Notes on various visas I’ve obtained along the way. This is all assuming a New Zealand passport holder, so it may not be relevant for other nationalities.
All of Europe is fine, visa at border. Things are easier in Eastern Europe these days, since countries have joined the EU.
Turkey is good – in fact it’s easier for me than for a British or Australian passport holder, as I can get in for free.
Iran is where things start getting interesting – going through an agency makes life easier. They can get things processed to the point where I have got one month to go to a consulate to get the visa stamp, which I then have to use within 3 months. Normally around 30 days entry, but may be less. Can get it extended in country. I used Magic Carpet Travel, picked up the visa in Erzurum, not far from the border.
Turkmenistan – Needed Uzbekistan visa first, as I can only get a transit visa. In Tehran they were issuing 7 day visas for cyclists, but some cyclists around the same time were still only getting 5 days. Need to drop off copy of passport and Uzbek visa at the embassy in Tehran, then go back in 10-14 days to get the visa on the same day. Is also possible to pick it up in Mashhad.
Uzbekistan – Need a LOI. I used Stan Tours here, and they were no problem. Picked up a 1 month dual-entry visa in Ankara. Although there are fixed entry dates for this one, I have spoken to other cyclists who got a two-month validity period for a 30 day visa, just by asking the consul in Tehran. So ask, you never know what you might get.
Kyrgyzstan – easiest so far, went to the Tashkent embassy, filled in one form, 30 minutes later I had the visa. Very pleasant, no hassle at all.
Kazakhstan – I thought I could just turn up in Tashkent and get this one, but they want me to have an LOI. I can’t be bothered paying the LOI tax, but they said they would give me a transit visa. After losing my passport in Kyrgyzstan, I got a new Kazakh visa in Bishkek. $35, around 3 days turnaround, 1 month tourist visa, no LOI required.
China – Picked this up in Tashkent. $80/$60/$40 for same/three/five day service. No real problem, but they only gave me 60 days when I asked for 90. Had to replace this one as well, did it in Almaty. Very busy at the embassy, you need to get there very early. Once you actually get to the front, they will issue a 30 day visa, same day, 8400KZT. Later in China I extended my visa in Lanzhou very easily, but later I ended up doing a side trip to Hong Kong to get a new visa. Hong Kong is the easiest place to get a Chinese visa – 90 day visa, issued same day. All bets are off for 2008 though.
Vietnam – you need a visa in advance, fixed dates. It’s pretty easy though, no real dramas. I got mine in Hong Kong using an agency. May be easier to just do it yourself though.
Laos/Cambodia – I got both of these in Hong Kong, but it probably would have been easier to just pick them up at the border. Most borders issue them now
Thailand – you can get 30 days at the border easily, but I got a 90 day visa in Hanoi. No dramas.
Malaysia/Singapore – get stamp on arrival, easy, free.
Australia – no restrictions for NZ passport holders.
Chile – Visa at border, no hassles, very quick
Argentina – same as Chile, crossed in and out many times, no hassles