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Cycling the Silk Road from Istanbul

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Unregistered anon_user's picture
Cycling the Silk Road from Istanbul

Hi nutty bike riders,

We are currently living in Istanbul for the winter months 2010-2011 before we embark on the second part of our trip. The silk roads and then to South East Asia, all on a self sustained low budget trip. If you have any information regarding routes, countries, recommendations, etc, please don't hesitate to contact us. If you live in Istanbul we would be more than happy to meet. We have cycled part of Europe (Paris to Istanbul with many detours) and are happy to talk about the trip. I am also an avid bike nerd/mechanic if you have any specific needs I could help.

Thanks in advance,
Julien Radcliffe and Michelle Jury

Unregistered anon_user's picture
Silk road


you`ve to decide which way you want to go.

First possibility and I think so the easiest way to arrive SEA by land.
Ride to Iran, Pakistan, Karakorum-Highway to China. After crossing China to Laos and Thailand.

Same like No.1 but ride from Islamabad to India. From there you`ve to take a flight to Bangkok.

Iran, Stans, China. You can take a heavy variation through Tibet. But I think so, it`s closed. This is almost the toughest route. Especially the stans are very bureaucratic. Don`t expect to get a tourist visa for Turmenistan. You get just a tranist visa for I think so 5 - 7 days.

If you got your decision we can talk about seasons.

Have a nice trip.


Unregistered anon_user's picture
Hi Peter,

Thanks for your suggestions,

I will verify if Pakistan can be crossed because I have hear some rumour that it is currently close. I will do more research. We are also interested in the Pamir high way but as you say the Stans will be a paper work mountain. We want to leave Istanbul in May or June and make our way East. I will also be looking at the monsoon periods. Have you cycled part some of these routes?

Juline and Michelle

Unregistered anon_user's picture
Hi, yes, I did the road from

yes, I did the road from Turkey to Iran, Pakistan and China.
I started in April. Iran was pretty hot. In South-East very hot, about 50 degrees in shadow. But there`s none.
I took the bus from Taftan to Quetta cause it`s really incredible hot. Then I`d monsoon in Indus Valley. Humity was very high. When I was at Karakorum Highway monsoon was mostly finished.
I think so, you`ve to start earlier. Then you`ll have better chances to cross the passes. You can`t ride Khunjerab cause you`ll have to take the bus from Sust to Tashkurgan.
If you want to get the best season you have to be in September in Kashgar. Taklamakan in winter is no fun. Temperatures about - 20 degrees without infrastructure.

If you want to know anything you can write me.

Unregistered anon_user's picture
Pakistan trouble

Hi Peter,

I am still researching information about our possible routes and I found this website.
It seem that we may have to miss Pakistan for this trip, what do you know about the Pamir Highway in Tajikistan?
We are also planning to leave the 1st of June and the Stans seemed more likely at this early stage. Do you have any recommendation regarding visa issues/ seasons.

If you are in Istanbul we would love to meet up for some chai or a meal somewhere.

Thanks for the food for thought,
Julien and Michelle,

Unregistered anon_user's picture
Hi, I don`t think so, that


I don`t think so, that Pakistan is very dangerous. Don`t sleep outside, everytime in little restaurants, police stations.
The most dangerous situation I got was at GT close Nowshera. Not a terrorist just a mini bus tried to kill me. If you go there you`ve to be very careful against water.

If you start at 1st of June in Istanbul it`s definitely too late for the Stans. In autumn it will be a little bit cold. At Taklamakan in winter? I think so no good idea.
Here you can read and look few pictures. It`s just in German.

You`ve to be in Kashgar in September. Too early Taklamakan it`s incredible hot too late very cold. The distances between the villages could be 150 km.


WS Member WS Member's picture
hi :-) Just finnished the

hi :-)
Just finnished the Silk Road 3 days ago (silk road with a big extention ;-)
visas in Central Asia may be pain but going there is worth everything :-)

(cycled IST to India 4 years ago so .. I think I can compare ;-)
both ways are great and totally different.

Central Asia, Pamir, Wachan Corridor .. is challenging due roads (or lack of them), food - lack of it, and cold (you may have a snow in Pamir even in August
Pakistan and India are also challenging - due people, their density ;-), poverty, over-protective police (in Pakistan)

so it's your chice
if you want solitude, great views, great mountains, great hospitality - Pamir!
if you want very friendly people, great muslim culture - Pakistan

and China is a piece of cake :-)
roads, food etc

Turkmenistan - don't even try to get tourist visa - you will travel with a guide (guard) if you get it. Transit is 5 days, short but make-able
Tajikistan - few hours in Tashkent
Uzbekistan - easy in Teheran, need LOI, you can make in online with one of the agencies (35 $ each + visa) - few hours in Teheran
Kirgistan - 3 visits in embassy :-), about a week in Tashkent
Afghanistan - if you want to cycle the afghani side of Wachan Corridore - 50$, 1-2 days in Tajikistan
China - 1 day in Tashkent

well . .if you have more questions - go ahead :-)

Unregistered anon_user's picture

Thanks for all the information. Information regarding the visa will be very useful. How was the visa for Iran?
Do you have a website I could check? I will have many questions coming uo in the next weeks if rhat is ok for you. We are more focusing on the Pamir way as if we leave Istanbul the 1st of June I don't think it is a good idea to got south than back up north (to Pakistan and than to China). I will keep you posted.

Julien Radcliffe

WS Member Tousi's picture

Hi again.
actually visa application for Iran is not simple as like as Europe and turkey and also the fee is can use it just for 1 month after entering Iran and if you decide to stay more than 1 month you should extend it.
you can apply for Visa with the link below :
and check this link also :

I'm ready to answer any question about Iran if I know it
then don't hesitate to ask anytime.
but I have some question
do you want to enter Iran 6 month later(1st of june) ?it is not a good time!
you are 2 person or more?
have you ever think about your path in Iran?
do you know Iran culture, rules and conditions ?

all the best
Vahab Tous

Unregistered anon_user's picture
Women cycling in Iran?

Hi Vahab,

I am travelling with my partner/ wife and we are wondering how is it for a women cyclist in Iran. What special consideration should be made?
We will be traveling through Iran in June as we will be leaving Istanbul June 1st and thinking of doing the northern section of Iran.
We don't know Irannian rules/ culture/ conditions so any information is more than welcomed.

Thanks for the links,
Julien and Michelle

WS Member Tousi's picture
Hi Julien The main

Hi Julien
The main consideration is about your (you and your partner) wearing because of our religion .we like everybody respect to our believes and culture and the other hand you want to enter to Iran in June.but it is summer and the average temperature is about 25-30 in the north section.then wearing for you in such hot weather will be annoying.
nothing happen if you use sport short on the roads but your wife should cover all of her body!!!
check this link :
Then my suggestion is changing your schedule.It is better to travel in April or May.

The other thing is Ramadan.July encounter with Ramadan (one of our religion months) and in Ramadan nobody don't eat and drink for special time in a day.

The third subject is Iran famous places.the most famous places (such as historical monument) located on the center and south of the country.the center and south of Iran is more hot than north.
If you want to choose north section for your journey you will experience three different climate in one season!!
in the north west there are more mountain roads comparing to other sections.

all the best

WS Member Rolling Tales's picture
Hello from Istanbul


We're another couple also in Istanbul for the winter and planning our onward travel but looking towards Russia, Mongolia and China next spring instead. Would be happy to meet up for cay and cycling discussions, plus we need motivation to keep us riding through winter.

We'll try to contact you via your website, but we're at if you want to find out more about our trip


Emma and Justin

Unregistered anon_user's picture

It would be great to meet soon and we are quite free with time as we are currently looking for work. Just send me an email, as I check them daily. We live close to Taksin if that helps.

See you soon,
Julien and michelle

Unregistered anon_user's picture
Hi, if you want to go to

if you want to go to China via Russia and Mongolia you`ll have a hard way before you.
- How do you want to go to Russia? Border Georgia - Russia is almost closed. There`s no other open border.
- Ride as early as possible. You`ll need it. Probably it`s the best way to take the ferry from Baku to Aktau. Take time for it.
- How do you want to survive winter in Russia and Mongolia? It`s pretty cold there.

good luck

WS Member Rolling Tales's picture
Hi Peter, Thanks for the

Hi Peter,

Thanks for the words of caution, but we're not that brave! We're actually living in Istanbul until next Spring and will either take a ferry from Trazbon, Turkey to Sochi, Russia or possibly head back through the Ukraine to enter closer to Moscow as the snow melts. We're certainly not adverse to a little train and bus riding through some of Russia to get to Mongolia in good time next summer. There are a thousand ways to cross this landmass and we don't tend to take the straightest roads.


WS Member Tousi's picture
about your journey

I'm Tousi from Iran.if you want to pass from Iran I can help you in any subject which you need information.
my suggestion is passing through north of Iran to Turkmenistan.(but for Turkmenistan you will have visa limitation)
I have no idea for the rest because I've never been in those country.furthermore I think Pakistan is not a good route for this journey.

WS Member WS Member's picture
it's easy nobody really knows

it's easy
nobody really knows about cycling and the iranian dress code (we had asked soooo many people, asked so mane questions . .and never get an answer ;-) but . .we cycled Iran twice
in 2006 and 2010 . .and nobody (exept the border) really cared

you will need long sleeves shirt and long enough to cover your bootom, light head scarf, long trousers but 3/4 will be enough as long as you cycle :-)
june will be hot :-)

and don't worry, this is a great hospitality country

robb and ania

WS Member WS Member's picture
you can also see some

you can also see some pictures here
sorry the post is in polish, but you can see what your wife was wearing :-)


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