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The traditional Hippie trail included Afghanistan and Pakistan which most people now consider unsafe to travel through.

Even if one would decide to go through Pakistan, is it possible to get to the Iranian-Pakistani border and beyond with public transport? How about crossing from Pakistan into India, I have heard mixed stories about this.

Seat 61 only proposes a route through Iran and Pakistan, with interrogations as to whether this route is currently feasible.

If Pakistan is out, one can move on from Iran into Turkmenistan and through several other of the “Stans” to get into China and then through Nepal into India. Has anybody done this recently? Should one even think about doing this in winter time?

What about going through Russia into China or taking a boat to India?

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Google indicates there is a bus from Lhasa to Kathmandu -- that seems like the critical section. There is rail all the way from Europe to Lhasa, roundabout as that may be. –  dbkk Nov 19 '11 at 19:17
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As far as I know it is not currently possible for foreigners to travel in Tibet except in strictly regulated tours. Wikitravel has more on that. –  Gilles Nov 19 '11 at 20:18
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The traditional hippie trail? If only we had someone called @hippietrail on this website ;) –  Mark Mayo Nov 20 '11 at 0:49
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So if Tibet is out and we assume you can't cross from China into India and also not from Burma into India, this eliminates the North and East and leaves the only option to Pakistan, correct? –  Peter Hahndorf Nov 20 '11 at 7:04
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My internet nickname is a joke based on irony. I actually work as a bank teller and have never left home suburb. I wear a tie even on my days off. –  hippietrail Nov 20 '11 at 9:10

1 Answer 1

up vote 23 down vote accepted

OK, I can answer a good part of this.

From Europe, you can get into Russia fairly simply with a visa - tourist visa is for 1 month max, however, which is a bit limiting (maybe not for you, but it was for me).

From there I went south and into Kazakhstan, across Uzbekistan, into Tajikistan. Afterwards I continued north - Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, back into Russia and across to Mongolia. All of this was done with public transport - trains are great in Russia, are OK in Kazakhstan if you can get on one, iffy in Uzbekistan when they're running and mostly non-existent in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan (although China wants to connect the one track in Kyrgyzstan with the Chinese rail system).

Most of the travel was on trains in Russia, and then shared taxis, minibuses, walking and 4WD taxis in the other 'stans.

'What is safe' is always subjective - I could argue that nowhere is safe, or that anywhere is safe. However, follow the usual safety tips, and keep EVERY SINGLE PIECE OF DOCUMENTATION for unscrupulous border guards, security guards, dodgy police and militia who will often look for a way to get some cash off you. See Tactics to Avoid Getting Hassled by Corrupt Police for some more information on that fun aspect of travelling in the area.

From Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan there are ways out into China, so you could do that, and then travel south.

However, I did all this in the heat of summer. There will be some road closures especially at altitude in Tajikistan over winter. Trains should still get you to China via Kazakhstan if you so wanted (Urumqi seems to be the place to aim for in China). I'd personally wait until warmer months if possible, having flown over the area as late as April and still been amazed at the gigantic frozen lakes in Kazakhstan!

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for the final part: From China you need to book a tour into Tibet, then another one to Nepal. From there you can travel independently to India. –  Peter Hahndorf Dec 22 '11 at 20:13

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