The Ultimate Train Challenge: A Race from Lisbon to Saigon!

A train rolls through the snowy Siberian landscape. Photo via YWNR.

A train rolls through the snowy landscape. Photo via YWNR.

I’ve been researching different types overland travel as part of my latest podcast (listen to the podcast here!) about the difference between backpacking and overland travel. Of course, when you’re looking into the most epic overland journeys in the world, you’re bound to stumble across the Trans Siberian Railway. This is has long been considered the longest train journey in the world, stretching over 5,700 miles from Moscow to Vladistok. But, there’s a new epic train journey on the block, that includes the Trans Siberian and adds as much rail on either side as possible. It’s called the Ultimate Train Challenge, and it’s seriously awesome. The trip stretches from Lisbon Portugal to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. that’s 15,000 miles of rail!

Of course, you can do the trip any time you want, but there is a big trip happening this May – it’s a kind of a race, where there will be bloggers and travelers of all stripes racing to complete the trip in 30 days. There are prizes and parties and all kinds of fun things planned along the way.

Back in 2011 three travel bloggers did the trip, and since then it has developed into the Ultimate Train Challenge. The concept is simple: You have to make it from Lisbon to Saigon (or Saigon or Lisbon) in the month of May. All by train.

31 days of travel. You make your own schedule and choose your own route. You decide how much you are going to push yourself and how many places you are going to try to hit along the way.

Although it is about 15,000 miles (25,000 kilometers) to navigate, you will still have enough time to stop and do a lot off the trains. Barcelona, Paris, Venice, Berlin, Prague, Moscow, Beijing, Hanoi – so many great cities to hit along the way.

A European Train Station. Photo via YWNR.

A European Train Station. Photo via YWNR.

What does it cost?

Well, friends – it’s not cheap, but it’s totally awesome. Plus, I’ve got a nice little discount for my readers!

• If you register by February 15th, the entry fee is $295 USD.
• If you register from February 16th to April 30th, the entry fee is $395 USD.
• And because I love you all and I want to help you make this trip happen for you, I’ve got a sweet discount code that will get you $30 off your entry fee. Just tell ‘em Justin Jones sent you — all you have to do is enter the code JJ13UTC on the “Referral” line on the entry page to get the $30 discount.

So many stunning vistas to see from your seat on the train!

So many stunning vistas to see from your seat on the train!

What do you get for your entry fee?

Basically, you get to be a part of this thing which is bound to be awesome. All the details are explained here. Basically, you can blog about your trip on their website, use their live-mapping feature on the site, HostelWorld is offering two free nights in each city beforehand, and will be a pre-launch party in both cities. On top of all that, Intrepid Travel is offering two fabulous 15-day tours to the first ones to cross the finish line in each direction, Eurail is offering up at least four of their Global Passes that they will be raffling off and giving away as prizes, and lots more surprises to come!

The entry fee doesn’t cover your travel expenses, so you’ll have to look into train tickets and all that on your own.

It’s not going to be cheap, but really, this is all about having an adventure you are going to talk about for years. It is about challenging your limits and doing something that very few other people have done. From one corner of Europe to the far corner of Asia – all by train.

The Charity

They also have partnered up with Blue Dragon’s Children Foundation in Vietnam to raise some needed funds to help out their cause. They are asking each participant to raise $500 to give to the charity, and Intrepid Travel will match each donation dollar for dollar, up to $10,000.

On the Your World, No Rules website, they explain everything you need to know about this event. They have also put together some resource pages for you to help decide on your route and work through your visas.

This is doable, with friends or on your own. I’m going to try to make it happen myself, and I’ll be keeping you updated here, so stay tuned – and if you want to join me on this trip, drop me a line and let’s figure out how we can make it happen!

Click here to get started! And remember: on that signup page, just put JJ13UTC in the “Referral” box to get $30 off your entry fee and tell them that you found the UTC13 from here. Thanks!

enter UTC12

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  • http://twitter.com/GoSeeWrite Michael Hodson

    Thanks so much for promoting this (and hopefully doing it!!). If anyone has any questions, they can feel free to email me. Thanks.

  • http://twitter.com/TheGuy37796972 The Guy ✈

    I don’t have time for this but it certainly sounds like a very interesting concept. But as you say, expensive.