Japan to the UK (via the entire world)
May 18, 2006 3:37 AM   Subscribe

I will leave Japan to travel back to the UK this August and am looking for interesting, original places and/or ways to make my way back. Where/how should I go?

I have a few thousand pounds to spend (although cheap is best) and no real time limit (although being back before xmas would be nice). I don't mind travelling alone, neither am I against group travel.

I am all up for the idea of just following the crowd and backpacking through Asia, or jumping on the Trans Siberian rail road, but something inside me yearns for greater adventures.

Weird ideas on places, routes, travelling schemes or groups you know of would be very very helpful.

Go wild!!
posted by 0bvious to Travel & Transportation around United Kingdom (8 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Lucky you!

Here's a question about my quest to go from Indonesia to California the long way with low-cost airlines.

For you, perhaps a boat to China, train to Vietnam, overland through Laos, Thailand, and Malaysia to Singapore, flight to India. From there, if you ever decide to leave, lots of low-cost airlines can get you to the Gulf States, from whence Istanbul's a hop (hopefully around Iraq) away and a long train ride through Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, Austria, Germany, and the Netherlands, culminating in a ferry ride and your arrival back in glorious...Harwich.

Or with a spiral at the end: From the Gulf States, to Egypt, across north Africa, Spain, Portugal, the Azores, the States, Canada, Greenland, Iceland, Scandinavia, Poland, Hungary, train home?

Alternatively, the Silk Road. Lots of links there to more info.

Going the other way, Nagoya-Tijuana, Mexico on Aeromexico (starts July 1), buses, trains, vans, etc through Mexico and Central America (watch out for hurricanes, though), head to Cuba or the Dominican Republic, hit the US if you're into that kind of thing, and back to Britain.

Perhaps a loopy half-circle-around-the-Pacific type deal? Japan-China-Southeast Asia-Australia-New Zealand-Chile-Argentina-Brazil-[Africa?]-Britain?

Lots of options. Crossing the oceans is gonna be the priciest part.

Favorite airfare site: ITA Software.
posted by mdonley at 4:59 AM on May 18, 2006

Also, the Thomas Cook Overseas Timetable might be handy for all those countries without buy-online-reserve-your-seat-PDF-ticket facilities.
posted by mdonley at 5:13 AM on May 18, 2006

Best answer: Do the typical SEAsia circle (Bangkok (Thailand), Sim Reap (Cambodia), Vietnam, Laos...but to make it different than most, when you get to Laos, head down to the Mekong delta...not a lot of people go there, it's pretty nice but the coolest thing is it has fresh water dolphins in the river. If you get down to the delta you can have a boatman drop you off on a sandbar of your very own and spend the night or a few days there, with nothing and nobody around you except dolphins in the water, which you are free to frolic with at your leisure. Vang Vien in Laos also happens to be my most favourite place in the world, although your mileage may vary.
posted by furtive at 5:30 AM on May 18, 2006 [2 favorites]

When I was at university I lived with a Japanese guy who went home one summer from the UK via the tran-Siberian railroad and then overland through China - he had a fantastic time. Sadly I'm not in touch with him anymore or I'd put you in touch.
posted by prentiz at 6:50 AM on May 18, 2006

I suggest taking a ferry from mainland Japan to Okinawa, then continuing through the southern Ryukyu Islands (Miyako, Ishigaki, and Iriomote) to Taiwan. You can see some exceptional tropical beauty that way, continuing through Taiwan and on to Southern China.
posted by jeffmshaw at 8:16 AM on May 18, 2006

Response by poster: Thanks for the input so far, some great routes.

Any hints on whether planning all my trip before hand or planning it as I go along is better?

I like to keep things free, but worry that booking last minute flights/trains in some places will be difficult.
posted by 0bvious at 6:41 PM on May 18, 2006

Best answer: I think it might be a good idea to cobble your itinerary together as you go, as long as you have enough lead time. Train tickets in the developing world (except China and India?) are, probably, not a sold-out-months-in-advance affair, so perhaps get your tickets out of town when you arrive a few days before. Trains in other places (Iran, Morocco, Thailand?) probably aren't a problem to get the day before.

Low-cost airlines are, as a rule, cheaper if you book far in advance, but if you limit your flying to a few necessary, well-trafficked, short hops - say Mumbai to Dubai - you won't get too screwed if your planning isn't as in-advance as you'd like.

If you decide to limit yourself to going mostly overland back to Europe, you'll have your choice of ways to go home, which might mean lower prices because of all the competition from, um, unusual corners - Siberia Airlines links Bangkok with Novosibirsk, Russia; Ukraine International Airlines links Doha and Kiev.

Remember that you might need visas for some of these places - but that you could hit up, say, the Indian embassy in Bangkok (or somewhere else), walk in, pick up and fill out an application, hand over some photos and some money, and just get the visa processed en route if going to Tokyo (if you aren't based there) and having your passport float from embassy to embassy sounds like a nightmare.

Selamat jalan! (Happy travels!)
posted by mdonley at 9:38 AM on May 19, 2006

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