Thailand Back To Singapore Through Malaysia

sgBikerBoy

sgBikerBoy.com
May 30, 2016
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The sgBikerBoy 2016 Trip – Day 46
The sgBikerBoy 2016 Trip – Day 46
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05 Aug 2016, Friday. Border crossing day. Will be heading into Malaysia this morning. I didn’t like Hat Yai very much. Not that there was anything wrong with the town. It was just that after visiting the other places in Thailand (and Laos, and Cambodia,) Hat Yai just wasn’t too exciting. Many Singaporeans making their way into Thailand or beyond typically make Hat Yai their first night stop before punching further up north.

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Day 46 – Hat Yai, Thailand to Penang, Malaysia.

When I first reached Chiang Mai some weeks back, I met a couple living there at a motorcycle accessories shop. They were preparing to ride into Indonesia on a multi-week trip, but doing it slowly. So we’ve exchange facebook contacts, and have sort of kept lightly in touch since.

While facebook surfing the night before, I realised that the couple was in Georgetown, Penang! So I contacted them both, and made arrangements to meet up for lunch in Penang.

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Goodbye Thailand! It has been an amazing trip!

Sadao (Thailand) – Bukit Kayu Hitam (Malaysia) Border Crossing

Crossing from Sadao into Bukit Kayu Hitam was painless. Sadao seem to have started operating from their new immigration building. It was definitely there (couldn’t have sprung up overnight), but I didn’t remember seeing the new immigration building, and definitely remembered using the old immigration booths.

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The new immigration complex in Sadao, Thailand.

Rode up to the immigration booth, got my passport exit stamp, surrendered my TM2 and TM4 (motorcycle “immigration”) forms and scooted ahead. Reached the customs counter just about 15m ahead, stopped by the roadside and surrendered my motorcycle customs form.

All done within 2 minutes. No fees.

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Selamat datang ke Malaysia! (Welcome to Malaysia!)

It was even simpler on the Malaysia side. Got my passport stamped at the immigration counter and off I went! No queues, no fuss, no fees. And before long, I entered into very familiar territories. You see, Singapore borders Peninsular Malaysia on the south and I make rather frequent trips into Malaysia. And so it *almost* felt like home the moment I crossed the border of Bukit Kayu Hitam.

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Familiar highway postings on the Malaysian highway.

Just before I crossed the border, I recalled that Malaysia (and Singapore) is 1 hour ahead of Bangkok time. I had arranged to meet Michel and Pim at “11’oclock”. While my GPS suggested that I should arrive in Georgetown by 1030h, it really was 1130h in Malaysia! I just lost 1 hour by crossing the border! Michel needed to do a slightly early lunch as he needed to visit the Thai embassy in Penang at 2pm to get some visa matters sorted.

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Lunch with Michel and his wife, Pim. I introduced them to Bah Kut Teh – pork rib soup. It is always so nice to meet fellow motorcycle travellers, and definitely very nice to meet them again!

After lunch, I headed to the Givi shop in Penang. The right side of my E22N pannier broke when I fell in northern Laos. I’ve been keeping it together with a tie-down strap since then. And since there was a Givi shop here, I thought I’ll head over to get a replacement box for my broken one.

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The Givi shop in Georgetown, Penang.

I love my Givi E22N panniers. They’re large enough to keep my stuff but slim enough to maintain lane splitting abilities. I’ve reviewed them herewhen I got them in May this year.

But for the purpose of this tour, the E22’s were a little too small. I wished I had larger side boxes for touring. So when I got there, I asked the Givi Guy if there were anything that’s bigger for touring, but still able to fit the existing mounts I have. I wanted the ability to swap the E22N’s to something larger when I tour, and then back to the E22N again when I’m in commuter mode.

And I ended up with a set of these…

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Givi E36N’s on my Pulsar 200NS. With these slapped on, my Pulsar 200NS is now officially a BIG BIKE.

The E36N’s look like hard shell travelling luggages slapped to the side of my motorcycle. Way, way, way more storage space than the E22N’s. Reduced lane-splitting abilities in exchange for a lot more storage. The Givi Guy also took the time to readjust my mounting brackets and installed an additional horizontal brace bar. He commented that the existing installation appeared to be a shady job – definitely NOT from a Givi authorised dealer. After the Givi modification, my pannier brackets are now significantly sturdier.

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While waiting for Givi to adjust my pannier brackets, I had a long chat with Leonard – a fellow motorcycle adventurer in Penang.

After the acquisition, I headed back to the hotel to link up with Michel and Pim again. We had agreed to do dinner together. Michel was yearning for some hamburger and we went to Penang Times Square to get him some.

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Michel insisted to buy me dinner. Thanks for the wonderful food AND especially company, Michel and Pim!

Goodbye Thailand. Hello Malaysia.
 

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sgBikerBoy

sgBikerBoy.com
May 30, 2016
103
29
28
Singapore
www.sgBikerBoy.com
The sgBikerBoy 2016 Trip – Day 47
The sgBikerBoy 2016 Trip – Day 47
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06 Aug 2016, Saturday. I got a room in the same hotel as Michel and Pim. And after breakfast, we got ready to leave Georgetown, Penang. Michel and Pim will be heading north into Thailand via Sadao. And for me, southbound. And to think about it, when we last met, they were southbound while I was heading north.

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We had to take this group shot before we parted! Their two Thai-registered Honda CB500x flanking my Pulsar 200NS.

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One more shot before we hit the road.

All vehicles getting into Penang island need to pay toll – including motorcycles. You could either take one of the 2 bridges across from mainland to Penang, or, like Michel and Pim, take the ferry. Either way, there’s cost involved (RM2, I think). But getting out of Penang island to the mainland Peninsular Malaysia is free – even for the ferry ride! So because I came to Penang via the bridge, I thought I’d join the 2 of them on the ferry to get back to mainland.

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Taking the ferry from Penang to mainland Peninsular Malaysia.

After bidding farewell to Michel and Pim, I travelled south towards the town of Ipoh for lunch.

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Lunch in Ipoh – chicken, bean sprouts, rice. RM15 including a glass of iced barley. Pricey!

I’ve never been to Ipoh, so I took the opportunity to circle around town and explored the place. Nothing interested me. And I was started to perspire crazily. Malaysia’s and Singapore’s weather is hot AND humid. The heat may still be bearable, but the high humidity prevents the perspiration from evaporating – making it feel hotter than it really it. It was getting really uncomfortable, so I decided to head to the nearby Cameron Highlands to escape the heat.

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Day 47’s route. Penang – Ipoh – Cameron Highlands.

Approximately 1,500m above sea level, Cameron Highlands is known for it’s cool weather, resorts, strawberries and tea production.

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Hand-made lavender flavoured ice cream.

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You shouldn’t come to Cameron Highlands without sampling their locally produced tea.

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The view of the tea plantation while enjoying my cup of tea with a slice of apple pie topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Ahhh…

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Another view of the tea plantation in Cameron Highlands.

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Tea plantation viewpoint.

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The town in Cameron Highlands.

You know how sailors, after sailing for months in the open sea, get excited when they spot birds in the air? It means that land is somewhere near. Similarly, I got really excited when riding around town, I spotted a few groups of motorcycles with Singapore plates. It means that I’m not too far away from home.

Seem like these Singaporeans are here to escape the heat too. I passed a group of some 8 to 10 Singapore-registered riders on their big bikes, and waved excitedly at them. And then…..NONE of them waved back.

“Such snobs!” I thought to myself.

And then, it suddenly dawned on me that because I’m not that far from home, sighting a Singapore-registered motorcycle in Cameron Highlands is not so special at all. Awww….

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Got some local strawberries for after-dinner desserts. Not as sweet as I hoped, but very, very succulent.
 

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sgBikerBoy

sgBikerBoy.com
May 30, 2016
103
29
28
Singapore
www.sgBikerBoy.com
The sgBikerBoy 2016 Trip – Day 48
The sgBikerBoy 2016 Trip – Day 48
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07 Aug 2016, Sunday. I woke up this morning freezing under my sheets. And there was no air-conditioning! What happened was that I had turned the fan on last evening, and since the oscillation wasn’t working, it was pointed directly at me. The temperatures up here in Cameron Highlands dip to the low 20’s deg celcius at night, and can get quite cold.

I had initially planned to head towards Bukit Tinggi today – somewhere near Genting Highlands. I’m not sure if it was the cumulative toil of the journey or the descent, but when I got to the foot of Cameron Highlands, I felt really, really exhausted. Travelling on a fully luggage-loaded small cc motorcycle on a winding mountain pass is not fun. Also, my tires are reaching their end of life and I didn’t dare lean into the curve as much as I would have liked.

In this condition, I was certain that I wasn’t in the condition to make the climb up to Bukit Tinggi. So, I decided to head to Malacca instead.

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Day 48 route – Cameron Highlands to Malacca. Decided not to head to Bukit Tinggi as I was feeling exhausted after the descent.

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On the way down from Cameron Highlands, I passed Hutan Lipur Lata Iskandar – waterfall.

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This waterfall wasn’t on my GPS. So it came as a surprise to me.

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There’s no entrance fee to this waterfall. I just love Malaysia.

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Welcome to Malacca!

I’ve been to Malacca (also known as Melaka in Malay) many times. At some 240km from Singapore, it’s near enough to make a day trip there, and I used to drive up to Malacca over the weekend and then back to Singapore on the same day.

Listed in 2008, Malacca is one of two historic cities in Malaysia listed in UNESCO. The other being George Town, where I was at a just 2 days back.

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A Famosa in Malacca – the remains of the Portuguese fort in Malacca.

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A Famosa fort. The canons don’t look original to me. Probably replica props to give the area a little more realism.

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The propeller plane relic in Coronation Park, just a couple of steps away from A Famosa fort.

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An old locomotive on display. They turned this into a tourist shop of some sort – selling touristy memorabilia INSIDE the cabin.

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I’m merely 238km from home! That’s the famous Red Church of Malacca in the background.

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Jonker Walk is the epicentre of Malacca where the 2 most important activities take place – shopping and eating. This street turns into a walking night market in the evening.

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Late lunch – a bowl of Nonya Laksa (curry noodles cooked in Nonya style).

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You shouldn’t miss the iced-dessert Nonya Chendol when in Malacca. The brown sauce is made of palm sugar (gula melaka), and although visually un-enticing, tastes really really good!

I suspect it must be the humidity and heat; or perhaps due to the ride down from Cameron Highlands; or maybe it’s the cumulative fatigue that has been building up over the past few weeks of travelling, I was feeling really, really, exhausted. So I went for a Thai massage – it cost TWICE as much here in Malaysia (50 MYR) as it is in Thailand (200 THB). But I really needed one.

I went back to my room and slept like a log. Having visited Malacca a few times before, I knew that I wasn’t missing much. Malacca is also near enough to Singapore that I’m almost certain I’ll re-visit again in the not-too-distance future.
 

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sgBikerBoy

sgBikerBoy.com
May 30, 2016
103
29
28
Singapore
www.sgBikerBoy.com
The sgBikerBoy 2016 Trip – Day 49
The sgBikerBoy 2016 Trip – Day 49
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08 Aug 2016, Monday. I didn’t want to wake up this morning. No, it wasn’t because of the “end of holiday” syndrome, but my entire body was aching. For the first time in a very long while (and the first time on this trip), I lay in bed until 9am. The hotel’s breakfast was from 7am to 10am. So I knew I was gonna miss breakfast if I didn’t pull myself out of bed. So reluctantly, I dragged myself out of bed, washed up, got changed, and headed downstairs to fill my stomach.

While at breakfast, a mild, throbbing headache started developing. “Oh, oh. Not good.” I said to myself. I recognised the signs. I think I’m falling ill soon. Being only 240km away from home, it wasn’t difficult to decide my destination for today.

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Day 49 – Malacca to Singapore! Homecoming!

But before heading out of Malacca, I stopped by a local Kawasaki Service Stop to get my engine oil changed. Well, I *could* have made my way back home without the oil change, but the gearshifts were beginning to feel rough, and as I was carrying the oil with me (what’s leftover from the previous oil change), I wanted to lighten my load. I supplied my own engine oil and oil filter. RM10 for the labour.

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I was quite amused by this advertisement. I think it’s promoting some beauty product. A very interesting choice of model there. Kekek.

And after some 2.5 hours of riding, I reached the Johor Bahru (Malaysia) – Woodlands (Singapore) border. No pics, and I won’t bother describing the process. It’s very neat, very organised, and easy-peasy with zero border corruption. And since Singapore is so small, it took just a mere 25 mins from the border to reach home.

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sgBikerBoy 2016 SE Asia Tour Stats. 49 days, 11,130kms, 6 countries, 9 border crossings, 48 refuel stops, 2 bike drops, 1 engine breakdown, 3 other minor bike issues, 4 ferry crossings, 2 underwater dives, ∞ bugs killed, and One AMAZING experience!

I got home just in time for National Day (09 Aug) – Singapore’s independence day. It means alot to me as I’ve never missed a National Day in Singapore, and I certainly didn’t want to spend this National Day in another country.

49 days, 11,000kms, 6 countries and 1 AMAZING experience!

The sgBikerBoy 2016 SE Asia Tour. Welcome home.
 

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sgBikerBoy

sgBikerBoy.com
May 30, 2016
103
29
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Singapore
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BONUS EDITION - 3D2N Road Trip to KL and the 2 Nearby Highlands

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Yes! I’m on the road again! And yes! It’s with the Pulsar 200NS!

I know that this post should really be a separate thread. But I reckon since it was less than a week from my "epic trip", and that the places I visit here are really those that I had intended to cover in my recent tour, but missed them because I wasn't feeling too well and wanted to head home quickly, I figured that I'll just post this as a "BONUS EDITION" to my road report. =)

Anyway, I had some business to perform in Kuala Lumpur and since I’d be travelling alone, I decided to take the bike instead of the car. And after the eventful low battery situation, getting stranded by stalling my engine and the good samaritan who saved my day, I’m on the Malaysian North-South Highway (NSHW), again.

And I’m glad I did. Because, at approximately 230km from KL, there was a really bad accident. A container truck from the opposite direction had lodged itself onto the middle divider and turned on its side. The cabin looked quite smashed up. And traffic from the opposite direction were directed onto this side of the road – I suspect to facilitate emergency vehicles to access the accident site quicker. But all these mean one thing – massive jam. I suspect that it’ll take at least an hour or two to clear the jam. And thankfully, the bike was nimble enough to squeeze through the traffic, and I still managed to travel at somewhat freeway speeds on the shoulder.

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Lunch at A&W, Ayer Keroh.

I found a nice hotel at Ipoh Road, called, unsurprisingly, Ipoh Road Hotel, and got a room for 1 person for 1 night at RM69. They’re brand new, and have only opened for 2 months. Very cheap, very nice, very clean – highly recommended if you happen to be around the area.

Exactly like how my very recent SE Asia Tour started with a “since I’m in the area, why don’t I also head to….”, and since I was in KL, I thought it’ll be a great opportunity to visit some of the places I missed in my recent trip – because I was feeling a little ill and decided to head back to Singapore instead. So after sorting out all my admin matters on Monday, I then headed to…

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Bajaya Hills Resort!

Colmar Tropical is a French-themed resort up in Bajaya Hills Resort in Bukit Tinggi. It’s high’ish altitude means cool weather – very welcoming! Entrance fee to the area – RM15.

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Welcome to Colmar Tropicale!

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The main fountain in Colmar Tropicale.

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The entrance to Colmar Tropicale.

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These colourful horses greeted me at the entrance.

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A group of local muslim girls posing for a photo.

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The signature photo viewpoint of Colmar Tropicale, taken from the top of the tower.

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How could I miss a selfie moment here!

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Some of the activities you can do in the area.

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While I was having lunch, this group came over and kept me entertained.

So after lunch, I left Colmar Tropicale and headed to the nearby Japanese Village – also within Bajaya Hills.

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Japanese Village – 3,500ft about sea level and a cool weather. Perfect environment for eating ice-cream – it doesn’t melt too quickly.

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The Japanese Village.

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I think this mini-fall is man-made.

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The Botanical Garden in Bukit Tinggi. Nothing to shout about. Very small and can be covered in 10mins.

I needed a place to stay for the night and tried asking the hotel reception at Colmar Tropicale for its room rate. RM267 a night. Gulp! An although I loved the cool weather here, there’s no way I’m paying that price.

So, I had an idea…

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I headed to Genting Highlands instead!

I’ve always loved Genting Highlands. No – I don’t gamble. But I love the cool weather due to its high altitude and the cheap (and really nice) rooms, subsidised by the folks heading to the casinos there.

Although Genting Highlands is about 6km away from Bukit Tinggi on a straight-line distance, the winding mountainous roads run for about 40km and it takes approximately 1hr to get here. But the roads up to Genting Highlands is amazing. Although the climb is steep, the roads are dual-, and sometimes triple-carriageways, which means you don’t have to get stuck behind a slow running truck or heavy vehicle.

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XYZ Deluxe room in First World Hotel. RM67 a night. Tip – the walk-in rates are cheaper than the online rates.

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I didn’t realise that First World Hotel is the World’s Largest Hotel.

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The entrance to one of the casinos here. Nah, I don’t like the odds and so casino’s aren’t really my thing.

So 1 night in Kuala Lumpur, and another night in Genting Highlands. This should finally (really) conclude the sgBikerBoy 2016 SE Asia Tour. I wonder when will my next motorcycle tour be?

P.S. I just found out that there's a VERY NEW 1,360km highway linking India to Thailand through Myanmar called the, unsurprisingly, India-Myanmar-Thailand Trilateral Highway. And from 01 Dec this year, Singapore passport holders do NOT require a visa to enter Myanmar. I just hope Myanmar starts relaxing its rules on overland entry via motorcycles. Hmmm....... I think I just got an idea for my next ride.... =)
 

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Moto-Rex

Moderator
Jan 5, 2008
944
286
63
Great report sgBikerBoy. 11130kms of fun and games. What a ride, and the bike only dropped twice.:eek:
Ive never heard of Colmar Tropicale, what a classic, Europe in Asia.
Now its time to plan your next trip.;)
Thanks for sharing your adventure, well done.
Moto-Rex
 

Jimenator

Ol'Timer
Jul 5, 2016
56
11
8
Thailand
Great trip reports. Just one thing about the Singaporean passport visa exemption into Myanmar, according to my immigration contact, that's only valid for entries into Myanmar by air. By land, you will still require a visa, but luckily, 3 out of the 4 land border crossing points from Thailand accept the e-visa, which you can apply for online and it is almost always approved the same day you apply (provided it's a weekday) with the confirmation letter sent to your email.

Since the e-visa system entered into force, no Asean nationality that previously got 14 days visa free at the Thai land borders can avail themselves of visa-free entry anymore. It only applies to entry and exit by air.

Unfortunately still no changes to the law requiring advance permission and a guide to enter Myanmar by car or motorcycle but the process is becoming more straightforward and streamlined, though this largely depends on which travel agent you apply through.

The so-called trilateral highway is nothing more than "clickbait" at this stage. A highway linking the Thai border at Myawady (or Myawaddy) to the Indian border at Tamu already exists and is in fairly good condition for the most part, with the 45km Myawady to Kawkareik bypass road greatly reducing travel time to the plains compared to the old road. The next 90km stretch to Hpa-an is narrow and not in the best shape, but is slated for upgrading soon.

After Hpa-an, it's good all the way to Mandalay. Not sure how the road from Mandalay to Tamu is as I've never been there, but I have heard it's in fair condition and currently being upgraded.

I read in an Indian publication sometime last year about a plan to build this "trilateral highway" with all traffic traveling on the left hand side of the road, as in Thailand and India, which the Myanmar government has agreed upon. Should this be the case, then obviously a brand new, dedicated road would need to be built. So far there is no evidence there is such a plan, only the existing road is being upgraded but as it's a road shared by both local and long distance traffic, there is no way traffic on this road would drive on a different lane to the rest of the country, including adjacent roads branching off from the existing road. Such a bizarre arrangement couldn't possibly work - only a dedicated, fenced off road would.

I wouldn't put my bet on this much hyped up "trilateral highway" becoming a reality anytime soon. It's probably nothing more than a marketing gimmick.

If it does happen first of all, Thailand would need to allow Indian vehicles in without a permit, while India would need to drop their carnet requirement. Even more importantly, Myanmar would need to allow unrestricted transit of traffic through it's territory and thus drop their advance notice, tour and guide requirements. Also, India needs to upgrade its highways all the way to Kolkata, given the state of infrastructure in their north-eastern states, I can't imagine this highway would attract much interest from logistics firms or even tourists, given the vast distances, long travel times and bad roads along the way.

For us adventurous motorcyclists though, it may well be quite a dream.
 
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sgBikerBoy

sgBikerBoy.com
May 30, 2016
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Great trip reports. Just one thing about the Singaporean passport visa exemption into Myanmar, according to my immigration contact, that's only valid for entries into Myanmar by air. By land, you will still require a visa, but luckily, 3 out of the 4 land border crossing points from Thailand accept the e-visa, which you can apply for online and it is almost always approved the same day you apply (provided it's a weekday) with the confirmation letter sent to your email.

Since the e-visa system entered into force, no Asean nationality that previously got 14 days visa free at the Thai land borders can avail themselves of visa-free entry anymore. It only applies to entry and exit by air.

Unfortunately still no changes to the law requiring advance permission and a guide to enter Myanmar by car or motorcycle but the process is becoming more straightforward and streamlined, though this largely depends on which travel agent you apply through.

The so-called trilateral highway is nothing more than "clickbait" at this stage. A highway linking the Thai border at Myawady (or Myawaddy) to the Indian border at Tamu already exists and is in fairly good condition for the most part, with the 45km Myawady to Kawkareik bypass road greatly reducing travel time to the plains compared to the old road. The next 90km stretch to Hpa-an is narrow and not in the best shape, but is slated for upgrading soon.

After Hpa-an, it's good all the way to Mandalay. Not sure how the road from Mandalay to Tamu is as I've never been there, but I have heard it's in fair condition and currently being upgraded.

I read in an Indian publication sometime last year about a plan to build this "trilateral highway" with all traffic traveling on the left hand side of the road, as in Thailand and India, which the Myanmar government has agreed upon. Should this be the case, then obviously a brand new, dedicated road would need to be built. So far there is no evidence there is such a plan, only the existing road is being upgraded but as it's a road shared by both local and long distance traffic, there is no way traffic on this road would drive on a different lane to the rest of the country, including adjacent roads branching off from the existing road. Such a bizarre arrangement couldn't possibly work - only a dedicated, fenced off road would.

I wouldn't put my bet on this much hyped up "trilateral highway" becoming a reality anytime soon. It's probably nothing more than a marketing gimmick.

If it does happen first of all, Thailand would need to allow Indian vehicles in without a permit, while India would need to drop their carnet requirement. Even more importantly, Myanmar would need to allow unrestricted transit of traffic through it's territory and thus drop their advance notice, tour and guide requirements. Also, India needs to upgrade its highways all the way to Kolkata, given the state of infrastructure in their north-eastern states, I can't imagine this highway would attract much interest from logistics firms or even tourists, given the vast distances, long travel times and bad roads along the way.

For us adventurous motorcyclists though, it may well be quite a dream.

Yeah, I realised that overland border crossing into Myanmar still requires a visa application for Singaporeans. Bummer.... But any development is good. Although I'm not expecting Myanmar to fully open up anytime soon, I'm still holding the hope (wish, dream, fantasy...) of them opening up one day. After my SE Asian tour last year, I doubt the missus would be too willing to let me on another one anytime so soon anyway.