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Old 3 Mar 2008
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Vietnam -> Cambodia -> Laos in rainy season


My mate and I are planning a trip starting in Hanoi, buying a couple of Minsks, and then slowly touring Vietnam, starting with the north, then heading south and into Cambodia, west across Cambodia and north into Laos and up the length of Laos.
Ideally we'd then head back east into Vietnam from Laos, and sell the bikes in Hanoi again (this border crossing I think gives me the most concern).

Our trip begins on 21st April. I realise this is not exactly ideal in terms of weather. We're allowing ourselves a leisurely 3 months to complete the trip and explore the countryside as much as possible.

Could anyone please give me some advice on the practicalities of the road conditions around this period? In particular, the road conditions around the Ho Chi Minh trail around mid May, and in Cambodia through May-June.
Also the likelihood of being able to cross back from northern Laos into northern Vietnam around July (I understand the road is pretty basic here)?

Finally, 2 bike-related questions:
- If a bike is bought & registered in Vietnam, are there any issues with bringing it back into the country and selling it there?
- I read something on gt-rider about bike insurance that can be bought on the border. Does anyone know details of this?

Thanks heaps for any assistance you can give me. I forsee some serious mud. If any of you are in the area during that period and fancy a drink, let us know!

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Old 13 Mar 2008
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Ok, I guess my question was a bit wide ranging, possibly even rambling. Put simply:
Are the roads in Cambodia passable on dirt bikes through May/June/July?
In particular the more rural roads.

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Old 13 Mar 2008
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Hi, I'm currently Moderated so this might take a while to get to you....

No problems what so ever, once you have finsihed with the Minsks dont take them out of vietnam sell them back to the place where you bought them.

The go to Phomn Phen and vistit my Lucky Lucky look him up in the yellow pages for Cambodia. He will supply you with great bikes and ALL paperwork that you will need, I had a 250cc Honda Baja from him really cheap.

The roads are quite bad but I did them with only 2 weeks riding experiance under my belt. Just remember that under the mud is CLAY, so it's more slippery then you think.

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Old 15 Mar 2008
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sorry I could not give you answer about the roads conditions in Cambodia for this time of the year (never been there). Hopefully, someone will provide this interesting info.

As for VN, in year 1995 I did ride a much brave Minsk taking the section from Hue to Kontum/Pleiku via the "Hauts-Plateaux". It was in August, and the road was quite difficult, most parts were not paved (except a small perimeter of a few hundreds around 1 or 2 towns **). At that time, if the road was not a path of sand and mud, it was a strech paved with rough stones that suited only big trucks. I was lucky i did not encounter heavy rain much during the 2 full days it took me to reach Kontum from Hue.

Things have changed I guess. They always ...

I would also be much interested to get an answer to your question about taking a VN registered outside the country and back after having toured Cambodia and Laos. From my last ride in VN in 2006, I must still have the Minsk I left in Saigon at some vietnamese friends' home. I plan to take this same bike for touring Cambodia some time in the near future.

BTW, a few tips for touring SEA:

- in your contry buy a DOT/EU homologated helmet and always wear it during your trip. In VN 2 years ago, they only (most shops) sell cheap chinese crap helmet for 10$. Even in Hanoi, I could not find a decent open-face helmet, so I went with this chinese plastic helmet.

- same thing for rainsuit and waterproof boots. Better to get a good one in a good motorbike cloths shop where you live before going there. Riding wet on bad roads on bad weather conditions, lost in a remote mountain road when the dark is coming, this can turn your trip to a nigthmare. (and during the rainy seasons, it take days for cloths to dry up ... sometimes they seem to never dry up in the humid high altitudes )

** if you're heading to Kontum from the north via the "hauts-plateaux", a few tens of kilometers before Kontum, look for an old US airfield whose pavement is still in good condition and is now used (that was the case by the time I was there) as a road section. It was a good surprise to switch from a earth road to a well paved road, and much more stunning when you realize how wide (tens of meters) this part of the road is and that you are in fact riding on an airfield !
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Old 7 Apr 2008
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Thanks for the tips guys. Sorry for the slow reply, am just back from Indonesia.

Having looked at the websites of adventure motorcycle touring companies in Cambodia & Vietnam, they seem to run trips throughout the area through the whole year. So this bodes well... I suppose we'll just be prepared to get very muddy.

I've been doing small chunks of riding in various parts of SE Asia over the last few years, and all your comments on buying safety equipment in my home country are much agreed with. I'll be getting my gear here in Singapore (where we have the choice of either the cheap chinese crap or the more established brands).
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Old 5 Jun 2009
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hi, im planning a similar trip (buying bikes in HCM then up vietnam, around laos and down cambodia back to HCM). have you found out anything more out about taking vietnamese bikes in and out of the country?
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Old 7 Jun 2009
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Hey mate, turns out it's pretty easy actually.
The other countries in the area (except China & Vietnam) honour an ASEAN agreement to let each other's bikes in. But Vietnam for some reason doesn't (or didn't last year) let foreigners into the country on bikes registered in any other countries. However, because we had Vietnam-registered bikes, we had no problems taking them back into the country.

To summarise our crossings:
- Out of Vietnam no issues
- Into Laos, no mention of our bike whatsoever. Which is a mistake, you're supposed to get import documents stamped.
- Out of Laos, luckily for us the guy wasn't interested in our bikes whatsoever. I've heard people sometimes get big fines for this mistake.
- Into Cambodia, the customs guy tried to hit us up for "permits". But we just gave him our Vietnamese ownership papers. He said "I can't read vietnamese". We said "neither can we", smiled, threw a few other bits of paper at him (international license etc), then eventually he gave up and let us in.
- Out of Cambodia, no problem
- Into Vietnam, no problem

Easiest thing seems to be to have a vietnamese registered bike. Even if you can't read the license plate anymore like mine.
Enjoy the trip, should be great!

Btw, put together a vid of the trip, if you'd like to take a look:
Minsk the Mekong on Vimeo

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Old 22 Jun 2009
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Thanks for all of the information above. I'm planning a similar trip in Winter 2009/2010. Will 'Buy' in Vietnam and 'Sell' in Vietnam after Laos/Cambodia.

Any idea how much a Minsk will cost in Vietnam?

Thanks ... Geoff
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Old 29 Jun 2009
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Originally Posted by Blue88 View Post
Any idea how much a Minsk will cost in Vietnam?

Thanks ... Geoff
This friends bought them in Hanoi for around 250€. Then rode back to Barcelona with any single mechanical problem.


"Cosas que escapan a los que sueñan solo de noche..."
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Old 21 Sep 2009
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Excuse my late response ... but if you think this reply is slow than you oughta see me ride.

Thanks for the info on the Minsk and the 'Ins' and 'outs' of the various borders ..... a great help, thanks guys.
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