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Old 11-06-2018, 01:57 AM   #1
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Singapore to London Overland in 75 Days!!

So this is my much awaited trip from Singapore to London. Been planning since Feb this year and spent at least an hour a day from early Feb till end of May to do the planning and packing for this 75days voyage. I started my trip on the 1st June 2018 and expected to end on mid Aug 2018, hence 75 days.

I will be sharing my itinerary and some tips for those of you who are interested in attempting such a trip and as well as some guidelines from my experience in planning such a trip. I will be writing and updating along the day as my schedule allows.

General Planning Guideline
When it comes to planning such a long trip, you will need to decide which are your biggest constraints: Time? Money? Safety? Physical mobility? For me, my desired outcome of this trip is to travel overland without worrying about having to finish in 1 month or 2 months, but to plan so that I can cover reasonably most of the attractions at each stopover and spend more time in more exotic places. At the same time, I intend to keep within a budget of S$6000 excluding shopping. S$6000 includes accommodation at hostels/low-end hotels, food, entertainment, flight and inter-city and intra-city travel, tours along the way.

Since budget is my criteria, I need to plan and buy tickets in advance to enjoy cost savings and deals. Train tickets and usually best bought early and you need to keep track of which railways release their tickets so you can buy them as early as possible. This is especially so during summer months when tourist traveling the trans siberian trip are the highest. Once you have in mind a high level plan of the countries that you are travelling to, next you map out the cities you intend to travel and the connecting rails or buses between these cities. This is the most tedious part of the planning as some connecting rails and buses only operate certain days in a week and you need to tweak your itinerary around it. Once you accomplished mapping out the countries with the cities and connecting transportation, you have done 50% of the research. A helpful point here is to google out the recommended number of days to spend in each city/place and from there, you have a consensus how much time to spend there.

The next 20% comes in the accommodation. Personally, I use as it has a large enough database of hotels and hostels with reviews that I do not need a second reference to compare. Based on my needs, I need the following for my hostels/hotels: free wifi/ laundry services/ non-smoking/air-conditioned, close to next departure checkpoint/ review scores of 7 and above. Once I have narrowed down the comparison and gone through guest reviews, I pick the accommodation that I am fated with.

The next 10% comes in the attractions. Always leave this to the last as this is the least important. Based on your schedule, see what you can do along the way and fit and tweak with your schedule as you deem fit. But be aware that should you choose to tweak your schedule based on your attractions, you may need to amend your entire schedule all the way.

The next 10% comes in using a map mobile application to "Star" all the important transport checkpoints, accommodations and attractions so that you do not need to be distressed on your next destination and how lost you are. Personally, I use google maps as it has a vast host of information and reviews about the places you are putting a star to.

The last 10% comes in booking all the necessary accommodations, transport tickets, tours, travel insurance, flight booking. For a trip of 75 days long, I have found it cheaper to book annual insurance as compared to a single trip package.

Sim cards
I got all my sim cards for the duration of this trip from qoo10, it is a good website for deals and with the exception of Mongolia, I am able to cover all the destinations. For the 12 countries I covered and based on my data spending patterns, that amounts to SGD100 worth of sim card data bought.

Based on my needs, I need the following for my hostels/hotels: free wifi/ laundry services/ non-smoking/ close to next departure checkpoint/ review scores of 7 and above. Based on my research, it is cheaper to book dormitory beds in hostels in Asia and Russia. In Central and Western Europe, it may make more economical sense to book low-end hotel instead of dorm beds especially if you are travelling in pairs or more.

Countries travelling to:
Malaysia 3 days
Thailand 3 days
Laos 3 days
Vietnam 3 days
China 10days
Mongolia 8 days
Russia 24 days
Lithuania 4 days
Poland 3 days
Germany 6 days
Belgium 2 days
UK 7 days

Cost Breakdown after trip per pax:
Description & Cost(SGD)
Insurance (Annual): 202
Flight: 500
Russia Visa & Visa invitation letter: 175
long distance travel: 1235
intra-city travel cost: 246
accommodation: 1500
Entertainment (excl Liverpool hospitality tix & train transport): 1012
Food: 1000
Grocery: 200
sim card: 100
Laundry cost: 5
miscellaneous: 100
Liverpool hospitality tix: 360
2-way Liverpool-London train ticket: 90
Total: 6695

Explanation of cost and how to reduce cost:
Insurance (Annual): I could achieve better cost savings purchasing an annual plan instead of a single plan for a duration of 2.5months. As the annual plan can still be used on other overseas trip within its validity, it is a no brainer to choose the annual plan here.
Flight: Go for low-cost if possible. It is quite easy to get a cheap 1-way return via Norwegian Air from London to Singapore. In fact, a random search for a flight on 19th Sep 2018 (checked on 19th Aug 2018) showed flight for US$350 (SGD475), using the lowfare+ option which includes up to 2 meals, 1 x20kg checked luggage, seat reservation). As most travel websites suggest, booking 2-3months in advance is preferrable.
Russia Visa & Visa invitation letter: Russian Visa is expensive costing S$150. Do take note that you will need an invitation letter from your russian accommodation or tour agency. Your russian accommodation or tour agency may charge you an additional fee or at no charge for invitation letter. Thereafter, you will need the invitation letter with your russian visa application for submission to a Russian visa application agency in Singapore. I used VFS Global for the visa application and their office is at Level 8, 135 Cecil Street, Singapore 069536. The visa application cost 160sgd approx. Just 1 invitation letter will do even if you are going to more than 1 city within. However, note that Visa is only applicable for 1month stay in Russia.
long distance travel: Best to book as soon as the railways open up their tickets for online purchase from their websites. This is especially true for Russian railways as their pricing is dynamic and goes higher as you get nearer to the date. With advance booking, you are assured of your trip onboard the train at a cheaper price. With the exception of Mongolian & China train tickets, I could book the rest online through the national/state railway. Alot of travel agencies impose a ridiculous service charge for purchasing your train tickets, hence I used and the email addressed to Ganba for Mongolian trains and for Chinese trains.
Intra-city travel cost: Generally, I have 2-3 full days in each city, which gives me sufficient time to go through most of the attractions within. Sometimes, intra-city public transports can be quite costly, especially in Central & Western Europe. If the distance is reasonable, I will opt to walk say 4km (about 45mins) to get to a destination. Chances are there will be something along the way that will capture your attention and make your walking journey more enjoyable. Walking is also one of the ways to explore the country's culture because you tend to get into the experience of the common people's everyday life. There is also nothing like a good exercise and I lost 4kg during this journey. I am flat-footed and was able to walk about 10km a day with a pair of trek/hiking shoes with good insoles. I have only taken public taxis twice in Ulan Bator and Laos. Other than that, I use Grab in Penang, Bangkok and Hanoi. Personally, I avoid taxis if I can and use public trains/buses instead because they know you are a tourist with $ on your forehead.
accommodation: My experience is that it is cheaper to book hostels in Asia, Russia and thereafter, low end hotels in Europe. Generally if you intend to book a private room in the same hostel, it will cost 2.5 times more than a bunk bed. Eg, if a hostel bunk bed cost SGD10/night, the room will cost SGD25/night. In more expensive cities such as Beijing, St Petersburg, Berlin, London, it helps to save cost by booking away from city centre but close to the train/subway network. In addition, try to book your accommodation that is convenient to your departure point. Eg, if I am departing from Bangkok via Hua Lamphong train station, I will try to book an accommodation close to that station to give me peace of mind from traffic jams/public transport breakdown. For hostels booking, I use and lists my criteria such as free wifi which helps to save simcard data cost. Even better, go for hostels that provide breakfast in the package. Last but not least, book in advance because accommodation pricing is famously dynamic. The closer to the booking date, the prices increases rapidly. Check out famous hotel chains for special private/global sales which can have very good pricing, e.g I made use of Accorhotels private sales during Apr 2018 to book 26nights of accommodation. Another 4 nights more and I can get gold status.
Entertainment (excl Liverpool hospitality tix & train transport): Personally, I think it may not be possible to save much on this as this is what makes you enjoy your trip. However, I tend not to go for expensive bus tours or online bookings as they charge high premiums. Bookings made through hostels tend to be more reasonable if you intend to go for a full-day tour but subjected to hostels' availability. Do keep a lookout for dates when you can enter the museum for free. In addition, 'free' walking tours are a good way to explore the ins and outs of the city without breaking the bank. I generally tip €5 per walking tour.
Food: My meals mainly consist of breakfast and dinner, very occasionally with a light snack or light lunch. Truth is, when you are covering attractions such as museums, it can take a few hours and you go to your next destination before it closes, leaving you no time for lunch. Hence, always carry a snack bar with you for such occasions. If possible, try to go for hostels which provide breakfast in the accommodation package. If the hostels have a fridge, go to supermarkets and buy simple food such as sandwiches, juices, fruits, yogurt, pastries which saves alot of food cost. I will usually reward myself with a more satisfying and filling dinner but even then, I will read google reviews of that restaurant to ensure it is not that touristy and it is authentic worthwhile food to satisfy my tastebuds. It may not be a 5-star restaurant/fine dining but authentic and reasonably priced food is more important to me. If in doubt and you are in a situation with no internet, eat where the locals eat and check for the menu prices so that you will not be ripped off.
Grocery: A must-have for every backpacker. We need fresh produce every now and then such as fruits to provide nutrition and save cost for breakfast. Exploring the supermarket can also be a mini attraction in itself!
Sim card: I got all my sim cards from qoo10, with the exception of Mongolian sim cards. I think it maybe possible to get it cheaper locally but I have not tried. I prefer to save myself from this hassle.
Laundry cost: Initially, I used paid laundry service in SE-asia. When I went to China and beyond, laundry got more expensive and I resorted to saving cost by doing the laundry myself. Hence, I only spend S$5 for laundry. Try to pack clothes that dry fast as you want your laundry to be dry asap, e.g sports t-shirts.
miscellaneous: Things may not go the way you want sometimes and you get scammed, which I faced at the Laos-Vietnam checkpoint when changing currency, taxis extorting higher fares in Mongolia. I also cater tips for good service under miscellaneous and the odd charge such as administrative immigration expense at Thailand and Laos.

References and resources:
-Google Trips App for planning your attractions itinerary
-Tripadvisor forums for knowing the latest trends in travelling and attractions in that country, as well as common scams/experiences to be aware of. A well-informed tourist is a safe tourist.
-Google sheets for planning and listing itineraries, great for group sharing. A reference of my trip planning is found here:
- seat61 is the encyclopedia of all train/bus trips that you want to take. If train trips is all you want to take, you only need reference to this site.
-To provide greater clarity on my trip expenses, I have decided to share the cost of expenditure that I incurred within the trip. Note that the categories of expenditure are generally broken down to food, intra-day short distance travel, accommodation additions, miscellaneous.

Thread Content:
Post #13 : Penang Day 1 - 1/6/18
Post #22, 23 : Penang Day 2 - 2/6/18
Post #24- 25 : Penang Day 3 - 3/6/18
Post #28,29: Bangkok Day 1 - 4/6/18
Post #30: Bangkok Day 2 - 5/6/18
Post #31: Bangkok D3 - 6/6/18
Post #32,33 : Vientiane Day 1 - 07/06/18
Post #34,35: Vientiane Day 2 - 08/06/18
Post #36: Vientiane Day 3 - 09/06/18
Post #37: Hanoi Day 1 - 10/6/18
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Last edited by coolhead; 23-08-2018 at 10:11 AM..
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