Posted by: TomA | 10 April 2008

How to get into ***stan?

EDIT: This is going back online once more, although has been heavily edited since being originally published. Head over to the Lonely Planet website for an insight into some of the now missing content (interesting facts about the nation in question). I would really love to go – it looks a fascinating place.

Getting visas for this trip is likely to be the one, big issue. Russia and Iran both look like they could present problems, yet its ***stan that is really worrying me at the minute. To get a tourist visa, we need an authorised and regulated guide, which is out of the question (unless you know someone…!). So a transit visa it is.


Except, the length seems to be selected at random by the ***stan consulate. 5 days appears possible, yet we could easily get unlucky and be issued a 3 day visa. Worse, it only takes one of the four of us to be issued with a shorter visa to cause huge problems. And the big problem is, we have to specify the date we enter the country on. If we get there early, we have to sit and wait – fair enough. Yet if we get there just 2 days late on a 3 day visa, which is more than possible having traveled ***thousand miles, we have just 1 day to get across the entire country.

The last couple of years apparently, others taking this route have come unstuck, facing HUGE fines to leave the country just hours after their visas expired, and occasionally worse. The Foreign Office had to step in to sort out several cases, which took days of negotiations.

It also appears we could be liable to arrest if we stray from a pre-designated route – typically being forced to stick on the main road from our point of entry to the capital, ***, and the main road back out towards our exit country.

I’ll keep you updated as to our plans…



  1. How not to get into TM: Keep a blog about it that might even suggest that you’ll cause trouble/report what you see to the outside world. Then, use the full name of the country so that it pops up on Google Alerts for anyone who has it set to the name of the country (and believe me, the government does too).

    Please, take it from me, you’re not doing yourself any favors by putting this stuff out on the internet, if your concern really is to get in. Often they don’t have things together enough to make the connection between the guy who wrote the blog and the guy who’s applying for a visa, but sometimes they do. And you’re displaying your full name on this blog. Think about it.

    Also, consider that it’s not just a big joke to play around with the gov’t. Rooms really are bugged, and you really do need to watch what you say when you’re there. If you do get in, make sure you develop a set of code words for anything gov’t related beforehand, so you’re not caught talking about things you shouldn’t.

    Sorry, I can’t be of more help by leaving my real name/email, but I can’t put a red flag on myself. Please trust that this is first-hand knowledge from an expat. If you do get in, and you behave yourself, you’ll be fine – just don’t play around. And consider being more careful with your posts…they are watching. Seriously.

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