If you’re someone who likes to live life on the edge, hiring a campervan (also known as motorhome) is a great way to live it up on the road! It is a way of travel that combines the essence of road trips with a backpacker’s lifestyle. If you have a knack for both of these, then renting a campervan to see some of the best sights in Asia is a great idea. It is a popular way of seeing as many countries or attractions in Asia as possible. It is also a more cost-friendly way to get around (as renting a campervan is considerably cheaper than booking a flight). Whether you are excited by the idea of seeing as many countries or cities in Asia or you want to live an adventurous life on the road, a campervan rental is still the best way to go!
Introduction to Campervan Rental in Asia
While renting a campervan is quite prevalent in Europe, as well as Australia and New Zealand, it is fairly new in Asia. The primary reason why it grew in popularity is due to the fact that you can travel at a leisurely pace. It is a great way to discover more about certain destinations without the need to hurry back to your hotel. The campervan itself serves as your accommodation on the road, so you can get as close to nature as possible and spend as much time as you want at each destination.
If you travel to Asia, you will notice that there are not many campervans on the road yet. In most Asian countries, it is still a novelty. But there is a growing trend in campervan travel in Asia that has led to the consequential growth in campervan rentals. As of now, this option is available mainly on three Asian countries: Thailand, Indonesia, and Japan. In Japan, the concept of RV travel is as organized as it is in Europe and some other parts of the Western world.
In this guide, you will learn more about how you can prepare for a campervan trip in Asia and where are the best countries to experience this.
Where to Hire Campervan in Asia
There are currently three main options for anyone interested to rent a campervan in Asia. The current options available are Japan, Indonesia, and Thailand. First off, Japan is one of the best countries in Asia to rent a campervan for travel. There are many destinations that you can visit and there are also several rental companies to choose from.
Campervans are known locally in Japan as camping cars. But when you refer to campervans and are in search of them in Japan, the locals will know what you mean. There are plenty of these companies in operation but the major ones are Fuji Cars Japan, McRent, and Japan RV Rental. You will be able to take them anywhere in Japan. But a special permission would be required by the rental company before you take the vehicle to another island. In fact, they can facilitate in the ferry bookings on your behalf.
In Japan, the method at which you can rent the campervan varies significantly from one company to another. The first option enables you to rent the car one-way but there will be an additional fee for that. Most campervan for hire require the vehicle to be returned to the same pick-up point. With over 1,000 campgrounds in Japan, it comes as no surprise why it is a popular option for anyone looking for campervans for hire.
What is the Cost?
Depending on which campground you choose, the cost of campervan parking can cost 45 USD (or about 5,000 Yen) per night. There are a variety of facilities available at each campground and you can choose according to your preference.
Aside from campgrounds, those who choose to rent a campervan in Japan can also opt to stay in RV parks. The overnight cost is considerably lower as compared to the campgrounds. Unlike campgrounds, most RV parks in Japan do not require advanced reservations.
For those who prefer not to pay for fees on campgrounds and RV parks, there are designated rest areas in Japan. With these rest areas, you can use them for lunch stops or when you want to park your RV overnight without a fee. While these are available for free, there is an unwritten rule that you should not extend your stay for more than one night. Other options for free overnight parking include scenic spots or beaches, especially when you are in remote areas of Japan. The only rule is that you should never park your campervan in private properties.
Typical campervan in Japan
If you prefer to explore Thailand in a campervan, you can do so as there are also a growing number of campervan rental companies that operate in the country. One of the most popular ones is called Campervan Thai. This company is in partnership with up to 15 campgrounds and RV parks in Thailand. This makes it a great option for when you want to explore the country on a campervan since you can stay at these campgrounds overnight for a small fee. The only downside is that your travel destination will be limited to the location of these campgrounds.
There are a few other options for overnight parking with your campervan, but it is difficult to secure permits for those areas. In some cases, safety can also be a concern. If you want to avoid the risks, your best bet is to stay in the affiliated campgrounds.
What is the Cost?
For Campervan Thai, the cost of renting a campervan will depend on the size of the motorhome. The small sized campervan is available for rent at 6,000 Baht per day (198 USD), the intermediate size is at 9,000 Baht per day (297 USD), and 12,000 Baht per day (396 USD) for the largest campervan sizes.
Image by Campervan Thailand
In Indonesia, there is currently only one licensed campervan for hire company – Indocamper Van. There are a few other small family-owned businesses that offer campervan rental but if you want a state-of-the-art campervan, then Indocamper Van is a great option for you. This company is based in Jakarta.
Indonesia is among the most famous destinations in Southeast Asia for backpackers and young travelers. The option to hire a campervan is best suited for these kinds of travelers who can rough it out and save money on hotel rooms.
In this country, campervan rental companies have come and gone over the past decade or so. This is mostly due to the lack of campgrounds that would cater to these campervans. Unlike Japan, there is limited option and demand for RV camping. But since travelers are more adventurous these days, many have looked for alternatives to staying in hotel rooms and campervans have offered a great alternative to that.
What is the Cost?
In Indonesia, the rate for campervan rental via Indocamper Van is 55 USD per day. They do offer special discounts if you rent for more than two weeks.
The cost of renting a campervan in Asia is considerably lower than the cost of rentals in Europe. The cost of RV rental will also vary depending on the country and the number of days you choose to rent the campervan.
Campervan in Indonesia (Image by Indo Campervan)
What Are the Permits and Requirements to Rent a Campervan
There are no special permits required in order to rent a campervan in Asia. The main requirement, though, is that you must possess a valid international driver’s license or permit. There are additional permits required when you park the vehicle at designated campgrounds or RV parks, so make sure to verify this beforehand. You cannot expect to show up on a site and be able to park the campervan where you want it, especially as this is a relatively new concept of travel in Asia. In some cases, campervan rental companies also require up-front deposit fee for damages (also known as security deposit).
Campervan Rental Tips
Driving around in a campervan in Asia has its own sets of risks. As exciting as this may seem, you need to plan your campervan trip ahead of time.
RV-ing in Asia is a completely different experience than it is done in the West. Below are helpful tips to remind yourself of constantly:
- Read the fine print to ensure that you do not violate any of the company’s policies for campervan rental.
- Get the appropriate level of insurance. A campervan is very expensive to acquire; thus, campervan companies would want to insure their vehicle. You need to find the appropriate level of insurance that would suit the risks involved to ensure that you can drive it with peace of mind.
- Do take note that some companies in Asia impose an upper age limit for those who would be able to rent a campervan. Anyone over the age of 70 might not be able to rent a campervan in Asia. Look around and compare in various companies to know about their age limits for drivers.
- For those campervan companies that allow upper age limits for hirers, they might impose a higher security deposit. The insurance excess will also be considerably higher as older drivers are considered higher risk for the company, as well. In some cases, the driver might be asked to provide a doctor’s certificate indicating that you are fit to drive (for those above the age of 60 or 70).
- And speaking of security deposits, it is important to check what the company charges for this. Make sure that you get all the information you need from the company about payment. This is to ensure that there are no surprises when the time comes for you to return the vehicle.
Ideally, you would want to try campervan adventure in your own country first before you try it in Asia. Since this is a relatively new branch of the tourism industry in Asia, there are still a lot of rules and regulations you need to know. It is also a good way to get some experience in RVing, as well as the entailing risks you need to know about. It is important to note that the top three countries wherein campervan for hire is emerging, all of them drive on the left.
If you are used to driving a campervan on the right hand side, it could take a little bit of adjustment on your end.
The driving conditions in Asia vary significantly, depending on which country you choose to go on a campervan adventure on. For example, roads in Japan are very different from the roads in Indonesia, and so on. Plan your route beforehand to avoid any major surprises.