The Scavenger Hunt For Visas.
Washington Travel Blog› entry 2 of 19 › view all entries
The hunt for visas is the truest test of a traveler's mettle and planning skill. If governments ever eliminate the need for entry visas as a global gesture of goodwill, I'll be upset. (In my day I had to DRIVE to the CVS to buy DOZENS of overpriced photos, and fill out TWO dastardly forms, and DRIVE to the consulate...TWICE!) My trip will require visas from eight countries: Turkey, Russia, China, Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, and Kazakhstan. Here they are in order from easiest to biggest pain in the ass:
Turkey: 30-day visa issued at any border for nominal fee. More like an entry tax than a visa.
Kazakhstan: $40 single-entry, one-month tourist visa issued at consulate.
China: $130 multiple-entry, 3-month tourist visa issued at consulate. 4 business days
Kyrgyzstan: $130 double-entry, one-month tourist visa issued at consulate. 10 business days.
Tajikistan: $180 for double-entry, one-month visa including permit to enter eastern Pamir (Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Oblast) region, with typed cover letter/itinerary in lieu of letter of invitation. 3 business days processing.
Uzbekistan: $130 single-entry visa probably issued without letter of invitation at consulate. 7 business days processing. Visa must be registered within 72 hours of arrival in country.
Russia: $150 for letter of invitation processed from Russian Federal Migration Service or Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Turkmenistan: Letter of invitation for tourist visa not issued unless a tour is fully-booked with an expensive government-approved tourist agency. Local guide must accompany tourist everywhere in the country except for within the nation's capital of Ashgabat. $80 for 5 business days processing. Visa must be registered in every new city.
I'm glad I live near DC so I can just drive to these consulates without paying some company to take my passport to the consulate for an absurd fee.
Most of the visas cost $130 because that is how much the U.S. government charges foreigners for tourist visas. Reciprocity is a bitch.