Replies: 8 - Last Post: Sep 3, 2012 6:57 AM Last Post By: iviehoff
Aug 26, 2012 7:30 PM
Backpacking India-LondonMy friends and I (we are Americans 2 males, 2 females) are planning on backpacking from India to The UK. It will be a pretty long trip, 3-6 months. I have traveled a great deal through Europe but am completely unfamiliar with anything East of The Aegean Sea. We are trying to find interesting stops, sights, and are looking for any tips that may aid our preparation for the trip. All comments would be greatly appreciated!
Aug 26, 2012 11:53 PM
1I think this trip will be closer to 6 months than 3 but hey.
The fact you're unfamiliar with anything East of Greece is a little alarming before taking on such an ambitious proposal, but hey.
There are effectively 2 routes.
Via Pakistan and Iran, or detouring around them.
1) India to Pakistan to Iran to Turkey to Greece then there's multiple routes, all of which are easy. However, you're yanks, and I'm not sure this is a good idea - or even possible for you visa wise. In addition, there are only 2 trains a month from the Pakistan border to Tehran, and only 1 a week from Tehran to Istanbul. Iran also has security issues in the SE ofs the country at present - all of these factors almost certainly rule the entire idea out.
2) India to Nepal to China. From Delhi, take a train to Gorakhpur, then take a jeep to the Nepalese border at Sunauli. Walk across the border, get the 9-12 hr bus ride to Kathmandu. From there, get another bus to Lhasa in Tibet (if the Chinese open up the area again to foreigners - you may well have to be in an organised tour group - see http://www.tashidelektreks.com.np/ as an option), then from there you can get a train to Beijing. From Beijing, take the trans siberian express via Mongolia (might as well do Mongolia too), see that, then the long drag to Moscow. From Moscow you can get a train through Belarus to Poland. From Warsaw continue onwards through to Berlin, then to Cologne, to Brussels, take the Eurostar to London.
For option 2, refer to http://www.seat61.com, there's a wealth of info about this, see india or china pages.
All of this assumes you don't wanna fly.
Aug 27, 2012 7:46 AM
Aug 27, 2012 8:21 AM
3Well alternatively, you could go from Lhasa to Xining by train. From Xining take a 24 hr bus ride to Urumqi (or maybe there's a train, not sure on this). After Urumqi a train to Almaty. From Almaty either car (8 hrs) or train (12 hrs) to Astana. From Astana there's a train every second day to Moscow. From Moscow it's easy to get to London is quite straightforward by train, see http://www.seat61.com.
I suggest you post in other branches though to get better more up to date advice (mine is 4 years out of date) - you're not going to get much help about getting from Lhasa to Urumqi or Beijing in the W Europe branch ;)
Aug 27, 2012 9:33 AM
4there are only 2 trains a month from the Pakistan border to Tehran
Do they go to Tehran or only to Zahedan?
From Almaty either car (8 hrs) or train (12 hrs) to Astana. From Astana there's a train every second day to Moscow.
No need to go to Astana. There are direct trains from Almaty to Moscow.
From Xining take a 24 hr bus ride to Urumqi (or maybe there's a train, not sure on this)
I think that if you want to make it by train you have to go to Lanzhou.
From Moscow it's easy to get to London is quite straightforward by train
The most direct route is through Belarus and you'll need a transit visa for that country. An alternative would be to go through Kiev (Ukraine).
Aug 27, 2012 2:30 PM
5#4 I have no idea ref the trains to Tehran vs Zahedan, I pulled all of the above info from seat61.com and other forums at pretty high speed.
I asked because yours was the second post I saw recently talking about trains from Pakistan to Tehran and, AFAIK, although they ended to put rail tracks all the way from Tehran to Zahedan sometime ago, there aren't trains running from Zahedan to Tehran. Of course, I'd like to be corrected if I'm wrong and that's why I asked. It seems I'll have to wait to get an (updated) answer to my question as neither you nor anyone else in the other thread provided it.
OP: If Tibet and Iran aren't options on your travel dates, you can go from Pakistan to China without going through Tibet. I don't know the details (e.g.: if the border is opened year-round) about it though. BTW, from what I read in TT, Pakistan seems to be requiring to apply for a visa in your home country. As Fwoggie recommended, go to the branches covering the countries along your route to get more detailed and updated info.
Aug 29, 2012 10:56 AM
6I agree that trying the route through Pakistan and on eastward is hugely risky - and you may not even get visas.
And - you need to check out the visa situation in China and Russia - I'm not sure you can get into Russia without an 'invitation' - ie a letter or something from a hotel saying they are expecting you. China, too, can be awkward, and this changes all the time.
Enjoy - this will be a great trip.
Aug 31, 2012 10:35 PM
7you can only get Pakistan visa's in your home country (that would be America) and even then it's very unlikely that you would be able to get Iranian visa's.
Turkish Airlines offer the cheapest flights most times from Europe to India so not sure whether they would still be the cheapest going the other way.
Sep 3, 2012 6:57 AM
I think this may be too hard. The problems run as follows:
Foreign independent travellers may not enter China from Nepal or India.
All foreign independent travel in Tibet is currently banned.
Organised tours must be in groups of at least 4 people of the same nationality.
If you enter China with an organised tour visa, you have to leave China on that visa, and cannot convert it to independent travel without leaving the country.
As a long time follower of the cycling forum, what I can say is that we cyclists have not found any practical way to enter China from Nepal as part of a longer travel trajectory for a long time, since even using organised tours does not work.
Maybe, just maybe, you'd be able to do this if you found an organised long distance overland trips (excuse me while I vomit) that happened to be going the same way as you both in entering and leaving China, perhaps an E to W Silk Road "Adventure" tour, staring from Kathmandu. But it's hardly backpacking.
But in saying there are only 2 routes, you omitted the 3rd route, which is the one that is that actually works, at least for people for whom Iran is a problem. It starts, perhaps a little counter-intuitively:
India - Pakistan - China (staying north of Tibet - NB Khunjerab pass Pak-China is closed roughly Nov-May) ... That "staying north of Tibet" bit is what makes this feasible. But it does have seasonal restrictions and you won't be able to do it in the winter.
Now from Kashgar you have some options. From there you can either go through some interesting Stans (Kyrgyz - another high pass that may have seasonal restrictions, Uz, Turkmen) and cross the Caspian to Azerbaijan, which is quite hard work visa-wise. Or else you can go further east from Kashgar and cross into Kazakhstan, which has the merit of relative bureaucratic simplicity, but is mostly flat nothing, and then into Russia, etc. Or you can go even further east to Mongolia, from where you can even get a direct train all the way to Moscow.
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