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Thinking about traveling overland to south east asia

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1. Posted by hanhans (Budding Member 37 posts) 7y

Got this crazy idea about traveling overland from the north of Norway to South East Asia. Got the ide when I heard about the trans siberian railway from Moscow to Beijing, which is about a six day trip. But then I thought that it would be cheating taking a plane to Moscow...hehe.
I live in the north of Norway, and can easally travel to Murmansk with buss, takes about eight hours. There I can purchase a tran ticket to Moscow. Will probably stay there a few days, and then jump on the train to Beijing. From there I can take a train to Hong Kong. From there to Hanoi, and into Vietnam and later Thailand. Will probably stay in south east asia a few months, and take a plane home when I am tired of traveling(or broke...hehe)

Has anyone done i trip like this? And how much time/money would it take?
And would such a long trainride be worth it, or would I be better of just flying in to Bangkok and from there travel around in south east Asia?

2. Posted by aharrold45 (Travel Guru 1281 posts) 7y

Different people will have different answers for you on this one. Some train enthusiasts will say do it overland the whole way. I would say if you plan to stop off along the way at various stops in Russia to see the country a bit then do the train, but if you plan to just go straight through then get a plane and save days of boredom and wishing you life away. I would then do the overland section from Beijing to Bangkok over a few months to explore the region a bit rather than be rushed the whole time.

How long to do it over would depend on how much money you have and if you have a limit of the time you can spend away. It would also depend on the sorts of things you are interested in. I would think if you weren't wanting to skip over a lot of nice places then do it over at least 4 months allocating the full 30 days for Russia to see more than just Moscow and St Petersburg which deserve at least 4 days each but preferably more for St Petersburg. Apart from those two really nice cities you also have many smaller places between Moscow and Vladivostok worth stopping off at especially after all the hassels you will most likely have to go through to get a Russian visa. China deserves 30 days, Vietnam deserves the full 30 days to explore in depth and Cambodia probably deserves about 2 weeks. Then if time is running out by then 2 weeks for Thailand but ideally about a month there as well and maybe even a bit of time in Malaysia if you haven't gone broke or run out of time by that stage.

[ Edit: Edited on 04-Mar-2009, at 03:26 by aharrold45 ]

3. Posted by hanhans (Budding Member 37 posts) 7y

Thank u for your input;)

Was thinking about going in October, which will probably be cold, so don’t know about beein a whole month in russia. Was thinking about maybe one day in Murmansk, and a few days, maybe a week in Moscov. And then straight for Beijing. However, I am not on any "deadline" to get to south east asia. If I like it at one place, I can just stay there. But I think Russia is better to exploer in summer time?
U say hassel getting a Russian visa? Not my experience at all, was there last summer and the visa wasn’t any problems. However, the guys in custom worked very sloooow, was like 6 guys playing card and one working at 50% capasaty when we went through... However, most of them were military conspripts, so I cannot say I blame them...
That sayed, they may be a little bit "nicer" at the Russian consulate in Kirkenes(north of norway) than other places. Know lots of people who even have multivisa, it’s never a problem to get it, they say.

But I have to chew in this for a while. My primary destination is south east asia, I like it where it is warm...Is so cold up here in the north at winter time......! However, I recon the trainride would be an experience for life!

Se that u r from Australia, and for u the weather isn’t an issue, since u got an abundance of warm weather at home...hehe

[ Edit: Edited on 05-Mar-2009, at 03:46 by hanhans ]

4. Posted by Cool Paul (Travel Guru 611 posts) 7y

does the train stop at a lot of points? I hate planes almost as much as needles and tomatoes but six days on a train seems boring. It'd be cool if you could get off at certain towns and get back on when you want. Is that even possible?

5. Posted by aharrold45 (Travel Guru 1281 posts) 7y

Quoting Cool Paul

does the train stop at a lot of points? I hate planes almost as much as needles and tomatoes but six days on a train seems boring. It'd be cool if you could get off at certain towns and get back on when you want. Is that even possible?

Go to a travel agency and get the transiberian and silk route brochure which if you get the ones I have seen show where you can get off. As far as I know you can either buy sector fares or a through ticket but the sector option would be quite a bit more. Just in Russia you can do St Petersberg - Moscow - Vladimir - Nizhni Novgorod - Kazan - Perm - Yekaterinburg - Tyumen - Omsk - Novosibirsk - Krasnoyarsk - Irkutsk - Ulan Ude - Chita - Belogorsk - Khabarovsk - Vladivostok. If you wanted to include central Asia, Mongolia and China you could also add bits on as well, but you'd probably need multiple entry visas for Russia and China. Not sure if you have ever seen it, but if you hate plane travel you should check out the man on seat 61 website which mostly has train transportation and in some areas bus transportation and how to reach the countries from London. A top page is if you want to see the possibilities within Russia and Central Asia.

Quoting hanhans

U say hassel getting a Russian visa?

They definitely must be nicer in the one in Norway. It took me 4 weeks to be granted one and quite a substancial amount of money. I also needed to pay $30US to get a visa invitation letter and prebook all my accommodation in Russia (which is required by Russian law although it can be got around) before I was even allowed to apply for the visa. On application I had a round the world ticket showing proof that I had a very big trip planned after my time in Russia and my time before Russia so was not going to overstay my visa. To get it processed in quick time (which is about the regular processing time for most countries) it cost $400AUD! I've heard of a couple of experiences like yours (normally Swiss passport holders) but the majority have been like my experience. Some Eastern European countries do get a visa to Russia a lot easier than countries like Australia, US, Canada and UK. I've heard of some cases of people having to travel thousands of miles (such as in Australia) to have a face to face meeting and then still having more problems after the initial meeting. It is one of the rare countries that requires most citizens to get an invitation to visit the country! In some nationalities such as Indian's I know of one person who was denied the invitation letter which they normally hand out left, right and centre to rip the tourists off and because of that he was unable to get the visa to go to Russia. That particular person was a practising doctor who obviously had enough money to support himself for a couple of weeks and was not a risk of overstaying.

Russia is meant to be one of the hardest countries in the world to get a visa for. I've read in travel newsletters that Saudi Arabia is nigh on impossible to get a visa for unless you are a practising muslim and are male, Iran is extremely difficult, but other than that Russia is meant to be third on the most painful visa experiences list unless you are a swiss passport holder in which case you have no hassels for anywhere.

[ Edit: Edited on 08-Mar-2009, at 23:39 by aharrold45 ]

6. Posted by hanhans (Budding Member 37 posts) 7y

hmmm....didn’t know u had that much trouble...
I think I paid about 40 USD total for visa. but u can also get an "express visa", that is visa in a few hours, but that cost like 120-130 USD.

7. Posted by ErolGirl (Budding Member 78 posts) 7y

Hey hanhans, I am planning on doing a trip similar to this, have you got any further with plans?? Im hopefully going from Norway and down the same route as you, but before Norway doing some of western europe....Trans Siberia via Mongolia all the way to Beijing! x

8. Posted by t_maia (Travel Guru 3289 posts) 7y

hanhans: if you are used to Northern Norway weather October in Moscow and Sibiria will feel cool to you, but not too cold. I was in Moscow around Christmas a few years ago, I did enjoy my trip despite the cold. It would have been better in summer, but in summer I wouldn't have been able to find a bed in one of the hostels on short notice (I called only 1 day in advance). I would also have waited a lot longer in front of museums or other attractions. There were almost no lines in Moscow, the longest I waited was 10 min - and that was for a place that has 4-hour lines in summer!

ErolGirl: If you are going to Bratislava before you go to Russia, consider buying a City-Star Ticket in Bratislava.


9. Posted by madpoet (Respected Member 413 posts) 7y

Hi Hanhans,

I travelled by train from Helsinki, Finland, to Dalian, China, 3 years ago. In Siberia (Irkutsk) I met a Swiss couple who were travelling overland from Switzerland. We kept in touch, and 2 years after I ended my journey, they were still travelling in Asia! (Well, actually, they were in the South Pacific islands by then.) This continent is so huge, with so much to see, that you can travel for a long, LONG time, and not see it all. So, I'd take as much time and as much money as I could, and just keep travelling until you're broke, or look as tired as your passport photo.

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