Europe to S. Korea - Best Itinerary

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Rafiki
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Europe to S. Korea - Best Itinerary

Post by Rafiki »

Hi everyone,

I and my wife are planning a trip to self-drive all the way from Europe to South Korea. We are not sure when this will be possible due to the current world situation but hey... at least we have time to plan it well. :)

I would like to get your opinion on which is the best route, the best time of the year to do it and any other tips you may have. I also have a few doubts in which car/van to choose but I'll ask it on the transport section.

Thanks in advance
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Milad
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Re: Europe to S. Korea - Best Itinerary

Post by Milad »

Well, you should decide first if you are willing to spend thousands of euros to get your car through China (as self-driving without a guide is not allowed). If not, your only option to get to South Korea is the Vladivostok-Donghae ferry bypassing North Korea, whose fate is unknown as it is currently cancelled (it had been cancelled since November for the winter season but this has recently been extended for an indefinite period, and I highly doubt that it will resume immediately after the corona virus situation has been resolved due to the collapse of the travel industry, although it may well do so at a later point).
If it does resume, well, there is one direct route from Europe to Vladivostok and a potentially endless number of possible detours. For example, you could go via Balkans - Turkey - Caucasus - Iran - Turkmenistan - Uzbekistan - (Tajikistan - Pamir Highway - Kyrgyztan -) Kazakhstan - Siberia.
If it does not resume, you can either pay an insane amount of money to get through China and on one of the many China - South Korea ferries, leave your car at home or make other plans.
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Rafiki
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Re: Europe to S. Korea - Best Itinerary

Post by Rafiki »

Sorry, I should have added a bit more information with my question.
Yes, I think the goal is to avoid spending the money in crossing China and if the situation goes back to normal we will aim to Vladivostok.
Thank you for your answer and for the route. Is it feasible to add Mongolia to the itinerary you've mentioned?
And what would be the best time of the year to do such a trip?
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Milad
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Re: Europe to S. Korea - Best Itinerary

Post by Milad »

Yes, you can go to Mongolia. The only issue will be the Russian visa, which is not particularly easy to get on the road (although Ulan-Bator is the major exception) and a tourist visa has a maximum validity of 30 days (for double-entry tourist visas from your first entry into Russia until your last exit). If you are slower than that, you can either apply for another visa in Ulan-Bator (which is usually easy, but if there is a problem, you're stuck) or get a business visa (you do not need to actually do business in Russia for that one, just pay accordingly).
The best time of the year - well, you will have to decide for yourself what suits you best, but most people don't want to be in Siberia in winter (especially when traveling by car - if it breaks down, you have a major problem). On the other hand, parts of Iran and Central Asia are unpleasantly hot in the middle of summer.
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Rafiki
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Re: Europe to S. Korea - Best Itinerary

Post by Rafiki »

Thanks, Milad. You've been really helpful!
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Lovetheworld
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Re: Europe to S. Korea - Best Itinerary

Post by Lovetheworld »

If you are skipping on South Korea or Japan (as the ferry doesn't seem to be going anymore) than I would also question the trip to Vladivistok.
We have done that trip, taking the ferry to Japan, but otherwise going to Vladivostok is a lot of miles with only a few interesting spots. Unless you really take time and go into the backcountry.
You could have Mongolia as your end goal end possibly drive back.
I think the ferry to Japan/S. Korea will not run anymore due to the changed import rules for cars in Russia.

You don't need 4x4, but it would be good to have a van/car with reasonable ground clearance.
A Toyota RAV4 is a fun cheap option, it is no Landcruiser, but that means it is much cheaper, still can go a bit offroad, and everybody uses them in Russia / Mongolia / Central Asia. So if it breaks it can be fixed.
For vans, a Hiace or Mitsubishi is nice, 4wd or not.
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Rafiki
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Re: Europe to S. Korea - Best Itinerary

Post by Rafiki »

My wife is S. Korean hence the objective. But we know that it may be impossible and we could do what you just said.

Re transport, we would really like to sleep and eat in the car as much as we can. So, we initially thought about converting a van into a campervan, like a Fiat Ducato type. I'm starting to fear that it could be a risk since I don't believe there will be many parts available in that side of the world in case it breaks. Plan B could be getting an 4x4 pickup (like an Hilux), and getting a demountable pickup camper in the back and Plan C a smaller van (like an Hiace) with a bed and camping gear.
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Lovetheworld
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Re: Europe to S. Korea - Best Itinerary

Post by Lovetheworld »

From the Hiace and Mitsubishi (L300) vans I can say that they are driving around in Russia, Central Asia and Mongolia.
Perhaps the Hiace is best, but then I also saw that the Hiace was not driven much in Kyrgystan or Tajikistan. So you can never get 100% parts coverage for all countries.
We have a 4x4 Hiace, but I wouldn't bother with 4x4 if you are not into it. If you see where the Mongols take their Prius to, you know you don't really need a 4x4.
A normal van is easy to put some camping gear in and to make a makeshift bed inside.

Obviously 4x4 always improves your chances, but there are loads of people who take a 4x4 and don't know how to use it, so then it is only heavier and more fuel consuming.
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Rafiki
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Re: Europe to S. Korea - Best Itinerary

Post by Rafiki »

Thank you for that. I think once I gather more info, I can start a new thread on the transport section to hear what people has done and worked or didn't.
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