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Southern Asia Topics specific to Southern Asia, from Iran and Armenia east through Pakistan and India to China / Vietnam / Indonesia.
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  #1  
Old 8 Jan 2009
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Vietnam to Europe

Hi, I just joined this site 5 minutes ago. I don't know if I'm posting this in the right place so if I'm not then please tell me or move it. Thanks. Anyway, I would like to ride from Vietnam to Europe and I was wondering how feasible this is and what the most popular routes are. I've just started researching this trip and obviously have a lot more research to do before I even begin planning but I just thought I'd put this out here to help me get started. Also, how long does this type of trip usually take, going at a fast pace (I know that's a relative term but I mean in general) and about how much might it cost for the most frugal of riders. Thanks!
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  #2  
Old 8 Jan 2009
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Hi, welcome to the site.

There are two main routes, one would be Vietnam into China, Russia then Europe, sound easy but China is a big problem for taking a bike in. In can be done and has been done, but the Chinese prety much make up the rules day to day so its not reliable. The other route would be to ride into Thailand, ship your bike by air to katmandu, then into India, Pakistan, Iran, Turkey then rest of Europe. That is the common route, has been done recently by many people and there are many souces of information on this site to support traveling that route as well as many people doing it now.

You probably need to figure on at least 50 US$ a day when you add up fuel, food, lodging etc. Visas etc you need to find out about in advance abd be prepared with a lot of paperwork.

Good luck.
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  #3  
Old 8 Jan 2009
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For India, Pakistan & Iran (possibly Nepal, too), you will need a carnet de passage to temporarily import any foreign bike.

Burma border is practically impossible to cross with a foreign bike, Vietnam is very tough, and probably China could be possible (and maybe crossing from Laos, not Vietnam), but it wont happen just like that. You´d need to contact them, and start arranging things several months in advance, and be prepared for miles of red tape, and also to spend real big money - thousands or tens of thousands of dollars - to cross the entire country.

The trip you´re talking about, you could probably easily double your budget, if you include crossing the whole China into it. Plus its much further north than Vietnam, for example, and some parts are uncomfortably cold or simply un-doable for bikes in the winter months.

That´s why most riders prefer to freight their bikes across the Bay of Bengal, between India or Nepal and Thailand or Malaysia. There are no ferries, but this can be done by cargo ships or by air, I´d budget roughly around 400 euros by sea, and 600-700 by air for 1 bike, plus 150-250 for flights per person.

There may not be very many bikes that would be seen as ´suitable´ for that kind of a long trip available in Vietnam. I wouldnt try to do that on a Minsk! There could be more selection in Thailand, Malaysia or Singapore (possibly Cambodia also), but prices may be higher. Thailand, Cambodia and Laos should be do-able on a Thai-registered bike, maybe Malaysia also.

Do note that you´ll need to be able to get all paperwork sorted, and your name needs to be in its documents, before you can take such bike anywhere out of the country, where you´ve purchased it.

I´d suggest searching the site, and also browsing back this Southern Asia section, will help you build a better picture of the project you want to get into.
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  #4  
Old 8 Jan 2009
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I rode Vietnam to Italy in April 2008 taking 4.5 months for the ride.

Major challenges were taking a bike into Vietnam and/or China so this is how I (sort of) got round it.

1. Shipped my bike from Melbourne to Busan Korea.
2. Flew to Ho Chi Minh city with intent to buy/rent bike and ride North to China.

The challenge here was that it was all but impossible to buy and/or bike in Vietnam. I ended up renting a bike and riding around Southern Vietnam before taking a bus North to Hanoi.

3. Crossed border by bus to China and purchased new Haobon 125 to ride around China. With the help of other HUBB members I bought the bike in Qinzhou (40km from Vietnam border) covered 8,000km in a month, ignored local requirements for licensing/foreign ownership/registration/insurance and sold the bike in Shanghai.

The problem I had here was trying to get the Chinese bike out of China and into Mongolia. I ended up leaving the bike at the Mongolian border, taking the train to/from to Ulan Bataar and collecting the bike for the ride South to Shanghai.

Riding in China was a REAL challenge - not just the roads, but also traffic.

3. Flew from Shanghai to Busan, collected bike and rode North to Sokcho.

4. In Sokcho caught ferry to Zarubino (Russia) and from there it was overland all the way - Russia - Kazakhstan - Russia - Finland - Sweden - Finland - Norway - Sweden - Denmark - Germany - Czech Republic - Austria - Slovakia - Hungary - Croatia - Italy.

5. Shipped bike back to Australia from Rome.

See my blog Across the universe for more details.

Garry from Oz.
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  #5  
Old 8 Jan 2009
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Through China

Hi Garry, read your post re travelling through China and not being able to get your chinese bike into Mongolia. Hypothetical question, do you think it would have been possible to put the bike on a lorry, hidden it from customs and unloaded 100km the other side of the border and rode on?. I wonder about Khazakstan-China China-Lao using one bike and no rules?.
Jimmy
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  #6  
Old 9 Jan 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jimmy46 View Post
Hi Garry, read your post re travelling through China and not being able to get your chinese bike into Mongolia. Hypothetical question, do you think it would have been possible to put the bike on a lorry, hidden it from customs and unloaded 100km the other side of the border and rode on?. I wonder about Khazakstan-China China-Lao using one bike and no rules?.
Jimmy
Jimmy, you know I feel really bummed about what happened at the Mongolian crossing. This was the only place where I had any real troubels, otherwise the authorities in China were fantastic to deal with.

In answer to your question, yes, it is possible and I'm not happy about the fact that I didn't achieve it even though i put in 3 days of effort. I recently discovered from advrider that a South African couple put their China purchased bikes on a lorry and crossed SEVEN days after I failed. I only wish that they had arrived earlier!

However, if you read their story on adv you will find that they ended up snookered at the Mongolia / Russian border and had to sell their bikes to Russians (who subsequently bribed the border guards to get the bikes into Russia) and they ended up taking the Trans Siberian train to Moscow.

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  #7  
Old 9 Jan 2009
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Hey Clawedjird, I am planning to undertake the same trip leaving Cambodia in June, hoping to reach the Adriatic by August. Are you in Asia/ Vietnam now? I assume perhaps not as the only bike available for sale in Vietnam are scooters and old Minsks. Its impossible to get bikes in too as the Government has a moratorium on motorbikes above 125cc. The rumour has it that the police were worried that bigger bikes would be able to outrun them, so they have been banned since the country opened up. \ I see a lot of threads on here from people trying to go to Vietnam, and am wondering what all the fuss is about, I agree that the North around Sapa is fantastic, but the rest is not very exciting. Cambodia and Laos are where the action is, and Cambodia is a much more foreigner friendly country. There are a lot of bikes for sale in Thailand, malaysia and singapore but they are very expensive, they have huge import taxes on bikes. However, You can buy a fairly new 250cc bike in Cambodia for about $2500, a 400 will set you back $4,000 - $5,000, you can also pick up the odd 600, which are generally quite old. I have had a suzuki DR250 for 8 years for which I paid $1,700 and have ridden 35,000km around the region on it, it has been great, apart from a very hard seat which can be resolved easily. After this kind of mileage riding hard the engine needs new rings, and has started to burn oil, so would avoid doing the trip on a bike with high mileage unless you want to add a litre of oil to your daily expenses. The following thread talks about travel on a 250. http://www.horizonsunlimited.com/hub...r-suzuki-39142 I suggest doing Vietnam independently hiring a bike there, then buying a bike in Cambodia, taking it through Laos, and into China. There are tour companies which handle all the hard stuff, but if you do take a bike in, the Chinese will insist that you have a guide, the trip to the border with Kyrgyzstan will cost $4,000 (euro2500) so I am told, a bit pricey. Also you must add your $50 expenses too... I am not at all surprised by Gary's experience at the border with Mongolia, there are not many countries who will let you ride an unregistered undocumented bike across the border. I read on this forum that one can't register a bike in China without a six month work contract. Which would make sense, I have had similar problems buying vehicles in Africa too. Ultimately, when we grow up and are accustomed to living in countries where corruption is a punishable offence with imprisonment, paying bribes to officials can be quite scary, so isn't always an option if you are not aware of what the culture is and what's safe to do. Also smuggling across borders is even scarier because this is definitely a crime in all countries and I would prefer to take the path of least resistance, get all documents in order and if you still have problems pay the border guards some money to help grease the wheels. However, I am always surprised how people try to get away with stuff they know they would never attempt back home, like the developing world is one big theme park, but that's another story. Time scales, I believe Laos one week to 10 days, China will take 3-4 weeks to cross, and 3 weeks back to the border with Europe, with some detours to balaclava and a trip around Xinjiang, I estimate roughly, using google earth, I am only going as far as the adriatic, that will be 7,000 miles or 10,500km. I prefer to ride say 4 days of 300 km per week, that's 1200km a week on average, meaning the journey will take 9 weeks. putting things in perspective last month I travelled 2,800km by bike around Cambodia, on mostly good roads, and by the end of the month I was pretty tired, ok working too, but would encourage setting and budgeting for an easy programme, better to go faster than you thought rather than feel tired, pushed and stressed because you took on too much. Mick

Last edited by steamerstimpson; 9 Jan 2009 at 07:52. Reason: formatting lost
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Old 9 Jan 2009
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One correction: Vietnam, in practice, forbids foreign all bikes, regardless of engine size. Can´t go there even with a moped.
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  #9  
Old 9 Jan 2009
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china

hi, anybody has a link for agencies, who would organize the bike entry to china within 3 months for the mentioned 2500 euros???
my information was that a trip from lao to nepal would cost me more than 6000 euros in paperwork and guide....
thanks
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  #10  
Old 9 Jan 2009
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Transiting China

Hi All I found this blog report www.slowbikes.com/Home read Trips past Jakes . Uk to Thailand through China no guide no fees...

Regards jimmy
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  #11  
Old 9 Jan 2009
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I have this link for Johns Cafe, from another thread here, he quoted them 2500 euro.

http://www.johncafe.net/admin/news/newscn24.htm

dogito, When are you planning on going? It appears that its chaeper if other bikers can be found, I expect to hit the Yunan border roughly around the 10th June. I have no fixed route so far. It all hangs on finding a way through china that is affordable and reliable.

Mick
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  #12  
Old 10 Jan 2009
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thanks alot for the replies. i though i already posted a response but its not showing up...anyway i think im just going to start biking in india instead and i might go through se asia either renting bikes or on public transport. i have a really limited budget so i definitely cant afford china. before i was planning on buying whatever i could find in vietnam and riding that to india and then selling that for what i could and buying an enfield. so now im just gonna skip straight to the second part. so if anyone has any special info on that id love to hear it. Thanks!
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  #13  
Old 10 Jan 2009
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crossing china

hey mick,
we're here on koh chang and would like to cross some time april or may if ever. thanks for the link, I sent an email already.
I think june would be too late as the rainy season would catch up with us in nepal... our plan is to be in nepal around may, then june, july and august in ladakh, september northern india (agra, varanasi...) and then october and november nepal again...

let me know your schedule.

what bike are you on?

ride safe
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  #14  
Old 10 Jan 2009
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jimmy46 View Post
Hi All I found this blog report www.slowbikes.com/Home read Trips past Jakes . Uk to Thailand through China no guide no fees...

Regards jimmy
I´ve read that one before. He did manage to get into China without a guide, but got stuck waiting for some spare parts, and then the winter came, so he freighted his bike through most of the country, almost to Lao border. So it remains unclear, if he would have been allowed to cross the entire country by road or not.

Several people have reported getting in with a bike from China´s Western borders, but very few from Laos or Vietnam. There was this one guy, who did it from Laos, but he was on a Chinese-registered bike, probably made a big difference. And getting in would be one thing, but crossing the entire length of the country would still be totally another. I´ve got a feeling, that it won´t be an easy task, if your bike is in the country illegally, you dont speak any Chinese, and arent used to deal with the Chinese authorities at all. One thing to keep in mind is if you are involved in a bad accident, then you are screwed big time. And besides, you may try, but you probably cannot count on getting in either, without any prior arrangements and expensive fees.

Last edited by pecha72; 10 Jan 2009 at 18:13. Reason: typo
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  #15  
Old 12 Jan 2009
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I just got a reply from John Cafe, quoting me 4,500 euro, which is just too much to justify the trip for me, to do it alone anyway. It certainly seems to be well outside what have been normal for me to pay whilst living in Asia for the past. They must be charging a $100 daily rate plus $1500 fees.

I really need to link up with others to make this work which would mean redoing my schedule / budgets.

Another option is to do the bike buying and selling thing, i have some contacts in Guanghou who perhaps could help buy a registered bike.

Dogito, Currently in Phnom Penh, i have a suzuki DR250 which I have driven 35,000km in the region, the 250 although by western standards is a bit small, but has been great on the sands and mud roads here, the best bike for trails i would argue and quick enough for Cambodian highways. Best of all you can get parts...

By the way, if you are coming this way, I did Koh Chang to Phnom Penh in 9 hours last April, the road from the border is fantastic and very quiet, alternately you can turn right at the junction with the main highway about 1.5 hrs from the border and 1 hr further you will be at the Cambodian beach resort of Sihanoukville.
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