Crossing into Vietnam on 250cc? Where?

Discussion in 'Cambodia - General Discussion Forum' started by jorai, Apr 1, 2008.

  1. jorai

    jorai Active Member

    It is standard knowledge that driving larger than 150cc bikes is not allowed in Vietnam and that crossing into Vietnam on a 250cc has not been possible in the past or only occasionally.

    The previous edition of the Adventure Cambodia guide book, in contrast to other sources, claimed that it was routinely possible to cross in Takeo as well as on the Mekong near Chau Doc. Now I have just bought the new edition, “Ultimate Cambodia”, in which Matt Jacobson writes that across southern Takeo’s highway 2 was closed to larger bikes last year and that friends of his failed to cross down the Mekong in mid 2007. It also says “The word in December 2007 was that all Vietnam border crossings will soon be open for motorcycle crossings … We are hoping that many or all will be open for crossing with bikes when you read this.”

    Now I would much rather rely on facts than hope. Has anyone recently been/not been able to cross with a 150cc+x bike from Vietnam into Cambodia? Where?

    I want to give it a try during Khmer New Year. I understand that there are 4 international border crossings south of Bavet, one at the Mekong and Bassac River each, one at the end of highway 2 in Takeo and one at the coast line near Ha Tien (and one more close to Kampong Trach?)

    Plan A would be to leave Phnom Penh early in the morning, cross the border and spent the night in Chau Doc. If this fails, we still want to be able to ride to Kep and spend the night there. One day is most likely not enough time to fail at all four border crossing and still get to Kep before dark.

    Here the questions:
    • I understand that the best chances of successful crossing are down at the border crossing on the western bank of the Mekong in Kandal, just 45km south of Neak Loeang (unfortunately rather far from Kep). This is mainly due to the remoteness of the checkpoint and ignorance of border guards. However, if we fail, is there an easy way to get from the Mekong to the Bassac River along the border? The physical distance to the next crossing down on road 21 is small but without at least one ferry and some sort of road between the rivers it can easily take half the day. Now the Ultimate Cambodia books does have a map on page 89 where there is just such o road with a reference to “Mekong & Basak Rivers Circle Ride” and another reference mentioning “Scenic Canals & Villages” but I don’t find this described in the text and there is also no such road in the much more detailed Gecko Road Map. I am aware of the possibility to cross from the Mekong to the Bassac about 25 km north of the border but this one takes long, even during the dry season.
    • Is the checkpoint down road 21, along the western bank of the Bassac, an international checkpoint yet?
    • In case we fail to cross on road 21, is there an easy way to get from road 21 to either Takeo or Angkor Borei, ideally closely to the border? I know the way from Angkor Borei to Takeo and I have heard about boats from Road 21 to Angkor Borei but the water may be too low now?
    • My 250cc bike is fully registered but not in my name, I do have the registration card and the sales contract as proof of ownership. I don’t have insurance. Is that good enough to cross? Would insurance be a problem? Do I need to apply for some sort of export and/or import permit?
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  3. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    Hiko's been the "Entering Vietnam Expert", or at least the one who's been bothered to post his info. And in March 2007 it was all NO GO, but that's now 12 months ago. So you could be the one to blaze the trail for all of us.

    See ... t2247.html

    Good luck with your trip. Please keep us updated.
  4. jorai

    jorai Active Member

    This is a very useful post indeed, but not very encouraging. I searched forum for '250' so missed it.

    I guess I will still give it a try. I am traveling with a Khmer so maybe it makes us look less foreign or more predictable than 8 barang on scooters.
  5. Bert on the bike

    Bert on the bike Ol'Timer

    Hi Jorai

    I have had a look at the link you posted below your message and you seem to be very well travelled in Cambodia. There are some nice loops and you have posted some beautiful pictures as well.

    I have had 2 week long trips over the past 6 month and like the driving on the dirt road in Cambodia a lot.

    Question which I would like to ask you is whether you have been lately in the Cardammon mountains. There is an idea to go by end of July and try to do the Pailin - Koh Kong in 2 days. Do you have any idea if it is doable or not?

    Would be interesting to know.

    Good luck with your trip, loopking forward to your trip report and maybe we meet on the dusty roads.

    Take care

  6. jorai

    jorai Active Member

    Hi Bert,

    thanks for kind words and indeed I may have some relevant info.

    I did the trip from Koh Kong to Pursat in 2 days in the last November week of 2004, with sleep over in O'Saom village. At the time I tried to find a guide in Koh Kong but failed to find anyone who had actually done it. So I went with a 20 year old as passenger whose main qualification was that his dad used to collect sandel wood in the forest.

    There are a few waters to cross which now should be much lower then they were at the time. In one case we had to put the bike on a ridiculously small raft and swim it across.

    More recently, I went to O'Saom from Pursat through Pramaoi in December 2007. Nice all the way from Pursat and around Pramaoi lots of tall hills and beautiful landscape. I went Pramaoi to O'Saom with a passenger and this took about 3 hours. Locals on stripped Honda Waves make it in 2 hours but they have done it many times.

    Locals told me there had been 2 barang on dirt bikes the day before who failed to get to O'Saom from Pramaoi and a few days before that there was a group of 3 barang who did make it but had trouble with their bikes which they fixed in O'Saom.

    In short I think its possible and a great idea but it is very challenging and if you wait a little longer, there is probably more rain up there and its getting harder.

    A few friends of mine went a few weeks ago and they made it, too, but have not heard details yet.

    Not sure about the Pramaoi to Pailin leg but I hear people do it. There is also a very nice ride to be had from Pramaoi to the Thai border, decent dirt road, many turns, steep, high up the mountains, perfect bridges. Military who control the area told us the border crossing would be international within months and apparently there is a road just on the Thai-side of the border up to Pailin.
  7. Bert on the bike

    Bert on the bike Ol'Timer

    Hi Jorai

    Thanks for all the information, very useful.

    I think we will give it a try in July. unfortunately we do not have time before but by end of July there should not be too much rain, although it is rainy season. We will plan 2 days and have a day spare if we need to stay out a day longer.

    If you here from your friends who drove it 2 weeks ago please let us know.

    I will poat a trip report when we do it. Reminds me that I still need to post the report of the trip in February.

    Again thanks and hope to meet somewhere, somehow, some place.

    Take care

  8. jorai

    jorai Active Member

    Bert, I will let you know when I find out more.

    I think chances of doing this trip in July are very low. I could upload some photos for you just to see what you are getting into if I knew how to do it here.

    I noticed some dry season photos on the web pages of dancingroads cambodia.
  9. Bert on the bike

    Bert on the bike Ol'Timer

    Hi Jorai

    If you can not upload them can you send them to my email?


  10. jorai

    jorai Active Member

    i can send you a few if you give me your email. Or do you mean sending them on here?

    Since you are probably not in a hurry it may be better if I upload them to my blog sometime soon.
  11. jorai

    jorai Active Member

    i can send you a few if you give me your email. Or do you mean sending them on here?

    Since you are probably not in a hurry it may be better if I upload them to my blog sometime soon.
  12. Bert on the bike

    Bert on the bike Ol'Timer

    Hi Jorai

    I agree with you, when you upload them to your blog everybody can see them. Looking forward to it.

    Goodluck with your trip to Vietnam, looking forward to your trip report.


  13. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    This couple - Robert & Sarah -
    rode into Vietnam from Cambodia on their 1992 BMW R100 GS Paris-Dakar about a month ago, & are now looking for info to exit Vietnam from Dien Bien Phu via the Tay Trang / Sop Houn border crossing.


    Let's hope they contribute something to the forum, as they used it & the GT Rider site to research their trip.
  14. dancingroads

    dancingroads Active Member

    Hi Bert,

    We had three trips through the Cardamoms last month but due to the early rains in that region, it is already incredibly difficult to get through. In July the water levels will almost certainly be too high and the currents too strong to get through safely..

  15. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    Any news - did you go - how was it?
  16. shadow

    shadow Ol'Timer

    In the last month I have made two attempts, one at the Chau Doc crossing and one at the Moc Bia crossing. I spent about one hour talking with police at each border crossing and was unsuccsesful on both attempts.

    I had checked at the embassy in Phnom Penh before i went and was told it was possible at the Moc Bia Crossing, When I got there there seemed to be no problems after checking into Vietnam I was taken to another building where they were going to make up tempory plates for me they asked for my paper work and I gave the my Licence and registation cards. I was told this was not the correct paper work and shown what was needed. Which is a letter from the embassy with a copy of your passport and a copy of your licence and registration card. I explained I had been to the embassy and told that it was up to the border customs guys if I could enter or not. The police officer the seemed to start fixing up some paper work for me, all seemed to be well and after half an hour of him doctoring up some papers from a previous person with a car I thought I may be on my way. He then unfortunatly went and got a very good speaking Customs officer I think to check with before he allowed me to go on. This guy however didnt want me to go on and insisted I go to the embassy and get the paper work. I got the name of the person that could authorize me to cross over who had signed all the other documents they had there and headed back to Phnom Penh.

    I went straight to the embassy and asked for the forms to authorize travel for a bike into Vietnam. of course I was told there was none. I then asked to see the person that had signed the forms I had seen. I met with this lady and her first response was that there was no forms or authorization letter. I explained to her that I had just come from the boarder and seen the forms/letters with her signature and stamp on them. She then told me that foreigners dont have the right to drive in Vietnam telling me that it was to dangerous for foreigners, I explained to her that it was no more dangerours than PP and that I had been to Vietnam many times before and could I please have the same letter that she had done for other people. She then went on to tell me that this was for government cars of Cambodia only and not for individuals and that she could not authorize an individual and if I really neaded my own transport for bussiness purposes in Vietnam I should rent a car or bike in Vietnam at this time I started to get a bit pissed off. So I asked again so a foreigner can drive in Vietnam. She then started saying that it was up to the border people to authorize any entry into Vietnam. Now I was getting really pissed off, it wasnt going to do me any good though. I again told her I had just come from there and they had said it was upto her, She then went away but I just stayed there eventually she went and called the border guys to check my story. but still no outcome just the typical Vietnam bullshit of give them the runaround and hope it goes away.
  17. burnjr

    burnjr Ol'Timer

    bad luck to u bro anyway just good try..
    last month a group of bikers from malaysai entre combodia/vietnam/loas..
    but they need to pay some money to the guide and what they vietnam anyway the ride they have an ecsoct...each person pay around rm5000/= including hotel for 11 day in combodia/vietnam/loas... :D :arrow:
  18. TurboCharger

    TurboCharger Member

    How about some ride report, website or more info on this supposed entry?! I'm sure it would be helpful to others reading this thread rather than just heresay.

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