Buying a bike in Malaysia (vs. Thailand) for round-Asia trip

Discussion in 'General Discussion / News / Information' started by chenghisean, Aug 24, 2012.

  1. chenghisean

    chenghisean Member

    Hi all,

    [Long time lurker. I've found this forum to be invaluable and, honestly, highly entertaining. Thanks for one of the (if not THE) best international motorcycle forums around.]

    Quick question for the group: has anyone here experience with buying motorbikes in Malaysia? This blog post indicates that it's far easier to buy a bike in Malaysia and ride it around SE Asia than it is in Thailand. I'm curious if anyone here has opted for this option and/or would know of the trade-offs in doing so.

    For a little background: my partner and I (a badass motorcycle-riding young lady) are planning a year-long trip through Asia starting Oct 2013, following our wedding the same month. Our plan is to hit Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam (yes I know we can't bring foreign bikes in, so it'll probably be its own leg of the trip with Vietnamese bikes), Malaysia, Indonesia. Then when monsoon hits, we're going to fly to Mongolia for some horseback riding (I lived in Mongolia for 2 years as a US Peace Corps Volunteer, so if anyone has questions about the country, hit me up). Then once summer is over and monsoon has quit, we're to fly to India to get some Enfields and ride around the subcontinent for awhile. Then back to Bangkok for some R&R and mental sanity.

    We have friends in Thailand, so I'm fairly confident we wouldn't have too many issues buying bikes in Thailand. A family friend is married to a Thai woman who I think would buy the bikes on our behalf and get them registered, then do the transfer documentation thing. But, it does seem that it would be significantly more of a hassle, even with locals to help out. Not to mention the cost of registering a bike in Thailand vs Malaysia. But if we buy bikes in Malaysia, would that prevent us at all from taking them to Thailand, Cambodia, et al?

    I'm sure we'll have oodles of questions for the group as our departure date gets closer, but figured I'd inquire about the Malaysia purchasing option as that would have significant impact on our route planning.

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  3. chenghisean

    chenghisean Member

    To be clear: I'm the dude, she's the lady. :D
  4. Vic Alborn

    Vic Alborn Ol'Timer

    Hello chenghisean. The following are my details (relevant) and experience buying a bike in Malaysia.
    As a New Zealander and assuming you are a USA Citizen, we probably share the same entry priviledges into Malaysia. (90 days on arrival with no paperwork!). I do not have residency in Malaysia but have been visiting often over the last 5 years and now share an apartment in Penang with a local. (Relevance below). In September last year I bought a 3 month/300km used Yamaha FZ150i from Hong Bee Yamaha here in Penang. Cost MYR7000.00 with remaining warranty, road tax and insurance included valid for the remaining 9 months. Purchased using a Visa Debit Card (Relevance below). I use my New Zealand Drivers Licence that, I understand, is valid for the 90 days of the entry in my Passport. Recently I renewed the Road Tax and Insurance for a further 12 months and I think it cost me MYR150.00. Incidently, the lady at the Post Office Counter said, as the bike was less than 12 months old when I renewed, I had to have comprehensive cover. (Don't ask me why as there was no outstanding interest/caveat/lien on the bike!) There were no problems registering the bike in my name (The shop did it) but you need to be aware of the following:-
    1) The Malaysian Ringget (MYR:US$ =3:1 approx. I think.) is a controlled currency and unless you carry a lot of cash you will need to pay by Credit/Debit Card. So far I have been unsuccessful in opening a bank account in my name as I do not have "residency".
    2) The Yamaha shop required that I prove my "residential" address and that could have been a problem as the apartment lease is in my flat-mates name and the utility bills are in the Landlords name! Fortunately, I had just purchased an electronic security safe for the apartment and the Invoice/Delivery docket showed my name and the apartment address. They may accept your NYC address but you will need recent documented evidence. (Comments please from anybody out there who knows this stuff?).
    3) You will need a 'phone number (SIM cards are cheap) for the insurance document.

    I hope this helps and please feel free to ask any questions you think I may be able to answer.

    There is a lot of advice on border crossing on GT-Rider and as I have yet to attempt a crossing with a bike, the advice given in GT-Rider is probably the best you will get.

    Cheers and happy, safe riding.

    Vic (AKA: Ah Boon)
  5. chenghisean

    chenghisean Member

    Thanks, Vic! Much appreciated. Sounds like it might be a good plan to buy in Malaysia vs Thailand. Paying by debit card is actually a lot easier than cash, so no worries there. Residential address may be a challenge; wonder if they'll accept by US address? I may just call one or two of the shops and see.

    Anyone else have any experience with buying bikes in Malaysia?
  6. brian_bkk

    brian_bkk Ol'Timer

    Believe some of the Chiang Mai guys can advise better than me. May be worth looking in previous posts or posting a new thread regarding buying a bike on a tourist visa.

    From what I have heard.. you just need a piece of paper saying you are resident, this can even be from the hotel you are booked in to.. Then go to Kawasaki and buy the bike.. (Assuming you buy a Kawa). I know people that have done this on a tourist visa.

    Does Malaysia manufacture any bikes? assuming the taxes are high as imported if not.. the same as imported cars.. Probably protecting an industry they don't have...

    Thailand manufactured bikes for sale locally and are relatively inexpensive (normal tax rates) compared to the imported models, plus you have a few choices..

    As for your driving licence.. Get an international licence before you leave.. This is a legal requirement when driving in Thailand unless your country is part of ASEAN.. It just takes away an opportunity from the cops to ask you for a bribe.. Assuming too, that if you are not driving legally, you are most likely not insured.

    You mentioned your trip will take in quite a few destinations that are neighbouring countries to Thailand..

    Based on Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Malaysia. I would be more inclined to buy the bike in Thailand.
    Low taxes on local manufactured bikes and low costs for spares etc, closer to the countries you will visit and you can just cross back in to Thailand and sell / leave the bikes when you have had enough and ready to move on.. or you will have to get the bike back to Malaysia.

    Malaysia has fantastic roads.. Thailand fantastic and scenic but can be rough in places.. Laos, you will want to get off the beaten track.. so be prepared for dirt to see and really experience Laos at its best.. Cambodia.. rough roads.. Depending if you are touring and how long for.. a Versys / KLX / CRF.. may be in order.. All made in Thailand and reasonably priced.. Insurance is cheap here too.

    You could also hire some dirt bikes for Laos and leave a touring bike for a few weeks.. as a compromise..

    Hope that helps.

  7. Vic Alborn

    Vic Alborn Ol'Timer

    Malaysia does manufacture some motorcycles (and "are protecting an industry they don't have!") and motorcycles are cheaper in Thailand.
  8. brian_bkk

    brian_bkk Ol'Timer

    Does a Proton cut down the middle with a chain saw count ;-)

    Just kidding..

    Interesting.. What bikes do they manufacture ? Any touring or Sports bikes.. or more the scooter market?

  9. Vic Alborn

    Vic Alborn Ol'Timer

    Yes: Its called a Pro or a Ton depending upon which side you are riding!
    Modenas is one make that springs to mind. Don't know much about them and don't want to know.
    I will "google" and see if there are any others.
  10. TonyBKK

    TonyBKK Ol'Timer

    I'd vote to buy the bike in Thailand- it's not impossible to buy a bike in your name here on a tourist visa, though the rules seem to vary from province to province. It seems Bangkok does not allow tourists to register vehicles in their name, but most of the "tourist" provinces such as Pattaya (Chonburi), Chiang Mai and Phuket do.

    As Brian said above, you really can't beat the price of a Thai-manufactured Kawasaki or Honda. Malaysia has tons of cool bikes but they are, for the most part, imported, and the prices are way way up there.

    Best of luck! Wishing you and your fiance a fantastic ride!!
  11. chenghisean

    chenghisean Member

    Thanks, Tony! Based on the responses so far, I think we'll probably come up to Chang Mai and see about getting a couple of bikes for us in Thailand. I'm thinking two new Honda CRF250s or Kawasaki KLX250s is probably what we'll shoot for.

    We have Thai friends in country and we're curious about having them buy the bikes and then assign them to us? I remember reading something about that previously, but not sure how laws have changed (if at all) and how easy it is to take them out of country if you do do that.

  12. brian_bkk

    brian_bkk Ol'Timer

    You will need some paper work ' from the owners ' allowing you to take the bikes out of the country.

    If you have time.. Try and buy them in your own name. Less hassle or potential for hassle. Then you just need the green book and a few copies of this and that.. (What you need is all covered in other posts to take the bikes out of the country. This does change a bit depending on the border crossing from my experience.. I usually just take three copies of every document reqiured.. sometimes they don't take any and other times they take some and others times they take all copies).. But what you need official wise stays the same.


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