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Old 06-05-2013, 05:37 PM   #4666
Studly Adventurer
Joined: Feb 2010
Location: Spudville, Idaho
Oddometer: 712
Originally Posted by Colebatch View Post
Glad you enjoyed it.

It would all be just as accessible to Americans as Europeans. You are not likely to get hassled any more than Brits are.

For some reason, Americans are pretty worried about venturing into this part of the world ... (at least 90% of the bike travellers in this part of the world are European - with a handful of Aussies and Kiwis and Americans making up the remaining 10%) ... but I can tell you its unjustified. If you talk to some of the few Americans ADV guys that do venture into this part of the world, like:
RTWDoug (,
or Beta (
or Sherri Jo Wilkins (http://sherrijosbecauseicanworldtour...max-results=50),
or the current ride report from RoninMoto (
or the very clever and entertainingly philosophical (and soon to be resumed) blog from Genghis9021 (,
you will find they will probably all tell you they love it and the people are, as a general rule, great, and much better than they had expected - most of those folks were travelling solo too.

Officials, like border guys, will treat you the same as they treat Europeans ... In fact Americans are treated better than Brits technically. Americans can now get 3 year multi entry tourist visas for Russia. Brits can get a maximum of one year - and only for a business visa. (French and Germans can get 5 year business visas). Brits (and other Europeans) need a visa for Mongolia. Americans do not - you can just show up at that border. As for Russia, when you apply for a multi entry visa, you get thoroughly vetted by the FSB (former KGB) before you even get issued an invite to apply for the visa. So to get a multi entry visa it means you have already been "approved" by FSB head office. The small fry at the border are not going to overrule your approval by head office. I actually have never heard of any bike traveller with a visa ever being turned away at the border.

Once inside Russia, there are only two distinctions - Russian or Non-Russian. What type of non-Russian you are doesn't come into it. Restricted areas are the same for Russians and Non-Russians ... the main difference is that Russians can get permits to enter restricted areas much more easily than non Russians. In any case, I have routed the Sibirsky Extreme Trail around any restricted areas - so no permits needed.

Kazakhstan is not going to hassle an American, unless you are a rabid democracy activist. Their traffic cops hassle everyone equally, Locals, Europeans, Americans.

A good mate of mine is an American adv rider living in Moscow ... I will ask him to add his perspective.
Originally Posted by motoreiter View Post
I'm the guy Walter referred to, an American living in Moscow. I've traveled on the bike all over Russia, including to Yakutsk, Magadan, etc. and have been to Uzbekistan and Tajikistan, although not on the bike. Planning on Mongolia this summer.

I've never had any problem at all; in fact, on the bike especially most Russians--particularly in Siberia--think it is really cool that I've come "all the way from America" (actually Moscow) to their remote part of Russia, and virtually all of the Russians I've met have been incredibly helpful and friendly.

While I've never had the slightest problem, keep three things in mind when travelling in Russia (whether American or not):
1) Russians can be very proud, and there are a few hardline nationalists that don't like Americans very much...that said, even these guys give Americans a grudging respect and are very unlikely to do anything beyond making some snide remark unless you go out of your way to insult them or they fall into Item 2, below. Even these guys are generally pretty easily won over if you engage them in conversation, say some nice things about Russia, etc.; and
2) most important, avoid drunks to the extent possible. This is much easier said than done but Russian drunks can be really nasty and potentially dangerous, especially if you refuse to drink with them. Extricate yourself as politely as possible and get out of dodge; and
3) situational awareness is very important in Russia, just as anywhere else--if something feels wrong, it probably is, and you should leave. Which is why it is good to travel on a bike.
Thank you for this info. I had mistakenly thought that it would be more difficult for Americans to get visas in some eastern European countries because of the long cold war history, especially Russia, but I guess the U.K. was on the same side of it we were. Thank you again, Walter (and company) for ALL of your excellent RR's. I looking forward to the next one.
"You can have anything you want, but not everything you want."

"There's nothing like that fresh tire feeling "
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