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Six months overland from Istanbul to Indonesia

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Rock bottom from Turkey to Bali (Indonesia) in 6 months.

six months overland from istanbul to indonesia Travel Guide :

5.1 Turkey (estimated: 18 days)

5.2 Iran (estimated: 10 days)

5.3 Pakistan (estimated: 14 days)

5.4 India (estimated: 15 days for part one)

5.5 Nepal (estimated: 8 days, excluding a trek of 3 to 21 days + rest)

5.6 India (estimated: 8 days, including a 4 day trek)

5.7 Bangladesh (estimated: 6 days)

5.8 Myanmar (estimated: 22 days)

5.9 Thailand (estimated: 8 days for part one)

5.10 Laos (estimated: 14 days)

5.11 Vietnam (estimated: 23 days)

5.12 Cambodia (estimated: 9 days)

5.13 Thailand (estimated: 1 day, pass through Bangkok)

5.14 Malaysia (estimated: 1 day)

5.15 Indonesia (estimated: 14 Sumatra + 9 Java + 5 Bali equals 28 days)

Six months overland from Istanbul to Indonesia

Sample Itinerary

  • Visit the Bleu Mosque in Istanbul,
  • Explore the Cappadocian plainsCappadocian plains (Turkey)
  • Walk through ancient PersepolisPersepolis (Iran)
  • Enjoy day hikes in the Karakoram Mountains (Pakistan)
  • Ride a camel in the Thar desert (India)
  • Relax in beautiful Kathmandu (Nepal)
  • Take a rickshaw through the surreal streets of crowded Dhaka (Bangladesh),
  • Enjoy the friendly and strange atmosphere in Rangoon (Myanmar)
  • Do some trekking to tribal areas in the north of Thailand
  • Sit back and enjoy the quietness of rural Laos
  • Canoe through the Mekong Delta's villages on water (Vietnam)
  • Visit the ruins of Angkor (Cambodia)
  • Spot urangatangs in the Sumatra jungle (Indonesia)
  • Walk on the Bromo volcano in Java (Indonesia)
Six months overland from Istanbul to Indonesia

Prepare

Visas should best be obtained in your home country. It is possible to do that while traveling but it will require quite some effort and time. So, if you are certain about visiting a country in advance, well, arrange your visa in advance too. To my knowledge, you can enter Malaysia and Thailand without costs and visa. Unfortunately, this is not the case for the other countries. You could easily spend 300-350 Euro or more on visas only during this trip, depending on your nationality.

Medication: as with almost all travels, just a few pain killers and something to fight stomach problems should do. For advice on malaria, or whatever, of course, consult a specialist. But basically you will be in areas with some risk on malaria.

For Bangladesh and to a lesser extent Iran and Pakistan I would recommend the Lonely Planet guides, for the other countries you should manage without. Just ask other tourists.

Iran does not allow for visa or mastercard, so be careful. Myanmar does not allow for your average Internet, you pay for each message and need to read all replies on the same computer.

Whatever you need, buy it while traveling... these countries are cheap enough.

Six months overland from Istanbul to Indonesia

Get in

Everywhere this is slightly different. You may find that this is just the fun of it. Mostly you can go with the flow. Just don't trust people at border crossings too readily when it comes down to money or transportation, and never exchange more than necessary.

Six months overland from Istanbul to Indonesia

Time

The trip included lasts about 6 months (estimated time = 183 days) but it will require you to travel very efficient, only including the main route and few of the side routes mentioned. Nine months travel would probably be a better estimate if you travel somewhat slower.

Best time to travel is probably to start end of July, beginning of August, then you will end at best in Bali the end of January. But it will always be slightly less optimal somewhere traveling like this.

Six months overland from Istanbul to Indonesia

Countries West to East

Six months overland from Istanbul to Indonesia

Turkey (estimated: 18 days)

for rock bottom travel (2003):

daily costs over 8 US

accommodation: 2 to 5 Euro

meal: 35 cent to 2 Euro

transport: buses run all over... e.g. Istanbul - Sanli Urfa = +20 Euro, a dolmus for small distances.

Internet: 50 cent to 1.5 Euro per hour

Six months overland from Istanbul to Indonesia

Istanbul

Start your trip in the doorway between Europe and Asia and get in touch with the Muslim culture. To see the main attractions you probably need a few days. Beware of pick pockets and the like... Buses leave from the main bus terminal, miles out of town. The bus to Selçuk will take about 9 hours. Going to Selçuk you could visit the ruins of Bergamo near Canakalle.

Six months overland from Istanbul to Indonesia

Celçuk (Ephesus)

Visit the historical site of Ephesus with its famous library. This would take the average tourist about three to four hours. For swimming you go to Guzelcamli, the national park further south. The bus to Pamukalle will take about 8 hours. Going to Pamukkale you could visit the charming ruins of Afrodisias near Karakacu.

Six months overland from Istanbul to Indonesia

Pamukkale

This remarkable natural phenomenon is quite interesting. Unfortunately it is also crowded and polluted. A visit of Pamukkale will take about half a day, including the nearby ruins. Take a dolmus to Denizli and a bus further to Nevsehir (Cappadocia), with final destination Goreme This trip to Goreme will take about 9 hours.

Six months overland from Istanbul to Indonesia

Goreme

Spectacular natural scenery in a true travelers place. This area can keep you busy for about three days, including trips to Ilhara Valley, the underground city, ... Maybe you could even stay the night in guesthouses carved out of the rocks. Take a bus to Malatya. This will take about 8 hours.

Six months overland from Istanbul to Indonesia

Malatya (Mount Nimrod)

Malatya means the east of Turkey, Kurdish Turkey. And it is the most obvious city to do an excursion to Mount Nimrod. This place shows some historic artifacts and even more so, a breath-taking view on the surrounding valleys that embed the Euphrates. You do an overnight on the mountain. Tours start in the center of Malatya at noon. A bus will bring you to the summit before sunset. In the morning you see sunrise and descend again. Go by bus to Sanli Urfa. This will take about 7 hours.

Six months overland from Istanbul to Indonesia

Sanli Urfa (Harran)

Entering the middle east. The streets are filled with Iranians, Syrians, Iraqis, and other Arabs. You come here to further visit Haran. This will require you to take a dolmus and spent maybe an hour on the site. It is one of the oldest continuously inhabited spots on earth and shows cool beehive houses. From Urfa you can take the bus to Dogubayazit. This will take about 14 hours. Going to Dogubayazit you could visit Dyarbakir and even do a side trip to beautiful Mardin.

Six months overland from Istanbul to Indonesia

Dogubayazit

Spent a few hours visiting Ishak Pasa, and maybe consider side trips in the area (e.g. Mt. Ararat). This is the last stop before Iran.

Six months overland from Istanbul to Indonesia

border crossing Turkey-Iran

To get to the border, take a dolmus (small local bus). The actual crossing is usually hassle free. Once on the other side, take a bus to Bazargan. Exchange a bare minimum of money to get there. In Bazargan exchange somewhat more, enough to take a shared taxi to Maku and a bus further to your destination: Tabriz, Tehran or Esfahan. Buses to Tehran leave in the afternoon and take about 13 hours. Count on approximately 2 US for that trip.

Changing money can be done on both sides, best check out with other travelers first and never change more than you need at the border.

Six months overland from Istanbul to Indonesia

Iran (estimated: 10 days)

for rock bottom travel (2003):

daily costs about 7 US

accommodation: 2 to 3.5 Euro

meal: 50 cent for a hamburger + coke - 2 euro for a local restaurant

transport: e.g. Tehran - Shiraz = 3 Euro

Internet: 1 Euro to 1.2 Euro per hour

entrance fees are very high

Tip: luggage can mostly be left at the bus terminal if a ticket onward is bought. You can sleep for free in several Mosques. Put these together...

Six months overland from Istanbul to Indonesia

Tehran

You could just visit the bus terminal and head onward. Otherwise, take the metro to the Emam Khomeini Square in the city. Take the bus to Esfahan. This will take about 7 hours.

Six months overland from Istanbul to Indonesia

Esfahan

Esfahan is plain beautiful and triggers a nice feel because of the fairly relaxed atmosphere. Unfortunate are the tourist prices of the sites. You could probably spent a few days here to relax from the long distance travels. Take a bus to Yazd. This will take about 5 hours.

Six months overland from Istanbul to Indonesia

Yazd

In Yazd you can get a glimpse of the earlier settlements many years ago, the style of mud-brick cities and buildings... a real desert city... A visit of a full day should do. Take a bus to Shiraz. This will take about 7 hours.

Six months overland from Istanbul to Indonesia

Shiraz (Persepolis)

Visit Shiraz just to get to Persepolis (8 US entrance fee). To get to Persepolis, take a bus to Marvdasht and a shared taxi onward. A short visit will take several hours. Take a bus to Zahedan. This will take about 17 hours. You can split this trip in two by a stop-over in Kerman.

Six months overland from Istanbul to Indonesia

Zahedan

Walk or take local transportation to the junction heading to the border with Pakistan.

Six months overland from Istanbul to Indonesia

border crossing Iran-Pakistan

To get to the border, arrange for a trip in the back of a pick-up. Bargain. Walk to the actual crossing. The crossing is usually hassle free. Once on the other side, walk to Taftan town. Do not arrange tickets nor exchange money at the border itself. Exchange money in town, enough to buy a ticket to Quetta by bus. Buses to Quetta leave until late in the afternoon. This trip takes about 14 hours. Count on approximately 5 US for it.

Six months overland from Istanbul to Indonesia

Pakistan (estimated: 14 days)

for rock bottom travel (2003):

daily costs about 7 US

accommodation: 1 to 2 Euro

meal: 50 cent to 1.5 Euro

transport: bus Quetta - Lahore (18-24h) = 11 Euro

transport: train Quetta - Lahore (24h) = 8 Euro and student-discount 50% if you can arrange it

Internet: 0.25 cent to 0.50 cent per hour where available

Six months overland from Istanbul to Indonesia

Quetta

Enjoy being in Pakistan, bordering Afghanistan, with its amalgam set of people on the street and markets. A visit may take at least a day of wandering the streets. Take a bus to Peshawar. This will take about 24 hours. It is also possible to go to Lahore instead and visit Multan on the way, or to go straight to Rawalpindi. For the trains students can get a discount, well, if they find out how it works anyway. It is a rough ride.

Six months overland from Istanbul to Indonesia

Peshawar

Your door to Afghanistan through the beautiful Kyberpass, and in itself also a nice city to have a walk through. Enjoy the colourful mix of people. This visit will take a day of wandering the streets. Take the bus north to Gilgit and further to Karimabad.

Six months overland from Istanbul to Indonesia

Karimabad (Ultar) and Minapin (Rakaposhi)

You go to Karimabad for its beautiful scenery amidst the Karakoram mountains. After you return south towards Gilgit and get out near Minapin. From this tiny town with one guesthouse (an OK one) you hike up to the base-camp (alt. 3500m.)of the Rakaposhi mountain (alt. 8400m.). In total, count on spending a few relaxing days in Karimabad and one day for the Rakaposhi excursion. Take a bus to Gilgit and further to Rawalpindi.

Six months overland from Istanbul to Indonesia

Rawalpindi/Islamabad

Visit the squared administrative capital and its dirty, polluted and overcrowded twin-city. Both Rawalpindi and Islamabad are connected local buses, taking about 10 minutes. Both can be shortly visited in one day total. Rawalpindi is connected with both Peshawar and Lahore by train. Take a train to Lahore. This will take about five hours.

Six months overland from Istanbul to Indonesia

Lahore

This diverse city borders India. There are several attractions. This city may take a few days to visit. Try to be there on Thursday, then Sufis perform their spiritual dancing, for many travelers the highlight of their visit.

Six months overland from Istanbul to Indonesia

border crossing Pakistan-India

To go to India, take a city bus from Lahore trainstation to the Wagah border. Walk the border to the other side. Try to be here in the early early afternoon and wait for the closing of the border ceremony. Afterwards, take a shared taxi to Attari and a bus onward to Amritsar.

Six months overland from Istanbul to Indonesia

India (estimated: 15 days for part one)

for rock bottom travel (2003):

daily costs about 6 US

accommodation: 0.5 to 1.5 Euro

meal: 50 cent to 1.5 Euro

transport: night-train Delhi - Pushkar = 5 Euro

transport: local night-bus Varanasi - Nepal = 1.7 Euro

transport: local train Calcutta - Bangladesh = 0.40 Euro

For trains one word of caution: plan ahead if possible. It is not uncommon that trains are fully booked and then you have to wait or take the less comfortable buses, often more expensive. For popular tourist destinations there are often places reserved especially for tourists, only payable in US.

Internet: 0.20 cent to 0.40 cent per hour

Six months overland from Istanbul to Indonesia

Amritsar

This is the home of the golden Sikhs Temple. If possible, be sure not to miss it as the atmosphere is strangely relaxing and just being there is rewarding as it is. There you can sleep near the temple, for a donation. You can get free meals during the day if you want, and just sit there and watch the people... Amritsar will entertain you for a day. Take the train to Delhi. It will take you about 10 hours.

Six months overland from Istanbul to Indonesia

Delhi

Beware, never believe anything in Delhi. Try and book a train to Agra taking you five hours. Or choose to first see Rajasthan. For that, go by train or bus and visit Jaipur, Pushkar, Jodhpur, Udaipur and finally Jaisalmer.

Six months overland from Istanbul to Indonesia

Rajasthan

Beware, never believe anything in Rajasthan. This possible sidetrip can be shortened by a short visit of the bleu city Jodhpur (1 day) to see the fort and get to know the Indian way. Further west, in Jaisalmer (3 day) you can go for a camel trek in the Thar desert. For this short sidetrip, count at least 5 days in total. Afterwards, proceed to Agra by train or bus.

Six months overland from Istanbul to Indonesia

Agra (Taj Mahal)

The Taj Mahal is expensive these days. Some tourist only go and see it for free from the outside of the complex. Beware, never believe anything in Agra. You can arrive early in the morning, leave your bags for a small fee in the trainstation and leave already the same day to Varanasi. You may need to do this by bus as trains are often fully booked. Then take a bus to Varanasi or to Lucknow in between and take a train there. This trip will take time.

Six months overland from Istanbul to Indonesia

Varanasi

Get amazed in the religious capital of India. It is hard to miss out on this city if you are in India. Only, again, scams are all over the place. A visit to Varanasi easily takes up two days of wandering the streets. Leave for Nepal by local bus to Sanauli. Do not trust the travel industry in Varanasi. This trip will last for about 10 hours.

Six months overland from Istanbul to Indonesia

border crossing India-Nepal

You get to the border by local bus from Varanasi. Then walk the last kilometer to the border at Sanauli, a relaxed but very small border-town. In 2003 you could get a visa at the border entering Nepal, payable in US cash. Save yourself some money and walk to the bus station a firm walk out of this small town. Book a ticket there to Pokhara, Chitwan or Kathmandu. If you want to do some hiking in Nepal's Anapurna circuit, go straight to Pokhara. The trip will take about 8 hours. A hike lasts 3 to 21 days. If you don't, then go to Tadi Bazaar (5 hours) where you take a rickshaw to Sauraha for the Royal Chitwan National Park.

Six months overland from Istanbul to Indonesia

Nepal (estimated: 8 days, excluding a trek of 3 to 21 days + rest)

for rock bottom travel (2003):

daily costs about 6 US

accommodation: 60 cent to 90 cent

meal: 0.25 cent to 0.75 cent

transport: bus Pokhara - Chitwan 1.5 Euro

transport: bus Chitwan - Kathmandu 1.5 Euro

Internet: 25 cent to 35 cent per hour

Six months overland from Istanbul to Indonesia

Chitwan National Park

Enjoy real jungle and some wildlife in the Terai. Although a bit expensive, sitting on the back of an elephant can bring you quite close to the rhinos around, and offer you a different perspective on the vastness of the jungle. With some luck you will encounter crocodiles, a bear, and some series of birds and insects. Or maybe even tigers and rhinos. If you arrive in the morning you should be able to make an elephant ride in the afternoon and arrange a walk the next day. Return to the junction and book a bus ride out to Kathmandu. The trip to Kathmandu lasts for 5 hours.

Six months overland from Istanbul to Indonesia

Kathmandu

Here in Kathmandu valley you can find it all, Kathmandu, nearby Patan and up-hill Bhaktapur. Most places require you to pay, a lot. But mostly it can easily be avoided by taking small roads into the city center. The same goes for the temples. If you have no time to actually go out and explore the Himalayas, go to Nagarkot to see the mountain range when sun rises early in the morning. Take a bus to the border east, kakarbhitta. This trip takes time.

Six months overland from Istanbul to Indonesia

border crossing Nepal-India

If you arrive at the border, walk the remaining part. Then take a shared rickshaw to the truck terminal. Here you can arrange for a truck up the mountain to Darjeeling.

Six months overland from Istanbul to Indonesia

India (estimated: 8 days, including a 4 day trek)

Six months overland from Istanbul to Indonesia

Darjeeling

Do a four day trek along the border with Nepal. Use Darjeeling as your base. This city is beautifully located but surprisingly polluted by exhaustion fumes.

Six months overland from Istanbul to Indonesia

Calcutta

Calcutta is a nice city that treats you quite good. From here you can further go to Bangladesh. Just take the train to the border. If you need to take a plain, for example to Rangoon, then you can save money going by metro half way and take the bus further onward.

Six months overland from Istanbul to Indonesia

border crossing India-Bangladesh

To Bangladesh, just walk to the trainstation to arrive very early in the morning. Take the train to the border. Then switch to a shared taxi to the border. Walk through for about one kilometer. Switch to a local bus to Jessore and further from there.

Six months overland from Istanbul to Indonesia

Bangladesh (estimated: 6 days)

for rock bottom travel (2003):

daily costs about 5 US

accommodation: about 1 Euro

meal: 30 cent to 1 Euro

transport: night-bus Dhaka - Chittagong = 3 Euro, but strongly depending on the company.

transport: day bus Dhaka - Chittagong = 2 Euro , but strongly depending on the company.

Internet: 50 cent to 1 Euro, where available

Tip: Lonely Planet recommended due to lack of tourism. I do not think that other guides cover Bangladesh.

Six months overland from Istanbul to Indonesia

Khulna (Sundarbans national park)

Go tiger watching in the wild, and canoe through the beautiful mangrove. This can be arranged in Khulna as you need a permit for that. Alternatively you can go to mongla for canoeing through the mangrove. Take a bus out to Dhaka, or do it by Rocket, an English steamer. The latter will take 24 hours, cruising Bangladesh...

Six months overland from Istanbul to Indonesia

Dhaka

Plunge into the poor, dirty and overcrowded city. Just walk around, shop at the markets, take an old English double deck bus, or one of the seemingly millions of rickshaws. It is possible to travel by 'Rocket', an old English steamer, it is fun. Tourists you will not find. But head out to Gullistan for accommodation. From Dhaka you could do side trips to wherever. It can also be the place where you take a plain to Myanmar.

Six months overland from Istanbul to Indonesia

border crossing Bangladesh-Myanmar

Myanmar is a fly in - fly out country. So, although local Bangladeshi's can cross the border, you can not. So the trip you may want to book is Dhaka - Rangoon - Bangkok. When arriving at the airport you have to exchange some cash or travelers cheques into Foreign Exchange Certificates. This you can use to pay a taxi into the city (3 US). But, if you go to the departure hall, try to change a minimum of FEC into Kyat with a tourist. One FEC's worth on Kyat (local currency) is more than enough to get you into the city. Just walk for about ten minutes towards the main road and take a bus for less then 10 cents.

Six months overland from Istanbul to Indonesia

Myanmar (estimated: 22 days)

for rock bottom travel (2003):

daily costs = 6 US

obligatory exchange of 200 Euro or Dollar to 200 FEC.

accommodation: 2 - 3 US, breakfast sometimes included

meal: 20 cent (local Myanmar food) - 1 Euro Chinese dishes (20 cent to 1 Euro)

transport: Yangon - Bagan = 4 Euro or more

transport: pick-ups, about 10-20 cent for every hour, expect to pay somewhat more then the locals

travel is in general very slow

Internet: to send/receive mail = 30 cent, Internet is virtually impossible.

Six months overland from Istanbul to Indonesia

Rangoon

This very nice kind of laid back capital is a good soft introduction to the country. This city takes a few days to visit. But you will return here to fly out. Take the bus to Bagan. The trip will take a lot of time, as everywhere in Myanmar.

Six months overland from Istanbul to Indonesia

Bagan

Here you will visit an awesome landscape dotted with ruins of temples. Very nice. It takes a full day of walking around to visit the area. Take a boat for an hour up river to go to Pakkoku (about 30 cents). Alternatively, take a bus straight to Mandalay.

Six months overland from Istanbul to Indonesia

Pakkoku

Get in touch with Myanmar outside the tourist circus. Take a bus onward to Mandalay. This is by far the cheapest way. And in Mandalay you can catch a pick-up further to Pyin Oo Lwyn.

Six months overland from Istanbul to Indonesia

Pyin-Oo-Lwin

Visit this town for its colonial architecture, being a British hill station with pleasant cool temperatures. You can visit the waterfall that is ok. Take a ride in the back of a pick-up to Hsipaw. (2US) Or, wait aside of the road and take the bus. If you succeed in bargaining down to the real price you'll pay less then for the pick-up. Alternatively, you can go by train. (2FEC)

Six months overland from Istanbul to Indonesia

Hsipaw

A travelers hang-out, small and rural but yet well equipped with the necessities of travelers. The walks in the villages and nature around kept me busy for longer than I thought, really a place to recommend to just hang out. Here you can easily stay for three days. Now head the other way around to Mandalay and further to Nyaung Shwe. The bus will drop you of at the junction of Shwe Nyaung. There you will need to go by pick-up to Nyaung Shwe. Normal prices are about 10 cents or less. Expect to pay double.

Six months overland from Istanbul to Indonesia

Nyaung Shwe (Inle Lake)

Catch the beautiful scenery of all the villages and their gardens on the water, and with all the boat travel around. Visit the market in Shwe Nyaung and Taunggi. A day or two should do. Head back to the junction to arrange a bus out to Rangoon, or go by the travel agencies in town (somewhat more expensive). You can also arrange your transport from out of Taunggi. A possible side trip is to stop over in Bago and proceed east to Thaton and Hpa-An. Thaton is really nice, as is the scenery on road to Hpa-An. This requires another three days.

Six months overland from Istanbul to Indonesia

Rangoon

Do whatever you still need to do and head out to the airport. Just a last day in Myanmar. Good for shopping perhaps.

Six months overland from Istanbul to Indonesia

border crossing Myanmar-Thailand

As Myanmar is a fly in - fly out country, head back to the airport by local bus. On arrival take a local bus or train to the center of town. Alternatively, take a bus to the inter-city bus station to proceed directly to Chiang Mai.

Six months overland from Istanbul to Indonesia

Thailand (estimated: 8 days for part one)

for rock bottom travel (2002):

daily costs about 8 US

accommodation: 1 to 2.5 Euro

meal: 0.25 cent to 1 Euro

transportation: Bangkok - Penang (Malaysia) for about 20-25 Euro by night train

transportation: Bangkok - Aranya Prathet near the Cambodian border for 3.5 Euro by airco-bus

Internet: 30 cent to 1.5 cent per hour where available

getting there and away: enter by train from Malaysia (900 Baht) to Bangkok, but of course also to Hat Yai near the border if you want. To Laos at several places, in the north, north-east and east. From Poipet in Cambodia to Aranya Prathet. And also by sea to Sihanoukville in Cambodia is possible. Crossing into Burma is possible in the north and center but the borders are sometimes closed and there are sometimes very specific prerequisites to enter like a maximum stay of 8 days, the exchange of 200 US dollar and/or the restriction to stay in one city. Check on these before you go there.

Six months overland from Istanbul to Indonesia

Bangkok

Bangkok, the center of South East Asia. Save a lot of money traveling around by bus, it is not as difficult as it looks. For less then half a dollar you get from the airport to slightly out of the city center. For a few cents you can go all over the city. You will end up here in Bangkok again. In total the city should keep you busy for at least two days. Take the bus to Chiang Mai. Leave in the evening, arrive in the morning. On your way you could also stopover in Sukothai to see the ruins of the oldest city in Thailand.

Six months overland from Istanbul to Indonesia

Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai is a touristy developed cultural and economical center in the north of Thailand. Go there to do some trekking and cultural trips. This is the place to shop for Thai silk. Alternatives for trekking are Mae Hong Song (with long neck Karen tribe) and Chiang Rai. Another possibility is Pai, a relaxed tourist hang-out. If you do a trek, then this takes a few days. Chiang Mai itself is not something to be too long.

Six months overland from Istanbul to Indonesia

Chiang Khong

This border town is definitely preferable over its Laotian counterpart Huay Xai. Head out to Laos early in the morning around 7 and you'll be in time to catch the first bus or boat out of Huay Xai at around 8 AM. You could do a sidetrip here to see the golden triangle.

Six months overland from Istanbul to Indonesia

border crossing Thailand-Laos

In early morning, arrange for a canoe to help you over the Mekong (50 cents). Once across walk further to the truck station east of town. Arrange for the next pick-up to go to Luang Namtha, a 10 hour drive through the jungle.

Six months overland from Istanbul to Indonesia

Laos (estimated: 14 days)

for rock bottom travel (2002):

daily costs about 8 US

accommodation: 25 cents in rural areas to 1.5 Euro in Vientiane

meal: 25 cent to 1.5 Euro

transportation: by bus/truck from the north-west over Luang Prabang - Vientianne to the south east totals about +20 US

Internet: 0.5 Euro in Vientiane - 1.5 Euro in Luang Prabang per hour - more in some other places but most do not offer any internet service

I heard prices went up there.

getting there and away:

enter by bus 'Vientiane - Hanoi' (25 US) (with local transport an extra day but for only 12 US). Further, you can cross into Vietnam at Lao Bao to proceed to Hue. Much more interesting than these two crossing are probably the crossing near the Vietnamese 'Dien Bien Phu' that will bring you right to Sapa in north Vietnam. Check on the possibility to cross there first because it opened only recently to foreigners. Another very interesting new crossing is at Si Pan Don, the lower south of Laos into Cambodia, also newly opened. To Thailand there are several crossings, in the south at Pakse, in the center at Vientiane and in the north west at Huay Xai. Border crossing to China is also possible.

Six months overland from Istanbul to Indonesia

Luang Nam Tha

This place in the north of Laos is good for trekking. So, again, jungle and minority villages. Go by pick-up to Muang Sing, this takes several hours.

Six months overland from Istanbul to Indonesia

Muang Sing

Hang out there for a day to see some tribal people. Be aware of scams with opium, they will sell and tell and you will loose a lot of money. Head back to Luang Namtha and further take a bus to Nong Khiauw. This may be the bus to Luang Prabang, just ask the driver to drop you off at the right junction. There you need to arrange for a smaller truck. If you start out in the morning you should arrive in the evening.

Six months overland from Istanbul to Indonesia

Nong Khiauw - Mong Noi

Relax in rural Laos, on the river banks in family run guest houses. Mong Noi is an hour upriver from Nong Khiaw, after 10 there is no electricity. Ideal for love-birds and pot-smokers. Go to Nong Khiauw in the morning, to the other side of the river. There you can arrange for a bus to Luang Prabang. You need transportation to town.

Six months overland from Istanbul to Indonesia

Luang Prabang

As a very pleasant colonial town it offers very great food from all over the world. There should even be some great trekking there, in vast jungle meeting minority people that haven't seen much tourists. The small waterfall is maybe worth the visit too. This city could do for a few days. Take a bus to Vang Vieng. Walk to town.

Six months overland from Istanbul to Indonesia

Vang Vieng

Relax in the tourist town of Vang Vieng. Just go an swim in the river, visit some cave or just sit in a tube floating the river while you see the enchanting scenery drift by. Splash out with international dinners, space cakes, drinking fruit shakes, bang lassi's and cocktails, watching western movies together with all the other relaxing travelers. This town can keep you going for a few days, for some ages... Take a bus further to Vientiane.

Six months overland from Istanbul to Indonesia

Vientiane

Well yeah, it is a capital and you come by here anyway. So, you could hang out for a day. Take a bus towards Hanoi (Vietnam). There is a 25US tourist bus, or you can go local. This cuts prices in half but may require extra time or you may even get stuck near the border for a night. Alternatively you could first visit Si Pan Don in the south and come back here again, after. This relaxed and beautiful place can be a nice two days. But it takes about 18 hours to get there. You can maybe enter Cambodia there, depending on current situation.

Six months overland from Istanbul to Indonesia

border crossing Laos-Vietnam

Six months overland from Istanbul to Indonesia

Vietnam (estimated: 23 days)

for rock bottom travel (2002):

daily costs about 10 US

accommodation: 2 to 3 US

meal: 0.5 to 1 US

transportation: by bus (Hanoi - Saigon 22 US / Hanoi - Sapa 3.5 US, although beware you catch the only direct line leaving at 6 if you not want to be stuck in Yen Bai for the night)

transportation: by train (Hanoi - Sapa 8 US)

transportation: motorbike with driver 1 day (10 US)

Internet => 20 cent per hour in Hanoi - 35 cent per hour in Saigon to 2 Euro per hour in Sapa

getting there and away:

enter by tourist bus to Hue (16 US) or to Vinh and further to Hanoi (25 US), with local transport I did the trip Vientiane for only 12 US instead of 25 but it took me an extra day. Go to Cambodia by bus (6 US) or boat on a Mekong Delta Tour (1 day to 3 days, with 3 days normally being 35 US). It is also possible to cross the border to China.

Six months overland from Istanbul to Indonesia

Hanoi

See Hanoi waking up, it is brilliant. The traffic is still less car-oriented and is bustling with bicycles. It is a firm but interesting walk from the main train station to the center. Book a tour to CatBa or go to Sapa. The order does not matter, both times you will come back here again after.

Six months overland from Istanbul to Indonesia

CatBa

A good tour ideally consists of an overnight on the boat instead of the islands' town, with a 12 km jungle walk with as few people as possible. It takes two or three days. Return to Hanoi by bus.

Six months overland from Istanbul to Indonesia

Sapa

Superb views on mountains and surrounding valleys together with the minority villages that live in these mountains makes Sapa the most recommended place of Vietnam. Return to Hanoi by bus or train.

Six months overland from Istanbul to Indonesia

Hue + Demilitarized Zone

Visit Hue, one day to have a look around and see a tomb e.g. Tu Duc (5 US). The next day you can do the DMZ tour if you want war history. Proceed by bus to Hoi An.

Six months overland from Istanbul to Indonesia

Hoi An

If you talk about a nice little feel-good town... than this is it. Take a day to shop for clothes. The next day you can go for a swim at the beach. The third day, when you have picked up the clothes you bought, head out to Saigon by bus.

Six months overland from Istanbul to Indonesia

Saigon

Get to know the western oriented part of Vietnam. The War Remnants Museum is one of the few 'must have seen' museums in Asia. So you will need a day to have a look around. From out of Saigon you can visit the tunnels of Cu Chi, fighting tunnels during the Vietnam War. For those interested, you can shoot guns there... And the third day you can start your three day Makong Delta tour towards Phnom Penh.

Six months overland from Istanbul to Indonesia

Mekong Delta

Visit the floating markets, the swamps used by the Vietcong in the Rung Tram forest, climbing Sam mountain for sunset with views over the border with Cambodia, ... and it is possible and recommended to cross the border with Cambodia here with a boat on the Mekong.

Six months overland from Istanbul to Indonesia

border crossing Vietnam-Cambodia

If you are doing the tour, just do as they tell you... it is fun. You will arrive at Phnom Penh late in the evening.

Six months overland from Istanbul to Indonesia

Cambodia (estimated: 9 days)

for rock bottom travel (2002):

daily costs about 10 US

accommodation: 2 US

meal: 0.5 to 1 US

transportation: by bus (Hanoi - Saigon 22 US / Hanoi - Sapa 3.5 US, although beware you catch the only direct line leaving at 6 if you not want to be stuck in Yen Bai for the night)

transportation: by truck (Phnom Penh - Siem Reap < 4US / Siem Reap - Battambang < 2 US / Battambang - Poipet 1 US)

transportation: by motorbike with driver 1 day (5 US) - entrances (40 US for Angkor + 10 US for the rest)

Internet: 1 US / hour in Phnom Penh - 1.5 US / hour in Siem Reap - 6 and more US / hour elsewhere

getting there and away:

by boat on the 3 day Mekong Delta Tour from Vietnam (30 US) or by bus from Saigon (6 US)/ by truck to Poipet, cross the border and take a minibus to Aranya Prathet (5 Baht), it is possible and in my opinion interesting to cross into Laos to Si Pan Don, it appears to be possible.

Six months overland from Istanbul to Indonesia

Phnom Penh

For the first day, visit a palace or a temple, and the Prison 21 torture chambers. Maybe go to the Killing Fields the next day, or shop around. In the morning, go to Siem Reap by bus or boat, which will take about 5 hours. Alternatively, do a sidetrip to Sihanoukville and experience Cambodian beaches. You can get therr by bus in about four hours. This is also the port you need if you want to go back to Thailand by boat. Choose the lake for a stay longer then one day.

Six months overland from Istanbul to Indonesia

Siem Reap (Angkor Wat)

The town is visited almost primarily for its proximity to Angkor Wat. And this is BRILLIANT. You may be here for four days. If you have only one day, head out there to see the sunset (free) and go there the next full day to see the following three places:

  • Bayon, a temple, at first site nothing special but that changes as you go in...
  • Angkor Wat, the biggest Buddhist temple in the world and maybe mausoleum
  • Preah Khan, powerful jungle trees on and in the temple ruins. For most people this is the most unforgettable part of the complex.

Otherwise, take three days to see all. Take a pick-up to the border. Alternatively, head out to Battambang to get a glimpse of city life outside of Phnom Penh. Just for a day.

Six months overland from Istanbul to Indonesia

border crossing Cambodia-Thailand

You arrive at walking distance from the border. After crossing it, just take a small local bus to the town of Aranya Prathet. There you switch to an intercity bus towards Bangkok.

Six months overland from Istanbul to Indonesia

Thailand (estimated: 1 day, pass through Bangkok)

You are again in Bangkok. Just do whatever you need to do and arrange for a train ticket to Penang (Malaysia). This is a 24 hour ride, and you'll get a sleeper for about 25 US. You could also go a little bit further if you want to visit Kuala Lumpur.

Six months overland from Istanbul to Indonesia

border crossing Thailand-Malaysia

If you go by train, you almost do not notice.

Six months overland from Istanbul to Indonesia

Malaysia (estimated: 1 day)

for rock bottom travel (2002):

daily costs about 12 US

accommodation: 2 to 2.5 US

meal: 0.25 cent and more

Internet: 75 cent to 1 US per hour in Penang

getting there and away:

enter by train from Thailand (20-25 US) to Penang or further down to Kuala Lumpur all the way to even Singapore. From Sumatra in Indonesia you can catch the ferry for an expensive 20 US, from Penang to Medan or from Melakka to Dumai.

Six months overland from Istanbul to Indonesia

Penang

Hang around in this nice colonial town with some remarkable colonial buildings for a day and enjoy the interesting Indian and Chinese area. You also need to arrange a boat trip towards Indonesia (Medan).

Six months overland from Istanbul to Indonesia

border crossing Malaysia-Indonesia

A comfortable high speed ferry takes 4.5 hours to cross. From the port in Medan, proceed straight to the bus terminal to go to Ketambe.

Six months overland from Istanbul to Indonesia

Indonesia (estimated: 14 Sumatra + 9 Java + 5 Bali equals 28 days)

for rock bottom travel (2002):

daily costs about 10 US

accommodation: 50 cent to 1 US

meal: 50 cent to 1 US

transportation: by tourist bus from Bukittinggi to Toba 5 US

transportation: by bus from Ketambe to Medan 2 US

Internet: 1.2 to 2 US / hour where available (sparsely)

getting there and away:

enter by boat from Malaysia (Penang - Medan on Sumatra or Melakka - Dumai on Sumatra for 20 - 25 US. It is also possible by boat from Singapore and by land from Eastern Malaysia.

Six months overland from Istanbul to Indonesia

Ketambe (Leusser National Park)

Come here to spot among other animals the uran-utang in the wild. The jungle is superb. A two or three day trek should do, no extra time is needed aside from the trek. Go by bus to Berestagi.

Six months overland from Istanbul to Indonesia

Berestagi

Do an independent hike up the volcano. Or go and spot some monkeys in the nearby jungle. You will enjoy it here for a day or two. As a sidetrip you can visit Lingga's traditional village. That will take at least half a day too. Proceed to Bukittinggi. It may be necessary to first go to Parapat. There you can proceed by tourist bus (14 hours) or a normal bus that only runs in the morning. You may want to stop over at Lake Tobe, near Parapat for a relaxing few days, first.

Six months overland from Istanbul to Indonesia

Bukittinggi (+ Harau & Maninjau)

Have a day to look around, maybe you can visit Harrau valley or Lake Maninjau. Take the bus towards Java. This means that you need to go to Padang and then further to Bakauheni to catch the ferry to Merak and go further to Jakarta. This should take about 30 hours.

Six months overland from Istanbul to Indonesia

crossing Sumatra-Java by ferry

Six months overland from Istanbul to Indonesia

Jakarta

Enter and leave... trains and buses go all over at almost all times in Java. Go to the train station and book a ticket to Yogyakarta. Alternatively, you can visit the Dieng Plateau near Wonosobo. You can spend a day having a look around.

Six months overland from Istanbul to Indonesia

Yogjakarta

Hang around for a day. Then explore the nearby sites Borobudur and Pramanbanan. The next bus ride is to Mount Bromo, near Probolingo. Alternatively, take the bus to Solo. Further proceed to Tawamangu. Then you take a small bus that puts you off near the turn-off to Candi Sukuh, a nice little temple, and walk back to the waterfall Grogojogan Sewu near. This should take you a day.

Six months overland from Istanbul to Indonesia

Probolingo (Mount Bromo)

Go up the volcano to see sunset, brilliant. Enjoy the next morning for sunrise and have a walk around. One day is enough. Take a train to Banyuwangi.

Six months overland from Istanbul to Indonesia

Banjuwangi (Gunung Kawa Ijen)

The sulphur-gas coming out of the crater-holes and the clear bleu lake in the crater were very nice. It will take a day to go there and back. Take a bus to Ketapang for the ferry to Gilimanuk on Bali.

Six months overland from Istanbul to Indonesia

crossing Java-Bali by ferry

The ferry puts you on the other side where you take a bus to Denpasar and further to Ubud.

Six months overland from Istanbul to Indonesia

Ubud

Enjoy Hindu ways in Bali. You can probably hang out here for a day or two. Proceed to Padangbai to visit the Bat Cave (a few kilometers out of town). This is also the place where you take the ferry further to Lombok. So if you hadn't had enough, go and visit Rinjani crater lake there. Or enjoy the beaches of Lombok. Otherwise, you could take the plain out of Denpasar.

Six months overland from Istanbul to Indonesia

Stay safe

Safety is in general not a problem for people that use common sense and people that do not run around plain drunk or under other kinds of influence. For women travelers on their own I would suggest to get some company traveling Indonesia, Bangladesh and to a minor extent Pakistan and east of Turkey.

Six months overland from Istanbul to Indonesia

Get out

Keep on going it you want...

Six months overland from Istanbul to Indonesia

External links

*Most information copied from this website. (http://wcools.freewww.info/Trip.htm)


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