5 Month loaded tour - destination advice

Cycle-touring, Expeditions, Adventures, Major cycle routes NOT LeJoG (see other special board)
TomF
Posts: 1
Joined: 3 Feb 2019, 5:36pm

5 Month loaded tour - destination advice

Postby TomF » 3 Feb 2019, 6:34pm

Hi all,

This is my first time posting in a forum so sorry if my post is a too long and detailed..

I'm starting to plan a solo tour early March to early August (the dates are fixed due to work commitments) and am still undecided where exactly I will aim to cover so thought it would be great to get some advice..

For a bit of context..Sept-Dec 2017 I cycled from Vienna, through Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria and into central Turkey with a friend. This was my first tour and I absolutely loved it, I was instantly hooked. We tended to take quite a convoluted route to stay on quiet, interesting roads, cross mountains, pass through area's we were particularly keen to check out (e.g Maramures in NE Romania). My focus is very much on the experience, not the distance covered. We camped most nights and living out in the forests, upon mountains, next to rivers and beaches was what made the trip so special. That and all of the time spent in beautiful wild spaces with incredible nature, interesting and traditional rural villages and the great people we were lucky enough to meet along the way that travelling by bicycle allows. I ride a second hand 26" wheel Surley LHT (which as an aside I've been really happy with).

So I'm hoping for a similar vibe - beautiful natural scenery, interesting culture, traditional ways of life, transitions and variety as I enter new countries/cultures/landscapes..

I had hoped to kind of pick up where I left off - Head through NE Turkey, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan and into the stans and see where I made it, but NE Turkey and Georgia don't look particularly welcoming in March/early April - very cold, lots of snow and a good measure of rain from reading online? (It reached -8oC some nights in Turkey so I have the gear and experience for reasonably cold weather). This lead me to wonder about heading through Northern Laos into SW China, spending roughly 6-8 weeks cycling through Yunnan and Sechuan before taking a train from Chengdu to Urumqi in NW China and then spending the last couple of months heading into Central Asia - Kazakhstan, kyrgystan, Tazikistan etc.I guess I would fly to Bangkok so could even start with 1-2 weeks cycling in Thailand (I would be open to taking a bus into the North to start my tour from there for more interesting cycling). My main reservation with this route (other than how isolated some stretches could be) is how little I guess I would be able to camp in (Thailand), Laos and China.

That hopefully gives an idea of where I'm at and what i'm after, I'll try and wrap it up. I guess, other than general advice and tips on the area's I've mentioned, my main questions would be/

TLDR:

1 - Anyone have any experience of touring Georgia/Armenia (+/- NE Turkey) around March/April and is it doable/enjoyable?
2 - Anyone have experience of touring Northern Thailand/Northern Laos/SW China - would you recommend it based on what I'm after?
3 - Are you reading this thinking "if that's how he likes to tour why isn't he considering.." I'm open to suggestions for a tour that I haven't considered

Thanks in advance, I can't wait to settle on a rough route and then I can start getting excited (and some new gear!)

simonhill
Posts: 2166
Joined: 13 Jan 2007, 11:28am
Location: Essex

Re: 5 Month loaded tour - destination advice

Postby simonhill » 6 Feb 2019, 3:10pm

I have toured extensively in SE Asia and Southern China. I am in Burma at the moment before heading over the hills to Thailand.

Yes, I can thoroughly recommend goring there but not at the time you are thinking. Although there are exceptions, generally it will be hot and wet. If you could make Oct to Feb then it would be great.

I don't know much about northern China or central Asia, except that it will be hot.

If thinking of an extended stay in China, check the visa situation. Most people only get a month, which can be extended, for a month or two, but this can involve lots of hoops to jump through.

Your concern about not being able to camp, is off set by cheap accommodation and not having to carry all that camping gear.

There is a good website that gives great graphics of annual weather (plus lots of other options). I have chosen Jinghong a city in southern Yunnan.
https://weatherspark.com/y/113614/Avera ... Year-Round

Enjoy

User avatar
Tigerbiten
Posts: 1661
Joined: 29 Jun 2009, 6:49am

Re: 5 Month loaded tour - destination advice

Postby Tigerbiten » 7 Feb 2019, 11:47am

What type of distance where you thinking of covering ??

Start in the south where it's warm and work up the west coast of America in the mountains up towards Alaska could be one option.
2-3 months in America and the same in Canada gets you around any 3 month visa limit.

Luck ........ :D

HobbesOnTour
Posts: 134
Joined: 20 Feb 2017, 5:12pm

Re: 5 Month loaded tour - destination advice

Postby HobbesOnTour » 7 Feb 2019, 12:09pm

Tigerbiten wrote:2-3 months in America and the same in Canada gets you around any 3 month visa limit.

To the best of my knowledge this is incorrect.
The 90 day visa exemption (ESTA) for the USA effectively includes Canada, Mexico & some Caribbean places as part of the US visa exemption area. What it means in effect is that if you enter the US on day 1, and you find yourself in the US, Canada or Mexico on day 91 then you are in breach of the visa exemption terms.
How are you caught and what happens if you are I am less informed about, but I believe you can be banned from entering the US for 10 years.

In relation to the reverse, while Canada appears to be a bit more relaxed, crossing into the US by land is more complicated. when I looked at this, the ESTA was only for arrival by air.

As for the op have a look at CrazyGuyOnABike for journals in the places and times you are interested in. The search function is very handy when you get used to it.

Vorpal
Moderator
Posts: 16157
Joined: 19 Jan 2009, 3:34pm
Location: Not there ;)

Re: 5 Month loaded tour - destination advice

Postby Vorpal » 7 Feb 2019, 1:21pm

Arrival by land does not require ESTA. ESTA is (partly) to assure the airlines that you are authorised to travel. If they don't check, the US government will fine them. If you enter the US from Canada, you have to pay a processing fee. It used to be 5 or 6$. I don't know what it is, now.

It is also correct that Canada, the USA, and Mexico have a shared visa waiver program. However, if you wish to spend 90 days in the US, then cross into Canada, and you will not return to the USA (or Mexico) in the same trip (even to change planes on the return trip), you can apply for a visa in Canada, and that will likely be relatively easy to get. It is important, however to inform them that you will already have been in the USA for the visa waiver period, and that's why the visa is required. If you are returning via the USA after the 90 days, you need a US visa.

The US - Canada border can be difficult in either direction, but US officials are rather more likely to turn someone away for seemingly minor things.
“In some ways, it is easier to be a dissident, for then one is without responsibility.”
― Nelson Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom

Vorpal
Moderator
Posts: 16157
Joined: 19 Jan 2009, 3:34pm
Location: Not there ;)

Re: 5 Month loaded tour - destination advice

Postby Vorpal » 7 Feb 2019, 1:31pm

As far as destinations go... It could be a good time to visit Latin America? Summer in the northern hemisphere is mild weather time in equatorial South America. See the Amazon? Join Carnaval in Rio de Janeiro? As the weather warms, head south?
“In some ways, it is easier to be a dissident, for then one is without responsibility.”
― Nelson Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom

irc
Posts: 4386
Joined: 3 Dec 2008, 2:22pm
Location: glasgow

Re: 5 Month loaded tour - destination advice

Postby irc » 7 Feb 2019, 1:48pm

TomF wrote:Hi all,

This is my first time posting in a forum so sorry if my post is a too long and detailed..

I'm starting to plan a solo tour early March to early August (the dates are fixed due to work commitments) and am still undecided where exactly I will aim to cover so thought it would be great to get some advice..

For a bit of context..Sept-Dec 2017 I cycled from Vienna, through Slovakia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria and into central Turkey with a friend. This was my first tour and I absolutely loved it, I was instantly hooked. We tended to take quite a convoluted route to stay on quiet, interesting roads, cross mountains, pass through area's we were particularly keen to check out (e.g Maramures in NE Romania). My focus is very much on the experience, not the distance covered. We camped most nights and living out in the forests, upon mountains, next to rivers and beaches was what made the trip so special. That and all of the time spent in beautiful wild spaces with incredible nature, interesting and traditional rural villages and the great people we were lucky enough to meet along the way that travelling by bicycle allows. I ride a second hand 26" wheel Surley LHT (which as an aside I've been really happy with).

So I'm hoping for a similar vibe - beautiful natural scenery, interesting culture, traditional ways of life, transitions and variety as I enter new countries/cultures/landscapes..

I had hoped to kind of pick up where I left off - Head through NE Turkey, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan and into the stans and see where I made it, but NE Turkey and Georgia don't look particularly welcoming in March/early April - very cold, lots of snow and a good measure of rain from reading online? (It reached -8oC some nights in Turkey so I have the gear and experience for reasonably cold weather). This lead me to wonder about heading through Northern Laos into SW China, spending roughly 6-8 weeks cycling through Yunnan and Sechuan before taking a train from Chengdu to Urumqi in NW China and then spending the last couple of months heading into Central Asia - Kazakhstan, kyrgystan, Tazikistan etc.I guess I would fly to Bangkok so could even start with 1-2 weeks cycling in Thailand (I would be open to taking a bus into the North to start my tour from there for more interesting cycling). My main reservation with this route (other than how isolated some stretches could be) is how little I guess I would be able to camp in (Thailand), Laos and China.

That hopefully gives an idea of where I'm at and what i'm after, I'll try and wrap it up. I guess, other than general advice and tips on the area's I've mentioned, my main questions would be/

TLDR:

1 - Anyone have any experience of touring Georgia/Armenia (+/- NE Turkey) around March/April and is it doable/enjoyable?
2 - Anyone have experience of touring Northern Thailand/Northern Laos/SW China - would you recommend it based on what I'm after?
3 - Are you reading this thinking "if that's how he likes to tour why isn't he considering.." I'm open to suggestions for a tour that I haven't considered

Thanks in advance, I can't wait to settle on a rough route and then I can start getting excited (and some new gear!)


March to August would be a good time frame to start in Florida, head west close to Mexico border as far as Arizona before heading north through Utah/Colorado etc towards a finish in Seattle/Vanvcouver.

Try searching on Crazyguyonabike for Southern Tier journals for the first part. Mid to late May it's getting warm enough for the higher stuff going north. As stated above more the 90 days needs a USA visa involving an interview at the US embassy.