travelers—one with Russia and one with China. The China one is where the Transmongolian goes. Seems like an expensive flight or lots of backtracking would be needed to get to the ‘stans? So what would be a good route, with mostly overland travel, where I could be pretty sure to meet up with others doing the same?
Jan 11, 2013 4:07 AM
I'm doing the trip in Mongolia and the 'stans in a few months, coming from Russia and the Trans-Siberian to UB...
So far it seems that a lot of the travelling in Mongolia is doing a kind a "star-run" from UB... E.g. going to the Gobi then back to UB, going to East-Mongolia then back to UB, going to the North then back to UB...
I'm finishing my trip in the far west (in the Olgii).. I'm gonna arrange the Kazakh visa in UB, and the try to get a Russian transit visa before heading west... The border crossing north of Olgii, called Tsagaannuir should be open... And the trip from Olgii, over Barnaul in Russia and into Kazakhstan should up to five days...
That trip will probably include some hitch hiking or some dealing with private vehicle owners at bazaars and markets.. Hitching isn't free in that part of the world...
Getting from Mongolia to the 'stans overland (without enormous detours through either Russia (as suggested) or China) is seems vertically impossible because of the Altai Mountains...
Jan 11, 2013 9:23 AM
2Thanks for this great info.
@Asiatraveler4: Good to know about this short route thru Russia. Sounds like it could work with a transit visa that I get in Mongolia. My problem with getting a regular Russian tourist visa here in the US is that with my US passport, it will cost $140 for the visa, plus more for the visa support docs. So, almost $200 USD when all I want to do is transit thru? Yikes!
@Ask_G Thanks for these details about the western border crossing. Sounds like a great adventure!
Jan 11, 2013 2:02 PM
3since you said that you might be willing to fly, its worth noting that the only direct flight from Mongolia to central Asia is with Turkish Airlines from Ulan Bator to Bishkek. We took this flight in the summer when it first launched and it was great almost all passengers were heading to Istanbul, 7 of us got off in Bishkek and we were out of the airport in five minutes and since we don't need visas for Kyrgyzstan anymore its an excellent first port of call in the region.
As already noted above if your in western Mongolia Tsaganuur border north of Olgii is a handy option. If your not interested in seeing much of russia theres even a direct train from Biysk to Almaty on odd numbered days train 658 taking 38 hours, its a slow passenger train with 3rd class carriages only.
You should check the situation for getting a russian visa in UB, tourist visas are hard to get for all, transit visas however are issued to some nationalities with minimum fuss whilst others have to jump through the same hoops as for a tourist visa. Also a transit visa is the same cost as a tourist visa on a uk passport not sure if the situation is the same for us citizens but it's something to look into.
Jan 12, 2013 9:54 AM
In case anyone is having to make this same decision, here is what I found out in researching Jeraboa's info:
Couldn't get a firm answer in the US on the cost of a Russian transit visa in Mongolia, but it could cost the same as a regular visa. ($140 for US citizens, plus cost of doc. support--about the same for citizens of EU, OZ, Canada).
The UB-Bishkek flight Jeraboa mentions is still flying. Lowest cost booking now for June is $424.
So--looks like getting a regular Russian visa and briefly going into Russia will actually cost less and keep the travel route and schedule more flexible. Of course, you end up in Kahzakstan, not Kyrkystan that way, but it's still cheaper and you get to see that country as well!
Thanks for all the great info everyone!
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