Long bus journeys, you either love them or you hate them. Some people live by them, a budget way to get from A to B, all the while saving on a hostel bed for the night. These people tend to also have an incredible talent for sleeping through anything, in any position. Others are not so lucky, and bus journeys can be a waking nightmare, squeezed under a mountain of bags and screaming children, always under the inexplicable blare of some local TV show screened overhead. Pulling in at your destination at 5am, bleary-eyed and nursing a brewing cold (thanks to the aggressive air-con) you might find yourself wondering: was this worth it?
If you’ve never asked that question, and instead fall into the first category of a Night Bus Aficionado, we’ve got a new journey for you. Coming in at a breezy 70 days, a New Delhi to London bus route might have broken records for the longest bus journey in the world. The journey, travelling 12,427 miles (20,000 km), will pass through 18 countries and is due to officially set off in August 2022. Passing through Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, China, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Russia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Czech Republic, Germany, The Netherlands, Belgium and France, it may not quite seem the most direct route, but you’ll certainly get a lot of sightseeing done on the way!
The journey was first conceived of by Sanjay Madan and Tushar Agarwal, two Indian backpacking enthusiasts. Bonding over their love of travel, the pair founded Adventures Overland, a bus tour service that would connect avid travellers between top destinations in Asia. Since 2012, their routes have slowly expanded across the globe, culminating in their most ambitious journey yet: the Road to London. According to them, their idea stemmed from their love of 1960s “magic buses”, a staple of the Hippy Trail that took adventure seekers from Europe to India.
Bringing the concept to the 21st century, these buses will be significantly more luxurious, with state-of-the-art mod cons, USB ports, Wi-Fi, private lockers and reclinable seats. Each seat is also fitted with individual entertainment options, meaning no unwanted overhead TV and lots more options for personalised browsing and relaxing. There will also be a mini bar, with snacks and beverages!
The route is designed to be a lot more than transport from A to B (since it is by no means the most efficient). Instead, travellers can expect to be taken a journey, passing through some of Asia and Europe’s most spectacular sights. From Delhi, visitors will cross through the spectacular stupas of Bagan, the street food smells of Bangkok and the meandering Mekong River. In China, visitors can glimpse the world-famous Chengdu Pandas and explore the Forbidden City of Beijing, before swapping urban megacities for the sweeping Steppe hillsides of Inner Mongolia. Following the classic Silk Road Route, the adventure takes a sharp turn to the East, through historic Tashkent, the glaciers of Kyrgyzstan and up into Russia. Finally, the bus takes a south-westerly route through Europe, passing through three countries in one day and taking in Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Czech Republic. The final stops are Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium and France, before passing through the Euro tunnel and emerging in historic London, UK. This journey will cross 8 time zones, hugely varied terrain and truly cover much of the world. In ancient times, this journey might have taken a lifetime, in 2022 it takes 70 days.
In previous years, Adventures Overland have operated this journey in the form of a car convoy, with participants driving their own cars. Today, travellers can get even more up-close and personal, sharing a bus and making memories together. The 2022 route cost includes hotel stays, all meals, activities, local guides, snacks, visas, immigration clearance, merch and first aid team. Sound good? There is a catch. Priced at a staggering €18,973 (₹1,650,000) for the entire trip, this bus clearly isn’t the budget kind. Those with an interest in doing just one leg of the journey can do so, such as Leg 3: Bishkek to Moscow. This leg, at 22 days, comes in at a slightly more palatable €6,267 (₹545,000),and is sure to be a fascinating adventure through lesser-visited Central Asia. For us, however, we reckon we’ll stick to huddling under our micro-towels on good old fashioned freezing, ten-hour, €10, East Asian night buses.