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Old 02-06-2007, 07:10 AM   #1
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Default Thailand to Luxembourg, by Land

Well the plans are confirmed, tickets are almost purchased, this craziness will soon begin. As some of you know, I've been beating around some ideas over the past year. I was going to focus on eastern Europe, but now the plans have changed a bit, its a bit more extreme now.

I'll get out of the Army on May 12th, and staying in Europe. I'll be running the Luxembourg marathon on May 19th, and then after recovering I'll begin my bicycle tour. I'll be riding to Normandy, and then back across Europe towards north-east Europe. I'm not quite sure just where yet, but I was thinking of roaming towards Estonia. I'll be carrying a small tent and sleeping bag, a few changes of clothes, and that's about it. I need to be back in Luxembourg by June 15th.

On June 16th I'll be flying to Thailand with my girlfriend. We're not sure just where to go yet. Its the beginning of monsoon season, so I was thinking of starting in the south and then heading north, to kinda run away from the monsoons. I was thinking we'd fly into Bangkok and then take another flight south, and then make our way north by land. She'll fly out on July 6th, and I'll be making my way back to Luxembourg by land.

So . . . I don't know which way to go yet. I don't know anything about the visas and those crazy issues along the way. Any advice? I'm open to all suggestions, I'll need lots of them. I was planning on this adventure from Thailand to Luxembourg taking about two months. Think it can be done it that time? And what path would you take? I'm not scared of some craziness, but I want to make it alive to. Should I skip around/through Pakistan or go through China and Russia? Hmmmmm . . .
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Old 02-06-2007, 07:50 AM   #2
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Wow, that sounds intense!

I have the similar intentions of overlanding from Europe back home to Malaysia someday. I don't know if it will ever happen. Two months is kind of a short time, I feel...that's a massive amount of distance to cover at a leisurely rate - and overland! I'd like to take six months to a year, personally.

I'd probably go up through Russia, over through khazakstan or something but I don't really know.

Good luck!
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Old 02-06-2007, 10:20 AM   #3
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Wow ! Impressive and challenging project !

I have a couple of things to say about the overland trip by bike. I personally doubt it can be done in two months, how many kilometers per day would you have to do ? There are huge (!) mountains to cross from Asia to either China/Russia/Kazahkstan.

You need to decide ahead whereto from Thailand you'll head because you need visas and you need to verify which frontier is open to foreigners. In Myanmar, if you don't arrive at the airport, the only land border open to foreigners can be reached after a two day boat ride, and you can't exit the country by no other border than this one and the airport. So you'd need to head to Laos (visa needed) then China (visa needed and check which border is open to foreigner). The mountains can reach up to 2000 meters there !

A plan B is to wander in S.E.A. and fly to India (visa needed) or further in Central Asia (visa needed and letter of invitation in all countries).

The border between Nepal and Tibet is closed from the nepalese side, beside organized daytrips.

In Russia, visa and letters of invitation needed. In Belarus and Ukraine, visas and letters of invitation are needed, in Moldova I believe only the visa is required.

So timewise, you either get all your visas ahead, or you travel very slowly so that you can obtain your visas in neighbouring countries (when a letter of invitation is required, plan about 4-6 weeks to get the whole visa ready).

Because of the nature of your trip, I'd take a good insurance.

Frankly, if you have only two months, I'd stick to one area. If you already have bought your ticket for South East Asia, then this region would make a fantastic adventure by bike, and if you have time, add China and you'll have plenty to discover for 8 weeks.

My two cents.
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Old 02-08-2007, 02:40 PM   #4
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I'm confused. You say you're flying to Thailand with your girlfriend in the text of your post, but in the title you say it's overland.

Which is it? I agree with the others that 2 months from Lux to Thai via bike...no way. Ain't happening, unless your first name is Lance. If instead, you're just looking for suggestions on where to go for those two months in Europe by bike, well, I'll bet folks have LOTS of suggestions.

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Old 02-09-2007, 05:37 AM   #5
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The bike portion of the trip is just for the first month within Europe. After that, I'm flying to Luxembourg and coming back via train, bus, whatever.

So now that that's clarified, what do you folks think about the time needed? I have more than two months, but the problem is money and other responsibilities back home. But really, there's no hard time that I have to be back.

I want to do the whole trip, from Thailand to Luxembourg, but I'm starting think that it might be better to skip a few countries (via plane) so that I can travel the others a bit more leisurely. What do you think? Hmmmm . . .

We'd really like to buy our tickets right away, but if it's cost effective to purchase my ticket as a multi-destination ticket as part of this master plan we're developing . . . I need to figure that out now. And it really sucks cuz I don't have much time to browse these boards and research all this stuff right now. As soon as my class is over in about a month I'll be dedicated to research for this trip.

Thanks for your help guys/girls!
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Old 02-09-2007, 09:23 AM   #6
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I think 2 months is feasable, but if you take the "south track" (via India and Central Asia) you'd be spending a lot of time finding and purchasing the tickets, and sitting in trains/buses. The "north track" (China and Russia) is easier, even with formalities, because you'd need only two visas (if in Eastern Europe you use the route of the Baltics).

To make the south track more travelfriendly for a two month trip, and above all allow you time to explore a bit, do skip at least one country. Myanmar (because the only fast way in/out is to fly there), Bangladesh (Pakistan/Afghanistan (in the mountains, so very slow). Ad for Central Asia, because the letters of invivation/visas are a pain to get, choose one or two countries and get their visa in advance, and for the rest only ask for transit visa (no letter of invit required).

I've found this on the Net, hope it'll help !:

Travel from London to India by train

It is possible to travel from Europe to India overland by train and bus via Turkey, Iran & Pakistan. It will take a minimum of 2-3 weeks (preferably more), and you should consider it more as an adventure or expedition than a routine way to travel there. The main difficulty is getting an tourist visa for Iran, although this is becoming easier - see the London to Iran page. If you can get a visa, the only logistical problem is building an itinerary around the weekly train from Istanbul to Tehran and the twice-monthly trains towards to Pakistan border. There are security problems in southeast Iran to be aware of - see the official travel advice for Iran and Pakistan at the British Foreign Office website, www.fco.gov.uk. If you are still interested, here's how to do it:
  • Travel from London to Istanbul (3 days) by train, see the London to Turkey page for times, fares, how to buy tickets.
  • Travel from Istanbul to Tehran in Iran on the modern weekly 'Trans-Asia Express' (3 days), see the London to Iran page.
  • Travel from Tehran to Kerman in southeast Iran by daily overnight train leaving Tehran at 18:10 and arriving at Kerman at 07:20 next morning. The train has comfortable air-conditioned sleepers (4-berth compartments). There's also an earlier train if this train is full. Times and fares can be confirmed at www.rajatrains.com.
  • The railway was extended a further 225km to Bam in 2004, so change trains at Kerman onto the 08:25 connecting train to Bam, arriving 11:25. The journey takes you through spectacular desert.
  • There is then a gap in the railway line, so you'll need to take a bus from Kerman or Bam to Zahedan. The bus leaves Kerman daily at 20:00, calls at Bam a few hours later and arrives Zahedan at 04:00 next morning.
  • From Zahedan, a mixed passenger and goods train leaves on the 3rd & 17th of every month at 08:30, arriving in Quetta (in Pakistan) at 15:20 the next day. This train consists of several very basic passenger seats cars attached to a freight train, with no sleeping berths or restaurant (the more frequent Taftan Express on this route, which had sleepers, was withdrawn due to security problems a few years ago). Bring plenty of food and above all, lots of drinking water, as it gets very hot in the desert and there's nothing available on board. As an alternative, there are also regular overnight buses on this route, but the train will show you great desert scenery in daylight - treat it as an adventure. Expect an arrival in Quetta 3-6 hours late.
IMPORTANT: Please check locally that the twice monthly train is running, there have been reports that even the twice-monthly train has been temporarily suspended because of bombing. If it isn't running, buses may be available as an alternative. If you have more information that might help other travellers, please contact me.
Work is in hand to construct the missing bit of railway from Bam to Zahedan, which will finally link Istanbul to Delhi by rail. Completion is officially due in 2008, but could well take longer..!
  • From Quetta, there are comfortable daily trains with air-conditioned sleepers to Lahore, see the Pakistan page for times and fares.
  • From Lahore there is a twice weekly train (see above) or daily taxis/buses to Amritsar in India, 46km away. There are regular trains from Amritsar to Delhi.
International transport from/to India

There are no international trains to or from India, except for a twice-weekly train across the frontier to Lahore in Pakistan and maybe another train to Pakistan commencing in 2006.
Delhi - Amritsar - Lahore (Pakistan):
  • Take a train from Delhi to Amritsar, there are lots to choose from. See www.indianrail.gov.in for times & fares.
  • Take a bus or taxi the 26km from Amritsar to the India/Pakistan frontier at Atari. Walk through the border posts to Wagah on the Pakistani side. You may want to hang around Wagah to see the spectacular ceremony at sunset when the border closes. Indian and Pakistani guards try to outdo each other with their performances, watched by Indians and Pakistani crowds..!
  • Take another bus or taxi the remaining 20km to Lahore. Allow plenty of time for this deceptively short journey.
  • Alternatively, twice a week on Mondays and Thursdays (check the days, they might have changed) the Samjhota Express leaves Amritsar at 07:00 arriving in Lahore at 14:10. The eastbound Samjhota Express leaves Lahore on Tues & Fris (please check this, information is not consistent) at 08:00 arriving at Amritsar at 15:00. For around 50km, it's a very slow service..!
  • For train service within Pakistan, see the Pakistan page.
Delhi - Jodhpur - Karachi (Pakistan):

A new weekly international train called the Thar Express started on 17 February 2006 from Jodhpur to Karachi via the border at Munabao.
  • Eastbound (from 17 Feb 2006): The Thar Express leaves Karachi every Friday at 23:00, arriving at 'Zero Point' on the Pakistan/India frontier at around 08:00 next morning. After customs checks, the train goes forward to Munabao on the Indian side, arriving around 11:00, departing again at 15:00 after customs formalities, arriving Jodhpur at 21:30 Saturday.
  • Westbound (from 17 Feb 2006): The Thar Express leaves Jodhpur every Friday at 23:30 arriving Munabao at 08:00, leaving Munabao at around 14:30 on Saturdays, reaching Karachi after midnight on Saturday night.
  • The sleeper fare from Jodhpur to Munabao/zero point is about Rs170, and from Munabao/zero point to Karachi is about Rs230. No more information is yet available, but feedback would be appreciated..! The train has one sleeping-car and several economy cars.
Delhi to Kathmandu (Nepal):

It's quite easy, cheap, and an adventure to do this journey overland.
  • Take a train from Delhi to Gorakhpur. The Vaishali Express leaves Delhi at around 19:45 and arrives at Gorakhpur Junction at 09:10 next morning, or there's another train from New Delhi at 17:20 arriving Gorakhpur at 06:35 next morning. The fare is around Rs 2440 in AC1, RS 1240 in AC2, Rs 785 in AC3 or Rs 315 in Sleeper Class - see www.indianrail.gov.in for times and fares.
  • Take a bus or jeep from Gorakhpur to the Nepalese frontier at Bhairawi/Sunauli. Journey time about 2 or 3 hours, Rs 30.
  • Walk across the frontier, it's then a few minutes walk to the Sunauli bus station. Take a bus or jeep on to Kathmandu. Buses take 9 to 12 hours, cost about 120 Nepalese Rupees. There are many buses daily, either daytime buses leaving regularly until about 11:00 or overnight buses leaving regularly from about 16:00 until 19:00. If you have more information on travelling this route, please e-mail me.
  • It's also possible to travel via Varanasi. Direct buses from Varanasi to the Nepalese border at Sunauli take 9 hours and cost about Rs 100.
India to Burma (Myanmar):

The India/Burma border is closed to foreigners. It is not possible to travel to Burma overland from India. For train and river steamer service within Burma, see the Burma page.
India to China:

It's just about possible to cross from India to China, if you are adventurous, but it's difficult and mountainous, there are no trains, you need a permit to be in that part of India, and some border crossings are closed to foreigners. If you wish to travel this way, do your research before attempting it..! For train service within China, see the China page.
India to Sri Lanka:

Unfortunately, there are currently no ferries from India to Sri Lanka. For train service within Sri Lanka, see the Sri Lanka page.
India to Bangladesh:

There are air-con buses every day from Calcutta to Dhaka in Bangladesh, taking 8 or 9 hours, fare about $12. There are two rail links from Calcutta (Sealdah station) to the Bangladesh frontier at Gede and Bangaon/Benapol, although neither offer onwards train connections to Dhaka
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Old 02-09-2007, 09:38 AM   #7
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I forgot to say that if money is a factor, spend more time in South Asia and S.E.A. than Central Asia, it is surprisingly expensive there. Plus the visas are $$$$$$$$$$$ !!!!!!!!!!

Also, an option to buying multi-destination flight tickets is to get one in Bangkok then India (prices are cheap). It gives you more flexibility in your itinerary.
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Old 02-11-2007, 02:25 PM   #8
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thanks so much for all this info, wow!

In response to your last message, are you saying that I should buy a ticket in Thailand instead of purchasing a multi-destination ticket?
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Old 02-11-2007, 06:33 PM   #9
 
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Holy Woah!

I am very impresed. I wish I could give you some advice but I have no expereance with that part of the world. I will echo others in saying you should either give yourself more time or skip some countries via air.

Good luck and have fun.
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Old 02-11-2007, 06:44 PM   #10
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My pleasure!

Well, I believe it's an option to consider IF you are choosing to travel through what I call the south track. Travelling within Asia from Bangkok is fairly cheap; India is also a good place to buy ticket from. There's a street downtown (forgot the name, but ask the hotel staff, they'll know) where there a dozens of travel agency. Visit all of them and get the best price. It's an hour of work to save a lot of dollars. I bought a one way ticket Bangkok-Kathmandu for 225$ instead of the 550$ I was offered in Vietnam.

Since it's such a huge project, and there are quite of few routes that are offered to you, I think you need to answer those questions prious to continue your search :

-How much time do you want to spend exploring a country ?
-How many countries to explore ? Which ones ?
-What is your pace ?

That should really help you figure out your route and the time spent in train/planes/buses... Two months is so fast gone by! And transports in Asia, the Middle East and Eastern Europe are not very efficient ! Why not split your travel in two areas explored for one month each ?
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Old 02-12-2007, 03:38 PM   #11
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hmmmm . . . .

Well its time to confess a big change of plans, but first I feel that I need to explain myself so that you folks don't think I'm crying wolf with all these plans that I'm not following through with. I really delayed posting these plans (above) since I wanted to be totally sure about this crazy idea before bringing up the discussion.

Due to the time needed and the cost of the visas and invitations, I'm thinking that maybe I should focus on a smaller area of the world. Although it would be so cool to complete the original plans. Well, I thought of a cool compromise, and it makes a lot of sense financially, and its still somewhat (very) adventurous.

What about flying into Bangkok, travelling with my girlfriend for those first three weeks, then by myself around SE Asia for a while and then making my way west to India, where I'll fly back to Europe. There's still some borders to cross, lots of countries and things to see, some adventure, but much fewer hassles and time required than the original plans. And I found that this itinerary can be purchased for a couple dollars cheaper than the round trip ticket from Frankfurt to Bangkok. Yeah I'm so excited!

So what do you guys think? Is this a better idea?
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Old 02-12-2007, 06:48 PM   #12
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I'm all about spending as much time as I can in one place and going at a slow pace - I think you get to experience things better that way, so go for it! I also love south-east asia and hope you will too! So yes, I think narrowing things down is a good idea rather than just trying to get from Asia back to Europe overland in such a short time.
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Old 02-13-2007, 02:49 AM   #13
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If you're going to do this, you MUST pick up a book titled "Full Tilt: From Dublin to Delhi with a bicycle" by Dervla Murphy. She made this trip in 1963, and it took six months. I HIGHLY recommend that you check it out!!! She's written a lot of other very interesting travel books as well.


Side note: I also think two months is waaaay too optimistic. Hell, I even think four months would be pushing it.
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Old 02-13-2007, 03:15 PM   #14
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Okay . . . done! We just purchased our tickets! We'll be headed to Bangkok on June 15th, with a one night/two day layover in Dubai. My girlfriend's flying back to Frankfurt on July 7th, and then I'll be roaming/wandering/travelling all over the place. Somehow, someway, I have to be in India on September 15th for my flight back to Frankfurt. Yeah! 3 months of Southern and Southeast Asia!

So now I need to figure out how to make my adventure to India from Thailand. That could be interesting.

Thanks for the advice, now its time to really comb over these boards and figure out just how to make this journey.
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Old 02-13-2007, 07:08 PM   #15
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With three months, no need to plan much ahead. Go there, feel the culture, and then decide !
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Old 02-13-2007, 11:22 PM   #16
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Where are you going in India?
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Old 02-14-2007, 05:50 AM   #17
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No need to plan ahead? I've never dealt with visas before, but I think it'll be a headache. Hopefully I'm wrong. Here's a few questions that maybe someone can answer for me.

When applying for the visas, it asks for the expected arrival date into country. With a trip like this, I really don't know. I can estimate, but what if I'm off by a few weeks, or even a month?

The US Dept. of State site consular information sheet for Mayanmar says that foreigners are often not allowed to enter the borders via land, but this changes back and forth. So what if I get to the border and I'm not allowed in? I wouldn't have enough time to go around the Himalayas through China. So . . .
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Old 02-14-2007, 05:55 AM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by space virgin View Post
Where are you going in India?
I haven't gotten that far yet. But I do plan on reading your blogs and figuring it out.
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Old 02-14-2007, 06:34 AM   #19
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With some visas you have to give them specific dates, you are then allowed to enter and leave the country at any point between those dates, so if you are unsure, get the longest visa you can. With others you have a certain length of time to enter the country, say 3 months from date of issue, then have x days in the country.

If you get to a border and are turned away, then it's time to go for plan b .
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Old 02-14-2007, 08:18 AM   #20
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Originally Posted by Legitikick View Post
I've never dealt with visas before, but I think it'll be a headache.

The US Dept. of State site consular information sheet for Mayanmar says that foreigners are often not allowed to enter the borders via land, but this changes back and forth.
Indeed, as I wrote earlier, Myanmar will be the problem to go further west. You need to fly into the country, or take the boat in Thailand to the south border.

You don't need to buy every visa ahead since you have 3 months in Asia, you can set a very very flexible itinerary. In Thailand you can get visas for India, China, Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam and Cambodge at their respective embassies. It usually takes 2-3 weeks to get one visa, sometimes less, and with more $$$, within a few days.

No visa for Thailand up to 30 days there I believe.

The vietnamese visa has set dates to enter the country.

Laos visa is given at the border for 30$ cash + photos, for 30 days there.
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