Leaving Istanbul May 1, 2023. I am a 65 year old female from Australia. I'm a very slow cyclist, doing about 50 to 60km per day. I like to take lots of photos, smell the roses, and stop at every distraction. I often camp but also enjoy the luxury of solid accommodation. If this is your cycling style and you would be interested in a meandering journey across Türkiye and Central Asia, I'd love to hear from you.
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Hi Terri, Merry Christmas & Happy New Year! I will be turning 60 in the springs and have similar thoughts (Central Europe vie Istanbul to Japan). Am currently at the consideration stage, however hitting a roadblock at how to continue from Central Asia. Northern option via Eastern Russia currently off limits (at least for me). Through China would be most obvious, however this country could be off limits to foreigners due to Covid. The third, southern option via Iran or Afghanistan looks very difficult at the moment. Would appreciate your thoughts on this. Thanks and greetings, Henryk
Hello Henryk, thank you for responding to my post.
I also have questios about how to continue from Central Asia but I think the issues might start even earlier. The more Russia/Putin is losing in Ukraine, the less influence they have in Central Asia, and the greater the chances of conflict arising along various borders - Armenia, Azerbaijan, etc.
I am not sure what I am going to do. One possibility is to start in Turkey, see what happens, and be prepared to fly out if the situation looks unsafe.
Another option is to avoid the region altogether and do a trip somewhere else - Japan etc.
What do you think?
Hello Terri, it is a difficult one. My ambition was to cycle across Asia avoiding flying and from China take a ferry to South Korea and then on to Japan. I have no better idea at the moment and first need to do a deeper thinking on what to do in the coming year and hope we soon get more clarity on the situation. Greetings, Henryk
Hi Terri and Henryk, You are describing the trip that I’m starting next month (and we are the same age bracket, being 61 myself). I will start from France and ride to Istanbul in February-March. I usually ride 100km average each day. I’m planning to leave Istanbul around April. I spent a lot of time figuring out an itinerary through Central Asia. I’m not too keen on Iran, Russia and China for now. Land entry into Azerbaïdjan is prohibited currently. And Kazakhstan and Mongolia are separated by either China or Russia. My current plan then, is Turkey, Georgia, flying from Tbilisi to Aktau in Kazakhstan (I spoke with cyclists who did it), Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, back to Kazakhstan (Almaty), then Mongolia by bike, train or plane, then South Korea by plane, ferry to Japan, and plane to USA, crossing the USA and back to Europe. It’s a lot of flying, which was not my original intention, but due to political situations there is hardly any other option. My plan is likely to change as conditions evolve (until last December, China was off limits); I’d be interested to hear your ideas and experiences. Cheers, Jean-Michel
I am also planning a bike-packing tour in Japan (and maybe Korea) in this summer. I am an academic at a university in Istanbul and I will be free around the second half of June. I am planning to fly from Istanbul to Tokyo and start cycling there . My initial idea is to go from Tokyo towards Hokkaido. Have you been to Japan before? Best , Ahmet.
I have been in Japan several times, albeit never cycling. Last time we took the train from
Tokyo to Hokkaido, then drove around to visit the “onsens” (hot springs baths) and hike in the mountains and on top of volcanos. It’s beautiful and cooler in summer than Tokyo and Kyoto. We saw a few cyclists. Even if you ride north to Hokkaido, don’t miss Kyoto, it’s really beautiful. Lake Biwa near Kyoto is a great place too. I love Japan overall, because it is so different. Don’t expect to have a lot of conversation with the locals, though :-)
I am now planning to fly into Istanbul and leave from there in mid-March or early April. I'm a very slow cyclist though. 50 km a day is enough for me and I also like to detour and to stop and see many interesting sights along the way,
Good luck with your journey!
Hi to all,
Jean-Michel, thanks for the info, I saw on your website your detail plans, great job! Just reading that the land border entry restrictions for Azerbaijan apply till March 1, so chances are that the route vie the Caspian Sea ferry will be open again, https://azerbaijan.travel/covid-19-en, plus China may open up for foreign tourists before the summer vacation, which would make the land passage throughout Asia possible. https://www.chinahighlights.com/travelguide/china-travel-reopen-restrictions.htm. Greetings, Henryk
Thanks Henryk, I hope it works, I would really like to take the ferry accros the Caspian Sea !
It is great to read that the land border to Azerbaijan might open up soon. It makes the land journey across Central Asia seem more feasible. I'm still going to keep a very flexible attitude though, just in case. Regards, Terri