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We are planning a two months tour for this summer, what i would like to see is:
the period will be from 20-25 july till the end of september, beginning of october. Right now my biggest concern is the weather, it seems really not the best moment but unfortunately is the only period where i can take a break from the university!
If anyone have some tips and info to share, interesting places to see, nice things to do.. whatever!.. that would be great!
If you plan going by bike, you cannot enter Vietnam with a big bike. I thought >250 cc is not allowed. You can also think a renting a bike in each country, very easy everywhere randomly available. For Thailand tips have a look at GT-rider or rideasia.net
We went to Chiang Mai and rode the Mae Hon Song Loop and further down along the Burmese border. Great ride! Lots of interesting places to stop and over a few thousands (hairpin)bends and beautiful scenery. In cambodja its great offroading, where you'll be immediately off the beaten track. Laos we had to skip as for time constraints unfortunately.
We got some ideas for Cambodia route from a rental website, its in Dutch but you'll get an idea, have a look. Cambodja Avonturen Motorreis - Motor Trails - Avontuurlijke Motorreizen
the idea is buy a bike and sell it in the end of the trip. Do you know if some extra documents (like CDP) are needed if you buy a bike, let's say in Vietnam and then you want to move to the other states? (or vice-versa)
Since you can not enter in Vietnam with a bigger bike then 250cc maybe is possible to buy a bigger one there and then ride out (I'm not fun of big heavy bike anyway but since we are 2 i was thinking to something like 400cc (xr, dr ecc) is it possible to find them down there?
It seems bikes registered in Vietnam are able to get out of Vietnam, and also return there. And no other bikes are allowed to enter Vietnam (and there´s no cc limit, it´s just a net rumour)... UNLESS you do arrange kinda similar as China, and that costs (a lot!!)
So, buying from Vietnam, you should be able to tour all 4 of these countries, but buying from Thailand, Cambodia or Laos should get you into those 3, but not into Vietnam.
And maybe you can add Malaysia into that list as well, because while officially requiring the carnet, seemed relaxed about it.
You problem might be the quality of used bikes available in Vietnam... probably a much better selection in Thailand.
I recently bought a Minsk in Hanoi and rode through all these countries
Here are some things that may help Viet-Nam is the main problem as border crossings with a bike is sometimes difficult and as I wanted to ride back into Viet-nam, ( make sure you get multi entry visa), buying in country was the best option. If you do decide to buy, Hanoi is an advantage as district plates (29 ) will help with authorities throughout the north and south.
There are many places to rent rooms though they are not advertised well, learn the different names for the different districts. Border crossings- North is open (Den bien to Udamaxai, Laos) beware the road deteriorates on the Laos side for 100ks then ok.(Bribe warning) South - Bo-y is under a lot of construction so only roadside shacks for Laos and a simple process on the Viet-nam side ( this is a great ride ) Centre- Khe-san to Laos very efficient no waiting
I took the bike through the Laos-Thailand borders at Vientienne to Udon Thani here make sure of your papers (owernship mainly) I was rejected at the Cambodian-Thailand border (Siam reap to Thailand) but there are border tensions there ( Siam Reap means "the defeat of Thailand" after all) Thailand to Laos at Savanakhet across the friendship bridge -sweet- carry spare photos if no visa Viet-Nam to Cambodia no problems (A vaccination-health card helps here) Cambodia-Laos primitive (bribe warning) Cambodia and Laos are a doddle to ride around (mainly flat), if you keep to the main drag , if you travel off season, make this gospel. Thailand is a shock if you have been riding in Laos-Cambodia, very modern, very fast and this is where a small bike is found lacking. There are dedicated bike lanes though.
What I would do different next time-
Bugger the Minsk Its cheap but its old tech and will give you problems. I will get a hero honda or something, more expensive but reliable ,parts everywhere, NOT a smokey, noisy two-stroke A small bike ,imo, goes as fast as you should when travelling in SE Asia. Also it is easier to lift them onto canoes, ferries,trucks etc.
I would avoid the main highway in Vietnam, its a bitch (although there are some special vistas sometimes) I prefer the mountains , the Ho Chi Minh trails (there are many) Not easy, but an adventure.
If Asian city traffic worries you, just get up real early and make the city limits just on dawn.
If you have any specific questions I would be happy to reply If I'm able.
BTW I'm jealous , your're about to have the time of your life
No CdP required for any of these countries and you don't need one with a Thai reg'd bike for Malaysia, either. Thailand (& Laos & Cambo) don't issue or use them, which otherwise would effectively close the Malaysian border, as Thais can't get CdPs...
Originally Posted by twobob
Thailand to Laos at Savanakhet across the friendship bridge -sweet-
So you were able to cross this bridge on a bike without problems? When I was there in 2009 anything with less than 4 wheels was not allowed on the bridge.
Thanks Bob, that's great news. I was not insinuating that you were lying, just wanted to confirm this, as the bridge has been officially closed to bikes since it was built.
Sorry about the short post beddhist I didnt realise I had done something new
So heres the details
Arrived late afternoon on the Thai side decided to get a room and tackle the border in the morning
Early start ,I cant really say it was any different to any other Laos crossing (I cant remember seeing any other bikes though) change over lanes(right hand drive to left)a little tricky (I got it wrong and had to mount the low barrier )
There is a wash down bay for cars I stopped, got off ,but was waived through.
Arrived at Laos gate and applied for visa $30 US with picture.
Drove off south
I do not carry guides only a compass and a map so I was unaware of any problems with this crossing, ignorance is bliss I suppose
Two other things I think were in my favour -When crossing the Laos border for the fist time I paid a deposit of $30 to 50, I cant remember the exact amount, and was given a sticker which was attached to the petrol tank (6"x7") this was unreadable by the time I had arrived at this crossing(petrol spills) but was still recognizable as an official Laos document. I don't know if they issue them there, so beware
The second were the plates, Its only an opinion, but Hanoi district plates (29) have respect, remember Laos is still a communist country and Cambodia all but.
In regards to what bike to get I notice you want to double up, your options are limited. All bikes in VN are no bigger than 250 cc though they make them look exactly like Harleys ,something like this would be comfortable but your carrying capacity limited and the mountains slow. Depending on your budget you can be driven on tours on the back of some big bikes but you rarely see them. (I've lost my "bike bitch" licence so it didnt apply to me )
Any chance your partner getting their own bike? would be my choice
If on a budget get the minsk there are still a few in Hanoi (around $250)
but buy spares in Hanoi as they can be scarce else ware.(clutch plates a special)
Helmets are everywhere but bring your own or do a deal with a similar sized tourist finishing their ride.
Thanks everyone for the answers!.. I asked to a friend of mine advices about how to organize the trip and he told me "post on HU and you'll find more than in all the guides you can buy=)" i see now how much the man was right!!
It's great to know that is possible to cross on the friendship bridge from Thai to Laos!..
Many people are trying to terrify us about the raining season saying that going to south of vietnam and east cambodia in end of august beginning of september will be a nightmare, all the mekong delta will be impossible to ride etc.. do you know something about that?.. is really impossible?
In this case one option could be avoid Vietnam fly in Thailand and from there enter in cambodia than Laos, nord Thay again then malaysia and indonesia.. what do you think about that?
There are a core of tourists that now prefer the off season, cheap rents (bikes/rooms etc.) I'm going to join them.You're invited too. I'm tired of waiting for the guides to fire the starting gun.
Why panic ?because the guides say so? your falling into a trap.Guides herd you into tourist enclaves.
I want to see the Mekong in full flight, I want to see Ton Le Sap lake, Cambodia, at full capacity.If that means riding in rain so be it. Because of the rain there are less tourist buses, the worst vehicles on the road. The rain washes the stagnant pools. fresh rainwater to drink. I could go on
Another suggestion is to hire Cambodia either Phnom Penh or Sihonukville and circle the lake (includes Angkor Wat) I have seen many large trail bikes for hire here (350-500) Laos - Plenty of bikes for hire ( saw six Harleys that were rented in Luang Prabang,don't know where they rented them from) start in The capitol, Vientiene, for the best deals and ride to Pak Peng catch the long boat back if short for time ( this includes tube riding at Vang Vieng would be a hoot with the river up) Thailand, everything available to hire. If you can, the Chang Mai to Luang Prabang ,Laos,border, would be tempting to try and get a hired bike across. Coming back into Thailand at Vientienne with Thai plates shouldn't be a problem. Viet-Nam every second bike is for hire, at a price. Make sure you have a copy of the ownership papers and if the wallopers pull you over just say it is the hotels bike that your renting (works if you own it .because officially you cannot own a bike in VN with VN plates) BTW the police in VN have been told to leave the tourists alone, and it is working ,to a point.
Don't skip Vietnam just for not having big bikes, the HCMH (Ho chi Mihn Highway) is great fun and mostly empty. None of the crazy car,truck,bus business of the A1 along the cost. It covers some really nice areas, is full of curvy mountain parts and the road is in surprisingly good shape. BUT do the north more intensely, much more spectacular.
There are reasons why you can skip Vietnam, but small bikes shouldn't be it, it is a beautiful place, not the friendliest, but the countryside is nice. If you want a bigger bike later, just do Vietnam first, sell the bike again in saigon and get a new one in Cambodia, where you can also officially buy and own it.
The Border thing:
I crossed all land-borders on my bike that still had the Vietnamese plates on it and the papers where from the early 90s with some random vietnamese guys name on them. No copies no nothing. Yes, I was lucky, but I've talked to many more who got in and out of all countries here with minor hassle.
If you want a bigger bike, cambodia or Thailand should be your best bets to find some. But you don't really need them here, this ain't the west. If you're not planning to bore yourself to death on the big Highways in Thailand and Malaysia most roads you'll ride are tiny, curvy, beautiful and potholed, that is the beauty of motorbiking here. Any size will do.
Ive ridden the worst rains I've seen in my life over the last year here in SEA, but as I say, I've ridden them. You'll be wet, but usually not cold. make sure you pack your passport in a few layers of plastic as I managed to dissolve my border stamps for cambodia in the rain and therefore have a "nice" long talk at the border.
And if you really go to Indonesia instead, don't ship the bike, to expensive if you'll sell it anyways, just buy a bike in Indonesia, they also have some, actually a lot, real nice 200 - 250 cc bikes from all the big Japs. Personally I like the Yamahas from the look, but that's just me.
have Fun, and don't worry about planning so much, it all works out, somehow.
Cambodia: that's a good tip, being able to legally buy one there, as you can't do that in Thailand.
Rain: I try to avoid riding in the rain as much as possible. It's just too dangerous and you don't see much. Rain can also be surprisingly cold, depending on where you are.
Indonesia: the only 250cc bikes you can buy there are the Kawa KLX 250, but it's available only on Java. I don't know whether you can legally register a bike there as a foreigner. If not, expect interesting discussions with police in some of the ferry ports.
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