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Southeast Asia forum

Flight paid for but now I can't fly. London to Hanoi by train?

Posted by PeterW on 20/11/2011 at 18:05

Hi all

I've already purchased a plane ticket to Kuala Lumpur about a month ago from Air Asia. However, on Monday I went kickboxing and while sparring a good right hook has resulted in a hole in my left ear drum. I have to go back to the Dr on 1st Dec (2 weeks after it happened) and if the hole doesn’t close I’ll a skin graft which involves surgery and my flight will be ruled out for a good month or two after my op so I’ve been pretty gutted. I’d be lucky to get this done by the end of the year anyway. If I don’t get this done I won’t be able to swim which I think you’ll all agree is a bit pointless when in SE Asia. I’ve also had this operation before so I’ve come up with plan B. I just hope anyone can confirm its credible.

After a tantrum in my flat I've decided plan B will be to go by train from London to Hanoi as I've already left the UK in my head. After a bit or researching I'm now quite liking the plan B.

However I can't find out any credible info on how much a Russian Visa is for a UK tourist staying for less then a week or just travelling through. The same goes for the Belarus transit visa (although there are routes that can avoid Belarus).

My plan is to train from London to Brussels or Amsterdam (preferably Amsterdam) and then to Warsaw, Moscow, Beijing and then Hanoi. I imagine this will take at least a week but I have no time limit so I don’t really mind.

I estimate the train tickets will cost around £750 and another £250 to spend on food, drink etc. Has anyone else done this? Any information or advice would be really appreciated. If this works I will be leaving the UK soonish after all!


#1 PeterW has been a member since 29/8/2011. Posts: 31

Posted by BC on 21/11/2011 at 04:34

"I imagine this will take at least a week "

Ha ha - Moscow to Beijing alone will take at least 6 days if you don't stop - and that would be arduous...

I don't know of a "just passing through" Russian visa, I think you'll be paying for a 30 day one - I'd recommend making the most of it and stop off, at least at Lake Baikal but Mongolia (if you go that way) is also worthwhile, though that might mean another visa.

Some of the Russian trains are very good. Some even have a shower you can use, little known fact.

Have you looked on

#2 BC has been a member since 24/11/2005. Posts: 5

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Posted by PeterW on 21/11/2011 at 05:54

Looks like it will take 2 - 3 weeks tops but I'm fine with that. Russian trasit visa and 30 day both cost £26.40 for anyone whos interested. I think Belarus is £50? If anyone can confirm that would be great. Thanks for the tip on Lake Baikal. Every cloud....

#3 PeterW has been a member since 29/8/2011. Posts: 31

Posted by BC on 21/11/2011 at 06:35

You're right after all, there is a Russian transit visa - but on the Australian website it says it's only good for 72 hours, which is not enough for you. 26 quid is a bargain - they charge us $110!

When you apply, do everything perfectly, they tend to be very fastidious and will reject the application for the slightest wrong step.

#4 BC has been a member since 24/11/2005. Posts: 5

Posted by morse96 on 14/12/2011 at 13:59

it sounds quality mate if time isnt an issue . you get to travel europe and then end up in sunny SEA . i hope it works out.

#5 morse96 has been a member since 11/12/2011. Posts: 27

Posted by travellingsarah on 14/12/2011 at 21:56 TF writer

We're planning on doing this in the reverse direction when we eventually leave Hanoi so do post your experiences Peter! Or get in touch when you're in Hanoi and you can tell us in person.

#6 travellingsarah has been a member since 23/3/2010. Location: Vietnam. Posts: 684
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Posted by Sampan on 14/12/2011 at 22:43


Don't know how you paid for your flight, but if you paid with a card (visa, mastercard etc.) there's a good chance that you have a light travel/cancelling insurance included so you'll get money back if you have to cancel due to illness or injuries. Worth mentioning, i thought.

Best of luck!

#7 Sampan has been a member since 3/9/2009. Posts: 111
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Posted by PeterW on 15/12/2011 at 04:37

Thanks all. I went to the Dr and the hole in the ear drum has closed :)!!!!!!!!! I'll be safe to fly, but after looking at this I doubt I'll fly home. Lucky I bought a single :)

#8 PeterW has been a member since 29/8/2011. Posts: 31

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