I started looking into this last year and found you are not allowed to ride through China on your own but must join a government approved travel agency organized ride. I found an agency called ridechina (https://www.ridechina.com) who seemed to have organized many tours in China over the years. I contacted them with my plans and they came back with a tour that would fit them. They will meet me at the border between Laos and China and get the formalities on entering China sorted out – which includes getting me a Chinese driving licence and Chinese plates on the bike!
After discussions on the home front I was given the go ahead :-), so now I need to get the bike ready and figure out what I need to bring. I found a place in Osh, Kirghistan that has the tires I need so I won’t need to bring tires with me. I’ll bring some spare parts though, such as bearings, levers and possibly fork seals.
I serviced the forks – new seals and fork oil. Although I asked a mechanic if my chain would do another 20k km, and he said no problem, I was not so sure since the chain was adjusted so far back that there was not much room for further adjustment. I went to the same workshop and another mechanic immediately said the chain was bad and needed changing!
The route up until the exit of China into Kirghistan is set, but from there to Europe there are several options – well actually 3. 1) Go through Russia either all the way to Europe or west of the Caspian through Georgia into Turkey and further towards Europe, or 2) Go through Turkmenistan to Iran and south of the Caspian into Turkey, or 3) Cross the Caspian on a boat from Kazakhstan to Azerbaijan. The big problem with option 1) is getting a visa to go through Russia, I might get it in time for the trip but possibly not. Option 2 is problematic. Getting visas to enter both Turkmenistan and Iran is not straight forward and seems to require “fixers” inside the countries. Iran also requires a Carnet de passage (CDP) and I’m in the process of applying for one through the Automobile Association of Singapore and I will get that before leaving. However, I’ve seen reports that you are not allowed to bring in motorcycles larger than 250cc to Iran, which if true, makes this option not useful. Option 3) is a possibility but the boats are not ferries, but rather cargo ships, and do not go on a regular schedule which makes this option somewhat uncertain. However, it might be the only option if the Russian visa does not materialize.
The following are the potential coutries I will be passing through:
- Laos: Need visa and temporary import permit for the motorcycle. Got that at Singapore Laos embassy last week.
- Kirghistan: Visa Waiver
- Uzbekistan: Visa exemption
- Tajikistan: Electronic visa acquired – no problem.
- Turkmenistan: Need visa and not straight forward to obtain. However, people in the group have been in contact with an agency inside the country and it appears we can get a visa at the border with an invitation from the agency.
- Azerbaijan: Electronic visa acquired. Will need this if we have to take the ferry across the Caspian.
- Iran: When you fly into the country you can get a visa when you land but not sure what the situation is when crossing a land border. I also need the CDP.
- Kazakhstan: No visa required.
- Russia: Require an “Auto-visa” to be able to drive your own vehicle through russia. The russian embassy/consulate has said it will take 2-4 weeks to obtain the visa so I might need to give this up – not enough time.
- Georgia: Visa free
- Turkey: Visa free
The above are for me with a Swedish passport but European union countries in general have the same visa requirements.
So three weeks before departure the route after China is not clear…
Today is 25th April and it’s only 5 days until I set off! I picked up my passport with the approved Russia Visa today – Yay! This gives me more options regarding the route after leaving China, I can go through Russia on the western side of the Caspian sea to Georgia and then Turkey, or, if I feel really fed up after China, I can go straight to Latvia and get a ferry to Sweden… I also received the Carnet today but I think it will be of little use since Iran has banned any motorcycles larger than 250cc to enter the country and this was the only country along the route that requires the Carnet.
After picking up the pp I walked around the Marina bay area and snapped some photos, it’s really amazing what Singapore has accomplished in the last 20 years. Most of the buildings in the pictures were built after I arrived to Singapore 20 years ago.