South East Asia between Xi'an and Luang Prabang via Laos, (ZXL)

Luang Prabang to Xi'an 29 days, departing 30 Apr 2013
One of China's most beautiful photo spots, the Black Dragon Pool in Lijiang Giving alms to the monks in Luang Prabang, Laos The ornate Wat Xieng Thong Temple in Luang Prabang The vast Terracotta Army in Xi'an, China

Trip Overview

Trip Style: Overlanding
Route: Luang Prabang to Xi'an
Duration: 29 days
Transport: Overland expedition vehicle, Ferry, Overnight boat
Physical Rating:


You will travel through areas that may be physically challenging.


Hotels, Hostels, Guesthouses, Wild Camps

Route Map

Countries Visited


As one of the world's largest countries and the most populous there is so much to discover in China.

Understanding the history of China is key to understanding modern China. The people are proud of it's past, and keen to share it's heritage with the world. In a country that defies superlatives the words 'vast', 'astonishing' and 'variation' don't really seem to cover it - China really does have it all. Jungle in the south, mountains in the west, desert in the north and 21st century cities.. well... almost everywhere.

Beijiing is the hub of political and international focus. With the 2008 Olympic games providing funds to modernise huge ares of the city, it is a truly modern city. However most visitors are most struck by it's old elements from celebrated site such as the Forbidden Palace to simple, traditional hutongs.

There's a lot of China to see and most of it is changing rapidly, so what are you waiting for? Get out there are discover it for yourself.


For a small country, Laos is one of the most diverse places in South East Asia.

Luang Nam Tha is a relaxing town in the heart of the country lying on the side of the Tha river. A place for exploration, it is the base for some of the indigenous tribes of the country. For more adrenaline fuelled activities, a trek through the Nam Ha National Park is a must. Also a hot spot for water sports, this protected area is a treasure surrounded by trees and rolling rivers. This national park is a fantastic chance to see some of the beautiful dress of the Laos people. The handcrafted decorative materials are truly remarkable.

Laos is graced with many lovely, relaxed towns, a product of the country's Bhuddest traditions of peace and respect. The soothing effects of the city of Luang Prabang is no exception. With the viberant market, great Franco-Loas food and the near byKuang Si waterfalls it's place most visitors spend at least a few days.

The capital city of Vientiane is home to The Golden Stupa which is the national symbol of Laos. It's a fine example of this relaxed and handsome city.

Like the lands the food too is beautiful. The typical Lao dish of Laap is rich in marinated meat and aromatic herbs. It is a perfect treat after a day of exploring. With a distinct taste, the dishes is best enjoyed with sticky rice and lashings of fish sauce.

Laos is a country that offers a friendly welcome and it does take long to get into 'Laos time' where days are slowly whiled away enjoying the landscapes and culture of one of the gems of South East Asia.

Back to top ^

Daily Itinerary

One of China's most beautiful photo spots, the Black Dragon Pool in Lijiang
The incredible waterfalls of Kuang Si, Luang Prabang
The incredible karst landscapes of the Shilin Stone Forest, southern China
The vast Terracotta Army in Xi'an, China
Xi'an at night, China
Shopping at night in one of Xi'an's many markets, China
Terracotta warriors and horses, Xi'an, China
The face of the Leshan Great Buddha in Leshan, southern China
Looking up from the base of the 71m-tall Leshan Great Buddha
The largest Buddha statue in the ancient site of Bao Ding in Dazu, China
Some of the rock carvings at the incredible Bao Ding grottos in Dazu
The colossal Three Gorges Dam near Yichang, China
The Yangtze port town of Yichang, China
Some local pupils practice kung fu in Wudang Shan
The Purple Cloud Monastery in Wudang Shan, China
A friendly Red Panda in Chengdu
Giant Pandas enjoying some breakfast at the Chengdu Panda Reserva, China
A wonderful vista taken from near the Jinli Old Town, Chengdu
Chinese lanterns dot the dusk sky in Xiang Fan, China
At the bottom of Emei Shan mountain, China
The impressive Golden Buddha statue on the summit of Emei Shan mountain, China
The Golden Pagoda and Golden Buddha on Emei Shan mountain, China
The beautiful and atmospheric streets of Lijiang at night
Giving alms to the monks in Luang Prabang, Laos
The ornate Wat Xieng Thong Temple in Luang Prabang
Exploring the local markets of Luang Prabnag, Laos
The beautiful Kuang Si waterfalls near Luang Prabang
Some of the beautiful rice paddy fields near Luang Namtha
Overlooking the stunning landscapes around Luang Namtha, northern Laos
A stunning vista of the Three Pagodas in Dali, southern China
The main gate of Dali, Yunnan province, China
The South gate of Dali, Yunnan province, China
A beautiful lake and karst formation in the Grand Park in Kunming, China
Cherry Blossom tree at the Cuihu Green Lake Park in Kunming
The beautiful Yuantong Temple, Kunming, China
Walking through the labyrinth of the Shilin Stone Forest, China
Heading into the Three 'mini' Gorges region of the Yangtze River
Boarding the ferry on the Yangtze River
A walkway along the Three Gorges section of the Yangtze
The beautiful low path along the base of the Tiger Leaping Gorge, China
The stunning vistas along the high path along the top of the Tiger Leaping Gorge
A friendly welcome from some of the local kids in Xishuangbanna, China
A temple in Chongqing, China
The start of the Three Gorges section of the Yangtze river, near Chongqing
Trying some of the local street food in Wanzhou, China
Two Dragoman trucks meeting on the road in China
Local kids playing pool in Panzhihua, China
ZenDate Object ( [tz:protected] => DateTimeZone Object ( ) [date] => 2013-04-30 00:00:00.000000 [timezone_type] => 3 [timezone] => UTC ) ZenDate Object ( [tz:protected] => DateTimeZone Object ( ) [date] => 2013-04-30 00:00:00.000000 [timezone_type] => 3 [timezone] => UTC ) ZenDate Object ( [tz:protected] => DateTimeZone Object ( ) [date] => 2013-04-30 00:00:00.000000 [timezone_type] => 3 [timezone] => UTC )

Day 1: Luang Prabang

( Tue 30 Apr )

Border Information: If joining in Luang Prabang, you will most likey enter Laos at Luang Prabang International Airport.

Today will be a free day to explore the beautiful city of Luang Prabang until the evening. There will be a group meeting today at 6:00pm - please look out for a note from your tour leader on arrival at the joining hotel with more information about this important meeting.

In Luang Prabang we will stay in a comfortable local guesthouse.

Hotel for the night: Bellevue Bungalows

Bellevue Bungalows

Old Bridge Street

Ban Meaungna

Luang Prabang

Tel: +856 71 25 2775

Activity Approximate Cost

Witness the traditional dawn alms-collecting ceremony from the monks of Wat Sensoukharam


Visit the Royal Palace in Luang Prabang, a fascinating blend of Lao and French architecture

LAK 30000

Learn how to prepare some local Lao specialities at one of Luang Prabang's excellent cooking classes

USD 25

Explore the temple of Wat Xieng Thong, the oldest and one of the most beautiful temples in Luang Prabang

LAK 20000

Discover the thousands of Buddha statues at the Pak Ou caves outside of Luang Prabang

LAK 25000

Witness the sunrise from the panoramic viewpoint at the summit of Phou Si hill

LAK 20000

Visit the incredible site of Kuang Si and explore its beautiful waterfalls and pools

LAK 20000
Visit a local textile and handicraft workshop, where you can learn all about their traditional techniques of manufacturing USD
Learn all about the traditional art and lifestyles of Laos's many diverse ethnic groups at the Traditional Arts and Ethnology Centre LAK 25000
See an intimate show of a selection of traditional Lao stories, accompanied by music from the the khene (a local bamboo mouth organ!) LAK 50000
About Luang Prabang:

The enchanting "royal" city of Luang Prabang is anchored at the junction of the Mekong and Nam Khan rivers in northern Laos. Home to a spellbinding array of gilded temples, art deco shop fronts and weathered French colonial buildings, It is a fascinating and beautiful city to wander around. For all its magnificent architecture, it actually feels more like an easy-going provincial town: saffron-robed monks amble silently through the streets collecting offerings from the city's residents first thing in the morning, and when the evening comes old men lounge in chairs outside their homes while children play out in the streets. There's plenty to explore here from the Royal Palace and many temples to the sacred caves of Pak Ou a short distance outside the city. You can also make the steep climb up Mount Phousi, the spiritual and geographical heart of the city, and a great spot to watch the sunset over the Mekong.

ZenDate Object ( [tz:protected] => DateTimeZone Object ( ) [date] => 2013-04-30 00:00:00.000000 [timezone_type] => 3 [timezone] => UTC ) ZenDate Object ( [tz:protected] => DateTimeZone Object ( ) [date] => 2013-05-01 00:00:00.000000 [timezone_type] => 3 [timezone] => UTC ) ZenDate Object ( [tz:protected] => DateTimeZone Object ( ) [date] => 2013-05-01 00:00:00.000000 [timezone_type] => 3 [timezone] => UTC )

Day 2 to 4: Luang Namtha

( Wed 01 May to Fri 03 May )

This morning we drive through the stunning countryside of northern Laos to the small town of Luang Namtha.

Drive time - 6-7 hours (please note that all drive times given here are approximate estimates only and are given with the best intentions - however please be aware that the drive times are heavily dependent on traffic, road conditions, weather, police roadblocks, and many other factors - flexibility is essential on any overland trip!).

In Luang Namtha we will have two free days to enjoy the many optional activities available in and around Luang Namtha and the nearby Nam Ha National Park. Popular activities here include hiking and trekking in the national park.

In Luang Namtha we will stay in a local guesthouse.

Activity Approximate Cost

Kayak down the Nam Ha or Nam Tha River, visiting local villages en route

USD 35

Fully explore the Luang Namtha area, the local communities, sights and markets on a cycling tour of the area

USD 25
Learn more about the daily lives of the local people with a variety of cultural experiences in the Luang Namtha area (dependent on availability) USD 20
Get into the heart of the Nam Ha national park by trekking deep into the forests and mountains of the area (1 or 2 day treks available) USD 20
Take a relaxing river boat cruise down the Nam Ha or Nam Tha River to explore the beautiful national park from the water USD 20
Learn how to prepare several unique northern Lao dishes at a cooking class in Luang Namtha USD 30
About Luang Namtha:

Luang Namtha is a laid-back town on the banks of the Nam Tha river in northern Laos. It's the most ethnically diverse area in the whole of the country, home to more than 35 minority groups, including the Lanten, Hmong, Khmu and Tai Dam. We spend a couple of nights here giving us time to explore the area, sample the local food at the night market or just to kick-back, relax and unwind.

Close nearby, the Nam Ha Protected Area is a conservation area covering over 200,000 sq km's. It's a beautiful, remote, mountainous area, home to a wide array of wildlife including the black-cheeked crested gibbon, tigers and clouded leopards, as well as over 300 species of birds. Whilst we are staying in Luang Namtha it is possible to arrange trekking, mountain-biking, kayaking and rafting trips that will take you right in to the heart of this protected region.

ZenDate Object ( [tz:protected] => DateTimeZone Object ( ) [date] => 2013-04-30 00:00:00.000000 [timezone_type] => 3 [timezone] => UTC ) ZenDate Object ( [tz:protected] => DateTimeZone Object ( ) [date] => 2013-05-04 00:00:00.000000 [timezone_type] => 3 [timezone] => UTC ) ZenDate Object ( [tz:protected] => DateTimeZone Object ( ) [date] => 2013-05-04 00:00:00.000000 [timezone_type] => 3 [timezone] => UTC )

Day 5: Mohan

( Sat 04 May )

Border Information: Exit Laos at Boten, enter China at Mengla.

This morning we will cross the border into China and begin our journey through the southern Chinese region of Xishuangbanna. We spend the next few days overlanding through this beautiful area, stopping off at towns, villages and local markets along the way.

Tonight we will stay in the border town of Mengla while your crew finalise the paperwork to enter our truck into China.

Drive time - 4 hours.

ZenDate Object ( [tz:protected] => DateTimeZone Object ( ) [date] => 2013-04-30 00:00:00.000000 [timezone_type] => 3 [timezone] => UTC ) ZenDate Object ( [tz:protected] => DateTimeZone Object ( ) [date] => 2013-05-05 00:00:00.000000 [timezone_type] => 3 [timezone] => UTC ) ZenDate Object ( [tz:protected] => DateTimeZone Object ( ) [date] => 2013-05-05 00:00:00.000000 [timezone_type] => 3 [timezone] => UTC )

Day 6: Xishuangbanna

( Sun 05 May )

Today will be a full day's drive through Yunnan province towards Kunming, most likely reaching the town of Mojiang or Yuxi en route.

We will either wild camp or stay in a local hotel en route.

Drive time - 8 hours.

About Xishuangbanna:

Xishuangbanna in China's deep south is a remot region characterised by it's lush, tropical landscape of virgin rainforest, plantations and paddy fields. The area takes it’s name from the Chinese approximation of the original Thai "Sip Sawng Pann" which means "12 rice growing districts". Passing through the small villages and tropical forests you'll realise just how far removed from the rest of provincial China you are, Banna has a real laid-back, Southeast Asian feel, more akin to it's close neighbours Laos and Myanmar. The area is also home to a large number of indigenous minority groups like the Dai people, with their distinctive colourful dress and customs.

ZenDate Object ( [tz:protected] => DateTimeZone Object ( ) [date] => 2013-04-30 00:00:00.000000 [timezone_type] => 3 [timezone] => UTC ) ZenDate Object ( [tz:protected] => DateTimeZone Object ( ) [date] => 2013-05-06 00:00:00.000000 [timezone_type] => 3 [timezone] => UTC ) ZenDate Object ( [tz:protected] => DateTimeZone Object ( ) [date] => 2013-05-06 00:00:00.000000 [timezone_type] => 3 [timezone] => UTC )

Day 7: Shilin Stone Forest

( Mon 06 May )

This morning we will complete our drive to the incredible Shilin Stone Forest. We will have a free afternoon exploring the stunning and bizarre rock formations of the Stone Forest.

We will wild camp near to the Shilin Stone Forest tonight.

Drive time - 4 hours.

Activity Approximate Cost

Explore the incredible labyrinth of limestone pinnacles in the Shilin Stone Forest

Included in Kitty
About Shilin Stone Forest:

The Shilin "Stone Forest" is an intriguing maze of towering grey limestone pillars, the tallest of which is 30 metres high. The pinnacles and peaks have been eroded by the wind and rain into bizarre and fanciful shapes. Walking through the "forest" by moonlight which is a surreal and otherworldly experience.

ZenDate Object ( [tz:protected] => DateTimeZone Object ( ) [date] => 2013-04-30 00:00:00.000000 [timezone_type] => 3 [timezone] => UTC ) ZenDate Object ( [tz:protected] => DateTimeZone Object ( ) [date] => 2013-05-07 00:00:00.000000 [timezone_type] => 3 [timezone] => UTC ) ZenDate Object ( [tz:protected] => DateTimeZone Object ( ) [date] => 2013-05-07 00:00:00.000000 [timezone_type] => 3 [timezone] => UTC )

Day 8: Kunming

( Tue 07 May )

Today we will drive to Kunming, the vibrant, modern capital of Yunnan province. We will have a free day to explore the city's sights.

In Kunming we will stay in a comfortable local hotel.

Drive time - 1-2 hours.


Activity Approximate Cost

Visit the historic Yuantong and Tanhua Buddhist temples in Kunming

Visit the Yunnan University Wu Mayao Museum of Anthropology in Kunming, and learn all about the history of the province CNY
Learn all about the area's minorities at the Yunnan Provincial Museum, and visit the nearby markets CNY
About Kunming:

Kunming, the capital of Yunnan province is known in China as "the city of eternal spring" due to its temperate climate. It's a thoroughly modern city, home to a population of about 6 million - but despite its size it's actually pretty laid-back and is an enjoyable place to while away an afternoon. The Yuantong temple is definitely worth a visit, at over 1000 years old it is the largest Buddhist temple complex in Kunming, or treat yourself to a hair cut from one of the outdoor barbers who offer their services around the Tang Pagodas.

ZenDate Object ( [tz:protected] => DateTimeZone Object ( ) [date] => 2013-04-30 00:00:00.000000 [timezone_type] => 3 [timezone] => UTC ) ZenDate Object ( [tz:protected] => DateTimeZone Object ( ) [date] => 2013-05-08 00:00:00.000000 [timezone_type] => 3 [timezone] => UTC ) ZenDate Object ( [tz:protected] => DateTimeZone Object ( ) [date] => 2013-05-08 00:00:00.000000 [timezone_type] => 3 [timezone] => UTC ) ZenDate Object ( [tz:protected] => DateTimeZone Object ( ) [date] => 2013-04-30 00:00:00.000000 [timezone_type] => 3 [timezone] => UTC ) ZenDate Object ( [tz:protected] => DateTimeZone Object ( ) [date] => 2013-05-08 00:00:00.000000 [timezone_type] => 3 [timezone] => UTC ) ZenDate Object ( [tz:protected] => DateTimeZone Object ( ) [date] => 2013-05-08 00:00:00.000000 [timezone_type] => 3 [timezone] => UTC )

Day 9: Kunming

( Wed 08 May )

Border Information: if joining in Kunming, you will most likely enter China at Kunming Changshui International Airport.

There will be a group meeting today at 6:00pm - please look out for a note from your tour leader at the hotel reception with more information about this important meeting.

The rest of the day will be free to explore the city of Kunming, its museums and its parks.

In Kunming we will stay in a comfortable hotel with good facilities.

Hotel for the night: honghe-hotel

HongHe Hotel 

(Also know as the Red River Hotel in English but this name is not widely known or used)

204 Chuncheng Road,

Guandu District,

Kunming, 650041,

Yunnan Province,


Tel: 0871-66265666

Activity Approximate Cost

Visit the historic Yuantong and Tanhua Buddhist temples in Kunming

Visit the Yunnan University Wu Mayao Museum of Anthropology in Kunming, and learn all about the history of the province CNY
Learn all about the area's minorities at the Yunnan Provincial Museum, and visit the nearby markets CNY
ZenDate Object ( [tz:protected] => DateTimeZone Object ( ) [date] => 2013-04-30 00:00:00.000000 [timezone_type] => 3 [timezone] => UTC ) ZenDate Object ( [tz:protected] => DateTimeZone Object ( ) [date] => 2013-05-09 00:00:00.000000 [timezone_type] => 3 [timezone] => UTC ) ZenDate Object ( [tz:protected] => DateTimeZone Object ( ) [date] => 2013-05-09 00:00:00.000000 [timezone_type] => 3 [timezone] => UTC )

Day 10 to 11: Dali

( Thu 09 May to Fri 10 May )

Today our journey begins with a morning drive to the beautiful Naxi town of Dali, where we will stay for 2 nights.

Drive time - 5 hours (please note that all drive times given here are approximate estimates only and are given with the best intentions - however please be aware that the drive times are heavily dependent on traffic, road conditions, weather, police roadblocks, borders and many other factors - flexibility is essential on any overland trip!).

On the following day we will have a free day to fully explore the area and for optional activities such as some short treks in the nearby Cangshan mountains or hiring bicycles to ride around the Dali lake.

In Dali we stay in a friendly hostel or guesthouse with good facilities.

Activity Approximate Cost

Hike on the scenic mountain of Cangshan and explore the walkways, forests and temples in the area

CNY 40

Learn how to make dumplings and traditional Yunnanese cuisine at one of Dali's fantastic cooking classes

CNY 150

Discover the ornate 9th-century Three Pagodas of Chongsheng, some of the tallest pagodas in China's history and the symbol of Dali

CNY 120

Head out by bicycle to explore the region in depth and visit various Bai villages and Qing Dynasty bridges en route

CNY 50
Experience the incredible ancient art of cormorant fishing with the fishermen of Xizhou on Lake Erhai CNY 100
About Dali:

Everybody loves Dali. Aside from the beautiful setting with its stunning mountain backdrop, the town is home to the minority Bai people, which makes for some colourful history and culture, not to mention its traveller friendly western style beer gardens and restaurants. With its temperate climate and beauitful natural setting it's the perfect place for some rest and relaxation - be it Cormorant fishing on lake Erhai Hu or enjoying a tradtional Chinese massage.

ZenDate Object ( [tz:protected] => DateTimeZone Object ( ) [date] => 2013-04-30 00:00:00.000000 [timezone_type] => 3 [timezone] => UTC ) ZenDate Object ( [tz:protected] => DateTimeZone Object ( ) [date] => 2013-05-11 00:00:00.000000 [timezone_type] => 3 [timezone] => UTC ) ZenDate Object ( [tz:protected] => DateTimeZone Object ( ) [date] => 2013-05-11 00:00:00.000000 [timezone_type] => 3 [timezone] => UTC )

Day 12 to 14: Lijiang, Tiger Leaping Gorge

( Sat 11 May to Mon 13 May )

Today we drive further north through Yunnan province to the beautiful 'Old-China'-style town of Lijiang, the base for visiting the world-famous Tiger Leaping Gorge.

Drive time - 5-6 hours.

On the following 2 days we will have free time to explore the town of Lijiang and its surroundings. One very popular excursion here is to go on a 2 day/1 night trek along the high trail above the Tiger Leaping Gorge - this is by far the best way to see the gorge from some truly incredible vantage points, and we will have the opportunity to take this trek during our time here (staying in a local guesthouse on the trail on the first night and returning to Lijiang for the second). For those that don't want to do the full trek, your crew will also be able to arrange a trip to the low sections of the gorge, where there is a flat walkway to various viewpoints.

In Lijiang we will stay in a comfortable local hotel.

Activity Approximate Cost

Wander through the incredibly atmospheric Old Town of Lijiang, famous for its waterways, bridges and unique architecture

Included in Kitty
Explore the beautiful natural scenery and traditional buildings in the Black Dragon Pool Park CNY 80
Head out for a day of trekking around the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, taking in some of the most incredible scenery in China on a clear day CNY 80
Explore the Jade Dragon Snow Mountain area by cable car CNY 280
See the incredible 'Impressions Lijiang' cultural show, demonstrating the traditions and lifestyles of the Naxi, Yi and Bai peoples of the area CNY 270
Freely explore the area by bicycle and discover the Naxi villages surrounding Lijiang, such as the beautiful village of Baisha CNY 20
Head out for a 2-day self-guided trek along the high ridge of the sensational Tiger Leaping Gorge CNY 200
Go on a shorter trek along the flat base of Tiger Leaping Gorge to enjoy the scenery from below CNY 125
About Lijiang:

Nestled in a beautiful valley dominated by the ice-capped massif of Yulong Xue Shan (Jade Dragon Snow Mountain) Lijiang is a small town in north-west Yunnan and capital of the Naxi Kingdom. The old town is a UNESCO world heritage site - a maze of cobbled streets threading in and out of a network of ancient waterways supplied by the nearby mountain streams. Explore the Mu Palace, enjoy a traditional Naxi music culture show or wander around the old town and make a wish like the locals do - by sending a candle down one of the many canals on a delicate flower-shaped boat.

The Naxi are one of China's many minority groups, descended from a race of Tibetan nomads who settled in the region some time before the start of the tenth century. Until very recently Naxi society was organised around matriarchal lines - and in many ways the women still seem to be the ones running the show - especially in and around old Lijiang. Traditionally the Naxi have practiced a shamanistic religion known as Dongba, a blend Animism, Taoism and old Tibetan traditions and pantheistic murals still decorate many of the temples in and around the town.

About Tiger Leaping Gorge:

About 100 kms north of Lijiang the upper reaches of the Yangtze River channel cut spectacularly through Tiger Leaping Gorge. Set at 2,500 metres altitude, the 16km long gorge is flanked on it's southern side by a range of ash grey mountain peaks that rise over 3km above the rivers rapids. The Gorge was so named as in Chinese mythology a tiger jumped across the gorge to escape a hunter.

It is usually possible to organise a 2 day trek through the gorge, staying overnight in one of the local guesthouses. It’s a beautiful trek of that is achievable by most active people. The highlight for many if staying in the homely guests houses along the route – a great place to relax in the peace of the mountains.
ZenDate Object ( [tz:protected] => DateTimeZone Object ( ) [date] => 2013-04-30 00:00:00.000000 [timezone_type] => 3 [timezone] => UTC ) ZenDate Object ( [tz:protected] => DateTimeZone Object ( ) [date] => 2013-05-14 00:00:00.000000 [timezone_type] => 3 [timezone] => UTC ) ZenDate Object ( [tz:protected] => DateTimeZone Object ( ) [date] => 2013-05-14 00:00:00.000000 [timezone_type] => 3 [timezone] => UTC )

Day 15: Panzhihua

( Tue 14 May )

Today we have a long drive north through stunning mountain scenery towards China's Sichuan province.

We will aim to wild camp en route near the town of Panzhihua tonight.

Drive time - 9 hours.

About Panzhihua: Located in the upper region of the Yangtze River, is the Industrial city of Panzhihua. The magnificent mining operations in this city are nothing short of magnificent. It is a contrasting place, as it is surrounded by rolling hills and lush forests, which make Panzhihua a great place for exploration!
ZenDate Object ( [tz:protected] => DateTimeZone Object ( ) [date] => 2013-04-30 00:00:00.000000 [timezone_type] => 3 [timezone] => UTC ) ZenDate Object ( [tz:protected] => DateTimeZone Object ( ) [date] => 2013-05-15 00:00:00.000000 [timezone_type] => 3 [timezone] => UTC ) ZenDate Object ( [tz:protected] => DateTimeZone Object ( ) [date] => 2013-05-15 00:00:00.000000 [timezone_type] => 3 [timezone] => UTC )

Day 16 to 17: Emei Shan

( Wed 15 May to Thu 16 May )

Today we will continue our drive to the small town of Emei Shan.

Drive time - 10 hours.

On the following day we will have a full day to explore Emei Shan Mountain, one of the holiest sites in Chinese Buddhism and the site of hundreds of temples and an incredible golden statue of the deity known as Samantabhadra. It is possible to walk all the way up the stairs from the base of the mountain, joining the many pilgrims in their journey to the temple complex at the mountain summit, or take the cable car up instead!

In Emei Shan we will stay in a local guesthouse.

Activity Approximate Cost

Trek to the summit of Emei Shan, one of the Four Sacred Mountains of Buddhism in China, and explore the incredible golden temples on its summit

Included in Kitty

Take a cable car ride to the top of Emei Shan

CNY 120
ZenDate Object ( [tz:protected] => DateTimeZone Object ( ) [date] => 2013-04-30 00:00:00.000000 [timezone_type] => 3 [timezone] => UTC ) ZenDate Object ( [tz:protected] => DateTimeZone Object ( ) [date] => 2013-05-17 00:00:00.000000 [timezone_type] => 3 [timezone] => UTC ) ZenDate Object ( [tz:protected] => DateTimeZone Object ( ) [date] => 2013-05-17 00:00:00.000000 [timezone_type] => 3 [timezone] => UTC )

Day 18 to 19: Chengdu, Leshan

( Fri 17 May to Sat 18 May )

Today we continue our journey north to the town of Leshan to visit to the Leshan Grand Buddha - at 71m tall, this statue is the largest Buddha rock carving in the world!

After our visit we will continue to the incredible city of Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan province, where we will stay for 2 nights. On arrival we will have a free afternoon to explore the city's parks, streets, and museums, see the New Global Business Centre (the world's largest building) and visit the fascinating and incredibly photogenic Jinli Old Town.

Drive time - 7-8 hours (including a 2 hour visit to the Leshan Grand Buddha).

On the following day we will have an included visit to the fantastic Chengdu Panda Breeding Centre. We'll then return to Chengdu for another free afternoon to further explore the city.

In Chengdu we will stay in a comfortable local hotel.

Activity Approximate Cost

Take a ferry trip down the river to see a different perspective of the huge Dafo Buddha in Leshan

CNY 70

Visit the wonderful Giant Panda breeding centre in Chengdu, and learn all about the gentle creatures and the ongoing efforts to conserve them

Included in Kitty

See the brand new New Century Global Centre, a monstrous modern events centre which became the world's largest building in 2014


Explore the Jinsha Archeological Site, the capital of the Bronze Age Shu Kingdom who were one of the most ancient civilisations to settle in the area

CNY 80

Explore the narrow streets of the atmospheric Jinli Ancient Street and visit the nearby Wuhouci Shrine

CNY 60

Discover the phenomenal bronze masks and jade statues of the mysterious Bronze Age Sanxingdui culture at the Sanxingdui Museum

CNY 85
Explore the mountain complex of Qingcheng, one of the ancient cradles of Taoism in China CNY 190
Visit the impressive Tang Dynasty Buddhist temple of Wenshu, containing more than 450 Buddha statues CNY 5
Head out for an evening performance of a traditional Sichuanese Opera CNY 220
See the colossal Dafo Great Buddha in Leshan, the world's largest rock-carved Buddha statue Included in Kitty
About Chengdu:

Chengdu has a surprisingly laid back feel for a big city and a good variety of things to see and do. For wildlife lovers, an absolute must is a visit out to the Giant Panda breeding centre. Sichuan province is home to the majority of the few Pandas that are left in the wild, as the Yangtze basin ecoregion is an important habitat for the animals. Because their numbers are so depleted, it is virtually impossible to see a panda in the wild - and so this centre offers a convenient and educational way to get up close to these amazing animals.

Chengdu also has numerous historical and cultural sites to explore such as the Marquis of Wu's Temple, a number of famous Buddhist sanctuaries and Qingyanggong, the best-preserved memorial temple of Lao Zi, father of Taoism. For those who have seen a few too many Buddhas and temples already, another option is to sit and relax in one of the city's many tearooms or ‘chadians’. Chengdu is famous for these meeting places where men wile away the hours chatting and putting the world to rights. They are an integral part of Sichuan life and should not be missed.

If you're feeling brave, Chengdu is also a good place to sample Sichuan cooking. Be prepared, this is not for everybody, because chilli is the most important ingredient. Even by Asian standards, the Sichuanese heap a phenomenal amount of hot spice onto most dishes. However, once you get past the initial explosive shock, the food is actually quite subtle, as illustrated by the fish-flavoured pork and the aptly named strange-flavoured chicken, so it's definitely worth persevering and giving it a try.

About Leshan:

South of Chengdu in Sichaun province lies Emei Shan, one of the holiest mountains in all of China. At just over 3000m high, this mountain has been a centre of pilgrimage for over 1800 years. It has some irresistible treks. Although it would take three days to do the mountain full justice, the lower slopes have some great hiking trails through dense lush green vegetation. These treks follow the route of the pilgrims to a variety of beautiful Buddhist temples. While you trek, a constant stream of pilgrims will pass you by on their way up or down the mountain. For those determined to get to the summit, you can do it in one day, by taking a minibus up a road and then climbing the last section.

The nearby town of Leshan is a 1300-year-old market town. The most impressive thing to see here is Dafo (the Great Buddha), which at 71m tall is the world's largest Buddha. It is beautifully situated on the banks of the Min River and the best way to see it is to take a boat trip. The Buddha took over 90 years to build and incorporated ingenious water ducting canals to reduce weathering and water erosion. It's a truly impressive sight, peering out over the river through half-lidded eyes with its vast bulk towering over the small boats.

ZenDate Object ( [tz:protected] => DateTimeZone Object ( ) [date] => 2013-04-30 00:00:00.000000 [timezone_type] => 3 [timezone] => UTC ) ZenDate Object ( [tz:protected] => DateTimeZone Object ( ) [date] => 2013-05-19 00:00:00.000000 [timezone_type] => 3 [timezone] => UTC ) ZenDate Object ( [tz:protected] => DateTimeZone Object ( ) [date] => 2013-05-19 00:00:00.000000 [timezone_type] => 3 [timezone] => UTC )

Day 20: Dazu

( Sun 19 May )

From Chengdu we will continue to the small village of Dazu, where we visit the Bei Shan and Baoding Shan caves, famous for their brightly-coloured freizes and carvings.

In Dazu we will stay in a local hotel.

Drive time - 4-5 hours.

Activity Approximate Cost

Explore the fascinating Baoding Shan Buddhist rock carvings and the amazing Sleeping Buddha statue at the Dazu Caves

CNY 135
ZenDate Object ( [tz:protected] => DateTimeZone Object ( ) [date] => 2013-04-30 00:00:00.000000 [timezone_type] => 3 [timezone] => UTC ) ZenDate Object ( [tz:protected] => DateTimeZone Object ( ) [date] => 2013-05-20 00:00:00.000000 [timezone_type] => 3 [timezone] => UTC ) ZenDate Object ( [tz:protected] => DateTimeZone Object ( ) [date] => 2013-05-20 00:00:00.000000 [timezone_type] => 3 [timezone] => UTC )

Day 21: Chongqing

( Mon 20 May )

Today we will drive on the Chongqing, where we will have time to explore the city and prepare for tomorrow's ferry cruise on the mighty Yangtze River!

We will most likely stay in a local hotel in Chongqing tonight, but on occasion our ferry may need to depart tonight, in which case we will have a spare day later in the trip that we can use at our discretion.

Drive time - 2-3 hours.

ZenDate Object ( [tz:protected] => DateTimeZone Object ( ) [date] => 2013-04-30 00:00:00.000000 [timezone_type] => 3 [timezone] => UTC ) ZenDate Object ( [tz:protected] => DateTimeZone Object ( ) [date] => 2013-05-21 00:00:00.000000 [timezone_type] => 3 [timezone] => UTC ) ZenDate Object ( [tz:protected] => DateTimeZone Object ( ) [date] => 2013-05-21 00:00:00.000000 [timezone_type] => 3 [timezone] => UTC )

Day 22 to 24: Wanzhou, Three Gorges, Badong, Yichang

( Tue 21 May to Thu 23 May )

Today we embark on our Yangtze River Cruise. We travel on a local ferry boat used by local people, a much more authentic and interesting way of travelling than on a tourist cruiser. But this definitely doesn't mean slumming it, as most of the local ferries have now been upgraded to good quality accommodation and are often retired cruise boats. We stay in shared cabins (4 members of the group to each cabin) with private bathrooms and air conditioning where possible.

The journey itself usually takes 3 days/3 nights and heads through some areas of stunning scenery, especially near the Three Gorges - the Qutang, Wu and Xiling Gorges. The boats usually stop at the Fengdu (Ghost City), Shibaozai Tower, home to the Lanruo Dian (Orchid-like Temple) and at the three Lesser Gorges at various points on the trip. However due to local conditions, stops cannot always be guaranteed.

We will arrive in the city of Yichang and disembark our ferry to rejoin our truck and co-driver and have some free time to explore Yichang and the surrounding area.

We will most likely have an included visit to the incredible Three Gorges Dam, the largest hydroelectric dam in the world, on the last day

In Yichang we will stay in a comfortable local hotel.

Activity Approximate Cost
Cruise down the mighty Yangtze River for 3 nights on a local sleeper ferry Included in Kitty
Stop off at the White Emperor City, a very scenic spot featured on the Chinese 10 Yuan banknote! CNY 180
Stop off to take a boat ride through the stunning Three Mini Gorges CNY 220
Stop off to visit the 1700-year-old Zhang Fei temple, famous for its exterior red-light decoration Included in Kitty

Visit the phenomenal and controversial Three Gorges Dam, the largest hydroelectric dam in the world

Included in Kitty
About Three Gorges:

Harnessing the power of the mighty Yangtze River, The Three Gorges Dam is the largest hydroelectric project ever undertaken. The Chinese initially started work on the dam  back in 1994, and once complete it will change the face of this region forever. The two primary purposes of the dam are to generate hydroelectric power and prevent major flooding.  On completion, it's estimated that the average power generated over the course of a year will be 84.68 billion kilowatt hours (KWH). Then there's the constant threat of flooding, the Yangtze has always posed a real threat to life and habitation to those living in its flood plains, and the building of the dam will finally remove that threat. On the other hand, the environmental damage, human displacement and cultural impact caused by the rising water must not be underestimated.

History will be the judge of this projects success, but until then a boat trip along the river offers a unique insight into how the construction of the dam is affecting peoples lives here. The most popular section of the river to travel along is between Yichang and Chongqing. Travelling between these two towns on a local river ferry you will pass through the most stunning scenery of the Three Gorges; Qutang, Wu and Xiling. The boats usually also stop at the Fengdu (Ghost City); Shibaozai Tower, home to the Lanruo Dian (Orchid-like Temple); and the three Lesser Gorges, although the exact itineraries vary depending on time of year and local conditions.

About Yichang: The town of Yichang is situated in a curve on the northern banks of the Yangtze River. An ancient city, it's history can be traced back 4000 years, although today the town is best known a a gateway to the Three Gorges and the home of the Three Gorges Dam project.
ZenDate Object ( [tz:protected] => DateTimeZone Object ( ) [date] => 2013-04-30 00:00:00.000000 [timezone_type] => 3 [timezone] => UTC ) ZenDate Object ( [tz:protected] => DateTimeZone Object ( ) [date] => 2013-05-24 00:00:00.000000 [timezone_type] => 3 [timezone] => UTC ) ZenDate Object ( [tz:protected] => DateTimeZone Object ( ) [date] => 2013-05-24 00:00:00.000000 [timezone_type] => 3 [timezone] => UTC )

Day 25: Xiang Fan

( Fri 24 May )

This morning we will have some free time in Yichang or visit the Three Gorges Dam if we did not have time yesterday. After lunch we will drive to the town of Xiang Fan, en route to Wudang Shan. 

In Xiang Fan we will stay in a comfortable local hotel.

Drive time - 5 hours.

ZenDate Object ( [tz:protected] => DateTimeZone Object ( ) [date] => 2013-04-30 00:00:00.000000 [timezone_type] => 3 [timezone] => UTC ) ZenDate Object ( [tz:protected] => DateTimeZone Object ( ) [date] => 2013-05-25 00:00:00.000000 [timezone_type] => 3 [timezone] => UTC ) ZenDate Object ( [tz:protected] => DateTimeZone Object ( ) [date] => 2013-05-25 00:00:00.000000 [timezone_type] => 3 [timezone] => UTC )

Day 26 to 27: Wudang Shan

( Sat 25 May to Sun 26 May )

Today we will continue our journey with a drive to the beautiful Wudang Shan Mountain Reserve, the birthplace of the martial art of Taichi and the location of the filming of 'Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon'. We will also try to stop at the Purple Cloud Monastery en route if time allows.

Drive time - 8-9 hours.

On the following day we will have a full day to explore the mountain's sights, temples and martial arts schools.

In Wudang Shan we will stay in a local hotel.

Activity Approximate Cost

Trek up Tianzu Peak to visit the famous Taoist martial arts school and numerous temples on Wudang Shan

Included in Kitty
About Wudang Shan: Wudang Shan is an important site for followers of Taoism; a 1600m mountain, liberally dotted with Taoist temples. To really understand this place you need to understand the principles of Taoism, which would realistically involve a huge amount of careful study - but the basic underlying principles are the "Ways of Nature", essentially the bond that unites man and nature. Taoists believe in "Wu Wei", which roughly means that no action can be done that runs contrary to nature. This is a pretty wide remit, subject to many interpretations, but it's core principles can be seen clearly at Wudang Shan. Here man lives in harmony with the mountain. This is a great place for a hike, exploring the mountain, visiting the temples and meeting some of the Taoists who have made the pilgrimage here. Wudang Shan is also famous for its martial arts; Wudang boxing was created here and subsequently developed into the modern Tai Ji. It may be possible to organise a visit to the local martial art school situated at the base of the mountain.
ZenDate Object ( [tz:protected] => DateTimeZone Object ( ) [date] => 2013-04-30 00:00:00.000000 [timezone_type] => 3 [timezone] => UTC ) ZenDate Object ( [tz:protected] => DateTimeZone Object ( ) [date] => 2013-05-27 00:00:00.000000 [timezone_type] => 3 [timezone] => UTC ) ZenDate Object ( [tz:protected] => DateTimeZone Object ( ) [date] => 2013-05-27 00:00:00.000000 [timezone_type] => 3 [timezone] => UTC )

Day 28: Xi'an

( Mon 27 May )

Today we will drive to the amazing city of Xi'an, the ancient capital of Shaanxi province and the end of the 'Silk Road'! We will have a free afternoon on arrival to explore the city of Xi'an, its famous walls, bell and drum towers, pagodas and Muslim Quarter.

In Xi'an we will stay in a comfortable hotel with good facilities.

Drive time - 6-7 hours.

About Xi'an:

The imperial centre of China for 2,000 years, Xi'an is now a vibrant, modern city dotted with many interesting  historical sites. A monument pays homage to the fact that this was the start of the famous ancient trading route of the Silk Road and the city is still surrounded by city walls which you can climb and walk or cycle along, a unique way to experience the city. For a different view, haul yourself to the top of the Bell or Drum Towers in the centre of the city. Thanks to Xi'an's long and colourful history, the city is full of beautiful temples and museums and interesting cultural and historic sites, the most famous of which are probably the 2000 year old Terracotta warriors. Home to many Hui people, an ethnic Muslim minority, the city also has a unique Islamic flavour, particularly in the streets surrounding the Great Mosque, best explored by foot. Once you've worn yourself out with a hard days sightseeing, you can head out to the night markets to try some of the many tantalising local specialties on offer. Pao mo is a lamb broth that you break flat bread into, or try hand pulled noodles or hot pot. Later on, try your luck at karaoke, hugely popular here, or head down to the South Park to live it up with the locals as they dance, practice martial arts, play games, fly kites and watch the world go by.

ZenDate Object ( [tz:protected] => DateTimeZone Object ( ) [date] => 2013-04-30 00:00:00.000000 [timezone_type] => 3 [timezone] => UTC ) ZenDate Object ( [tz:protected] => DateTimeZone Object ( ) [date] => 2013-05-28 00:00:00.000000 [timezone_type] => 3 [timezone] => UTC ) ZenDate Object ( [tz:protected] => DateTimeZone Object ( ) [date] => 2013-05-28 00:00:00.000000 [timezone_type] => 3 [timezone] => UTC )

Day 29: Xi'an

( Tue 28 May )

Border Information: if leaving in Xi'an, you will most likely enter China at Xi'an Xianyang International Airport.

This morning we head out of Xi'an on the truck to the site of the world-famous Terracotta Warriors, where we have an included visit and a guided tour. We'll return to Xi'an in the afternoon and have some more free time to further explore this incredible city!

Please note that if you are leaving in Xi'an, today is the last day of the trip and there is no accommodation included tonight.

Activity Approximate Cost

Wander through the atmospheric Muslim Quarter and visit the Xi'an Great Mosque, the first mosque constructed in China

CNY 30

Learn about the fascinating history of the ancient Chinese capital of Chang'an at the Shaanxi History Museum, without doubt one of the finest museums in China

CNY 30

Explore the world-famous site of the Terracotta Warriors, an army of 8000 life-size figures built to protect the Emporer Qin Shi Huang in the afterlife

Included in Kitty

Visit the impressive Big Wild Goose Pagoda, Xi'an's most famous landmark dating from the Tang and Ming Dynasties

CNY 80

Walk or cycle around the Ming Dynasty Xi'an City Wall, the largest city wall in the world

CNY 80

Visit the ornate 14th-century Bell and Drum towers, which originally marked the sunrise and sunset

CNY 40

Visit the mind-blowing Tomb of Emporer Jingdi of the Han Dynasty, containing 50,000 doll-sized terracotta figures

CNY 90
Visit the Forest of Stelae Museum, a collection of 3000 stone tablets of Chinese calligraphy that has been collected here since 1057 CNY 50
Visit the huge former Tang Dynasty royal palace of Daming, and explore its vast parks and gardens CNY
Back to top ^

Important Notes

The routes, activities and places visited described in these trip notes are intentions and are meant as a rough guide only.

These trip notes have been compiled to help you prepare for your journey once you have booked. They include the full itinerary and dates, and information about kit lists, meeting hotels, insurance, vaccinations, visas, and other information that will help you get ready for your trip.

We update these notes regularly, so please ensure you have an up-to-date version of these trip notes.

We intend to follow the planned route but exact night stops and inclusions cannot be guaranteed. It sometimes happens that we decide to make a change to our planned itinerary. This may be for a variety of reasons - climatic, road or bureaucratic conditions may demand it. By their very nature, overland itineraries need to be flexible and the regions that we are travelling through are often unpredictable. We run adventure journeys in off the beaten track areas, which often have poor infrastructure. You should expect that some of these areas do not adhere to 'Western' safety standards.

Physical Preparation

Physical preparation for Asia Itineraries

In Asia you will need to be healthy enough to cope with extremes of climates from the hot deserts through to the colds of the high mountains. There are some high altitudes in places and many places where walking around for several hours is the only way to explore (e.g. The Great Wall of China, walking tours in Uzbekistan, exploring the historical sites of India, etc.).

Overland travelling can be demanding - long, rough travel days, dusty conditions can be challenging to some. You will need to be fit enough to help every day with the camp chores (cooking, washing up, general camp set up) as well as putting up and taking down your own tent. There are some long driving days and some early morning starts.

The step up into the overland vehicle, while not overly high, can become tiring and you need to judge yourself to be physically fit enough to haul yourself up and down the step at least 8-10 times a day. By and large, our Asia trips have a good range of hotel accommodation mixed up with camping so that life is not too rough.

Visa Information

Many countries that we visit on our travels will require visas to enter. Some are best obtained before you leave home, and others can be obtained en-route. Whilst the ultimate responsibility for obtaining visas is yours, we will endeavour to assist you wherever possible.

The visa requirements for your trip vary depending on where you are from and where you are going. The information provided is given in good faith and we do try to keep the visa information as up to date as possible. Please read the information very carefully to make sure everything is clear and you aware of what you need to do. Please also be aware that rules surrounding visas do change, often suddenly, and without prior warning. This is why it is important that you also double-check the information we provide for yourself.

For visas that are needed in advance, you may wish to submit the applications directly to the relevant embassy or consulate. If you require any supporting documentation for your visa applications, please complete the ‘Visa Support Form’ available at this link:

However, for trips that involve multiple visas, our recommendation is that you use a visa agent to assist you with your applications. While this does increase the cost, it will make the process much easier for you. Dragoman have teamed up with ‘The Visa Machine’ to create a safe, secure, hassle-free way of obtaining visas and visa advice. Our unique link within their website is designed to make the visa process as straightforward as possible. Simply go to and click on your region of travel followed by your trip route and ‘The Visa Machine’ will advise you about not only the required visas but also the dates by which you should apply. ‘The Visa Machine’ can then assist you in the actual visa application, thus taking all the worry and hassle out of the process. The visa service is not always available for all nationalities or non-UK residents, depending on the requirements of each specific embassy. The Visa Machine will advise you what they can and cannot provide for your specific circumstances.

As you will often need to submit your passport together with your applications, we recommend that you avoid making any travel plans in the weeks leading up to your departure.

Most countries require that your passport is valid for at least 6 months after your entry into the country.

For trips that are not yet guaranteed, you may find yourself in the position whereby you will need to start the visa application process prior to your trip being guaranteed - in this situation we still advise you not to purchase flights until your trip is guaranteed. However, you can start your visa application process, ensuring that when applying for your visas or letters of invitation that you allow several days before and after your entry into the country to allow for delays, availability of flights, etc. 


VERY IMPORTANT - Dragoman will require a scan of your passport photo page as soon as possible after booking for all trips in China, please send this to us as soon as you can. 

Citizens of the UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, USA, Canada and all EU countries will need a visa to enter China as a tourist for up to 90 days. You will need a Letter of Invitation from a Chinese agent in order to make the visa application, and you must obtain the visa in advance. You cannot obtain the visa at the border in any circumstance.

Firstly you will need to apply for the Letter of Invitation through the online visa support documents application form at The Visa Machine – please make this application at the link as soon as possible after booking or at least 4 months before your trip departs. This form is used to apply for any Letters of Invitation that are needed for a visa application – the service is completely free of charge. These can take several weeks to issue, and will be emailed to you once they are ready.

After your Letter of Invitation has been issued, you can use this to apply for the visa in advance at any Chinese Embassy. You can either apply yourself directly to the embassy, or hire The Visa Machine to make the application on your behalf (which is recommended, especially if you are applying for several visas). Dragoman will also provide a letter confirming your participation in the trip and a list of our hotels, which you may need for the application – in some cases the Chinese Embassy may ask for a day-by-day itinerary with the hotels listed, which we can provide when needed.

It is recommended to apply at the Chinese Embassy in your home country, as your application is far more likely to be approved. Although there is no official reason why you should not be issued a visa at any Chinese embassy, their consular officials are notorious for constantly changing their minds about whether they will approve a visa for ‘non-resident’ applicants, and it depends heavily on the political climate of the time.

IMPORTANT NOTE - Please NEVER mention Kashgar, Urumqi, Turpan, Lhasa, Xinjiang or Tibet anywhere on your Chinese visa application form – this will almost certainly result in your application being rejected. When filling out your Chinese visa form, please only declare the places that are listed on your Chinese Letter of Invitation once it is issued.

If you are asked to provide a host in China on your visa form, please use the details of the Chinese agent that issued your Letter of Invitation (this will be printed on the letter).

You will not need a China visa if you are entering Tibet from Nepal (Northbound Tibet trip), but you will need a China visa if you are going to Tibet from Xi’an (Southbound Tibet trip). Please see the Tibet note for details on the visa requirements for travelling through Tibet.


Citizens of the UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, USA, Canada and most EU countries will need a visa to enter Laos as a tourist for up to 30 days. Citizens of Switzerland, Luxembourg, Russia South Korea and Japan will not need a visa.

The easiest way to get a visa is to obtain it on arrival. This is available for almost all nationalities at most land borders and airports into Laos (including those used on Dragoman trips) – the cost varies according to nationality, and you will need 1 passport photo.

Citizens of other countries should check with the relevant consulates as to whether a visa is required, and whether it will be necessary to obtain a Letter of Invitation (only a small number of nationalities need to obtain a Letter of Invitation). 

Personal Spending

Personal Spending - Asia

Based on the range that previous travellers have spent on this trip, we recommend you allow between USD15-30 per day for Central Asia, China and Burma and between USD10-USD20 per day for India, Nepal and South East Asia.

This will cover individual expenses such as drinks, meals whilst out and also when staying in hotels, souvenirs, tips, and personal permits.

For trips in Southern India that occur over Christmas and New Year please allow approximately USD160 extra on the kitty for seasonal increases in accommodation costs.

Asia Currencies and Cash

It is not really worth trying to buy local currencies before you travel. Do also bear in mind that many countries have strict regulations about the amount of their own local currency you are allowed to import - if you are found with amounts in excess of the allowed amounts, it may well be confiscated!

Bringing a sensible mix of cash and ATM cards is the best way to bring money out, but it's always a good idea to bring plenty of cash that you can change (USD and EUR are commonly changed throughout Asia) rather than relying on cards. Apart from the convenience of being able to change money in many more places, you will sometimes get a much better exchange rate for cash. ATMs are available in most areas but are not always reliable. Credit cards such as Visa and MasterCard are accepted in some major cities, but be prepared for very high commission charges

Banks and moneychangers in most countries in Asia will now only accept bills with a metallic strip running top to bottom of the bill and which are no more than 8 years old. You should not take worn or damaged notes, or any that have been written on. Please also bring a mixture of small and large denominations - you may get a better rate for changing larger denomination bills, but in more remote areas it can be difficult to change amounts over USD50.

Please note that due to restrictions on currency conversion for foreigners in many Asian countries, it may not be possible to change leftover local currency back into USD after your trip, so please plan your budget well by withdrawing/exchanging what you need as you go.

What else you need to know

Overland Lifestyle and Trip Suitability

Dragoman has 32 years experience of leading overland trips across 4 continents. Overlanding is all about sharing a great travelling experience with like-minded people. On your trip you’ll travel in one of Dragoman’s purpose built iconic expedition vehicles on an off the beaten track adventure along rugged roads, experiencing the sights, sounds and smells of the world up close. Your journey will be overland across vast distances so some long days spent driving are inevitable - but these will be interspersed with breaks of a day or two at a destination or activity. On an overland journey you are more than just a passenger and everyone gets involved setting up camp - we supply the tent but it’s up to you to pitch it! As part of your trip you will be assigned a truck job which could be collecting firewood or water, luggage loading, organising food, stores etc.

Like all great adventures, the more you put in the more you'll get out!

We are looking forward to welcoming you on one of our overland journeys but before we do there are a few things we would like to draw to your attention:

Back to top ^

Who Travels with Dragoman?

Our groups are made up of people from around the world and are always an interesting mix of nationalities and ages. On average there is a pretty even split, males to females and between solo travellers, couples and small groups of friends. We believe that overlanding should be open to as many people as possible and so although we have a minimum age limit of 18 (or 7 on our Family Trips), as long as you are fit, healthy and passionate about travel, we are happy to take you, whatever your age is. One of the beauties of group travel is the camaraderie and friendships that are formed along the way, and as well as the variety of people that you will meet.

Back to top ^

Group Size

The maximum group size we take on our overland journeys ranges from 19 to 22 depending on the geographical location; however the average number of passengers is more likely to be around 16.

Please note that there is an overlap of 2 trips in Zanzibar. This means a group starting a trip in Nairobi, for example, will visit Zanzibar at the same time as group starting a trip in Dar es Salaam. In practical terms this means there could be up to 44 group members in Zanzibar at the same time.

Please also note that on some departures there may be more than one truck doing the same route. This means that you will be in the same hotel or campsite as another Dragoman group on some days. To ensure that you are not always at the same place at the same time as another group, your itinerary will most likely be slightly altered from the itinerary advertised in these trip notes.

Our Crew and Guides

Our crew are passionate about travel and are always up for adventure. It takes someone special to become a Dragoman leader. Our crew undergo the most intensive training program of all the overland companies, spending 10 weeks learning the ropes at our base in Suffolk, UK, and then up to six months on the road as a trainee. On all Dragoman overlanding trips, we usually have 2 western crew. The crew are responsible for the group and the overall organisation of the trip. On our trips in East and Southern Africa we either have 2 western crew or 1 western crew and 1 local driver. While not being guides in the traditional sense, you can expect them to have a broad knowledge of the places visited and for them to offer suggestions of things to do and see.

On trips south of Nairobi in East and Southern Africa we will also have an African camp master/cook who is in charge of running the camp and organising all of the meals. Their knowledge of the local produce makes shopping at the markets great fun and you will learn how to prepare and cook some unusual dishes.

In the rest of Africa, South America and the majority of Central Asia and China we use local guides who may stay with us for just a few hours or will actually travel with us for some or the entire journey. In these cases they become a third crew member and are able to offer their local knowledge as well as a real insight into the lives of the local people.

Dragoman endeavours to provide the services of experienced crew, however, due to the seasonality of travel, situations may arise where your crew is new to a particular region or training other crew. Your crew have a duty of care to all members of the group and therefore they have the authority to ask you to leave the trip if you require serious medical assistance, you are behaving in an anti-social manner or refuse to comply with local laws and customs. In all matters relating to the trip, the leader's decision will be final and we appreciate your respect of this.

Accommodation on Tour

Dragoman's overland trips are designed for shared accommodation, whether camping or staying hotels, and therefore do not involve a single supplement. Single travellers will share with people of the same sex for the duration of the trip and whilst our crew will do their best to accommodate couples travelling together in twin rooms, all our travellers should expect to stay in multi-share accommodation from time to time.

The type, variety and standard of accommodation will vary depending on what options are available in each of the areas we travel through and the nightstops on our routes; The campsites will range from rather basic to those with excellent facilities, including swimming pools, restaurants and bars. In some cases it may also be possible to upgrade locally to bungalows, lodges or even tree-houses.

Equally, the type and standard of hotel accommodation will vary greatly depending on what is available in the area; hotels can vary from very basic multi-share rooms without electricity or running water all the way to high standard hotels with good facilities!

One of the highlights of overlanding is that in more remote areas we will wild camp; this allows us to get far away from the tourist crowds to some beautiful, secluded spots. Occasionally on some of our trips we are able to stay in villages or local homestays, this allows us to get close to indigenous populations and ensures our money stays within local communities.

Back to top ^

The Kitty

In addition to the trip price on our overlanding trips, you will also be required to pay a kitty specified for your trip (please note that there is no kitty on our Family Trips). The kitty is payable in installments at the start of each section of the trip for combination trips, and in full at the start of the trip for individual trips. Each customer joining a trip pays their kitty into a central fund. The fund is managed by the Dragoman crew and the kitty accounts can be viewed by all throughout the trip.

The kitty covers all things that the whole group does, such as:

• Hotel accommodation and campsite fees

• Meals whilst camping (not in hotels)

• Activities listed as included (e.g. National Park entrances, excursions and local guides).

The kitty system is very unique to overlanding and we believe it allows us to have flexibility and transparency on our trips. You can see exactly how your money is being spent and ensure that you are getting the best value by buying locally. It also helps to keep the costs competitive and save on administration costs so that we can pass the saving on to you. Dragoman makes NO PROFIT on kitties, as they are the group's fund. We constantly update the kitty prices on our website and the kitty advertised in the brochure is an estimate at the time of printing. Prices can go up or down with no notice, and exchange rate fluctuations will affect costs. If there is money left in the kitty at the end of your trip, then this is divided between the group and you receive a refund.

Once you book your trip it is very important that you check our website on a regular basis and just before departure for any changes to the kitty amount.

The kitty is payable in full at the start of your trip (in installments at the start of each individual trip on combination trips) or via our new scheme where you can pay in advance 3-4 weeks before the start of your trip (please see for more details - this letter will also be sent in your booking confirmation upon booking a trip). 

If you are bringing the kitty out in cash, please try to pay in the specified currency on the website (US Dollars, or Euros in West Africa). Your tour leader will be able to accept some of the kitty in local currency if needed, and they will let you know the exchange rate locally - in most destinations you can withdraw local currencies from ATM machines, using either a cash passport or a credit/debit card. Please bear in mind that most cards have a maximum withdrawal amount per day, local ATMs may run out of cash, and your bank could block the card despite you warning them of your travel plans, so it could be impractical to try to get the entire kitty out from an ATM.

Traveller's cheques are becoming increasingly difficult to change around the world with passengers and our leaders are experiencing frustration and numerous hours spent trying to find a bank which will change travellers cheques. For this reason we no longer accept TCs on our trips. As an alternative, in most destinations you can withdraw local currencies from ATM machines and use either a cash passport or a debit card.

Back to top ^

Meals and Group Participation

On an overland journey you are more than just an individual passenger - you're part of the team. You are expected to pitch in to set up camp, shop for food, cook and generally help out. As part of your trip you will be assigned a truck job which could be collecting water and firewood, sweeping out the truck, loading the back locker, etc. While camping on overland journeys, all meals are included in the kitty. This means that you will have to work together to cook for everyone in your group. You will be divided into smaller units of 3-4 people and take it in turns to cook for the whole group according to a rota system. When it is your turn to cook you will have to plan the meal, shop for the ingredients in local markets or supermarkets and then prepare the meal for the whole group. The secret to cooking for 20+ people in a basic camping kitchen is to keep it simple! (On trips south of Nairobi we have a cook on board the truck; however you will still be required to help prepare meals).

An example of a typical camp breakfast might be toast with spreads, fruit and cereal as well as tea and coffee. When time allows it will also be possible to serve something hot such as eggs or pancakes. Lunch is almost always a sandwich heaped high with healthy salad and assorted fillings, with fruit to follow. Dinner might be a BBQ, risotto or pasta dish and there is always the chance to try some local cooking. Generally our passengers find the more they put into a trip, the more they benefit from it.

Back to top ^

Dietary Requirements

If you have any dietary requirements please tell us at the time of booking and also remind your crew at your welcome meeting. Our crew will try to cater for any particular dietary requirement or food intolerance whenever possible. However, it must be remembered that it may not always be possible and the variety of dishes may be severely limited in comparison to those available to others.  If there is anything in particular you require in your diet, or would miss from home, or because of an allergy would miss out on, it would be best to bring these with you.  Depending on your particular requirements, you may need to allow yourself some extra spending money to allow you to purchase extra food items.

Back to top ^


Our itineraries are our intention but travel in more remote areas of the world is unpredictable – borders can close, there can be extreme adverse weather, strikes or maybe mechanical issues that affect the running of your trip but equally due to the nature of our trips we can often spontaneously include a local festival or event into the itinerary. This being said, the safety of our passengers, leaders and operators is a priority for Dragoman. With this in mind we monitor world events very closely. By the very nature of the adventure travel that we take, there are risks and hazards that are inherent in our itineraries. Dragoman makes operational decisions based on informed advice from a number of sources:

• The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office travel advice

• Reports from other travel companies and local suppliers

• Leaders reports from off the road

• Local contacts we have built up over 33 years of experience

Back to top ^

British Foreign Office Travel Advice and Warnings

Dragoman follows the British Foreign Office Travel advise when deciding where and where we are unable to travel. We will base our decisions on itineraries and alterations to published routes based on their advise rather than the advise of other governments.

However we recommend you check the latest travel advisories from your own government for the country you are travelling to before you book and prior to departure. Check to ensure that no travel warning is invalidating your travel insurance Here are a few useful addresses:



New Zealand.

United States.


Dragoman has also teamed up with the UK Foreign and commonwealth office (FCO) in their 'Know before you go campaign' This website offers straightforward travel advice, top tips, and up to date country information to help you plan a safe trip. We recommend you check this out before you travel. We will advise you of any significant changes in advice before travel or whilst you are overseas.

Back to top ^


You need to be in good physical health in order to participate fully in our trips. When selecting your trip please make sure you have read through the itinerary carefully and assessed your ability to cope with our style of travel. To help you assess if this trip is suitable, please refer to the physical rating. The ratings for each trip are a good indication of how challenging they are and in some cases you should be prepared for some long driving days and possibly limited facilities. We are always happy to give extra advice if you have additional concerns. Please note that if, in the opinion of our leader, you are unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to yourself and/or the rest of the group, Dragoman reserves the right to exclude you from all or part of the trip without a refund.

You should consult your doctor for up-to-date medical travel information prior to travel, particularly if you have a pre-existing medical condition. We also advise you to declare any pre-existing medical conditions to your travel insurers upon purchase.

Back to top ^


Some pre-existing medical conditions are known to severely worsen at high altitude and be difficult to adequately treat on the ground, leading to more serious consequences. It is imperative that you discuss your pre-existing medical condition/s with your doctor. We understand certain medications are reported to aid acclimatising to high altitude; please discuss these options with your doctor. For trips that travel to areas of high altitude, the tour leader will issue you with a self assessment altitude questionnaire which allows you to monitor how you are coping with the altitude and informs you of danger signals so that you can reports these as soon as possible, either to the tour leader or a medical professional.

Back to top ^

Yellow Fever

A valid international certificate of vaccination against Yellow Fever is required in many countries. You may need to present this on arrival at the airport or border crossing. Some countries will refuse entry if you are unable to present your certificate. It's also quite common for your home country to request a Yellow Fever certificate on your arrival back home.

It is your responsibility to check with your doctor well in advance of leaving home about the Yellow Fever requirements for the countries you'll be visiting.

Malaria & other mosquito-borne diseases

Get expert advice before travelling about types of malaria pills and take them as instructed. Recommended types do change from time to time and from area to area. Consult your GP / travel clinic for the most up-to-date requirements.

Other mosquito-borne diseases such as Dengue Fever and Chikungunya are continuing to spread and becoming a bigger problem around the world. Bite prevention is vital to avoid contracting any of these diseases as there are no vaccines or specific treatments available.

The mosquito usually bites between the hours of dusk and dawn and so covering up by wearing long-legged and long-sleeved clothing, preferably light coloured and buttoned at the wrists, can help. Do not sleep without closing windows, tent doors or, if sleeping outside, use a mosquito net. Use mosquito repellent applied directly to your skin or soaked into your clothing.

Treating clothes and mosquito nets with a Permetherin solution provides significant protection. It should be available at most travel stores. Mosquito coils are useful on still nights and in hotel rooms but cannot be used inside the tents.

Back to top ^


Recommended vaccinations and other health protection vary according to different regions and recent bulletins issued by health authorities. It is essential to get the latest advice on the region(s) you are planning to travel in so please check with either your doctor or travel clinic in good time before you travel.

We also recommend you check out any specific health advice for the country you are travelling to either via your GP or the following websites: or

In the UK, we have been working with Nomad Travel for many years and their website has comprehensive, up-to-date vaccination and health information. You will receive a 10% discount off all vaccinations given at Nomad Travel clinics.

Back to top ^

Safety & Security

At Dragoman your safety is of paramount importance and we will do our best to ensure that your travel with us is safe and trouble-free but we do ask that you take that little bit of extra care whilst you are away and to understand about the nature of this style of travel.

We want you to have an enjoyable time but you must also remember that part of the enjoyment of travel is experiencing a different way of life and cultures. This may also mean experiencing different safety and hygiene standards than those you are normally used to.

Therefore, please take note of the following safety tips and follow any local safety advice or briefings delivered by our crew or any third party suppliers we use during your trip.

Back to top ^

Transport Safety

• Our own vehicles have fully fitted seat belts; make sure you always belt up.

• If you find a safety belt inoperable or missing on one of our vehicles, please inform the crew immediately.

• Unfortunately, we cannot guarantee that other vehicles we may use or recommend in some countries will be fitted with seat belts on every seat as it is not a legal requirement in much of the world.

• Please remain seated on board vehicles at all times when the vehicle is in motion

• Never place luggage in the aisles or foot wells

• Ensure you know where your nearest Emergency exit is; this may be a designated emergency exit, a window or a roof hatch.

• Check the location of the fire extinguisher and first aid kit.

• Follow any safety instructions provided by the crew/driver

• Our vehicles are fitted with roof seats which can be used in certain conditions, such as when driving at low speeds, off main tarmac roads, etc. They can only be used with the express permission of the crew and you must never sit in them without seat belts.

Road Safety

• Traffic in some countries travels on the opposite side of the road to what you may be used to, so ensure you look both ways before crossing the road.

• In many countries vehicles do not automatically stop at crossings.

• Crash Helmets are often not provided with mopeds and motorbikes overseas – we do not recommend you hire these vehicles.

Back to top ^

Fire & Other Safety – Hostels/Hotels/Homestays

• Ensure you know where your nearest fire exit is and check to ensure that it is operative.

• Check the location of the nearest fire extinguisher.

• Study the fire instructions in your room if available.

• Identify how to raise the alarm if a fire occurs.

• If a fire occurs, leave immediately; do not stop to collect your effects.

• Proceed to an assembly point well away from the building.

• Electrics in hotels in many of the places that we visit will not be up to the same standards as at home. Please ensure that you check rooms, especially bathrooms and are aware of any issues that look unsafe. If in doubt inform the crew who will endeavour to sort the situation out.

• Staircases and stairwells are often built to a very different design than under Western building standards. There may be no guard rails, be excessively steep, etc. At all times be aware and take appropriate and prudent care.

• We often stay in homestays and farmstays. These may range from a traditional yurt through to a tree house or a town house. As these are traditional homes they may well not adhere to our western standards of safety and so it is important that you make yourself aware of potential risks.

• If in doubt please inform the crew of any safety issues with the hotels/hostels or homestays

Fire Safety – Campsites

• Ensure you know where the nearest source of water or fire extinguisher is.

• Know how to raise the alarm.

• Extinguish all camping fires fully before retiring to bed.

• Observe any regulations regarding fires and bushfires in dry conditions.

• Proceed to an assembly point away from the tented accommodation/affected campsite.

Other Campsite Safety & Security

• Familiarise yourself with the campsite and any known hazards.

• Group tents around our vehicle wherever possible.

• No open flames, smoking or flammable liquids in or near the tents.

• Ensure cooking area is well away from the tents.

• Ensure all water for cooking and drinking is purified first.

• Ensure any soil toilets are min 50m away from tents & cooking area.

• All food waste should be burnt or buried – min 100m away from the site.

• Ensure local advice is followed concerning any wildlife.

• Keep valuables locked in the vehicle.

• Be aware of any local security issues that might be important.

• Do not set out tents close to perimeter fences which may be a security risk.

• Be aware of the security arrangements and local guards for campsite and if in doubt ask them where and where not to pitch tents.

• If in doubt please inform the crew of any safety issues with campsite.

• When wild camping, ensure that you do not wander away from the camp alone. If you do leave camp ensure that you have notified the leader or other members of the group. Food Safety We prepare many meals during the tour and our crew are hygiene trained; however, some general tips can help in order to avoid the possibility of stomach upsets;

• Make sure your food has been thoroughly cooked.

• Hot food should be hot, cold food should be cold.

• Avoid any uncooked food, except fruit and vegetables, (notably those you can peel or shell yourself).

• In many countries you should only drink bottled water or purified water and ensure any seal is intact when purchasing bottles.

• On the Dragoman vehicles we have a tank of drinking water that is kept purified by the crew.

• Avoid ice in drinks as this can cause upset stomachs in hot climates.

• Make sure you wash your hands in antibacterial product when preparing and/or eating food.

• Restaurant Food: This is grassroots travel and many of the restaurants that you will eat in, either as a group or as individuals, will NOT have the same standards of food hygiene as we have in the Western World. Unfortunately this is part of travel in these regions. Therefore think carefully about what food you order and be aware of the risks.

Back to top ^

Personal Safety

One of the real advantages of overland travel is that the vehicle provides a very real level of security when travelling. There is no doubt that a properly equipped overland vehicle, with safes, fully lockable doors and windows is an obvious advantage when travelling in much of the world. We recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt whilst travelling for the safe-keeping of your passport, air tickets, cash and other valuable items (although most of these can be locked in the safe whilst you are on the trip) and advise you to leave any valuable jewellery, watches, etc, at home. Generally speaking, you will not be travelling on local public transport and will have the added security of travelling in a group with experienced crew on hand to offer advice. We have come up with a few pointers that we recommend you follow:

• Follow the crew’s specific safety advice in each destination.

• Be aware, stay away from situations where you do not feel comfortable.

• Avoid carrying too much money.

• Use of a money belt / neck wallet or is encouraged at all times while travelling for the safe-keeping of your passport, air tickets, cash and other valuable items.

• Avoid walking in poorly lit areas.

• Ensure your valuables are left secure when you go out.

• In any hostels/hotels, place all valuables in a safety deposit box, where available or with reception or locked away by the crew.

• Do not take any valuable jewellery/watches etc. away with you.

• If possible avoid walking around on your own; it is always safer to explore with others.

Back to top ^


Activity Safety & Optional Activities

You will have the opportunity to take part in many exciting activities and excursions, some of which are included, whilst others are optional (i.e. hiking The Inca Trail, trekking to see Mountain Gorillas). These require a certain level of fitness, so it’s important that you read through the trip notes thoroughly and make your own conclusions as to whether you feel that you are fit and healthy enough to enjoy this trip to its fullest.

Some activities may have higher risks than you are used to and you must judge whether or not you wish to, or have the physical ability to take part.

Optional activities mentioned by Dragoman are not included in the trip price or kitty and do not form part of your contract with Dragoman. As such you accept that any assistance given by Dragoman crew members or local representatives in arranging optional activities does not render us liable for them in any way. The Dragoman crew are assisting you in arranging these activities for your added enjoyment whilst on your trip. The operators of these services and optional extras are local suppliers who contract directly with the Client ‘on the road’ subject to and in accordance with their own terms and conditions. Dragoman accepts no liability for any action or activity undertaken by the Client which is arranged independently of Dragoman while on tour. Crew may take part in an optional activity but do so as private individuals and not as company representatives.

Please use your own good judgement when selecting an activity in your free time.

Ensure that you use the appropriate equipment on optional activities, including life jackets, helmets, etc. This is especially important on activities such as horse riding, white-water rafting, etc.

Back to top ^

Included Activities

Included activities are listed in the day-to-day itinerary, all other activities are optional and at your own expense. If you choose not to participate in the included activities on this itinerary, the cost will not necessarily be refunded; this is something you will need to check with your leader.

Back to top ^

Optional Activities

A selection of optional activities is listed in the day-to-day itinerary. This is not an exhaustive list and should be used as a guide only. Prices are for entrance only and do not include transport costs to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated. It may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination. Optional activities are not necessarily endorsed or recommended by Dragoman nor included in the price of this trip. If you do any optional activities, you do so at your own risk and it must be clearly understood that your participation is your own decision and does not form part of your contract with Dragoman. You may be required to sign/complete a waiver form or optional activity form for some optional activities.

Back to top ^


It is a condition of booking that you have comprehensive travel insurance. Without evidence of valid travel insurance you will not be allowed to start the trip.

We recommend that any policy has a minimum medical (including repatriation) cover of £5,000,000. We recommend that any policy also has a minimum level of cover for Personal Liability of £5,000,000 and for Cancellation and Curtailment of £5,000. Cover for loss of baggage, personal effects, money and other inclusions are down to personal choice although please bear in mind that personal effects are more likely to go missing whilst travelling and you should ensure that your policy is adequate to cover the value of your personal effects e.g. cameras, I pads, phones etc. Please note that Dragoman is not responsible for your personal effects and is not insured for their loss.

Whatever policy you choose, you must ensure that it is designed for adventure/overland travel and make sure it covers any activity you intend to undertake. As such it must cover you for adventure activities such as white water rafting, trekking, horse-riding and that the 24 Hour Emergency Assistance Company must be experienced in handling situations in developing countries – for example, that they have the ability to arrange repatriation from remote areas such as the Sahara or if you were trekking in the Andes. On activities or side trips that are not recommended by us please ensure you are happy with the safety of the activity before participating.

Please double check if you have annual travel and/or credit card policies to ensure they have the cover you require, as many of these policies are not able to cope with adventure travel to remote areas.

Back to top ^

Our Liability Insurance

Dragoman has comprehensive passenger vehicle liability protection and tour operator insurance. These policies have total indemnities of £5,000,000 and £10,000,000 per incident respectively. This is in addition to local vehicle insurance and your personal travel insurance.

Back to top ^

Emergency Contact

We have a dedicated 24 hour telephone number which should only be used once you have left the UK and in the event of a real emergency. Should you need to call the number, we will do what we can to help but please bear in mind that real progress or action may not be possible until normal office hours.

If your flight is delayed or cancelled, please let us know and then make your way to the joining hotel as instructed in these trip notes. If you cannot get through leave a message and a contact number as these will be regularly checked and the crew informed if necessary.

Emergency Number: +44 (0) 7985106564

Back to top ^

Luggage & Kit List

Although you will not have to carry your main bag long distances, you will need to help load and unload them onto the truck. For this reason we recommend that you use a backpack or soft bag rather than a heavy suitcase. During your trip your main luggage will be kept in the back locker, so you will also need a small daypack. This can be used to carry your camera, water bottle and other personal effects for daily use. Please be aware that due to the constant dust and vibrations your luggage bag will be subject to extreme wear and tear.

The size of baggage that can be brought on this tour is limited by the locker space on the truck. Different trucks have different-sized lockers, however to be safe we recommend that your bag be no larger than 66cm deep, 30cm wide, and 30cm high. The weight limit for luggage on all trucks is a maximum of 20kg. Backpacks should not have an external frame unless it can be easily removed and stored separately to avoid damaging other people's luggage.

Your clothes and equipment should be appropriate for the conditions you are travelling in. On overland trips, Dragoman will provide all camping equipment apart from sleeping bags and ground mats (except on routes between Nairobi and Cape Town where ground mats are provided).

The clothes and equipment should be appropriate for the conditions you are travelling in, which will vary depending on which part of the world you're heading to. On overland trips Dragoman will provide all camping equipment apart from sleeping bags and ground mats*, so you'll need to bring those with you. Think about the climate and altitude of the areas you'll be travelling to- there's nothing worse than being cold at night so it's worth investing in a decent sleeping bag if it's likely to get cold. And remember that even when it's warm during the day, it can often get cold at night, particularly in desert regions.

IMPORTANT: Ground mats are provided on all of our overland trips that run in South and East Africa, between Nairobi and Cape Town. This includes our Family trips between Nairobi and Cape Town.

For a general idea of what you need this list provides a guide:

• Sleeping bag* - Check the expected climate en route. Nights in desert and mountain regions can be very cold in winter months.

• Sleeping bag liner* (or sheet folded and sewn up on 2 sides). It will help keep your sleeping bag clean, and can be used on its own on warm nights.

• Ground mat or compressed foam*

• A day pack is useful for short hikes in the countryside, wandering around cities, etc and also for keeping inside the vehicle for items used during the day

• 2 sets of comfortable travelling clothes (light, easily washable cotton clothes are best)

• 1 set of casual but smart clothes for evenings out. Women should bring a skirt that covers their knees and a scarf for visiting places of worship

• 2 pairs of shorts

• Sun hat or warm hat if trekking

• 1 pair of sunglasses

• Warm sweater/fleeces

• 1 waterproof jacket with hood

• 1 pair of comfortable walking shoes/boots (or ankle height canvas jungle boots)

• 1 pair of sandals or flip-flops

• Underwear and socks (thermals are also a good idea if you are travelling to altitude or to the desert as it can get very cold at night)

• Swimwear

• 2 small towels

• Washing kit, including a small mirror

• Clothes washing detergent, small scrubbing brush & washing line (just a length of cord)

• Head torch/flashlight with spare batteries & bulbs (only the 3 standard sizes of round 1.5v batteries are widely available en route)

• Passport photos (average of 2 per country for which visas will be applied for en route)

• Good water bottle at least 1 litre

• A pouch or money belt worn inside your clothing, or unobtrusive pocket sewn into the inside of a pair of loose fitting trousers, is a must.

• Alarm clock

• Pocket calculator (useful when exchanging money)

• Writing materials & notebook/diary

• Multi purpose knife.

• Mosquito net - The tents supplied by us have mosquito netting and you will only need a net if you think you will sleep out under the stars a lot of the time.

• "Wet Ones" (moistened tissues) and hand gel

• Toilet paper – this can be purchased almost everywhere en-route but one roll is worth packing

• Assorted sized plastic bags - protects clothing and equipment from dust and damp

• Extra batteries for your camera / phone etc as there are only limited opportunities to recharge. For a comprehensive kit list take a look at the Dragoman kit list that Nomad Travel has created. You will receive a 10% discount on all equipment purchased either online or in store. Click to see the kit lists


*For trips with camping nights

Back to top ^

Personal Medical Kit

All of our trucks have a fully stocked medical kit onboard for use in emergency situations only. Therefore in addition to this we recommend that you purchase your own personal medical kit. In the UK we have teamed up with Nomad Travel Stores and Clinics to produce the Dragoman Travel Medical Kit. It has been designed in conjunction with the truck kits and contains everything you would need for any minor accidents. For more details please visit their website:

Back to top ^


Check that your passport will still be valid for 6 months after the end of the trip - this is important as some countries WILL refuse entry to anyone whose passport is due to expire. A temporary or "visitor's” passport is not valid on our trips. You will need to provide us with your passport details prior to departing for you trip. If you change your passport please remember to inform us.

Back to top ^

Pre and Post Trip Accommodation and Connecting Flights

At Dragoman we believe you should make the most of the places you visit, so if you would like to see more of the joining or finishing point cities, why not book additional accommodation to extend your stay? Dragoman can take away the hassle of time zones and language barriers by making the booking for you. This accommodation is only available at the joining or finishing city of your trip, immediately before or after the trip you are travelling on.

While Dragoman is happy to assist with booking your pre and post trip accommodation, it is important that you understand that you may be able to book your own room at a cheaper rate directly through the hotel or on the internet. Our additional accommodation prices are based on the hotel’s rate plus an administration fee. Please note our rates do not reflect last minute walk-in rates or internet specials.

We can also book arrival airport transfers for you as long as we have your flight arrival details. These are normally payable in cash upon arrival; however we do have pre paid transfers in a few destinations.

Please contact our reservations team for details of the accommodation and transfers that we can offer, as not all hotels offer this service.

Back to top ^

Continuing Your Trip

Having an amazing trip and met a great group of people? Having too much fun to go home yet? If on your trip you decide that you would like to continue, then why not speak to your trip leader who can advise you of the cost and availability of continuing your journey.

Back to top ^

Contingency Emergency Fund

Sometimes, civil or political unrest, or reasons beyond Dragoman's control (e.g. a natural disaster), can mean that an itinerary is disrupted and we have to make a contingency plan. This may involve hiring alternate transport or even the whole group flying over an area. Although Dragoman will help organise travel arrangements, in circumstances outside Dragoman's control you will be required to contribute the additional costs involved and therefore we ask you to bring along a 'Contingency Fund' of USD400. In almost all cases trips run smoothly and this fund is therefore never used. We also recommend that you take along an internationally recognised credit or charge card with a decent limit in case of emergencies, such as medical treatment en route, or even the need to be repatriated; though these occurrences are rare. Remember that travel insurance policies usually only refund you for expenses after you have already paid out.

Back to top ^

Responsible Tourism

Dragoman is committed to ensuring that we have a positive impact on local communities and that we implement policies to minimise any negative impact on the local environment. We are dedicated to making sure that we adopt a responsible attitude to the areas through which we travel and believe that our trips should benefit the local people and their environment. Dragoman recognises that we are guests of local communities and strive to make these communities our partners, so that they benefit directly from our visit. You can find full details of Dragoman’s responsible tourism policy linked from the home page.

Back to top ^


The sale of bottled water contributes to an enormous environmental problem around the world. In addition to the water in bottles, the production of a 1 litre plastic bottle takes 2 litres of water and 200ml of oil. A large proportion end up in limited landfill or discarded in waterways and natural environments.

Please avoid the purchase of bottled water by using the chemically sterilised water stored in the purpose-built storage tank or in water jerry cans in your overland vehicle. You are free to refill your bottle as many times a day as you like. You are helping the environment and your pocket!

Back to top ^

Electrical Equipment

Your vehicle will be equipped with a 12 volt socket, so to charge your iPod, MP3 player, camera, laptop and mobile phone you will need a DC 12 volt adapter - the type that can be used from a cigarette lighter in your car. Please be aware that only one piece of equipment can be charged at a time and it will not be allowed if there is a risk of running the vehicle’s batteries low. Batteries may also be recharged from hotel room wall sockets and the majority of the campsites we stay at have electricity points so please bring along your normal charging adapters as well. You will need to ensure that you have the correct country adaptor for your specific charger.

For mobile phones, please note that most countries in the Americas operate at 850MHz and 1900 MHz which is not the same frequencies used in Europe, Africa, Asia and Australia. Most modern tri-band and quad-band mobile phones will be able to operate on these frequencies but please check your mobile phone specifications before travelling to ensure that you'll be able to use your phone in the Americas.

Back to top ^

A Few Rules

Illegal drugs will not be tolerated on our trips. Possessing or using drugs is not only against the law, but also puts the rest of the group at risk. Smoking marijuana and opium is a part of local culture in some parts of the world but is not acceptable for Dragoman groups. It is one of our core values to treat all people we encounter with respect which of course includes all the local people who make our destinations so special. The exploitation of prostitutes or children is completely contrary to this philosophy. Our group leader has the right to expel any member of the group if drugs are found in their possession or if they use prostitutes or abuse children. Equally Dragoman will not tolerate any violence or threat of violence towards local people, other group members or any member of our staff. Our group leader has the right to expel any member of the group if drugs are found in their possession, if they use prostitutes, abuse children, use violence or threaten violence, without a refund of the trip price.

We expect you to obey all the laws of the countries through which we pass. This particularly applies to the smuggling of contraband and possession of narcotic drugs (as above), firearms, antiquities and ivory. Any customer found contravening such laws or customs will be required to leave the trip immediately with no refund of the trip price.

Back to top ^

Issues on the Trip

While we always endeavour to provide the best possible holiday experience, due to the nature of travel and the areas we visit sometimes things can and do go wrong. Should any issue occur while you are on your trip, it is imperative that you discuss this with your group leader or our local partner straight away so that they can do their best to rectify the problem and save any potential negative impact on the rest of your trip.

We recognise that there may be times when your group leader may not be able to resolve a situation to your satisfaction. If this is the case please contact our customer relations department on

You may also choose to provide details in your feedback questionnaire which we ask you to complete at the end of your trip, but we do ask you to be aware that it is very difficult for us to provide any practical help after the trip is complete.

Back to top ^


Tipping is entirely voluntary. The Dragoman crew may be travelling with you for many weeks and usually they become good friends with most members of the group. It is sometimes easy to forget that they do work hard to ensure that you do have a great trip. If you feel you would like to tip them, they certainly would appreciate it.

On a number of our trips, we also use a local guide as well as our own Dragoman crew. These guides live and travel with you through their home country and it is usual to tip them when they leave. We recommend USD $1 to USD $4 per person per day, but check with your crew for an appropriate amount.

Back to top ^

Our Community

At any time before or after you book, you can join our community - Dragoland. This is a great place to ask questions before you travel and to catch up with your fellow travellers once your trip has finished. You can share photos, videos and stories and you can also download a selection of free travel apps. See the home page to sign in - it's free and easy. We also have a Facebook page where travellers regularly swap info with each other

Back to top ^


After your travels, we want to hear from you! We rely on your feedback. We read it carefully. Feedback helps us to understand what we are doing well and what we could be doing better, and it allows us to make improvements for future travellers.

Back to top ^