Overlanding Plans for South-East Asia

Last updated

We’re currently in China and while we’re still trying to digest this amazing country, I’d like to talk about the plans for the last part of the trip.

We’re so overwhelmed with our experiences in China. We saw (and are still seeing) so much that we need some time to absorb all our adventures before I can write about them.

overlanding in china

 After China, we will be overlanding through Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore.

Let’s start it at the end!

Singapore is tricky. The authorities in Singapore charge overlanders so much to enter the country that it’s not even worth doing it. We do have a Carnet de Passage, which Singapore also requires, but for us to enter the country would cost another few thousand dollars. So what we’re going to do is drive all the way to the Malaysia-Singapore border and then take a bus to spend a few days in the city.

We also needed to obtain the Carnet de Passage for Malaysia, and with that in hand we hopefully won’t have issues at the border crossing.

overlanding in china

Thailand is also tricky, but for a very different reason. Regulations concerning overlanders are often changing in this country, but my most up-to-date information is that overlanders need to have a guide (just as in China) and camper vehicles are not allowed to enter at all. Any vehicles that have a permanent bed inside are classified as campers, and even normal vans can fall into this category.

When I chose the Prado we’re currently driving, I was actually considering these Thai regulations. 

toyota hilux overlanding

Having said that, many overlanders regularly report that it’s possible to enter Thailand with any vehicle on the northernmost border crossing with Cambodia, and that nobody there cares about the requirement for a local guide. We’ll see!

Niels and Lotte’s Hilux definitely classifies as a camper so I’m quite curious how will they’ll be able to enter. 

Giampiero may be able to get away with his Defender as it looks like any normal 4×4 vehicle. However, his car registration document classifies it as a camper. 

defender and prado in china
defender ex-tec

We’ll only find out next year whether or not he can enter Thailand though, because he’s going to leave his Land Rover in Laos and continue his 6-continent overland adventure in 2019.

Just so that we have more bureaucracy to deal with, in Cambodia we’ll need a temporary import permit that can only be obtained in the capital, Phnom Penh. That’s a bit difficult, given that the capital city is not a border town!

I’ll figure this part out once we’re actually in Laos.

filling up the tank - overlanding

This is the next country we’re heading for. With a motorbike accident and a stolen camera in 2011, I don’t have the best memories from the country, but I’m still looking forward to overlanding through such a remote, developing nation. After China’s smooth roads and modern towns, it’ll make for a nice change.

china overlanding

In the meantime though, we still have several days to enjoy the unique experience of overlanding through the People’s Republic of China.

Photo of author
Ferenc Elekes has been a devout Overlanding enthusiast for many years. During that time, Ferenc has explored 75 countries on six continents, with overland travel involved in 40 countries on three continents. From his trusty 2006 Toyota Land Cruiser Prado with a roof-top tent, he’s blogged about experiences that can only be found in the remotest regions on Earth. Along the way, he's gained in-depth knowledge of the novel challenges overlanders encounter and practical ways to meet them. On his website, he shares informed opinions about everything from the best overland gear to how to get a vehicle unstuck. Ferenc has also written for Ih8mud, the Expedition Portal, the Overland Journal, and he is often invited as a guest to outdoors-related podcasts.
Which Overlanding Vehicle Best Fits You?!

Take the quiz to find out which overlanding vehicle best fits you and your travel style.

Overlandsite - take the quiz

Leave a Comment

What type of vehicle suits your overlanding style?