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Route Planning Where to go, when, what are the interesting places to see
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Old 30 Oct 2023
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Lightbulb UK to Australia overland

Hi all,
I am currently planning a multi-year overlanding trip starting in April 2024, with the first stage of the route being UK – Australia. I will be travelling with an Irish passport in a UK registered 4x4.

The route I have in mind at the moment is: UK > Europe > Turkey > Georgia > Armenia > Georgia > Russia > Mongolia > Russia > Kazakhstan > Kyrgyzstan > Uzbekistan > Tajikistan > Uzbekistan > Turkmenistan > Iran > Pakistan > India > Nepal > India > Malaysia > Thailand > Laos > Cambodia > Thailand > Malaysia > Indonesia > East Timor > Australia

I’ve collected some good intel so far from my time spent lurking on Horizons Unlimited, but would be very grateful for any advice and feedback to help me refine my route and flag any potential busts, visas with long lead times, visas which can only be applied for in my country of residence and not en-route, areas to avoid, areas to include etc.

I have read a lot of differing opinions and advice regarding travelling in Russia and so have come up with 2 options (optimistically assuming the Georgia – Azerbaijan land border opens by then).

Option 1 will include about 6 weeks of travelling in Russia, crossing from Georgia and then quickly blasting across to the Lake Baikal area and spending the majority of the time there and in the Altai region on return from Mongolia.

Option 2 will only involve 2 very brief (1-2 day) transits across Russia while en-route from Kazakhstan to Mongolia and back.

At the moment I need advice to help me determine which option to go for, so feel free to get in touch if you can help.

I could also really use some advice on shipping the car from SE Asia to Australia. I would much prefer to ship from East Timor to Australia, but keen to hear other options if this is not possible.


UK to Australia overland-route-option-1.jpg

UK to Australia overland-route-option-2.jpg
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Old 30 Oct 2023
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UK plates on the car are likely to give you trouble with Iran, even if you're on an Irish passport.

Mongolia generates a massive detour here, and you would save yourself a large amount of trouble if you left that for a later date and went Georgia-Iran-Pakistan, or alternatively Georgia to Azerbaijan (bit of an asterisk currently) to Kazakhstan by ferry, then do all the stans you want, and join a group drive from the Kyrgyzstan border through China (Xinjiang, Tibet etc.) to Laos. Also bypasses Myanmar which you is not in your itinerary, and currently not accessible overland from the west, so no way to go from India to Malaysia except by cargo boat.

The boat from East Timor to Australia used to be a one-way circle, so it would go from Dili all the way up to Singapore before going down to Darwin. Not sure if that boat is even still sailing. Might be much simpler to arrange container shipping from MY (definitely don't drive your own vehicle into SG if you can avoid it) and do some lightweight island-hopping in Indonesia while the car is slowly sailing down under.
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Old 30 Oct 2023
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Just some random comments from me, since you're proposing a very long route there, and I'm not familiar with the S and SE Asia region.

Russia is a completely viable travel route. Visas are being issued and travellers who have been there report they are welcome. Of course you can't rule out the occasional idiot but they are the exception not the rule. The biggest problem is money, as western cards don't work there due to sanctions. The only way round this seems to be to take cash into the country (up to $10k doesn't need to be declared)and convert what you need into Rubles. To avoid carrying large quantities of cash on the road open a Tinkoff debit card account for foreigners. The Mir card can also be used in a few other Asian countries so it's not just Russia. Western medical insurance is also unlikely to cover you, but it should be possible to buy that from a local broker such as Rosgosstrakh.

If you don't want to do a long slog along the Trans-Siberian Highway you could do a relatively short sector through Russia via Volgograd or Astrakhan towards Uralsk, then across the steppe to Astana. A further short hop into Russia (Barnaul) would take you into Mongolia. Reverse the Barnaul hop to re-enter Kazakhstan and head south to Almaty (a must-see city!). I'm not saying avoid Russia but rather, avoid the risk of running out of money. If you get to Mongolia be sure to visit the south of the country, the verges of the Gobi desert and the Altai.

Don't count on Azerbaijan border being open. They closed it nominally due to covid but have kept it closed because they don't want an influx of Russian draft dodgers like Georgia had, and they reckon tourists arriving by air spend more than overlanders anyway. It's possible to freight your vehicle in and follow by air. Once in country you are free to travel round and leave. But it's not a cheap option.

Kyrgyzstan-Tajikistan border is nominally closed but things have eased up. You still can't rock up and cross but if you email the KG ministry of tourism a week in advance you can generally get special permission. See thread on Caravanistan for more details.

Not easy: Iran and Turkmenistan. Iran you'll need a carnet and guide. Turkmenistan seem to be allowing entry with organised tours only.
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Old 31 Oct 2023
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In my experience (multiple trips with UK cars) there is absolutely no issue driving a UK registered car in Iran. Authorities are only interested in your passport, visa and sometimes carnet.

I have also never heard of anyone having trouble in Iran because of a UK registered vehicle. If there is any such report it would be interesting to share.

Hardly anyone in Iran would recognise UK license plates. So even if there was some issue driving a UK car in Iran, which there isn't, you would most likely not be noticed.
EurasiaOverland a memoir of one quarter of a million kilometres by road through all of the Former USSR, Western and Southern Asia.
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Old 1 Nov 2023
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I don't really see a reason to speed through Russia - either you make the decision to avoid it altogether, or at least see the highlights you've mentioned.

Regards the stretch from European Russia to, say Novosibirsk vs. going through Kazakhstan to Pavlodar/Semey and then into Russia, both are nice; I would probably choose Kazakhstan (but stay south as long as you can).

Mongolia, to me, is utterly unmissable. It's far into Asia and not somewhere you can quickly visit in the future. If you take advantage of the capabilities of your vehicle and explore Mongolia away from its road network, you'll have an experience which I don't think can be replicated elsewhere. The fact that Mongolia is experiencing massive urban drift means I really would make the effort to go now as the traditional, rural culture is (maybe not-so) slowly dying out.

Iran, Pakistan, India are great places to winter, but also (in the case of Pakistan and India) places you really want to visit in summer to get into the mountains. Try to time it so you can go up to Ladakh and at least one high Himalayan trekking area. Nepal is pretty much unmissable too in my opinion.

I think you need way more time to do this area justice. As you know, I did a trip which got no further towards Australia than Bangladesh (albeit with a fair few diversions) and that took 4.5 years (from an inital plan of 18 months) - and I still went back a few times more. I think it's worth at least 2 years.

As far as I know, there is no way to avoid shipping/RORO getting between peninsular SE Asia and out to Sumatra/Java/Borneo, though once in Sundaland you can use the Indonesian ferry network to get around.

Come and visit Borneo too!

EurasiaOverland a memoir of one quarter of a million kilometres by road through all of the Former USSR, Western and Southern Asia.

Last edited by eurasiaoverland; 6 Nov 2023 at 00:09.
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Old 19 Mar 2024
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Have a look at ANL. We will be using them to get out of Aus, however be mindful there may be long delays (some talk recently of 6 weeks - might need to book in advance).


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shipping India to Malaysia

Hi, I've taken the route through Iran,Pakistan to India not so long ago. I would say that frieghting from Chennai to KL was an expensive affair! I flew my bike instead of shipping as I had read about delays and port costs, also I preferred to be in the airport the same day as my bike to get it out of customs, there is a hotel close to the customs it's on ioverlander called TUNE if i remember correctly. The thing is if I had my time again i would maybe take another route. Definitley do your homework and choose a good agent who is experienced and transparent.
Wish you all the best on your trip.
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australia, planning, route, united kingdom

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