Photo: On the road to Banlung.

Motorbiking in Asia forum

Motorbiking in Asia

Posted by nodisitas on 29/7/2011 at 19:14

There are a lot of different, contradicting and, in particular, confusing stories on doing Asia by motorbike. Let me tell you this, it will stay confusing. You never know what you're gonna get. That's the deal. That's the adventure. I just a 40 day motor trip from Hanoi down to Saigon even further south to Ha Tien to cross the border into Cambodia, without any problems. They didn't even register the bike. Went on to Sihanoukville , Phnom Penh, and momentarily I landed in Siem Reap where I will be sending my bike.

- Hanoi: Anthony and Gabriel from Vietnam Motorbikes who's names have popped on numerous posts are good and reliable guys. Yes, their bikes tend to be a bit more expensive, however, they provide you with information before and support (translation at mechanic shop) during your trip.

-Saigon: Kevin who's name, too, appears in many posts, I would like to recommend. There are a lot of different opinions on him. Mine is that he is a fine guy. He helped me out and definitely took his to sort it all out for very good prices! Just don't screw with him.

-Border-crossing Vietnam-Cambodia at Ha Tien. No problem. I heard from most people that in general crossing borders is no problem. Try it, what to lose.

-Selling bike in Siem Reap, I wouldn't advise you to. I'm selling my Honda Win now for $120,- to a local guy, who is extremely happy, which makes me happy as well, but if want to go for the big bugs, Sihanoukville in Cambodia would be better.

-Buy backs are NEVER guaranteed!

-Only guarantee, though: your bike will break down at some point. From minor (e.g. flat tire) to bigger (e.g. engine problems). Nothing is unreaparable, nothing is really expensive. Garages are almost everywhere.

-Driving license: officially yes, but the police can't really be bothered. I got pulled over once, stupidly enough, because I didn't see the one way sign: fine $1,- no worries.

If you're hesitating to buy a bike and are a slightly/lot put off by all the stories I would advise get one. Don't worry about the money of the buy back. You're paying for an unforgettable experience to travel in real Asian style, have freedom, go off the beaten track and to return home both satisfied and with great stories to tell!

#1 nodisitas has been a member since 4/7/2011. Posts: 4

Posted by MADMAC on 30/7/2011 at 15:46

Good post. I have been riding all over Issan for four years now, and my experience is, of course, slightly different, but the principals have remained the same. I have paid two traffic tickets because my wife has a big mouth. Otherwise, I don't pay - ever.

Cops almost never check my license, and when I was riding on my international car license, that was good enough (also good enough to get my motorbike license).

I ride a small, but decent, bike which I bought new (Honda CBR 150). Obviously maintenance and service are not an issue, as they are guaranteed.

The one big caution for anyone riding out here is to remember that when it comes to driving, Southeast Asians are collectively morons. They don't know what right is. Their rules of the road are, there are no rules. There are some general guidelines which people may or may not follow. Expect incredibly stupid road behavior and you won't be surprised. Never anticipate that someone is going to do the right thing, as this is an easy way to have an accident. When other drivers are near, think about how they can possibly do something to endanger you and then be prepared for that action.

#2 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
 Send MADMAC a private message 


Posted by nodisitas on 30/7/2011 at 21:34

indeed forgot to write about the actual driving, haha. yeah it is definitely crazy. the one rule to keep in mind is to expect the crazy and unexpected moves to happen. try to go with the flow, keep your eyes open, don't panic. rest every 1-2hrs and don't get arrogant, when it's bigger, just move out of it's way. be cautious of winding mountain roads with sharp curves. stay as far on the side as possible as busses and trucks will drive in the middle in the road (as not to lose speed when driving up, or having to break to much coming down)

#3 nodisitas has been a member since 4/7/2011. Posts: 4

Posted by gabrielgodin on 5/8/2011 at 21:11

Posted from within Vietnam.

Hi Nodisitas
Hey, first, thanks a lot about the good comment about the bikes I sold you. That's cool for me and for people that you do a follow up as you did. I know the bikes weren't easy to sale in Cambodia, but that's just part of the game. I just had feedbeacks of people who got a surprisingly high price for their bikes in Shianoukville, maybe 2 weeks before I met you. Then, it all depends where exactly you sell your bike in Cambodia.
And man, I guess that the ride was far more rewarding by bike than by bus: not everyone is a sheep!
About the traffic, yeah it's crazy... and DANGEROUS. But risks are calculated, and as says Madmac, just keep your eyes open and predict the unpredictable. That's the best advice one could never give regarding the ridding style in South-East-Asia.

#4 gabrielgodin has been a member since 17/2/2011. Posts: 17

Posted by valery_silver on 13/1/2012 at 13:22

It was my first experience riding a motorbike, I ride only bikecycle before. I bought almost new Honda Wave Alpha 2011 release in HCMC for $ 500. Crazy Saigon's traffic not scared me so much. Half an hour later I learned driving in a street flow. Big problem at first was switching speeds clearly.
Leaving HCMC in the evening, I passed Bavet Cambodia border, where the border guards did not show any interest to me nor to my bike. At 1:00 am I rode in Neak Loeang, where I had to wait until 5 am, when the ferry was opened (I thought that there bridge!). By morning I was in Phnom Penh.
Then there were stops in wonderful towns - Kampong Chhnang and Battambang. Three days later, I arrived at Poi Pet, where the Thai customs denied me the opportunity to go to Thailand with the Vietnamese motorbike. Then I turned around and went to Siem Reap, where the next day I sold my Honda to owner of one of the local motoshops for $ 250.
Thus, without driver's license and driving experience, but armed with common sense, observation and attention, I overcame 800 kilometers for 4 days, has learned very well to drive a motorbike, riding in a street crowd and saw a lot of interesting places. I wish the same for other novice riders!

#5 valery_silver has been a member since 11/12/2011. Posts: 13

Posted by sayadian on 13/1/2012 at 22:52

Got to endorse what you all say about riding here.It's pure madness at times but there is a form of logic in it.At first I tried to drive with European values in mind but now I've learnt you've got to go witht he flow. I no longer wait for a gap in the traffic to turn left (we drive on the right) i just do as the locals and edge across the oncoming traffic.Grab any gap in the road, nobody politely waits for the traffic to move you just push up as far as you can.Coming back from Sihanoukville the other day was terrifying though.They just overtake regardless of the fact you're in their way so I anticipate the overtaking and slow down so I can get onto the dirt at the side of the road safely.I have to say there is no excuse for this in any culture, forcing someone off the road because you are bigger is downright dangerous and disrespectful of human life.I hate to think how I'm going to readjust when I drive in Europe because if I did what I do here I'd be jailed.

#6 sayadian has been a member since 15/1/2008. Posts: 1,557
 Send sayadian a private message 

Posted by MADMAC on 14/1/2012 at 02:10

"I hate to think how I'm going to readjust when I drive in Europe because if I did what I do here I'd be jailed."

Don't go back and you won't have to adjust.

#7 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
 Send MADMAC a private message 

Posted by sayadian on 14/1/2012 at 04:10

Madmac
Unfortunately I have to sometimes.
Do you think anybody in Asia could actually pass a Western style driving test?

#8 sayadian has been a member since 15/1/2008. Posts: 1,557
 Send sayadian a private message 

Posted by MADMAC on 14/1/2012 at 04:41

Not many.

#9 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
 Send MADMAC a private message 

Posted by sayadian on 14/1/2012 at 04:52

At least I noticed a certain amount of lane discipline in Bangkok.here in Phnom Penh they don't even always drive on the correct side of the road.I'm going out later.it's Saturday night and the kamikazee drivers will be out in force.Mirrors are for sqeezing your zits or combing your hair.I don't think the concept of using them to see benind you has ever occured to them.
At least I can have a few beers without the fear of being breathylised.
It's also illegal to have your bike lights on in the day but it's no problem to have no lights at night.

#10 sayadian has been a member since 15/1/2008. Posts: 1,557
 Send sayadian a private message 

Posted by Asiarider on 15/1/2012 at 20:48

Hi rider fellows, really interesting to read your comments. We have done bit harder trips from Singapore up to Cambodia and HCMC. Well, first think is that we are rinding with big bikes e.g. BMW and Harleys. Yes really. Second thing is that everything is possible, but can be really expensive on custom (vietnam) if you have white people on group like I am actually. I am from North Europe.

But anyway, I know some places is Singapore where you can rent a BIG bikes and ride in Singapore, go over border to Malaysia or heading up to north. No problem, just do it. If you need more information, then just google Big Loud Rides Singapore.

We are just now planning to ride from Singapore to HCMC at April. Paper work is going on already.

I wish you a nice rides!

#11 Asiarider has been a member since 23/11/2011. Posts: 6


Posted by sayadian on 15/1/2012 at 21:55

Totally endorse your comments.i found it hard going on my 100cc mainly because i didn't have the power to stay ahead of the heavy transport.I breathed a lot of black diesel on that trip from Phnom Penh-kampot-Sihanoukville-Phnom Penh.

#12 sayadian has been a member since 15/1/2008. Posts: 1,557
 Send sayadian a private message 

Posted by sayadian on 16/1/2012 at 08:18

Just got back from eating out.On the way bay back this idiot tried to hurtle out of a side street to turn right and into my path with no lights on.I didn't see him but my girlfriend spotted him and instinctively gave him a swinging punch which sent him crashing into a hoarding.Without her quick thinking I think we would have all been mincemeat.There are so many idiots out here but this time one idiot got his comeuppance.Strike One!

#13 sayadian has been a member since 15/1/2008. Posts: 1,557
 Send sayadian a private message 

Posted by Criggy on 22/2/2012 at 09:32

Just wanted to thank you all for your posts here, especially nodisitas for starting this thread with a very helpful post. I'm planning a trip from Hanoi through Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Thailand for 9 weeks by bike next month and i've enjoyed reading your posts!
I will certainly keep my wits about me, and watch out for crazy riders (including those riding on the back of a motorbike who throw a punch at people in their way, sending them flying off the road!)

#14 Criggy has been a member since 21/2/2012. Posts: 13

Posted by TonyM on 25/5/2012 at 22:46

Criggy keen to hear the route youve planned to do Sth East Asia in 9 weeks, Ive been told its not long enough to cover tyhat amount of ground, I too plan to do this next year and cover the same countries, whats your plan?

#15 TonyM has been a member since 22/5/2012. Posts: 31

Posted by ChristianCinel on 21/9/2012 at 02:23

Hey,
Great advice, very positive.
Before you went over, did you organise the bike or did you not worry until there to look for one?

Also, is it worth getting an international license or not?

#16 ChristianCinel has been a member since 20/9/2012. Posts: 4

Posted by MADMAC on 21/9/2012 at 04:53

"did you organise the bike"

This is interesting verbiage. Just out of curiousity Christian, where are you from (which country).

#17 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
 Send MADMAC a private message 

Posted by ChristianCinel on 21/9/2012 at 06:58

Haha, I am from Australian Madmac, near Melbourne . Yourself? Do you just expect to find fair priced bikes there ?

#18 ChristianCinel has been a member since 20/9/2012. Posts: 4

Posted by MADMAC on 21/9/2012 at 08:23

I didn't mean the idea, I meant the verbiage. I would have said "Before you went over did you arrange for the purchase of the bike..." as oppossed to "organized". I've never heard organized used in this context. That's what I was curious about.

I'm from the US.

#19 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
 Send MADMAC a private message 

Posted by ChristianCinel on 21/9/2012 at 20:16

Madmac, with respect, I don't care how you would phrase it. I didn't come to this forum for grammar advice, but travel advice .

#20 ChristianCinel has been a member since 20/9/2012. Posts: 4

Posted by clayinAsia on 22/9/2012 at 03:29

Posted from within Vietnam.

To all those concerned contact Vietnam-Motorbikes in Hanoi. This is the longest running foreign owned motorbike garage in Hanoi, and it is mint. These guys offer amazing bikes fully rebuilt and including everything you need. The shop is run by an American guy who has lived in SE Asia for years and he knows his ****. Not only that they are very honest and seem to genuinely care about not only the bikes but about people. Clay even drove me to a special comp engineer when my iPhone died. But check their facebook page: vietnam motorbikes if you don't believe me the have pics of hundreds of happy customers. Also their web site is a bit out dated but full of good info. I reccomend contacting them before you arrive because they're always busy and their bikes sell out quickly becuase they are so good. Amongst those in the now these are the guys to see about biking in Vietnam.

#21 clayinAsia has been a member since 25/8/2012. Posts: 4

Posted by MADMAC on 22/9/2012 at 07:39

Not advice Christian, it just caught mt attention. I have only ever heard "organize" used in this way by Germans. I just wanted to know if that usage is common in Australia or not. Just a side note, as it caught my eye. Not a correction - rather a question.

#22 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
 Send MADMAC a private message 

Posted by hanlewis1990 on 14/2/2013 at 18:28

Can you hire helmets when you hire the bikes? And is there an lower age limit of pillion passangers? (that you know of?)

thanks for anyone with answers :)

#23 hanlewis1990 has been a member since 14/2/2013. Posts: 4
 Where has hanlewis1990 been? 

Posted by Duxnuts on 12/7/2013 at 04:52

Great post! I bought a motorbike in Phnom Penh and rode around Cambodia for a month. Was the best experience I have ever had. Just so much to see and you aren't limited by buses etc. I took a dirt rode off the highway to a temple near Kampong Tong, was there with one other couple in a 4WD. If you are thinking about it just do it!

I am making making videos of my ride around Cambodia but have only done Phnom Penh so far. Link below if you are interested.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LPFKAAMHMtY

#24 Duxnuts has been a member since 1/7/2013. Posts: 10

Posted by MADMAC on 13/7/2013 at 07:40

"And is there an lower age limit of pillion passangers? (that you know of?)"

In Thailand you have to be at least one hour old to ride on a bike. Can't speak for the others.

#25 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
 Send MADMAC a private message 

Posted by LeonardCohen1 on 16/7/2013 at 11:28

"Do you think anybody in Asia could actually pass a Western style driving test?"

Just a matter of training and what you're used to.

#26 LeonardCohen1 has been a member since 24/7/2012. Posts: 2,148
 Send LeonardCohen1 a private message 

Posted by vishan123 on 16/9/2013 at 06:22

great post ,i would like to ask where is better place for biking in India?

#27 vishan123 has been a member since 14/9/2013. Posts: 1


Please login to add a reply

You need to be a Travelfish member to be able to add a reply to this post. Please use the button below to log in. After logging in you'll be returned to this page automatically to add your post. Not a member? Join up here.