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.
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
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.
New Zealand is best explored 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.
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
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.
With your own wheels you can stop at any (or every!) scenic view point along the route. We recommend hiring a car or a campervan 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.
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.
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.