What was the 'world's longest' rail journey from Europe to Vietnam like?

It is possible to travel through many countries around the world by rail.

In March 2010, many news sites were buzzing with the announcement of a China-supported Eurasian high-speed rail line that could transport passengers between London and Beijing at speeds of up to 345 km/h. h, traveled through 17 countries and journeyed 8,160 km in just 2 days.

Such a "surreal" project could be decades away. However, it is far more feasible to complete a long-distance trip by train alone. In fact, passengers can take a long-distance trip and not need to leave the train except when changing cars.

Picture 1 of What was the 'world's longest' rail journey from Europe to Vietnam like?
The railway was once the longest in the world before Laos opened a new railway line.

Journey from Europe.

Before the Laos high-speed train line came into operation, the world's longest train service was uninterrupted, including transits starting from the coast of Portugal, passing through China and ending in southern Vietnam, with a total length of about 17,000 km.

Starting from Portugal in Porto, the first 2 days of this trip are (relatively) simple, as all the countries the passenger will be passing through are members of the European Union and all (except for except Poland) can purchase tickets from Eurail, a European rail transport group. Eurail passes can cover most of the route, but additional travel and booking fees still apply for most high-speed trains and sleeper passes.

In the shortest distance, traveling from the coastal center of Porto to the Polish capital Warsaw can take 40 hours and 33 minutes (including time zone changes) with 4 transfers.

From Porto, you'll travel 1 hour south along the Atlantic coast on a speedboat to Coimbra. After an hour stop in Coimbra, there will be a train going from Portugal to northwest Spain via Salamanca, Valladolid and Vitoria-Gasteiz to Hendaye in France.

After arriving in France, visitors will be transferred to the TGV train for a 6-hour trip to Paris. The 1-hour train ride on the Paris metro will reach the northern end of the city.

Here, there is a high-speed train that takes visitors to Cologne in just 3 hours, stopping only in Brussels, Liege and Aachen.

After 3 hours waiting in Cologne, tourists continue to catch the train going east from Amsterdam to Warsaw. Travel time from Cologne via Germany and Poland to Warsaw via Dortmund, Hannover, Berlin, Rzepin and Poznan is 10 hours.

Picture 2 of What was the 'world's longest' rail journey from Europe to Vietnam like?
TGV station in Liege. (Source: A. Russeth)

From Poland, travelers have 2 options: going through Belarus, which requires a transit visa that normally has to be applied in person and takes days to process; or a slightly longer but more reasonable option, which is to continue north through the Baltic countries and then continue east to Russia, which will take an extra day and less cost for the journey but will remove some trouble.

Combining 2 time zone changes, the 311 km trip to Moscow took 26 hours 25 minutes.

.to Asia

In Moscow, travelers will have more than 18 hours to wait for the next train line to pass through most of Russia, via Perm, Yekaterinburg, Omsk, Novosibirsk, Krasnoyarsk and Omsk. This train will turn south at Ulan-Ude into Mongolia before reaching Beijing. The Moscow-Ulan Bato-Beijing journey is quite comfortable and quite cheap considering the fare is only 804 USD for a ticket in a 4-bed room or $1,131 for a ticket for a 2-person room. Visitors will have to stop at the Mongolia-China border for 4 hours because China's railways operate on a narrower gauge than Russia and Mongolia.

Picture 3 of What was the 'world's longest' rail journey from Europe to Vietnam like?
Train Ulan Bato - Beijing.

From Beijing, the final leg of the journey across Eurasia will begin. Continuing to take the train south through Zhengzhou, Guilin and Nanning, you will need to change trains at the Vietnam border as Vietnam uses 1 meter gauge. Hanoi is just over 4 hours from the border by train.

Once in Hanoi, travelers will have an 11-hour rest before embarking on a 33-hour, 1,726-kilometer trip to Ho Chi Minh City - also the last leg of the journey.

Picture 4 of What was the 'world's longest' rail journey from Europe to Vietnam like?
Such a "surreal" project could be decades away.

In total, the nearly 17,000 km journey took about 327 hours, including time zone changes. That is more than 13 and a half days of non-stop travel.

However, the opening of a new high-speed railway in Laos has filled the last gap in the world's longest continuous rail journey with a new record - a journey of 18,820 km.

The new route allows travel from Lagos in southern Portugal to Singapore via Paris, Berlin, Moscow, Ulaanbaatar, Beijing, Kunming, Vientiane, Bangkok and Kuala Lumpur. Experts estimate it will take 21 days to complete the entire journey.

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