Shipping a motorcycle between Peninsular Malaysia

Dec 11, 2003
Dear David,
my name is Wolfgang, I'm from Germany and currently travelling through SE Asia with my Yamaha XT600. Your website was very helpful with lots of valuable information when I planned my trip. I have now finished my 'south loop' from Bangkok to Malysia and Sumatra and am heading back north for northern Thailand, Laos and Cambodia. Since your website is the only one providing such information I want to pass my experiences to you (and so hopefully to the few bikers doing similar trips) allthough it's quite a distance from the original 'Golden Triangle'. It's about:


Shipping a motorcycle between Peninsular Malaysia and Sumatra

In contrary to what most maps show there is NO vehicle ferry between Malaysia and Sumatra operating. If one wants to bring a motorcycle it has to be shipped seperately by a cargo ship on which foreign passengers are in turn not allowed to travel (immigrations do not allow).
Therefore only two routes make sense on which passenger boats are available: Georgetown (Penang) / Belawan (Medan) or Melaka / Dumai.
The cargo ships in question are small ships used for barter trade (mostly fruits and vegetables) between both countries. A car can probably only be shipped on the Penang / Medan route since only there I saw any lifting gear at the ports. For Melaka the shipping port is Sungai Rambai, about 30km south and the ships are wooden riverboats which do not really look seaworthy (but the strait of Melaka are mostly quiet waters...).
Costs are around USD 100 for the Melaka / Dumai route, maybe a little more for Penang / Medan (I was definitely ripped off by Indonesian 'ferry agent' and paid USD 170 when leaving Sumatra under time pressure. In any case make sure to receive a proper receipt stating 'all charges and fees quai to quai prepaid' together with data to contact the agent on the opposite port.
Customs procedure is very straightforward on the Malaysian side but run also correct on the Indonesian side, just take a little bit longer (2hrs) at entry, provided you travel with a Carnet de Passage. Make sure all stamps are put into the proper sections since the authorities are not too familiar with this document. I had a couple of pages spoiled with erranious stamps followed by corrections, remarks and more stamps.
All ports are fenced in courtyards and seperated from public except in Dumai where no customs or police is present at the riverport 2km north of the city center. The local agent helps to visit the involved authorities to process the paperwork. Otherwise Dumai is quite a nightmare to stay with no reasonable accomodation available.

Helpful adresses:

Georgetown (Penang)
Fast Meridian SDN. BHD., Mr. Rohaizad Bin Osman
14-1, China Street, 10200 Penang
E-mail: [email [email protected]][email protected][/email] or [email [email protected]][email protected][/email]
or just ask at the Swettenham Port (thats where the Medan ferry calls)

Belawan (Medan)
P.T. Cakrawalakirana Rintisnusantara
no adress, directly contacted in the port area about 1km ahead of the ferry terminal
or ask around with the ferry travel agencies in Medan

Daud (proud owner of a 750cc Honda) from Kancil Guesthouse, 177 Jl. Parameswara, offers not only a safe place for your bike in his small garden but is also very helpful to arrange the transport (without charges).

PT. Dumai Sakti Mandiri
Mr. Yusrizal (or Mr. Munthe, speaks indonesian only)
Jl. Cempaka 03 (round the corner from Indomal ferry office in city center)
Ph. (Dumai) 36112


Further I contacted the Vietnamse embassy in Germany to check out about the official state regarding the cc-limit for foreign motorcycles.
Indeed the embassy confirmed that foreigners with a motorcycle bigger than 175cc are not allowed to enter the country. Reason is that for bigger bikes a national driving licence is required which in turn can only be obtained from vietnamese citizens.
So Vietnam is cancelled from my trip...

Sure enough I will visit you when beeing in Chiang Mai, looking forward to a chat if your time allows,

best regards,
Apr 10, 2012
EDIT - i just realised i replied to a 9 year old post.



thanks for all the info, I have made a post about a proposed trip which involves taking a Cambodia registered bike from Cambodia - thailand - malaysia - indonesia, if you have time, please feel free to make any comments:

Regarding taking a bike into Vietnam, two months ago I was told by a border official that it's actually a maximum of 150CC, not 175...