Thailand to the UK by road

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Vital Spark
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Thailand to the UK by road

Post by Vital Spark » Fri Oct 06, 2017 11:50 pm

Mr.VS and I will be relocating to the UK in the next year or so.

We've come up with a totally crazy idea of driving back to the UK. We did the overland trip by train a few years ago, and I thought it was crazy when we first thought about it - but we did it, and it was an amazing experience.

We're fully aware that taking a vehicle across borders won't be easy, and involve a lot of planning, but it's surely possible. It would be a fabulous way to leave Thailand and be able to take our precious paintings and books on a journey. We're also aware that it would probably be a three-month journey, rather than the five weeks we took by rail. We needed a lot of visas for the rail trip, so have contacts in both China and Russia which might prove useful.

Are we totally off our rockers for even thinking about it?

VS :wink:
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Re: Thailand to the UK by road

Post by dtaai-maai » Sat Oct 07, 2017 12:13 am

I think driving back to the UK will be a great adventure for you if it turns out to be feasible, but I think you should ship your books and paintings back to the UK or you're likely to have problems with Customs at every border you cross.
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Re: Thailand to the UK by road

Post by Ralfredo » Sat Oct 07, 2017 1:01 am

Vital Spark wrote:Are we totally off our rockers for even thinking about it?
Probably, but I love the idea! :-)

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Re: Thailand to the UK by road

Post by redzonerocker » Sat Oct 07, 2017 1:38 am

Vital Spark wrote:
Fri Oct 06, 2017 11:50 pm

Are we totally off our rockers for even thinking about it?

VS :wink:
Yep! . . . . . . but on the other hand, what a fantastic road trip it would be! :shock: :D
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Re: Thailand to the UK by road

Post by margaretcarnes » Sat Oct 07, 2017 5:26 am

Go for it - and sell the film rights! Mr VS did a brill job with the rail trip blog and you planned that trip OK so why not?
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Re: Thailand to the UK by road

Post by joelle » Sat Oct 07, 2017 7:01 am

good for you, go for it and tell us all the details of your adventures
looking forward to read you

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Re: Thailand to the UK by road

Post by RCer » Sat Oct 07, 2017 7:39 am

I love the idea. I second the concern about the paintings and books. Customs could ruin your trip.

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Re: Thailand to the UK by road

Post by Nereus » Sat Oct 07, 2017 10:08 am

Hmm, the first thing you probably need to do is decide the route. It is now virtually impossible to drive out through Burma into India and Pakistan. With connections in China and Russia that may be a better option. The next thing to decide is just what vehicle would be suitable. Although I am a Land Rover fan a think that I would rather trust a 4WD Toyota. But whatever it is better to stick with a diesel engine.

A "Tag Along" is also an option, and these days may well be worth the extra cost, at least for the Asian section.

I desperately wanted to do this when I was a lot younger, but life got in the way!

One of the following has links to other sites:

https://overlandcruiser.wordpress.com/o ... avel-tips/

https://www.intrepidtravel.com/adventur ... ure-video/
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Re: Thailand to the UK by road

Post by Nereus » Sat Oct 07, 2017 11:09 am

The following is more about Europe, but has some good general info:

http://4-wheel-nomads.de/

He uses a Land Rover, and there is nothing wrong with that. It is just that in some central and East Asian countries Toyotas are more prolific. (ask the Taliban!)

edit, add another link.

Get yourself the following book, full of good info.

https://overlanders-handbook2.com/
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Re: Thailand to the UK by road

Post by Bamboo Grove » Sat Oct 07, 2017 11:39 am

The first hurdle could be China:
You cannot drive with an International Driver's Permit (IDP) in mainland China; China has not signed the convention which created IDPs. You need a Chinese license to drive in China. (Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan issued licenses are not considered Chinese licenses).
https://wikitravel.org/en/Driving_in_China

You could always hire a Chinese driver(s) to take you to the Russian boarder. It shouldn't be too expensive as salaries in China are low. Getting a decent driver is another matter, though.
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Re: Thailand to the UK by road

Post by HHTel » Sat Oct 07, 2017 1:40 pm

I found this with regards to China:
PRC laws say that foreign residents can have driver's licenses and that an IDP can be converted to a local license, possibly with an additional examination. It is now possible to get a provisional driver's license very easily in major cities like Beijing. You can get one directly from the counters at Beijing Capital Airport without any tests. Actually getting a regular license may be quite complicated.
Chinese Police tend to accept the IDP (also called IDL or IDD) or translations to the format of an IDP. They focus very much on their on-the-spot judgment of the driver's being sufficiently skilled and experienced to drive safely with respect to his own and others' safety.
Source: https://en.wikivoyage.org/wiki/Driving_in_China

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Re: Thailand to the UK by road

Post by J.J.B. » Sat Oct 07, 2017 2:01 pm

VS, I think this would be an epic adventure and I’m quite green with envy! Like Nereus I’m a Land Rover man and similarly recommend a Toyota. :roll:

There are some big, basic decisions to make based on your route, such as whether you want to have one car for the trip or source different ones on the way, which could be easier for crossing borders, I don’t know. I would go for a petrol car rather than diesel, since I believe it to be more commonly available, and easier to work on at the roadside. For similar reasons I’d opt for a manual rather than an automatic.

I would recommend taking nothing of any value with you, financial or sentimental. You may face a situation such as theft, fire or something else that means you lose everything and you need to be OK with turning your back on the vehicle and finding another way.

How about sponsorship? I’m not saying you need the money but even if you were to contact a few aid agencies and get their endorsement it could make crossing borders and crossing palms a little easier. At the same time, more people would know where you were. I like the idea of Maggs regarding film rights and you could even contact a couple of documentary makers and see if they have any interest in taking part in some way, again the sponsorship would help.
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Re: Thailand to the UK by road

Post by migrant » Sat Oct 07, 2017 3:30 pm

Sounds like a great adventure!!

A friend has done the Peking to Paris road rally a few times. This is the site http://www.endurorally.com/.

I don't know how helpful they would be but may offer some tips if good people running it. I'll ask my friend for any contacts.
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Re: Thailand to the UK by road

Post by Nereus » Sat Oct 07, 2017 4:09 pm

I would go for a petrol car rather than diesel, since I believe it to be more commonly available, and easier to work on at the roadside. For similar reasons I’d opt for a manual rather than an automatic.
A couple of things with fuel and car choice:

Petrol quality varies a great deal from country to country and not always of a suitable octane rating.
Petrol is much more volatile and of a greater fire risk.
More components in the fuel and ignition systems likely to give problems.
Water crossings will kill it more quickly.
High altitudes will seriously reduce performance.

Diesel is a much safer fuel.
A lot of the roads in remote areas see a lot of diesel trucks, so fuel is more readily available.
It is possible to get low quality diesel, but a diesel engine will cope with it better, as it will with high altitudes.
Less, albeit it essential, parts to maintain in a diesel system.
Water crossings do not bother it, more so if you fit a basic snorkel.
Because of the truck scene more likely to be local help familiar with diesel engines.

Transmission: most definitely manual.

An older 4WD that does not depend on modern electronics to run the engine. Unless you have some form of fault code reader, and know how to use it, modern electronics will eat your lunch!

There are plenty of used 4WDs available here, but a lot of them have had the engine replaced with something out of a Jap wreck. Try and stick with something that has its original running gear. You do not have to be a qualified mechanic to work on them, but should be familiar with how things work and use basic tools.

Just my opinion based on years of operating these things. :thumb:
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Re: Thailand to the UK by road

Post by Vital Spark » Mon Oct 09, 2017 7:52 pm

Thanks for all your comments and suggestions folks. After doing a bit of research ourselves as well, we've come to the conclusion that it's probably a no go. Mr.VS has done a bit of number crunching on the costings (just for the paperwork, let alone accommodation, etc.), and I fear it'll be out of our price bracket. If we had a bank of researchers doing all the paperwork and smoothing out border-crossings, a back-up truck for when we get the inevitable breakdown in some remote area, and won the lottery, it would be doable.

I think we'll have to wait until we're in the UK before we do our next adventure. We rather fancy doing our train trip again in reverse, with an adjusted route here and there. We enjoyed the last one so much.

Thanks, again, for all your advice.

VS :cheers:

P.S. Mr.VS is thinking about venturing into Wales... Not too sure about that. ;)
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