So those of you with an interest in Richard Feynman, throat singing, or bits of the world your friends have never heard of probably know of a place north of Mongolia located in Siberia, Russa called Tuva.

Since I'm already toying with the idea of overlanding from East or Southeast Asia to Mongolia and I find both Richard Feynman and throat singing to be interesting, I've been thinking that having Tuva as an ultimate goal will be an even more exotic adventure.

But travel information on Tuva is scant and I can't seem to see much in the way of roads from anywhere in China to Mongolia to Tuva.

Are there any routes I haven't spotted other than going the long way around east or west through other bits of Russia?

3 Answers 3


Accprding to this map below, you can drive from Beijing to Tuva, passing through Ulanbaataar, Bulgan and Naryn. There does not seem to be a very well established access from the west such as from Urumuqi however.

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The place where I found the map has some more general information on traveling through Mongolia. I found also a much more detailed map.


You will end up paying quite alot to go by road because you will need to hire a driver/tour guide. The borders in these areas change their regulations too. There is/was a crossing into China which leads to a town called Barkol, and then onto Urumqi. Depending on who you ask, you need a Chinese tour agent hired to meet you at the China side if you are crossing into China from Mongolia. But, I met some Americans who did this same crossing last summer (2012) with no need for this pre-arranged driver/guide. Then the Russian side... it may very well be "closed". You just never know. Suffice to say, you can plan all you want from the other side of the planet, but until you land in Mongolia, or China, or Russia, you never know what will happen. Even if you manage to plan something and have arrangements before you leave, these could all change by the time you get out there!

It would be prudent to get a multiple entry China tourist visa, 6 months, as well as a multiple entry Russia visa, and whatever visa you can get for Mongolia. Despite my warnings above, you can get these sorts of visa while in your home county. Don't get single entry tourist visas. If you get single entry, and you hire a car to the border, and the Mongol side processes you, but the Russian side won't let you in, then how do you get back into Mongolia? And if you can get back in, you may very well be required to go to Beijing to get the proper papers. But if you used your single entry China visa flying into Beijing in the first place, then you need to try to get another China tourist visa in Ulaanbaatar. But, sometimes this is hard to do, so suddenly you are flying to South Korea! This is no exaggeration.

Get as many visas multiple entry visas for all the countries you will visit. Then come and plot your road trip to Tuva!

  • Note that a multiple entry Russian tourist visa is still only 30 days, and given that as an Australian, he'd have to get it from Australia, which doesn't work. A Russian business visa would be 90 days, but again, need to get from country of citizenship/residence.
    – Mark Mayo
    Dec 3, 2014 at 10:18

To my understanding the Koch Agach border crossing is the nearest road available to foreigners. On the russian side you are not allowed to pass within a border zone of 50 km without a permit.

Generally the "tuva track" from Koch Agach east is considered the most scenic approach but requires "highly offroad capable transport".

If you want to avoid china with it's expensive regulations for foreign cars and drivers you could also pass through Kazakstan.

  • As a bonus I've recently made my first Kazakh friend in China just this past week. Nov 20, 2016 at 16:02

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