Travel overland through Asia, Australia, NZ & USA
Table of Contents
This month we’ve chosen a route that includes several of the most popular ways to travel overland. A ‘surface sector’ is the journey you make by flying into one airport and out of another, giving you time to explore everything in between.
3 reasons why we love route 327
- Value for money – have you seen how many stops there are?
- More stops for your money – surface sectors mean you see 9 destinations rather than 5
- Wider exploration possibilities – plenty of opportunity to add-on trips at each end
Bangkok to Singapore overland
Touching down in Bangkok, the busy capital of Thailand will be your first introduction to the sights and smells of south East Asia. This gateway city opens up plenty of potential to explore, allowing you to travel overland to the Thai islands, the Malay Peninsula and finally the chic city of Singapore.
- Bangkok – temples, floating markets and shopping in the night markets
- Thai Islands – beach time, sailing and excellent snorkelling
- Kuala Lumpur – snap a selfie at the iconic Petronas Towers
- Cameron Highlands – take some time out for tea amidst the lush green plantations
- Penang – head to George Town for tasty fusion cuisine and historic architecture
- Melaka – shop for handicrafts and eat at an out-of-this-world Sunday night food market
How to travel from Bangkok to Singapore overland
An all-in-one, budget-maximising way to cover this sector is to join our 14-day Bangkok to Singapore on a shoestring small group trip. From Bangkok, you’ll take the train down to the picturesque Thai islands before continuing on to explore all over Malaysia and eventually winding up in Singapore.
If you prefer to travel independently and at your own pace, why not try a Stray Asia bus pass? Using local buses you can hop about from place to place meeting the friendly Thai people, passing through villages and the countryside, enjoying the local life.
Mark’s blog How to backpack Malaysia off the tourist trail describes what you’ll see in Kuala Lumpur, Penang, the Cameron Highlands and Melaka. There’s also a little known way to cross from Thailand into Malaysia by boat which might come in handy!
For those looking for luxury, how about the stately Eastern & Oriental Express? This 3 day, comfortable and luxurious train journey is the only rail route to take you all the way down from Bangkok to Singapore. It comes with a price tag, but you can expect old world charm, the finest dining and a sumptuous private cabin!
Extending your exploration
Bangkok is the ideal jumping off point to begin exploring Indochina as it’s also the gateway into Myanmar, Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. You could explore north towards Chiang Mai or venture off into Indochina before heading south to Singapore.
Cairns to Sydney overland
Australia’s east coast is what laidback, al fresco living is all about. Arriving in Cairns, you’ll be in one of the best places to explore the Great Barrier Reef. Whether you’re a keen diver (or want to learn), or you simply enjoy swimming and snorkelling – you can find your own way to explore the reef and spot your own Nemo!
- Cairns – gateway to the Great Barrier Reef
- Airlie Beach – for exploring the Whitsunday Islands by boat
- Brisbane and the Gold Coast
- Hervey Bay and Fraser Island – the world’s largest sand island
- Sydney – the harbour bridge, opera house, Bondi and Manley beaches
How to travel overland from Cairns to Sydney
You’ll have plenty of options for travel along this sector; road trip independently by car, campervan or by Greyhound bus, or as part of a small group trip.
Venturing a day’s drive south of Cairns, you’ll reach the soft white shores of Airlie Beach from where you can sail into the idyllic Whitsunday Islands. You could sail for a day or join a liveaboard for a longer adventure – Laura explains how to pick the best Whitsunday Sailing adventure if you need advice.
Journeying further brings you to Hervey Bay from where you can explore Fraser Island – an enormous sand island with freshwater Lake McKenzie at its centre. Stephen explains what’s on offer on Fraser Island and Lady Elliott Island here.
Ending your east coast adventure with a stopover in Sydney will round off your Aussie experience in style! Pose for the mandatory selfie against Sydney Opera House, top up your tan on Bondi beach or if you’re feeling active, try the Sydney Harbour Bridge Climb – we can organise this one for you! And if it looks like your Aussie funds are running low – see our ideas for free things to do in Sydney.
If you have time to linger, a short drive from Sydney brings you to the Hunter Valley’s fine wine estates or the misty Blue Mountains and the legendary Three Sisters rock formations.
Christchurch to Auckland overland
A must-see destination for Lord of the Rings fans – New Zealand has plenty to enchant. The beauty of this sector is the opportunity to easily explore both islands.
Arriving in Christchurch on the South Island you’ll find a host of places to explore; glaciers, whale watching opportunities and the adrenalin hot spot of Queenstown. Take the ferry over to the Auckland in the North Island and you’ll experience a different flavour; Maori’s who will cook up a traditional ‘hangi’ feast, geothermal activity in Rotorua and the breath-taking landscapes of Northland and the Bay of Islands.
- Christchurch – check out the cardboard cathedral
- Queenstown – home of adrenalin sports including bungy, sky diving and jet-boating
- Milford & Doubtful Sounds – beautifully scenic cruises through glacial valleys
- Glaciers – like Franz Josef and Fox Glacier
How to explore from Christchurch to Auckland overland
New Zealand is best explored on a road trip with a car or a campervan as you’ll need wheels to get off the beaten track. There are plenty of hop-on/hop-off buses too – some of which include activities too.
We can also hook you up with a small group tour to explore one or both islands. For some help deciding which is best for you, see David’s post How to travel round New Zealand.
Situated in the sunny South Pacific, a stay amongst Fiji’s magnificent islands is an once-in-a-lifetime experience. And whether you’re after island-hopping, secluded adult-only resorts or family friendly resorts, there’s something here for you.
- Viti Levu – Fiji’s main island offers adventure and water sports aplenty in Pacific Harbour
- Island-hopping – on board the Yasawa Flyer
- Mamanuca Islands – gorgeous island retreats, tend to be mainly 4* accommodation up
- Yasawa Islands – all types of island resorts including great value backpacker spots
- Experience traditional Fijian culture – with a village visit or kava ceremony
How to travel around Fiji
To explore mainland Fiji, you could hire a car and take your own self-drive. Alternatively, Feejee Experience’s 4 day ‘Whole Hula’ offers a budget-friendly hop-on/hop-off bus tour with all manner of activities included like sand-boarding, surfing, rafting and mud pools!
One of the most popular options is to buy a Bula Combo pass (for transport and accommodation) and board the big yellow boat called the Yasawa Flyer. The boat takes you out from the main island (Viti Levu) and stop at various island resorts along the way in the Mamanuca and Yasawa Islands
LA to San Francisco road trip
This stretch of western California is counted amongst America’s most popular road trips, not least because of the dramatic coastline and he chance to bookend your tip with stays in 2 of our favourite US cities.
- Double city fun – visit two contrasting, iconic cities; LA and San Francisco
- Star-spot – on Hollywood Boulevard or Malibu Beach
- Dramatic coastal scenery along Highway 1 – visit Monterey, Carmel & Santa Cruz
How to travel between LA and San Francisco
With your own wheels you can stop at any (or every!) scenic view point along the route. We recommend taking a road trip in the USA for maximum flexibility. But if you don’t want to drive, we have some super cool small group trips that will drive for you.
If you’re on a shoestring, we can arrange budget campervan hire for example with Jucy. These ingenious little campers are very popular and come in eye-catching colours. They’re compact but can accommodate 2 people overnight, allowing you to camp your way around and make your own meals with plenty of camp sites along this route to park up and spend the night.
The sprawling city of Los Angeles has plenty to entertain you, whether you’re looking for an LA stopover package for a few nights, or planning to stay longer. Read Aaron’s top picks in LA if you have time to stay, for a comprehensive round-up of everything there is to do.
Heading north from LA you’ll pass through Santa Monica and Malibu. Once you reach Highway 1, get ready for a drive dotted with wild beaches, scenic twisting coastal routes and wildlife to win over even the most experienced road tripper. George blogged about this route in reverse (SF to LA).
Where to begin with exploring the city on the bay? We can put together a San Francisco stop over package for you and from here there are endless places to explore! Within the city’s bounds you have Alcatraz, the magnificent Golden Gate Bridge, and diverse suburbs like Haight Ashbury, Hayes Valley and the Mission District.
Extended exploration from LA or San Francisco…
If you have more time, don’t limit your road trip to the coast. From LA, why not head inland to the National Parks with a campervan as Chris did, then loop back through Las Vegas?
To extend your trip at the northern end, why not drive north of San Francisco and head into the Napa Valley for some wine tasting? You could drive and stay locally, or we can arrange a wine-tasting excursion as a day trip from the city.
Interested in the Classic Overlander route?
If you’re interested in planning a trip like this, our experienced flight experts can talk you through exactly what’s possible. Whether you’re looking for round the world flights or tailor-made round the world holiday, let us help build your dream itinerary! For more ideas, see other surface sector blogs.
To book your trip, call us on +44 1273320580 or request a quote by email.