Van Selection

Van Selection

First of all choosing a van to spend lots of time in in your near future is pretty exciting. But it also requires some serious attention to prevent regrets later on. The usual advice is to not do this hastily. Better yet: rent first, if you have the opportunity. This will allow you to determine what facilities you want to have in your very limited van space (and possibly with your limited budget).

You can find van build layouts considering matters such as:

1. Which vans are available at your budgeted price

2. How many “occupants” (you may include pets if applicable)

3. Short term use versus long term use

4. Driving versus living

5. Esthetics versus Pragmatism

6. Storage (overhead vs garage)

7. Functionality


With regard to the Van Selection, different countries offer different value options and so does Indonesia.

Basically vans, smaller buses or even pickup trucks may be used to convert to a campervan, motorhome or RV. On this site we really don’t like to be hung up on words or definitions. For us whatever can be used on the road and to live or camp in, classifies very well. Just keep in mind that your vehicle selection has a number of consequences.

The size of the vehicle matters: a larger larger vehicle may obviously store more and offer more convenience. But a larger size vehicle may limit access to certain roads, bridges, tunnels, villages or kampongs (see also the section on “Roads to Travel”). Some people solve the access issue by bringing for instance mountain bikes to do more off road exploring.

The base of the vehicle determines the potential volume and weight that the vehicle is able to handle. While selecting the vehicle one should keep in mind the required seating and sleeping capacity of the vehicle. 

Now your objective is very important. Do you want to do lots of driving and move frequently or rather park somewhere and take it easy and focus more on the convenience of living. In the latter case you may be more inclined to take a larger motorhome probably on a small bus or truck base.

Optional facilities as kitchens, bathrooms, storage rooms should be planned carefully. And other items like surf boards, bicycles or other bring-a-longs need to all get their place. And then there are dogs, cats or other pets that may need a place.

Types of Vans

Indonesia still has a lot of authentic and modified Volkswagen vans. These are very cool, but being up to more than half a century old they may require the necessary effort to keep them going. While this can be considered as a cool hobby by some, others will see this as an unwelcome and inconvenient chore.

As Toyota is the main car brand in Indonesia Toyota Hiace is one of the best options if your budget is sufficient. The earlier Toyota Alphard is also already attractively priced to use as a Van Life van. Unfortunately the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter is relatively scarce in Indonesia.

On the lower end of the market there are quite a few options. Converted Suzuki APVs and Daihatsu Luxio are pretty good options if you have a limited budget, travel by yourself or at maximum 2 people.