Driving from Budapest to Singapore – The Last Episode
We felt like we’d really achieved something as we approached our last destination, Singapore.
I don’t think we discovered Malaysia as well as we should have. We visited Kuala Lumpur, the Cameron Highlands and also drove along the West Coast, but since the wet season had already started, we didn’t make any extra effort to explore with a bit of off-roading.
One of our most interesting days was at the Malaysia Motor Show, where we were interviewed by Toyota’s marketing team and also met a fellow overlander, Cliften.
Cliften is an extremely experienced overlander, having traveled through Asia to Europe with his Volkswagen T2, and he’s now planning his next journey. We had a great chat, exchanging stories with him. Hope to meet him when he’ll be in Europe next time!
How to enter Singapore with your own vehicle
Just after entering Malaysia, I started to look into the rules of driving into Singapore. While we were still in China and Laos, I actually thought this was close to impossible, either too complicated or too difficult to drive in with your own car.
Luckily, Jo and Richard have done the hard work and found out that driving into Singapore is neither complicated nor expensive.
The cheap and simple process of entering Singapore
Your best choice for port of entry is at Johor. Johor Bahru is a major city in southern Malaysia and this is where the busiest border crossing into Singapore is located.
The step-by-step process:
1. Contact AA Singapore in advance and let them know your rough dates as to when you’d like to enter. We were in contact with Bernice, and she was possibly one of the nicest and most helpful people we met during our trip.
2. A day or two before actually driving in, you need to take a bus or train to Singapore AA in order to arrange your insurance and Land Transport Authority (LTA) permit.
3. Go back to Johor to pick up your car and drive across the bridge to Singapore. You should try to avoid rush hour but even then can still expect some wait, given that it’s a very busy border crossing. Border guards are professional and very polite, so if you’ve driven through half of the world to get here, this should be a piece of cake.
One thing you need to be careful of is to make sure you get your Carnet stamped on the Malaysian side. It’s very easy to just drive across the border exiting Malaysia, but make sure you stop and look for customs to stamp your document.
This is what I received form Bernice at AA Singapore:
Vehicle Shipping from Singapore to Europe
I knew nothing about shipping before this trip, so organizing the vehicle to be sent to Europe felt like an overwhelming task. During the trip we weren’t sure where we were going to end up sending the car, but given all the circumstances (personal and financial), we eventually aimed to ship the vehicle back to Europe.
We were still in Laos when I started to collect contact details of shipping agents from other overlanders.
At that point I wasn’t even sure if we’d actually be able to enter Singapore with our car, so I was looking at two ports to ship from:
- Port Klang in Malaysia
- Port of Singapore
I started to Google shipping agents and companies in and around these two ports, and emailed at least 20 people to try to get some quotes.
I had mixed results, as most companies treat you as someone who already knows all the terms and abbreviations around shipping. Others directed me to other companies while some of them gave me quotes immediately.
The quotes ranged from $1,800 - $4,200 for a 20-foot container. This is where it gets tricky.
You have three major costs:
- Local charges at the departure port (paperwork, customs, handling)
- The actual shipping costs
- Local charges at the destination (again, paperwork, customs, handling)
The local charges are the trickiest ones because companies charge you for everything and anything. A piece of paper can cost you hundreds of dollars and you may be charged for storage too,ence the big difference between the quotes. Make sure you get a full quote, including the costs both at the departure and the destination.
Eventually, ours got to be about $3,000 for shipping from Singapore to Rotterdam. To be honest, I was hoping it would be a bit cheaper, but we had no issues with the shipping whatsoever, so I was happy enough.
The most important document that you shouldn’t leave without (I mean, don’t just hand over your car keys to the agent and then board your plane home) is the Bill of Lading. This is the single most important document you’ll receive about the goods you’re shipping and the fact that it’s being shipped in the first place.
Through a recommendation, I eventually managed to get in touch with Tandem Global Logistics in Singapore.
The shipping went seamlessly andI can highly recommend our contact, Rachel Lim. You can contact her on [email protected] and I’m sure she’ll get back to you within a few hours.
Read more about the ins and outs of vehicle shipping on our friends', LandCruising Adventure's Website
Closing the doors of the container was an emotional moment. It was very sad to see the car being tucked away, as it had been our home for half a year. Driving into Singapore already marked the end of our trip, but now parting from our vehicle meant it was truly over. We didn’t even have an (unrealistic) chance of turning around and driving home anymore.
I don’t want to use too many cliches like ‘it was a lifetime experience’, ‘the trip of a lifetime’, ‘the best half-year of my life so far’ or ‘the best thing I’ve ever done’, but these things are all true.
We’ve driven through 13 countries and clocked over 20,500 miles.
Here are some statistics from the trip:
- 169 days
- 20,505 miles (33,000 kilometers)
- 13 countries
- 977 US gallons of diesel (3,698 liters)
- US$3,280 spent on fuel (2,887 euros)
- Visited a mechanic: 7 times
- Flat tyres: ZERO
- Flip-flops lost: 3 pairs
- Items lost other than flip-flops: drone, camping grill, water canister
- Getting stuck badly: twice
- Rescued other vehicles: 2
- Sheep saved: 1
- Dogs fed: lots
- Worries: quite a few
- Brilliant people we met: countless
- Highest altitude: 15,748 feet (4,800 meters)
- Toughest day: Mongolia, trying to reach Bayankhongor
- Most beautiful place: Tusheti National Park, Georgia or Cuoka, China
- Best camp spot: beachside wild camp in Thailand
- Best food: China
- Best beer: Laos
- Snakes: 3
- Scorpions: 1
- Spiders: too many
- Pictures and videos: 2 TB
Now that we’re back home, we’re slowly settling back into the ‘normal life’ of meeting friends and family, working and going to the gym, etc.
However, we’ve already started planning the next journey! We haven’t got any timelines as yet and we only have a vague idea about the vehicle, but something we feel we “have to” do is drive the Pan-American Highway all the way from Alaska to Ushuaia.
We gained so much experience over the past year that planning the next trip should be a lot easier!
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