For the first time I am trying to organise an extended individual journey - 6-10 months and 10-14 countries. Although I am intending to be an independent traveller and organising travel arrangements as I go; I need to sort out tickets and visas for the first part of my journey - by train from Cambridge to Northern China.
All the advice I have found so far recommends purchasing the tickets for the Trans-Mongolian train first, and then applying for the visas. There is no guarantee that I will obtain either the visas I want, nor that I will get them for the duration I want.
What is a suitable approach in purchasing tickets and applying for visas; to ensure that in the event of visas being limited or even refused, the money spent on tickets is not lost. I am not sure if one can obtain refundable tickets, or insurance that covers such a situation, or whether there is some other option.
This question does provide some useful information and advice.
Additional information in the light of comments:
- I am investigating specialist agencies now.
- I am primarily concerned with the Chinese visa. My concerns about this visa are to do with duration and remoteness. I would like to be in China for three months (longer if possible). During this time I want (on only one occasion) to visit the TAR. This requires four special permits; can only be done as part as an organised tour; and involves a specific allocated block of time (of up to 21 days). Even when I am not in the TAR, I will be in remote areas where travel, to and from the nearest PSB office that can issue visa extensions, can take three or four days each way. I understand that Chinese tourist visas now are only for 30 days, with an extension possible to another 30 days.
In the circumstances I am not sure I will be able to get the visa and permits I want; and even if I do that I may not be able to get visas to cover the duration of what I want to do.
In the event I was able to get the visa I wanted - a 90 day tourist visa - so the question of refunds on rail tickets did not arise. None of this experience reduced the usefulness of the answers received on this question.