Some people say planning a trip is half the fun. I agree. I can spend hours with a good atlas, but there is a catch. Too much planning can ruin a great adventure. A detailed itinerary may be useful for a shorter trip with time limit or a proper expedition with a certain goal, where it's a necessity, but for a longer trip the plan can become your prison. I experienced this on the first part of this trip. There are more preparations than just the route planning though. Read all about my thoughts on destinations, equipment, tickets, visas, health, and expenses.

Where to go

The Taklamakan Desert.

I believe a good trip includes a mix of different kinds of destinations. After a stay in a big city you may wan't to get away into the wilderness for weeks, and vice versa. In some places you can travel through cities, jungles, deserts and high snow clad mountain ranges within a month or two, even on a push bike.

Everyone have their own favourite places. Here are some of mine:

  • Countries: Pakistan, Turkey, China, Thailand, Laos, India
  • Cities: Istanbul, Budapest, Krakow, Cairo, Calcutta, Kathmandu, Chiang Mai, Bangkok.
  • Sights: Angkor Wat (Cambodia), Petra (Jordan), Persepolis (Iran), Palmyra (Syria).
  • Mountains: The Karakorums (Pakistan), The Hindu Kush (Pakistan), The High Tatras (Slovakia), The Himalayas (Nepal), Cappadocia (Turkey).
  • Islands: Koh Pha Ngan (Thailand), Koh Chiang (Thailand), Ios (Greece).

When to go

Fresh snow on the Tibetan Plateau.

As soon as possible. Sure, why wait?. On the other hand you may want to plan your trip with the seasons in mind. On a bicycle you want 20 degrees (C) and no rain, but access to water, all the time. Planning a long trip through a large part of a continent will be very difficult (or very silly) if you want perfect conditions everywhere. Just try to avoid the unhealthy extremes. Check the weather section in your guidebook.

What to bring


Getting the right equipment for an expedition is a large part of the planning process. Read my packlist with comments in the separate equipment section.



Getting air tickets can be a hassle or expensive if you don't know the game, or if you happen to be in a hurry to get away in the peak season. I didn't need any tickets since I started cycling from home, but few people have the time, wish or patience to do so (I can recommend it though). To find cheap tickets there are a few things you need to know........(to be continued).


Visas are required for a lot of countries in Asia. You can usually get them in the neighbouring country's capital (at the embassy) or at a consulate in another city. Sometimes you can get them on the border. If you're going for a shorter trip or flying to your destination it's wise (or even nessecary) to get the visas in your home country. Check your guidebook for visa information and addresses to embassies and consulates, but double check with other travellers for the latest news. Few countries generate real problems:

Iran: US and British citizens have problems to get a visa. Israelis don't bother to try. Turkey is a good place to get a visa for other nationalities. Try Istanbul, Ankara, Trabzon or Erzurum. In Erzurum I got a six day transit visa (30 US$), but I managed to extend it with thirty more days in Tabriz (2 US$) and with 16 days in Esfahan (2 US$). I've heard the rules are different now. Many people get a one month tourist visa (extendable by 30 days).

India: Getting a visa in Kathmandu can be tricky if you've already spent a long time in India on the same trip.

China: The Nepal-Tibet border is not allowed to cross for independent travellers, if you come from Nepal. Going the other way is no problem, and going from Nepal to Tibet is possible if you arrange a group tour with a travel agency in Kathmandu. There are no open border crossings (for foreigners) between India and China.


You get close to health hazards on a bike. Bad water, Traffic accidents, dog bites and mosquitos are probably the main problems. basic shots are a must. Get the latest vaccination/immunisation info from your doctor, and double check with your guidebook. Consider a Rabies shot if you're cycling in Tibet or Eastern Turkey.



For a long trip by bicycle (in high risk areas) it may be very expensive or impossible to find an insurance policy for both you (health insurance) and your stuff. You may end up paying more for the insurance than your stuff is worth. A basic health insurance is another matter though. It's cheap, and will help you (or your folks) out if something happens. You should check the conditions though. Bike accidents may not be covered. For short trips (a few weeks) you may already have some insurance policies that come with your credit card (if you pay your ticket with it) or home insurance. Check this with your travel agency, bank, and insurance company respectivly. I can recommend getting an International Health Insurance (travel insurance). I had good use of mine on the second part of my trip, when I had to go to hospital in Thailand. I would not bother with insuring my bike and equipment unless I go to really dangerous areas (where robbery is a common problem).



This is not much of a problem when you travel by bicycle. You already have your own transport and accomodation (if you camp). Food is not a big expense if you prepare your own meals, and in many countries in Asia you can eat out for less than a dollar.

If you're on a tight budget the following tips may help in making the trip last longer:

  • Stay away from civilization. There are many temptations in the cities.
  • Travel in cheap countries. Western European countries are up to ten times more expensive than the cheaper countries in Asia (usually the most exciting countries as well), and up to four times more expensive than the cheaper countries in Eastern Europe.
  • Bargain. More prices are possible to haggle over in Asia. Do it with a smile and don't go crazy over pennies.
  • Buy where the locals buy.

If you never follow the tips above you may spend 100 dollars a day or more. If you allways follow the tips above you may spend as little as two dollars a day. Make your own budget.

Spending ten dollars a day in Europe means camping and cooking. On the Indian Subcontinent (and parts of East and South East Asia) it means quite a comfortable life in resturants and pensions.

Recent guidebooks will give you an idea of the costs in a certain country, city or region, but remember that prices change fast in some places, and that a hotel or resturant mentioned or recommended in a popular guidebook may be dearer than it's equal neighbour just because it's in the book.


Please use the search tool below if you don't find what you're looking for:

Powered by Google

© Tallabomba 1998-2005