SE Asia trip – where to start?

mr.popo

Junior Member
Joined
Jan 9, 2015
Bikes
Honda XR200
Hi,

As said in my introduction, I am just starting to plan a road trip around SE Asia and here is the first of 1000 questions I'll have to answer in order to make this idea true:

After reading here and there I realized that crossing the borders may give troubles depending on where the bike is from. I think that buying a bike on the spot would be the cheapest way on the long term, but where do you think I should start my trip between the following countries if I wanted to keep the same steed during the whole trip (buying and selling in each of them would be crazy and too time consuming).

1) Thailand – it seems that Thai have some quite strict rules and are not happy to accept bikes not coming from specific countries which they have mutual agreements with (i.e.: Laos and Cambodia, I still don't understand if Malaysia is another one).

2) Malaysia – many people say that it's easier to buy a bike there (less bureaucracy problems?)

3) Laos or Cambodia – they may be a good option in order to get to Thailand with not many questions asked, but I'm not sure that Malaysia will be accessible and the range of available bikes may be tiny?

4) Vietnam – it's another country full of bikes available (and the only one with Vespa, which instill an option I'm considering), but it seems that crossing the borders from there may be troublesome.

That said, I still don't know exactly what documents I will need for the bike, which will surely be a small one (no more than 250cc, maybe an underbone) and I feel mostly concerned with the Carnet de Passage that has to be issued where I buy the bike, but at what costs of time and money?

A lot of questions already, thank you in advance for your hep land for all the inspiring rides that you share everyday, hopefully will be on the road again like you guys.
 

Lone Rider

Blokes Who Can
Joined
Jan 29, 2011
Location
Chiangmai
Bikes
4 Wheels
It depends a bit on which countries you want to visit as some countries like Vietnam and Myanmar (and now to a certain extent also Thailand) require permits which often includes the need for a guide (on your expense) with fixed itineraries before you can go there with your own bike.

Generally, in the other countries (other than Myanmar and Vietnam) you will need either to be the owner of the bike or have permission from the owner to take the bike out of the country where it is registered. Crossing borders in these countries with a bike is general easy and will involve applying on the border for a temporary export and import permit but these permits often have a time limit (maximum 30 days which sometimes can be extended).

For the countries where you do need a permit (Vietnam, Myanmar) it is often easier/cheaper to fly in and rent a bike locally instead of driving in on your own bike.

Anyway, if you have more specific questions just let us know.
 

Lone Rider

Blokes Who Can
Joined
Jan 29, 2011
Location
Chiangmai
Bikes
4 Wheels
Some additional info - Myanmar and Vietnam both require a government permit, a fixed itinerary and a guide for the duration that you want to ride in these countries on your own motorbike. Getting a permit is time consuming and expensive. Hiring is much easier as you basically can go and stay anywhere you want (however, Myanmar has areas where you can not go due to security issues).

Zach in Mandalay in Myanmar seems to be highly recommended - his website of Mandalay Motorbike Rental and Tours is here: http://www.mandalaymotorbike.com/

Flamingo Travel (Main office in Hanoi and another office in Ho Chi Minh city) is welknown and highly recommended by people who have used them for rentals or tours. Their Facebook page is here Flamingo Travel Vietnam and their website here: Flamingo Travel

Thailand has just published some restrictions on vehicles entering Thailand so if you want to buy a bike this is something you should keep in mind - more info here: Temporary Importing a Foreign Registered Motorbike into Thailand. However, it looks like that if you ride a Malaysia or Singapore registered bike you should have no problems with this new rule as Thailand has a travel agreement with these countries.
 

mr.popo

Junior Member
Joined
Jan 9, 2015
Bikes
Honda XR200
Some additional info - Myanmar and Vietnam both require a government permit, a fixed itinerary and a guide for the duration that you want to ride in these countries on your own motorbike. Getting a permit is time consuming and expensive. Hiring is much easier as you basically can go and stay anywhere you want (however, Myanmar has areas where you can not go due to security issues).

Thank you!

Reading those links makes me wonder if I can avoid the problem of needing a guide by actually buying the bike in the Vietnam itself.

My ideal trip was Malaysia, Thai, Cambodia Laos, Vietnam (if time allows), but I'm flexible on the order cause I just want to choose the best way to avoid bureaucracies and hassles due to crossing the borders with a bike. I am thinking now that whichever bike I get it'll need a carnet de passage and I'm pretty sure that the above mentioned countries don't have the same requirements for issuing it. This is an aspect to take in to consideration I guess.
 

recom273

Junior Member
Joined
Jul 4, 2015
Location
Hat Yai
Bikes
2013 Versys 650 / 2014 CBR 150
Some additional info - Myanmar and Vietnam both require a government permit, a fixed itinerary and a guide for the duration that you want to ride in these countries on your own motorbike. Getting a permit is time consuming and expensive. Hiring is much easier as you basically can go and stay anywhere you want (however, Myanmar has areas where you can not go due to security issues).

Thank you!

Reading those links makes me wonder if I can avoid the problem of needing a guide by actually buying the bike in the Vietnam itself.

My ideal trip was Malaysia, Thai, Cambodia Laos, Vietnam (if time allows), but I'm flexible on the order cause I just want to choose the best way to avoid bureaucracies and hassles due to crossing the borders with a bike. I am thinking now that whichever bike I get it'll need a carnet de passage and I'm pretty sure that the above mentioned countries don't have the same requirements for issuing it. This is an aspect to take in to consideration I guess.

You won't need a Carnet .. There are agreements in place, you just need to have the paperwork to export you bike temporarily.

The first thing I ask when people suggest these trips is .. how long have you got ? do you really need to buy a bike ?

It's always reported that to buy a bike in Malaysia is easier. However, when you ride in, your bike only gets a limited time in Thailand. I just don't see this is a bargain when you go to the hassle of extensions and riding out of the country to renew the bikes visa. Great, if you are going to spend most of your time in MY, not so great if you are going to spend a lot of time in Thailand.

In short, unless you are set up in Thailand, with a decent visa, an address and a little knowledge, buying a bike is a bit of a nightmare. I would say, most of us on the forum with our own bikes either have family here or retired / work here.

You may be better off negotiating some kind of long rental or another way a contact of mine did, approaching a seller and offering to rent the bike to generate some cash - bikes don't always get sold as quickly as sellers would like.

To add, you should look to a bike less than 250cc if departing from Thailand - anything less you will run into trouble at the borders, for example Laos doesnt allow bikes small displacement bikes to travel across.

You mention buying a bike in VN. A while ago a guy dropped into my place, he bought a Minsk in Hanoi, he rode it in VN, Laos, Cambodia, through Thailand and I helped him get it into Malaysia.
I don't know quite how he did it, but he found it OK, the bike wasn't in his name, he had some receipt in Vietnamese. He seemed to be able to get temporary imports for all countries by just stumbling along.

Then he sold the Minsk in Kuala Lumpur. I wanted to buy it from him, but we kind of missed each other, he was going home, i was busy. If you choose this option, I really want to add a Minsk to my garage, and would love to buy it.
 

KTMphil

Senior member
Joined
Jan 11, 2011
Location
Chiang Mai, Thailand
Bikes
2007 KTM 990 Adventure Suzuki DRZ 400
In a nut shell


1. Buying a motorcycle in Thailand is easy & cheap. If you register in a guest house in Thailand, they will give you a residency letter which will enable you to register a motorcycle in your name in Thailand, the tourist immigration stamp should not be an issue, many have done it (ask Captain Slash). From Thailand -- Cambodia, Laos (maybe Laos some issues happening right now), Vietnam with a permit, Malaysia are all possible without a guide.

Buying bikes in Laos is complicated with border crossings, Cambodia registered bikes now need a permit to enter Thailand, so not a good option.


http://www.rideasia.net/motorcycle-forum/showthread.php?t=92&page=6&p=59903&viewfull=1#post59903


2. For around USD$ 250, using a Vietnamese tour company to arrange the permit, you can take a Thai registered motorcycle into Vietnam. New law implemented about 6 months ago, you need the right Vietnamese tour company though.

3. You only need a Carnet here if you ship out of Malaysia, entering Malaysia at a land border no carnet needed. Indonesia you need a carnet.


A plethora of border crossing information in the link below:


http://www.rideasia.net/motorcycle-forum/red-tape-border-crossing-requirements/
 

mr.popo

Junior Member
Joined
Jan 9, 2015
Bikes
Honda XR200
Ok, from what you guys say it'd be Malaysia or Thailand, probably the time I'll spend in each should be the key for choosing. If that's the case, I am not at that part yet. I've seen a bit of both the countries already, but I definitely want to go deeper in both and surely I'll be heading to Laos and Cambodia. Maybe I should get the bike in Malaysia, then go to Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand again, and finally back in Malaysia to sell the bike back?
After that, if I have any spare time and money, I may rent in Vietnam.
This plan includes a re-entry through Thailand which I don't know if it's actually possible.
 

bill

Senior Member
Joined
Apr 27, 2011
Location
Cambodia
Bikes
KTM 500 XCW
In a nut shell


1. Buying a motorcycle in Thailand is easy & cheap. If you register in a guest house in Thailand, they will give you a residency letter which will enable you to register a motorcycle in your name in Thailand, the tourist immigration stamp should not be an issue, many have done it (ask Captain Slash). From Thailand -- Cambodia, Laos (maybe Laos some issues happening right now), Vietnam with a permit, Malaysia are all possible without a guide.

Buying bikes in Laos is complicated with border crossings, Cambodia registered bikes now need a permit to enter Thailand, so not a good option.


http://www.rideasia.net/motorcycle-forum/showthread.php?t=92&page=6&p=59903&viewfull=1#post59903


2. For around USD$ 250, using a Vietnamese tour company to arrange the permit, you can take a Thai registered motorcycle into Vietnam. New law implemented about 6 months ago, you need the right Vietnamese tour company though.

3. You only need a Carnet here if you ship out of Malaysia, entering Malaysia at a land border no carnet needed. Indonesia you need a carnet.


A plethora of border crossing information in the link below:


http://www.rideasia.net/motorcycle-forum/red-tape-border-crossing-requirements/
Phil
Can you tell us which Viet tour company is charging $250 for the permit.
Ive recently got quotes from Mototours and Flamingo and they quote much more than that, even on a per bike basis for multiple bikes.
 

KTMphil

Senior member
Joined
Jan 11, 2011
Location
Chiang Mai, Thailand
Bikes
2007 KTM 990 Adventure Suzuki DRZ 400
Phil
Can you tell us which Viet tour company is charging $250 for the permit.
Ive recently got quotes from Mototours and Flamingo and they quote much more than that, even on a per bike basis for multiple bikes.


Ill dig out the contact details. That was on the basis of 4-5 motorcycles on a tour into Vietnam. The headache for them is that they have to send an agent to the border when you arrive and leave, they could also get caught up in accident paperwork etc....
 

Nightrider70

Senior Member
Joined
Apr 25, 2011
Bikes
DRZ400SM
I would consider renting a scooter in each country you want to visit. Renting scooters is very cheap, as little as 2500 baht per month in Thailand. A scooter can be serviced at any local shop for cheap, that can not be said for bigger bikes. If you buy a bike in Thailand you may have to wait 2 months for the plate and the title (green book). You can not bring the bike out of Thailand without the title or the number plate. If you rent a bike you should know that the standard rental agreement (at least in Thailand) limits how far from the rental agent you can drive, but that you can negotiate away in most cases. Some renters want to keep your passport, NEVER agree to that, a copy is fine but never your passport. If you give up your passport you have set yourself up for extorsion and it is also illegal for you not to have your passport. If a rental agent asks for your passport go to another one.
 

mr.popo

Junior Member
Joined
Jan 9, 2015
Bikes
Honda XR200
Ill dig out the contact details. That was on the basis of 4-5 motorcycles on a tour into Vietnam. The headache for them is that they have to send an agent to the border when you arrive and leave, they could also get caught up in accident paperwork etc....

This could be interesting!
 
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