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Around the world in 80 days

Updated: Nov 13, 2022

Key Points:

  1. Travelling around the world is many retirees' dream. This version could be the fastest way to travel around the world, while also visiting most important cities in the world. Many people use similar versions in real life.

  2. WikiVoyage has the original version of travelling around the world. But we have rewritten and integrated many articles together to create a better version. This version also includes links to all specific travel itineraries.

According to Wikipedia, "Around the World in Eighty Days is an adventure novel by the French writer Jules Verne, first published in French in 1872. In the story, Phileas Fogg of London and his newly employed French valet Passepartout attempt to circumnavigate the world in 80 days on a wager of £20,000 set by his friends at the Reform Club. It is one of Verne's most acclaimed works."

"The itinerary (as originally planned)

London to Suez, Egypt; Rail to Brindisi, Italy, via Turin and steamer (the Mongolia) across the Mediterranean Sea. 7 days

Suez to Bombay, India; Steamer (the Mongolia) across the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean. 13 days

Bombay to Calcutta, India; Rail. 3 days

Calcutta to Victoria, Hong Kong with a stopover in Singapore; Steamer (the Rangoon) across the South China Sea. 13 days

Hong Kong to Yokohama, Japan; Steamer (the Carnatic) across the South China Sea, East China Sea, and the Pacific Ocean. 6 days

Yokohama to San Francisco, United States; Steamer (the General Grant) across the Pacific Ocean. 22 days

San Francisco to New York City, United States; Rail. 7 days

New York to London, United Kingdom; Steamer (the China) across the Atlantic Ocean to Liverpool and rail. 9 days

Total: 80 days"

Here we quote a fun way to travel around the world provided by wikiVoyage, a multilingual, web-based project to create a free, complete, up-to-date, and reliable worldwide travel guide. Wikivoyage is hosted by the Wikimedia Foundation, a non-profit organization that also hosts a range of other project such as Wikipedia. Please edit the articles and find author credits at the original wikiVoyage article on Around the World in Eighty Days. Content on wikiVoyage can be shared under a Creative Commons License.

Part 1: Real Life

Since the novel was published, people have been trying to recreate the main characters' adventurous journey. Elizabeth Jane Cochrane ("Nellie Bly" of the Joseph Pulitzer tabloid New York World) completed an 1889 round the world overland trip in seventy-two days; Elizabeth Bisland (of Cosmopolitan magazine) completed a simultaneous, rival trip in the opposite direction in 76½ days. Michael Palin, famous from Monty Python, completed the journey in 1988 for a BBC TV series, and an accompanying book. Countless others have followed in their footsteps; the starting point and exact list of cities visited varies between travellers.

While trans-oceanic and trans-continental overland journeys have diminished with the growth of air travel, travel round the world overland remains possible. One may see much which would be missed if flying over countries instead of visiting them.

Part 2: Prepare

Travellers retracing the original 1870s voyage proposal in the modern era will find that much has changed; overland travel times have been slashed by more than half as diesel and electrified rail has replaced twenty mile-per-hour steam trains, while the number of ocean-going passenger vessels has greatly diminished as air travel has taken much of the trans-Atlantic and trans-Pacific passenger volume. While one Cunard passenger liner still plies the seas, most passenger ship travel is by cruise ships designed as entertainment rather than as the backbone of an efficient transport system. Departures are less frequent and the entire round-the-world overland journey may need to be structured to accommodate which sea crossings are available on which days; many only run seasonally or infrequently. On some crossings, freighter travel might be an option if there is no passenger ship, but the number of spaces on these vessels is limited; a private ocean-going vessel (such as a yacht) may also be an option.

The "world cruise" offered (usually as a once-a-year tour) by cruise ship lines cannot be completed in eighty days as it's designed for sightseeing; it takes a hopelessly indirect route, calls in every port, and stops for a day or two to allow the traveller to tour each city. Certainly no replacement for the historic ocean liner, which was built for speed. By the time the passenger returns home, 120 days or so would have passed and any bets or wagers on the rapidity of this seemingly-mighty vessel would have been lost more than a month ago. Phileas Fogg would not be impressed.

Passport and visa restrictions are not to be neglected, especially as overland travel requires entering a long list of multiple nations instead of merely flying over them. The days of passports claiming "An Australian (or Canadian, or whichever realm) citizen is a British subject" and that claim being largely respected throughout a vast Britannic Empire are long gone; every country applies its own arbitrary restrictions to the global traveller. A few points under British control in the depicted era are no longer part of the empire or Commonwealth; the Suez Canal is now controlled by Egypt, the political situation in much of the Middle East and Central Asia leaves much to be desired, and Hong Kong is now under the control of China. In addition to that, visa procedures often differ by port of entry and those for overland or ship entry tend to be harder than those for entry via air.

While fitting a global circumnavigation into an eighty-day schedule is trivial with round the world flights, fitting an entirely-overland journey into this time frame is a challenge; while aviation has greatly reduced travel times, it has also all but ended the tradition of the great liners which once competed for the fastest ocean crossing times by sea. There is still regular transatlantic service (which will cost you), but trans-Pacific services are virtually non-existent and require probably the biggest amount of advance planning.

Select your sea crossings first; scheduling of overland portions needed to reach the docks should then fall into place. Once you have an itinerary and budget, start looking for individual-country visas.

Part 3: Itinerary

1. London – Paris – Turin – Brindisi

This remains possible; in the modern era one may take Eurostar from St. Pancras in London to Paris, then trains through Munich and Bologna to Brindisi in southeastern Italy, 29 hours total.

Places to stay for visit: London, Paris, Munich (Primarily Altstadt), Brindisi.

2. Brindisi – Suez – Aden – Bombay

A modified version of this would be doing the trip mostly overland. Brindisi has good ferry connections to different ports in Greece, from where you can get by train or bus to Istanbul. Actually, you can skip the Brindisi part altogether and go from Paris via Munich, Budapest and Bucharest directly to Istanbul, approximately following one of the routes of the former Orient Express. Once in Istanbul, you have some options for getting overland to Delhi. Apparently you can pull this off in 15 days. From Delhi, then, take the train to Mumbai (Bombay).

Places to stay for visit: Greece, Istanbul, Delhi, Mumbai (Bombay).

3. Bombay through Allahabad to Calcutta

The 2000 km from Mumbai to Kolkata is now 27–38 hours by train, or 33 hours by road.

Places to stay for visit: Kolkata (Calcutta)

4. Calcutta through Singapore to Hong Kong

One alternative would be flying to Singapore and travelling from there by land to Hong Kong through Southeast Asia. You can get by train from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur and further to Butterworth and Bangkok. From there, consider the options in the itineraries Bangkok to Ho Chi Minh City overland and Ho Chi Minh City to Shanghai overland. Budget a week or so for this alternative.

Bangkok to Ho Chi Minh City:

1) Bangkok to Siem Reap

Time: From 9–14 hours, depending on the season

  • The Thai government bus company BKS (บขส Baw Kaw Saw), know in English as The Transport Co., and Cambodian bus company Giant Ibis run direct buses from Mo Chit bus terminal. If you are not planning to sightsee along the way, this is the most hassle-free way of travelling the route. That said, you will have to get off the bus to clear customs and immigration at the border, and the main Aranyaprathet-Poipet border crossing is known for being a hotbed of scams, especially on the Cambodian side.

2) Siem Reap to Phnom Penh

Time: 4–9 hours

  • Bus/taxi: from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh, modern air-con coaches do the trip in 5-7 hours with lunch included. As with any road in Cambodia, however, maintenance is patchy and the situation can deteriorate after only a few seasons. Check with your hotel or a travel agency in Siem Reap for up-to-date information. There are many bus companies making the journey including Mekong Express, Capitol, and Virak Buntham. Prices are US$7–15 (2020).

3) Phnom Penh to Ho Chi Minh City

Time: 6–8 hours

  • There are several bus companies operating directly between the two cities, including Mai Linh, The Sinh Tourist, Giant Ibis and Mekong Express, which use the same bus across the border all the way to HCMC but you will have to get off to go through immigration and customs. If you're not sightseeing along the way, going with one of these companies is the most hassle-free way of completing this journey.

Ho Chi Minh City to Hong Kong:

1) Ho Chi Minh City to Hanoi

  • Bus or train

2) Hanoi to Nanning

The easiest but most expensive way to cross is the direct bus to Nanning from Kim Lien Hotel in Hanoi. There are also direct train services across the border.

3) Nanning to Guangzhou

During the day, there are frequent high-speed (D-series) trains from Nanning East Station (Nanning Dong huoche zhan) to Guangzhou South; they take 4 hours, with the fare of ¥169 (as of 2015).

4) Guangzhou to Hong Kong

When in Guangzhou get yourself to Guangzhou East station and use the new metro for about ¥5. Once there follow the signs for the Kowloon express and for ¥180 you'll be in Hong Kong in less than 1 1/2 hours.

5. Hong Kong – Shanghai – Yokohama

Modern cruise ships connect Hong Kong's busy seaport to many destinations, including Tokyo. A trip to Tokyo takes 12 days with multiple stops in China and South Korea. It's only 1 hour trip by train from Tokyo to Yokohama.

You can also take a train from Hong Kong to Shanghai. High speed trains depart daily from Hong Kong and take 8 hours to reach Shanghai. A cheaper option is to take the slower sleeper train that departs every 2 days from Hong Kong and arrives in Shanghai in 20 hours. From there, there are ferries to Japan running every few days.

Places to stay for visit: Shanghai (Primarily Pudong), Tokyo, Yokohama.

6. Yokohama to San Francisco

Crossing the Pacific is probably the hardest problem to solve for anyone who'd like to travel around the world without flying. Modern day cruises usually take about 20 days to complete the journey from Tokyo or Yokohama to San Francisco, almost always stopping in Alaska and Canada on the way. Freighter travel is probably your best bet here.

Places to stay for visit: San Francisco.

7. San Francisco – Salt Lake City – Medicine Bow – Fort Kearney – Omaha – Chicago – New York City

Although the experience would be far less authentic, an attempt to retrace the journey by car could allow a closer approximation to the exact route taken by Phileas Fogg in the novel.

The modern Amtrak "California Zephyr" EmeryvilleChicago and "Lake Shore Limited" Chicago–NYC take about three and a half days.

Places to stay for visit: Chicago, New York City.

8. New York City – Queenstown – Dublin – Liverpool – London

Today, Cunard's Queen Mary 2 ocean liner runs NYC–Southampton in seven days, with trains onward running twice-hourly to London. This operation is seasonal and the number of departures are limited.

Places to stay for visit: Southampton.

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80 days should be the minimum. I think it takes at least 160 days for a good travel experience.

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