Journey to Southeast Asia

gianlucaschiazza

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Oct 10, 2020
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viaggiatore
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Ciao a tutti, so che organizzando un viaggio in moto di circa 5/6 mesi nel sud est asiatico, vorrei fare un giro in Thailandia, Laos, Cambogia, Vietnam e Malesia. Avevo pensato di noleggiare la moto in uno di questi paesi ma il costo per sei mesi di noleggio è un costo troppo alto, quindi avrei pensato di spedire la mia moto dall'Europa in Cambogia per poi affrontare il tour di 6 mesi e poi riconsegnare il motocicletta dalla malesia all'europa. Le spese di spedizione, pur essendo elevate, costano meno di 6 mesi di noleggio. Adesso sto cercando di raccogliere quante più informazioni possibili sui permessi di visto ecc. Per Cambogia e Laos sembra che non ci siano problemi né per quanto riguarda i visti né l'ingresso con la moto (ho il carnet del passaggio) mentre è un po 'di più complicato per Thailandia e Vietnam. Per la Thailandia ho scoperto che devi affidarti ad un'agenzia turistica locale e potrebbe essere risolto (chissà?) Mentre per Vietnm sembra molto più complicato. Alcuni dicono che è impossibile entrare con una moto straniera mentre altri dicono che con l'aiuto di un'agenzia locale potrebbe essere risolto. C'è qualcuno che può aiutarmi per favore?
Grazie


Hello everyone, I know that by organizing a motorcycle trip of about 5/6 months in Southeast Asia, I would like to take a tour in Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam and Malaysia. I had thought of renting the motorcycle in one of these countries but the cost for six months of rental is too high a cost, so I would have thought of shipping my motorcycle from Europe to Cambodia and then tackling the 6 months tour and then returning the motorcycle from malaysia to europe. Shipping costs, although high, cost less than 6 months of rental. Now I am trying to gather as much information as possible about visa permits etc. For Cambodia and Laos it seems that there are no problems either with regard to visas or entry by motorcycle (I have the passbook) while it is a bit more complicated for Thailand and Vietnam. For Thailand I discovered that you have to rely on a local tourist agency and it could be solved (who knows?) While for Vietnm it seems much more complicated. Some say it is impossible to enter with a foreign motorcycle while others say that with the help of a local agency it could be solved. Is there anyone who can help me please? Thank you
 

The Bigfella

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KTM 950SER & EXC, BMW R90S & Dakar, MZ250, BSA B33, Norton 16H, Honda - 500 Fs & X, DRZs, XLs XRs CRFs CT110s etc
Welcome aboard.

Let's deal with the most obvious issue first. Covid-19. The borders are still mostly closed (Laos just opened some local border crossings, I believe - but not for you or me). No-one knows when or how things will open up or what will happen if or when a "second wave" or "third wave" hits.

Myanmar is currently reported to have some fairly rampant Covid action - and that has hardened Thai resolve to keep it out and we still have extensive quarantine issues and costs.

Normal times the main factors are limited times in each country. I know some people who have had success (pre Covid) getting bikes into and out of Vietnam - but in most cases, that entails hiring a guide at IIRC around US$100 a day. I solved that problem by buying a second hand scooter in Vietnam for $400 and giving it to a local charity some 3,500 km later. A better deal than using my own bike and paying $3,000 to be babysat. My experience was that the north was where the fun was. Ride it, fly south to see what you want there.

Malaysia has some great sights - and a lap of the country can easily take a month.... then into Thailand. Thailand has toughened up temporary import restrictions. You will get 30 days - but I understand you can have two 30 day permits in a year. When I came here, I rode in via Malaysia, but in my view, the fun riding is mostly in the north and you can chew up a lot of your time just getting to the good bits.

Laos is (or at least was) fun - again with time limits, but they used to be extendable. You need a bike bigger than 250cc and there's some issues with border crossings - you need to nominate your exit point, etc. I haven't (sad to say) been in there for four years and there have been some changes that others may comment on.

Cambodia was easiest, but with Covid, they are now asking for a US$3,000 deposit to enter.
 

gianlucaschiazza

New member
Joined
Oct 10, 2020
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viaggiatore
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Aprilia Pegaso cube 650
Welcome aboard.

Let's deal with the most obvious issue first. Covid-19. The borders are still mostly closed (Laos just opened some local border crossings, I believe - but not for you or me). No-one knows when or how things will open up or what will happen if or when a "second wave" or "third wave" hits.

Myanmar is currently reported to have some fairly rampant Covid action - and that has hardened Thai resolve to keep it out and we still have extensive quarantine issues and costs.

Normal times the main factors are limited times in each country. I know some people who have had success (pre Covid) getting bikes into and out of Vietnam - but in most cases, that entails hiring a guide at IIRC around US$100 a day. I solved that problem by buying a second hand scooter in Vietnam for $400 and giving it to a local charity some 3,500 km later. A better deal than using my own bike and paying $3,000 to be babysat. My experience was that the north was where the fun was. Ride it, fly south to see what you want there.

Malaysia has some great sights - and a lap of the country can easily take a month.... then into Thailand. Thailand has toughened up temporary import restrictions. You will get 30 days - but I understand you can have two 30 day permits in a year. When I came here, I rode in via Malaysia, but in my view, the fun riding is mostly in the north and you can chew up a lot of your time just getting to the good bits.

Laos is (or at least was) fun - again with time limits, but they used to be extendable. You need a bike bigger than 250cc and there's some issues with border crossings - you need to nominate your exit point, etc. I haven't (sad to say) been in there for four years and there have been some changes that others may comment on.

Cambodia was easiest, but with Covid, they are now asking for a US$3,000 deposit to enter.
 

gianlucaschiazza

New member
Joined
Oct 10, 2020
Location
viaggiatore
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Aprilia Pegaso cube 650
As for covid 19, my journey would certainly begin after an end of this pandemic, hoping that in the spring there is a vaccine against this virus. However I could move it as I want I have a year of time at my disposal so I could leave in April or September it doesn't matter.
I have read about many who have preferred to buy a motorcycle or rent it but I would like to face it with mine so I am collecting as much information as possible to evaluate the total costs to go with my bike.
Thank you very much for your info, if you have further updates I'm here.
Good day
 

The Bigfella

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Staff member
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Aug 15, 2012
Bikes
KTM 950SER & EXC, BMW R90S & Dakar, MZ250, BSA B33, Norton 16H, Honda - 500 Fs & X, DRZs, XLs XRs CRFs CT110s etc
You mentioning September reminded me of a ride - it can be a bit wet at that time of the year. We don't mind it so much here in Northern Thailand, but it can get a bit muddy in other places.

Here's an old ride report of mine about riding in Laos in September

Laos in September

1603859483938.png
 

merantau

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Aug 13, 2013
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Lombok Indonesia, Bendigo Australia
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Kawasaki KLX150, Honda Vario
I am a little surprised at the high rental costs but I guess they are from hire companies so that would explain it. You can hire bikes very cheaply in Indonesia from the locals. IDR50K ker day for a scooter. IDR100K a day for a KLX150.
 

The Bigfella

Senior Member
Staff member
Joined
Aug 15, 2012
Bikes
KTM 950SER & EXC, BMW R90S & Dakar, MZ250, BSA B33, Norton 16H, Honda - 500 Fs & X, DRZs, XLs XRs CRFs CT110s etc
I am a little surprised at the high rental costs but I guess they are from hire companies so that would explain it. You can hire bikes very cheaply in Indonesia from the locals. IDR50K ker day for a scooter. IDR100K a day for a KLX150.
High rental costs? They're a lot lower in Thailand than many other places. A lot lower. If you want an Africa Twin, or a BMW R1200 or the like, yes, they're expensive. Rent locally made bikes, like a CRF250 or a CB500X and they're cheap - and as cheap as you'll find on a world scale.

We consistently see riders coming here wanting big bikes - because big bikes are what they are used to at home. If you want to ride super highways, then, sure.... but that's not what riding in Asia is really about. Get onto the back roads, soak up the atmosphere and have fun. Do it on a big bike and you'll have locals blowing past you on their Honda Wave and leaving you in their wake.
 

blackwolf

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Joined
Mar 7, 2014
Bikes
Honda Sonic 125cc, 4 wheels, about to buy a 250cc dirt bike
First of all, as stated there is no telling when travel restrictions will be removed although Thailand has hinted at quarantine free travel for Chinese (and possibly a few others such as Vietnam and Australia) by the Chinese New Year (so presumably, by February 1 or even in January if everything goes well). Laos does not appear to be as willing to budge, refusing to open borders with Thailand except for trade purposes since it considers 5-10 daily mostly imported cases to be "a lot" and that the situation in Thailand is not under control. However, Laos has also hinted at some travel bubbles of it's own.

As for how travel will look like once borders reopen and all restrictions are dropped, we can't necessarily assume that things will go back to the old normal entirely in terms of visas, travel permits etc. All of this remains to be seen.

Now regarding Laos - don't get the idea they will let you in on a bike. Only 2 borders coming from Thailand are easy, the rest will demand guides and permits (not difficult to arrange and not terribly expensive either compared to Vietnam, Myanmar or China).

Cambodia - same thing at some border crossings such as Koh Kong (no entry unless Thai or Malaysian registered and officially must return the same way you came). Other borders - depends. Poipet = need a permit arranged via Phnom Penh. Lao-Cambodian border = ditto, though heading in the other direction seems to be easy enough. O'Smach = easy entry, use this border.

Vietnam - problematic in most cases. Officially you'll need a tour. On a bike, you might be able to get in at some crossings though. However, not sure what they'll say if it's a big bike and not registered in a neighboring country. You could have trouble with the police if caught.
 

blackwolf

Senior Member
Joined
Mar 7, 2014
Bikes
Honda Sonic 125cc, 4 wheels, about to buy a 250cc dirt bike
Welcome aboard.

Let's deal with the most obvious issue first. Covid-19. The borders are still mostly closed (Laos just opened some local border crossings, I believe - but not for you or me). No-one knows when or how things will open up or what will happen if or when a "second wave" or "third wave" hits.

Myanmar is currently reported to have some fairly rampant Covid action - and that has hardened Thai resolve to keep it out and we still have extensive quarantine issues and costs.

Normal times the main factors are limited times in each country. I know some people who have had success (pre Covid) getting bikes into and out of Vietnam - but in most cases, that entails hiring a guide at IIRC around US$100 a day. I solved that problem by buying a second hand scooter in Vietnam for $400 and giving it to a local charity some 3,500 km later. A better deal than using my own bike and paying $3,000 to be babysat. My experience was that the north was where the fun was. Ride it, fly south to see what you want there.

Malaysia has some great sights - and a lap of the country can easily take a month.... then into Thailand. Thailand has toughened up temporary import restrictions. You will get 30 days - but I understand you can have two 30 day permits in a year. When I came here, I rode in via Malaysia, but in my view, the fun riding is mostly in the north and you can chew up a lot of your time just getting to the good bits.

Laos is (or at least was) fun - again with time limits, but they used to be extendable. You need a bike bigger than 250cc and there's some issues with border crossings - you need to nominate your exit point, etc. I haven't (sad to say) been in there for four years and there have been some changes that others may comment on.

Cambodia was easiest, but with Covid, they are now asking for a US$3,000 deposit to enter.
I travel to Laos 2-3 times a year, in recent years occasionally more often. Always by car, though I am up-to-date on regulations governing motorcycles too. That stated, every now and then a border crossing becomes easier, or more difficult, to enter using a motorcycle.

Chiang Khong-Huay Xai remains the easiest, with Nong Khai-Vientiane being second depending on the mood of the officials.

Beung Kan-Paksan - one time in 2014 I brought my bike with me and enquired about taking it over. Customs said should be OK but a local told me it's "unlikely" the Lao side would allow it in. It was only a 125cc. So I didn't even take it down from my truck. I mean, putting it on a car ferry that only comes once or twice a day on Saturdays and then getting refused, not being able to bring it back to the Thai side (or only if I paid a 1000 Baht charter fee for the boat) would have made things extremely complicated. I also had an appointment in Vientiane later that evening so didn't have time to mess around. With more time I might have taken the risk.

I then drove to Nong Khai and asked the same question to a customs official there who gave me a similar answer. A guide took my documents and asked around and was told "need a tour". If there were a possibility of paying 3000-5000 Baht for an on the spot "tour" I would have accepted, but that wasn't an option. Paperwork would take several days to process. Thus, after losing one night in Beung Kan I decided this time I'll grudgingly accept catching a bus over and renting a bike locally. A friend gave me a small bike to use for free, so that was nice. I have however rented various bikes in Laos in the past, mainly in Vientiane.

Chong Mek-Vang Tao. Used to be easy, until March 2019? I think it was. Then it all tightened up.

Next one to look out for once borders reopen is the newly opened border at Ban Huak in Phayao. Problem though is on the Lao side you're in Saiyabuli, the same province where the other three border crossings with the strictest conditions are located. So I don't see much flexibility there.

However, I've spotted Thai registered bikes in Savannakhet in 2019 and I believe also in March 2020 on my most recent trip if memory serves me correctly. I saw just 2, one big bike and something smaller. It appears both were possibly brought across the bridge on a pickup truck (which is compulsory).

Myanmar - no chance without a tour, except Tachilek, where you can ride around town for a day or possibly up to 14 days.

Vietnam - as you say. A Thai lady was successful riding her Thai registered bike (I think it's a 250cc but not sure what make or model) into the country crossing one of the central Vietnamese borders. No issues with customs or police and no tour. She did have an accident but no one made any fuss about hers being a Thai registered bike per se. Once repairs were made and compensation to the injured party was paid, she could continue on her way. As it turned out, she had to return to work, so stored the bike in Vietnam, flew back to Bangkok and several weeks later flew to Vietnam to finish off her tour, returning via northern Laos. Her "exploits" can be viewed on YouTube.

Cambodia - like I said in my other reply. Easy at some borders, more difficult at others. O'Smach is best. Exiting for Thailand is straightforward for Thai, Lao, Malaysian and Singaporean vehicles at any crossing, but for third country vehicles may need a tour.

I think Thailand will likely enforce the tour requirement even more stringently once covid restrictions are lifted, even if the status quo with regards to general travel returns (i.e. no more restrictions in terms of visas, quarantines or testing). I think that's the general trend with overlanding in the region.
 

blackwolf

Senior Member
Joined
Mar 7, 2014
Bikes
Honda Sonic 125cc, 4 wheels, about to buy a 250cc dirt bike
Bigfella, one more question regarding extending temporary customs permits in Laos:

You said "used to be possible to extend". Firstly, how could you do this, without leaving the country with your vehicle and heading straight back in (which is probably what most motorists would do)? Where do you have to go?

How do you know that they've stopped this? I would imagine that Thai and Chinese vehicles (cars and trucks at least) would be allowed to extend at least once or twice, on the basis that many projects run by managers and skilled workers from these countries drive their cars in and might need to spend 2-3 months in the country without leaving.
 

blackwolf

Senior Member
Joined
Mar 7, 2014
Bikes
Honda Sonic 125cc, 4 wheels, about to buy a 250cc dirt bike
BTW I would have thought questions about crossing borders should rather be posted in the "Red Tape" section of the forum?
 

The Bigfella

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Joined
Aug 15, 2012
Bikes
KTM 950SER & EXC, BMW R90S & Dakar, MZ250, BSA B33, Norton 16H, Honda - 500 Fs & X, DRZs, XLs XRs CRFs CT110s etc
Bigfella, one more question regarding extending temporary customs permits in Laos:

You said "used to be possible to extend". Firstly, how could you do this, without leaving the country with your vehicle and heading straight back in (which is probably what most motorists would do)? Where do you have to go?

How do you know that they've stopped this? I would imagine that Thai and Chinese vehicles (cars and trucks at least) would be allowed to extend at least once or twice, on the basis that many projects run by managers and skilled workers from these countries drive their cars in and might need to spend 2-3 months in the country without leaving.
I extended my visa when down south in Laos, in Pakse IIRC. A visit to the police station was all it took. I didn't extend the bike's entry permit, which I was told I should have done when I was leaving Laos. Back in those days the form was marked "penalty for overstay, $5 reasonable, $10 unreasonable". A customs guy at the Laos / Cambodia border hit me up for $10 - but when I pointed out the wording on the form, he just waved me through.

The law was changed back in about 2015. I had a bike there for 14 months, with a blown engine. When I arrived back in late 2015 with a new engine, I discovered the new penalty for overstaying was US$10 a day.
 

blackwolf

Senior Member
Joined
Mar 7, 2014
Bikes
Honda Sonic 125cc, 4 wheels, about to buy a 250cc dirt bike
I extended my visa when down south in Laos, in Pakse IIRC. A visit to the police station was all it took. I didn't extend the bike's entry permit, which I was told I should have done when I was leaving Laos. Back in those days the form was marked "penalty for overstay, $5 reasonable, $10 unreasonable". A customs guy at the Laos / Cambodia border hit me up for $10 - but when I pointed out the wording on the form, he just waved me through.

The law was changed back in about 2015. I had a bike there for 14 months, with a blown engine. When I arrived back in late 2015 with a new engine, I discovered the new penalty for overstaying was US$10 a day.
That disclaimer is still on the form today.

Extending your visa, that's the easy part, I already know how to do that (though never have needed to, as the longest I've ever stayed in Laos on any one trip was maybe a little over a week).

So in other words, the only way to seek an "extension" of your vehicle's entry permit is by paying an "overstay fee". I wish there were something more formal. In Thailand, vehicles from neighboring countries are allowed to extend up to 6 months by going to a customs office. Previously, before the new entry rules implemented in 2016 requiring a guide and permit, this courtesy was extended to all foreign registered cars and bikes.
 
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