“Life’s about the journey”. It may be a new-age cliché, but it’s true – especially on an Asia Overland tour. These journeys have nothing to do with ‘finding yourself’ in an Indian ashram, and everything to do with full-steam, off-road, stuff-memories-are-made-of adventure. We’re talking drives through the Himalayan foothills, tracing ancient caravan routes along the Silk Road or crossing the wind-bitten steppes of the ‘Stans, all in expedition trucks and with charismatic leaders at the wheel.
These trips are run by our expert partners in overlanding, Dragoman. Trust us – these guys know a thing or two about life on the road. Every few days you’ll wake up somewhere new – a cave house in Shanxi province, a Kyrgystani apple orchard, a lakeside ger in Mongolia – and wonder, what kind of life is this? This, friends, is the overlanding life. Start your engines.
Our Overland tours in Asia
31 Days From £2,201
80 Days From £7,482
30 Days From £2,718
15 Days From £1,526
24 Days From £1,568
30 Days From £2,734
14 Days From £1,325
16 Days From £1,209
15 Days From £1,542
21 Days From £2,057
15 Days From £3,949
82 Days From £5,556
Asia Overland FAQs
On an Asia Overland tour you’ll be accompanied by two Western leaders, who are responsible for the group and overall organisation of the trip. It’s important to know that they’ll also spend time driving and maintaining the truck. While not being guides in the traditional sense, they have a broad knowledge of the places you visit and can offer suggestions for things to see and do.
On trips through Georgia, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan, China, Mongolia and Myanmar you’ll also be joined by a local guide (who acts as a third crew member). They’re an awesome source of local knowledge and offer great insight into the lives of local people. On tours through Turkey, Azerbaijan, Nepal, India and Thailand you won’t have a local guide with you for the whole journey, but we might pick up a few up along the way.
You’ll be part of a group of maximum 22 people of all ages and nationalities, from all walks of life. That’s what overland travel is all about: sharing experiences with like-minded adventurers from around the world. Be prepared to make life-long friends, because it happens a lot.
Dragoman’s Mercedes-Benz trucks are custom-built for overlanding. They’re the toughest things on the road (and off it). All vehicles are equipped with comfortable coach-style seating and seatbelts, and are designed to be self-sufficient. Everything you need for your adventure is included, right down to the folding chairs for your campsite.
Overlanding is not your typical touring experience; the best thing is to treat it all as part of the adventure. Sometimes conditions can be tough on vehicles, and while Dragoman fastidiously service their trucks, the occasional breakdown may happen (don’t worry, your leader is well trained to deal with these situations). Also, in wet weather, there may be times when we have to take alternative routes, which can mean longer travel times.
Overland tours involve a lot of time on the road, and many early morning starts. Some days we’ll drive for five, six, even ten hours at a time, although we take regular breaks. These days are often interspersed with a day or two of rest.
Most vehicles have roof seats and opening windows for fresh air and to keep you in touch with the outside world, but as these are expedition vehicles. That means there is no air-conditioning, no curtains and limited heating. The steps to get into the truck are fairly high and the ride can be pretty bumpy at times. But that all comes with the territory. It wouldn’t be a real adventure if it was easy all the time.
The style of accommodation depends on the adventure you choose. On the majority of Overland tours in Asia you’ll stay in hotels, with a few hostels, homestays and even nights in a yurt thrown in along the way. Hotels vary in size and standard, but are always clean, safe and comfortable.
Most trips also involve wild camping, especially in Kyrgyzstan and Mongolia. The tents are spacious (slightly larger than the average two-person tent) and come with built-in mosquito screens. In these situations, facilities are basic or non-existent, so you’ll need to be ready to rough it. But it’s totally worth it: one of the highlights of overlanding is waking up in beautiful, secluded areas far from the tourist crowds.
Accommodation is multi-share on Asia Overland tours, whether camping or staying in hotels, so there’s no single supplement option. Those travelling solo will share with someone of the same gender. Upgrades are sometimes available at certain campsites and in towns. For a detailed breakdown of accommodation, check your tour’s Essential Trip Information.
On an Overland tour, you’re more than just a passenger – you’re part of a team. Your crew will organise the group into smaller groups of 2-4 (bonding experience!). You’ll then take it in turns to do the daily shopping and cooking, clean the vehicle and dispose of rubbish. Other jobs like collecting water and firewood, loading luggage and supervising the kitty and food stores may be assigned to particular people on a rota system, depending on group size and make-up. You’ll also be required to pitch your own tent. Please come prepared to roll up your sleeves and pull your weight – it’s all part of the fun.
There’s nothing like eating around the campfire under a star-filled sky. Meals while camping are tasty yet simple, and we make sure to throw in some local specialties. Breakfasts often involve bread, butter, jam and tea/coffee. In most cases, dietary restrictions can be catered for, but please let us know of any requirements at the time of booking so we can get organised in advance.
When camping, you’ll be divided into smaller groups and take it in turns to plan a meal, shop for ingredients in local markets or supermarkets and cook for the whole group. Cooking crews are responsible for cleaning communal equipment, but you’re in charge of washing your own utensils. When staying in hotels and guesthouses, you’ll be dining on locally prepared food.
While we stick to the planned itineraries where we can, overland travel – especially in remote parts of the world – is unpredictable. Closed borders, strikes, extreme weather or mechanical issues can affect the running of your trip. In those cases, there are plenty of other tried-and-true routes we can take. We also often spontaneously throw in a visit to a local festival or additional time at a beach. An open mind and sense of flexibility are key to enjoying your adventure.
Optional activities are dispersed throughout the itinerary. Please note that these are subject to availability, and that the prices listed are merely an indication. Ask your leader for more information.
The kitty is a collective group fund and forms part of the total cost of your trip. You can either pay your contribution 3-4 weeks before you depart, or during the welcome meeting at the start of the tour. The kitty is monitored by the Dragoman crew but is visible to all travellers throughout the journey. It covers the cost of accommodation, all meals while camping, and everything the group does as a whole (activities listed as ‘included’ in the itinerary, entrance to national parks, local guide fees etc).
The kitty price is constantly updated throughout the year due to fluctuations in exchange rates and variation in local costs. Make sure you check the most recent estimate on the website before departure. Any money left over after the trip is redistributed among the group. You’ll also need your own financial supply for personal spending, optional activities, tips, and meals while staying in hotels and hostels. See the Essential Trip Information for more info.
Many of the countries visited on our Asia Overland tours require visas for entry. Some are best obtained before you leave home, and others can be obtained en-route. Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller, although we’re happy to help with any questions. Entry requirements can change at any time, so check out the relevant consular websites for up-to-date information specific to your nationality. Visas can take several weeks to process, so it’s best to apply as soon as you’ve booked your trip. For some countries, such as Turkmenistan and China, you’ll also need an official Letter of Invitation, so we’ll have to request additional information from you. Once on the ground, your leader will walk and talk you through border crossings as a group, so there’s no need to feel nervous.
To fully participate in an Asia Overland tour, you’ll need to have at least a basic level of fitness. Long travel days, dusty conditions, bumpy roads – overland travel can be challenging. You’ll need to be physically able to help with camp chores and to climb up and down the steps of the truck 8-10 times a day. To choose a trip that suits your fitness level, please look carefully at the physical rating on our website. It’s also a good idea to check with your doctor to see if any pre-existing medical conditions will affect your ability to participate in the trip, as we won’t have access to doctors or medical facilities in some of the more remote parts of Asia.
When overlanding, it’s best to pack as lightly as possible. Although you won’t have to carry your bag over long distances, you’ll need to help load and unload it from the truck, so we highly recommend a backpack or soft bag instead of a suitcase. Your main luggage will be stored in a locker at the back of the vehicle, so you’ll also need a daypack to keep your water bottle, camera and other personal items.
The clothing and equipment required will depend on your destination and the time of year. Even in summer it can get cold at night, especially in the desert and on the Central Asian steppe, so layers are always a good idea. Bring comfortable clothes that you don’t mind getting dirty. All camping gear is supplied by Dragoman, except for a sleeping bag, ground mat and pillow – you’ll need to bring these yourself. For more information about what to bring, check the Essential Trip Information.
Meet some of the crew
Given we cover so much ground, Dragoman leaders hail from many parts of the world, but they’ve all got one thing in common: a passion for travel and adventure. All crew undergo an intensive eight-week training programme, followed by up to six months on the road as a trainee. In other words, they’re ready for anything. Want to meet a few?
Kolkata to Kathmandu, November 2016
The trip into Sikkim was not worth the extra long day we had to put in for the drive from Gangtok into Nepal. I thought the mountain scenery in Sikkim would be jaw dropping but it was not. Darjeeling was more spectacular. Other than that the trip was great.
Review submitted 12 Dec 2016
Mumbai to Chennai, February 2016
Dragoman gave us a great crew, lot of fun with a well managed and safe trip.
Review submitted 23 Mar 2016
Mumbai to Chennai, January 2016
Excellent opportunity to meet people and learn about yourself and others. Every trip is a new challenge.
Review submitted 27 Feb 2016
Kolkata to Kathmandu, February 2016
I found the trip to be an easy and comfortable way to experience India for the first and as my first time travelling solo. It was nice to have a mix of people travelling together and to have the experience and confidence of the group leader with us.
Review submitted 23 Feb 2016
Read more about Overland tours