Overlanders in Asia


During the first few years of our life on the road we didn’t encounter many overlanders, especially farther in the orient. Today, few daredevils travel the once well-trodden hippy trail from Europe to India, and because South East Asia is tough to reach overland without a shipment even fewer overlanders venture there.

Overlanders in Asia

This is an overview of images I could find of overlanders we met along this journey. Mind you, there are more vehicles and fellow travelers glued to our minds but we just forgot to take photos of them.

Read More: Frequently Asked Questions

We meet a German family with a converted VW bus. Note the 2CV root mounted on the top of the van.
French Magali, travelled 4 years on a horse and a mule from France to China.

Our first meeting with fellow overlanders was in Istanbul on a campground when having the Land Cruiser’s first serious repair done at the Toyota dealer: A family of four in an intriguing looking VW/2CV contraption.

And just before crossing into Iran, in eastern Turkey, we met the incredibly courageous Magali and her animals.

Next was the first Toyota in a long line of Toyotas. And strangely, most of them were white.

Surely the “best 4x4xfar” wasn’t too far away.

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Overlanders in Asia
Erwin and Bastienne, from the Netherlands, forging a river in Iran in their Land Cruiser BJ75.
Gert and Miranda from the Netherlands in their Land Rover Defender 110.
On the border between Iran and Pakistan we encountered three Italians traveling in two old Renault Saviem’s.
Arjanne and Wessel from the Netherlands just about to enter Iran from Pakistan in their Land Rover Series III.

Our first and only encounter with a Renault 4×4 was on the border of Iran and Pakistan, where we met three pensioned Italians.

Just before buying our Land Cruiser, I (Coen) was smitten (still am) by the looks of the Land Rover Series. We came very close to setting off in one and that might have led to a completely different adventure.

On the one and only Official Foreigners Campsite in Islamabad we met up with loads of overlanders and I regret not having taken images of all the nice people we met and their rigs.

But the few we have here left a lasting impression in one way or another.

We had been looking into this big-ass MAN truck called Nosy, which was for sale for a reasonable price. The downside was we would have to get a special driver’s license to drive it. It proved too much hassle and we abandoned the plan. Spotting it in Islamabad with its new owner and dog brought big smiles to our faces.

Read More: The Journey

Tim from Germany on his way to India with 5 friends in their oversized Mercedes bus.
Sjoerd and his dog Els, from the Netherlands, in their old MAN truck on their way back from India.
Dorrit and Coen, from the Netherlands in their VW LT28 roaming around Asia and South America.
We meet a young Italian on his Vespa on his way to Vietnam.

Some chose out-of-the-ordinary modes of transport, like this Vespa.

We decided to backpack a stretch into China from Pakistan and in Kashgar (read about it here) we met up with Stephen Stewart and his gang who had made the choice to cross China with 5 vehicles.

Another Series at the Medina Guesthouse in Gilgit, Pakistan.

Stephen Stewart from the UK with his Unimog U1300L and 4 other friends on their way through China and Mongolia.
We meet Andreas from Austria with his VW T2 automatic various times in Pakistan.
Philippe from Switzerland with his Land Rover Defender V6 in Pakistan.
A British couple in a Dutch Land Rover Series camping in Gilgit, Pakistan.

We met Andreas on several occasions, but having camped together at the highest Polo Tournament of the world was something special. The T2 holds something special for us and we admire it for its incredible space inside. The latter is something we can miss in South America (in particular Patagonia), where due to the cold climate a rig with a bit more comfort inside is nice.

Philippe bought a very nice Land Rover V8 from a bankrupt Paris-Dakar team, but he soon discovered that the petrol costs were going to be his bankruptcy.

Not really an overlander as he bought his vehicle in India but worth a mention anyway: Tony has lived in North India for many years where he bought a sturdy Royal Enfield and has been roaming the country with it.

The first Pinzgauer we met had six wheels and harbored a sweet family of three from Switzerland. We spent a week camping together in Ladakh, India (read here).

Meeting World Cyclist Coen from the Netherlands for the second time.
We meet Tony and his girlfriend on their Royal Enfield in Ladakh, India.
We camped with Pierre, Irene and Tobias from the Netherlands who are traveling in a converted VW canteen van.
We spend some time with a Swiss family traveling in a 6×6 Steyr Puch Pinzgauer.

When we headed down the road to Manali (north India), we noticed a familiar orange flag in the distance and we thus recognized my namesake on his bicycle: Coen. We had met earlier in east Turkey just before entering Iran.

We first met up with Irene, Pierre and Tobias in Erzurum, Turkey while waiting for our Iranian visa. And we kept meeting them on intervals between there and India. Every time we spotted the special green T2 van we couldn’t help ourselves smile from ear to ear.

The name Agonda beach (Goa) has been whispered from Overlander to Overlander for ages. This special little beach didn’t have the necessary amenities to call itself a campground but most overlanders who visited the beach didn’t care for that as most were ready for a break from hectic India.

Read More: The Overland Reunion – How Did it Start and How Does it Work

Eric and Caroline [foreground] and Henk and Marianne both with their Land Cruisers on Agonda beach in Goa, India.
Dirk and Marieken from the Netherlands with their Land Cruiser trailer combo in Thailand.
We meet Emil and Liliana with their Land Cruiser FJ60 by chance in Singapore.
Pat and Helen from the UK on their BMW R100 GS Paris Dakar in Malasia.

We shipped our car from Bangladesh to Singapore and learned Emil and Liliana had done the same from French Guiana. We met up with these two amazing Guinness Book of Record holders and shared beers with ice cubes.

Farther up the peninsula, in Malaysia, we meet a well equipped BMW with their owners, whom we got hooked on the Settlers of Catan over the weekend we spent camping near the Cameron Highlands.

In Thailand we met the first overlander trailer combination. Dirk and Marieken were testing out their RTT on the trailer. Later they converted to a bigger Toyota, but kept the trailer concept.

We met these two young guys with a hunger for kilometers in the north of Thailand.

In Laos we met our first cool Mercedes truck. Plenty of room in there!

We met this Chinese rig right under the Potala Palace, Tibet, and they seemed thrilled to meet us and left us with a bunch of DVDs of their trip.

In Cambodia we met yet another Dutch couple with a Land Rover.

We came across this well equipped expedition rig in Lhasa, China.
Meeting up with Marly en Sander and their Land Rover Defender in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
Josef and Dorothea, from Germany, travel Asia in style in their Mercedes Benz LA 911.
Gunther and Claus from Germany, two year and 110.000 kilometers with their Land Cruiser HJ78.

Okay, this awesome rig doesn’t fit the description of overlanders as the two young Thai owners were merely escaping the big city for the weekend, but it is equipped to do so one day. We met at a jungle camp near the Laos border.

The last overlanders in Asia we met on driving a brand new Toyota and were on their way to Japan and Russia: Mario and Maria were on the last stretch of their 8-year journey.

Karin-Marijke posing with Marja and Mario from the Netherlands in Kuala Lumpur in front of their Land Cruiser.

Check it out: the Landcruising Adventure Zipped-Hoodie Collection

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9 thoughts on “Overlanders in Asia”

  1. Hi there Guys, your doing such a fantastic thing here. Came upon your site on facebook and have being going over your website very finely. Such awsome rigs that you have spotted in your travels. Wish I was there doing it the way your doing it. You really get to see the good things! Happy travels!
    Got a Landcruiser 90 here in Cayman. Im originnaly from Souith Africa and will betaking her back with me when we are finished here. Going to be taking her out into the bush many week ends when i gte back home 🙂

  2. Great memories guys! And so many friends we’ve met along the way, some of them almost forgotten. The Italian Vespa, Andreas in his Orange Volkswagen Van and The Swiss in their highly uncomfortable Pinzgauer.
    Luckily we’re meeting up again with Pierre, Irene en Tobi and Erwin and Bastienne in 2 weeks time.
    You did forgot the include Charles, with his Landrover Defender though, who should definitively be up there!

  3. There are vehicles here for every taste. I was hoping to see a Pinzgauer ! YES ! Traveling with my Pinzgauer has taught me that fuel consumption would be my main preoccupation… Like Philippe from Switzerland in his Defender V8 – that must be a killer ! I greatly enjoy reading your articles, great work. Happy travels !

  4. Lovely to see pics of our old ‘Nosey’ (1969 MAN 630L2a) on your site. He’s truck with a history. After spending 20 years with the German army, he was sold to a dealer in Holland. Eventually five Dutch guys bought him and fitted him out as a (basic) camper truck and drove him to China and back in 1999. My wife and I bought him in 2000 and I refitted him with beds, kitchen, shower, toilet, water purifiers and tanks. We then headed of to India. Returning in 2002, we sold him to Sjoerd. Who repainted him, sat his dog on the passenger seat and promptly went back to India. Last I heard of Nosey he was for sale in 2008, and still looking as ‘big assed’ as ever. I know people tend to call trucks boats etc., ‘she’ but take it from me, there’s nothing feminine about Nosey. He’s as tough as they come. I’ve been a commercial trucker for a long time, and I can assure, Nosey and his brothers are built like no others! I got plenty pics if you’d like to see them. Get in touch!


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