Two Months - S.Vietnam -> Cambodia -> Laos -> N. Vietnam - Border Crossings?

Discussion in 'Vietnam - General Discussion Forum' started by brand0n, Jun 29, 2011.

  1. brand0n

    brand0n New Member

    We're planning a trip from HCMC, around Cambodia, up through Laos, then on to Hanoi via Sapa and we'd love some advice from some of you more experienced riders! We're departing on July 26 and returning Sept 23.

    I've been researching this trip for months and area of greatest concern remains border crossings. The answers we've received have ranged from "no problem" to "impossible".

    We'd like to buy a 125cc bike in HCMC (Honda Bonus?), take it through the Mekong Delta, then up into Cambodia at the crossing between Rach Gia and Kep. I have heard that it will be impossible to get the registration in my name, which could present some difficulties. I have also commonly heard that any foreign bike than enters a country must leave a country or I will face big fines upon my exit ($2000 USD+)

    Most people have said that it will be no problem, but a shop in Hanoi (who I suspect was trying to get us to start our trip in Hanoi rather than HCMC) said the following:

    According to me ride up through Cambodia from Vn side it is not sensible idea because Vietnamese custom not accept to ride any motorbike(even bike in your own name) to Cambodia if the bike don’t have a permit road work for crossing border. it make by ministry of communications and transport.

    Does anyone have experience crossing into Cambodia with a Vietnamese bike?

    On to Laos:

    We're planning on crossing from Cambodia into Laos at Si Phan Don. Again, I have heard very mixed things about. A couple people have reported that their one month Laos visas were changed to one week or ten days because they entered with a bike. Others have said local cops will pull over any bike in VN plates. Still others have said it is really easy.

    Does anyone have experience getting bikes into Laos?

    I suspect that all of these different reports are due to inconsistent enforcement of border laws, officials looking for "happy money", tourists with poor attitudes, or officials simply having a good/bad day.

    Getting the bike back into Vietnam by Dien Bien Phu is said to be no problem if it is a Vietnamese bike.

    One poster suggested that I buy a different bike in each country. I was hoping to avoid this solution because we're on a bit of a budget, but I would far prefer seeing these places from the freedom of a bike rather than cramped in a bus.

    Does anyone have contacts for bikes/info in HCMC or Hanoi?

    Here is our current itinerary:
    7/26-9/23
    58 Nights

    HCMC
    (100km)
    Ben Tre
    (130km)
    Can Tho
    (120km)
    Rach Gia
    (150km)
    Kep
    (300km)
    Kompong Luong
    (300km)
    Siem Reap
    (280km)
    Kampong Cham
    (125km)
    Kratie
    (200km)
    Si Phan Don
    (150km)
    Pakse
    (250km)
    Savannakhet
    (280km)
    Pak Kading
    (190km)
    Vientiane
    (150km)
    Vang Vieng

    Luang Prabang

    Muang Khua

    Dien Bien Phu
    (220km)
    Sapa
    (380km)
    Hanoi
     
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  3. Rod Page

    Rod Page Ol'Timer

    I read your post with great interest, unable to respond as we're not moving to VN until mid September.
    Very interested to hear how it all went/how its all going - what bike you purchased, border crossings, better roads, places to see & stay.
    Our own plans are to ride - Yamaha YBR & Honda Future X - from HCMC to Hoi An along the coast, head back via the HCM Road, then track down through the Mekong Delta before initially basing ourselves back in Hoi An.
    We've found from an earlier visit last month that the best, indeed only, way to proceed is through an agent (we found Flamingo to be excellent).
     
  4. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

  5. burnjr

    burnjr Ol'Timer

    nice route u entre laos from south.nice road compare north.hv nice days n safety ride..
     
  6. brand0n

    brand0n New Member

    We ended up buying a Honda Win for $300 complete with a 12v socket for GPS, a more comfortable seat, and luggage racks. The 100cc bike chugged along just fine with the two of us and our light luggage, though we didn't approach any speed records. We occasionally broke 50km/hr.
    We found the roads in the Mekong Delta area to be quite challenging. Signs and markers are very rare and the conditions change wildly. Expect to hit areas where the "major" road abruptly stops at a road construction site as you hit a single-track bypass that may or may not connect with the main road PR some time. We found ourselves riding along what amounted to footpaths along fingers of the Mekong, hoping to run into a ferry. Eventually we began to trust the locals and keep going till we hit the ferry. There are several of them and always keep small VN currency or a few $1 bills on you for the crossings.
    The roads are changing very quickly. A lot of money seems to be pouring into infrastructure. Our GPS map had no idea about a splended new suspension bridge that cut about an hour off of our trip from HCM to Ben Tre (our favorite city in the Mekong Delta - by far). The GPS was helpful to reassure us that we were indeed heading in the right direction but coordinates - even of roads - can be slightly off. A few times we went from a small dirt path to four lanes of asphalt in a split second. That's how quickly things are changing.
    For comparisons sake, the 150km ride from Kampot to Phmom Penh took half as long as the 75km (as the crow flies) rides from HCM to Ben Tre and Ben Tre to Can Tho (a city we could have skipped). Roads in Cambodia were incredible compared to Vietnam. Driving in Phnom Penh was actually very fun. The countryside in Cambodia was breathtaking as well.
    One of the nice things about riding our route through the Delta was that there were moto shops seemingly every hundred meters. Help is never far away in such a populous place.
    The border crossing was an absolute breeze. Vietnamese officials are very serious and Cambodian officials are very relaxed, hardly glancing at the moto. We got pulled over in Phnom Penh once, paid a small bribe, and were sent off with smiles all around.
    Time was running short so we sold the bike in PP at a good loss because nobody wants a foreign bike there. Apparently it makes you a rolling bribe machine if you're not a foreigner. Now that we're in Laos, we're seeing the advantages that a dirt bike would have here, though smaller scooters do just fine. Once you go north or east of Phnom Penn, expect some VERY long days of riding, though it sounds like you'll be primarily sticking to Vietnam.
    I've heard that the roads to/from Hoi An are quite easy but to be careful to stay a bit under the speed limit. Our local friend said the ride from HCM to Da Lat is a painless six hours. Mui Ne was recommended to us time and time again. Most people advised us to skip Nha Trang. We were also told that he main coastal road can be quite dangerous and that the old HCM highway is beautiful. Most of the time, we found "dangerous" to be just fine as the vehicles were moving slower than back at home. We just stuck to the right and yielded to anything bigger. We were also told that the ride from Hue to Hanoi is unremarkable but the ride from Hue to HCM is very pretty.

    Back to my coffee in Laos! I'll continue to check in and I'll get a report up when we return.
     
  7. Rod Page

    Rod Page Ol'Timer

    An enticing report so far; the full-blown account at ride's end will surely be most rewarding.
     
  8. bmore rex

    bmore rex Member

    Nice report, I can't wait to read the end result. Just curious, why did you sell your bike in Cambodia and not ride into Laos? I arrive in Oct and plan on buying a 125 in Han Oi, then spend 4-5 months riding through Vietnam-Laos-Cambodia-Thailand-Malaysia. I've read several blogs and spoke to a few people who did it very easily with a VN registered bike and some others had issues. Have you met others on your trip who are doing the same thing? What were their experiences? Thanks
     
  9. Hudsonian

    Hudsonian Member

    Brandon,
    Am currently in Da Lat,having started in Hanoi, heading to Saigon and then throught the delta to Cambodia on a bonus 125, specifically which border crossing, did you have VN blue card only, or did you have any other paperwork to get into Cambodia. If so will have to organise in Saigon, Your help appreciated.
    Hudson
     

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