Photo: On the road to Banlung.

Motorbiking in Asia forum

'Importing' a Vietnamese bike (in Viet name) into Thailand?

Posted by Bonny_Ricardo on 7/9/2011 at 13:23

Posted from within Vietnam.

Ok, so I've been in Vietnam (Bien Hoa) for 4 months now teaching, and I'm definitely ready to leave.
Having rode motorcycles since I was 15 of all shapes and sizes, I really have to do a long trip on my uprated SYM Bonus. I've had it almost the full 4 months, and slowly got it working spot on, and can fix everything on it myself quickly and happily. A joy to work on, in fact.
To that end, I'm fairly attached to it, and having lived in Thailand for a year before now, I want to try my hand at getting some work in Chiang Mai teaching for the doss term before I head on to Australia to do some blue-collar work.

As I mentioned, I'm fairly sick of Vietnam, and the thought of sticking it another month dicing with the lunatic traffic is not ideal (but I know I'll regret not doing it). About the only place I actually want to see is Hue.

So, my current route looks like it will be Bien Hoa - Dalat - Kon Tum - Hoi An - Danang - Hue... Then the Dansavan border to Laos. Which will no doubt slap my passport with the 'leave the country with this bike or face the $1000 wrath'.

A) What happens if the bike is stolen/irreparably explodes?
B) If I then ride up north, revisit Vang Vieng (shits and giggles, I worked there for a month just before Vietnam), then cross back into Thailand at Nong Khai...

What will the Thais hit me with?

I can speak fairly good Thai, so should come off fairly well, but does anyone know how strict they are? I remember Mukdahan has a slightly friendlier border, and I can certainly cope without revisiting Vang Vieng.

Obviously I want to either keep the bike, or get a few hundred dollars selling it somewhere. But dipping back into Vietnam just to ride to Hanoi to sell it will be a ballache (and all told, an extra $75-100 in visas, plus I'd want to fly from Ha Noi to Chiang Mai/Bangkok (BKK to Chiang Mai bus from Mochit is less than $25, so I'd check the cost difference).

Any advice from the gurus?

TL;DR - Taking a Viet bike in Viet name through Laos and into Thailand LONG TERM... Possible?

#1 Bonny_Ricardo has been a member since 7/9/2011. Posts: 9

Posted by johnysac on 15/9/2011 at 03:16

Posted from within Vietnam.

I know of few that have done it no problem how ever the new thai goverment is putting in visa restrictions on overland travel so i have heard .Last year i rode a susuki gn 125 out to bangkok and then back to saigon with no probs apart from a cambodian cop demanding nearly 50 bucks for nothing . basicly a legal mugging but i payed and had no more trouble
Cross out of vietnam at small boder posts not main bus routes Raven has some customers
doing the same trip as you leaving this week . He told me this just now on the phone so call him and maybe he will put you in touch with them They will be the best people to inform you


#2 johnysac has been a member since 25/10/2009. Posts: 71

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Posted by Bonny_Ricardo on 15/9/2011 at 09:40

Yeh, I'm aware of the joys of 'legal mugging'.

I have always got my Visas in advance for Thailand from (of all places), the Hull consulate in England. Always had a letter of employment in advance. This is my first time doing it as a usual 'backpacker'.

Is Raven a member on here?

My main concern is the bike is NOT in my name, I have no titles on it, my plastic motorcycle license was stolen in Bangkok and my paper one has disappeared into the ether...

Obviously I don't want to be stamped out of one country, only to be refused entry from the next...

Also, is there much to see in Southern Laos? Mukdahan is a much smaller/less white border than Nong Khai, so I could always go through there instead, and then I'm home free in Thailand.

But, I'll also want (for all intents and purposes), permanent import. Does this just mean I chuck someone some money and they 'forget' to stamp it in?

#3 Bonny_Ricardo has been a member since 7/9/2011. Posts: 9

Posted by Bonny_Ricardo on 15/9/2011 at 11:13

Ah ha, worked out who you meant by Raven. I just phoned him and actually got to talk to the girl (didn't catch her name) organising the trip who I think you talked to as well.

Lots of good advice (go at noon, ask to check other end etc). Looks like my biggest issue is the tourist visa to Thailand. Arse balls.

Seems they have changed the rules to make it completely untenable. Knowing Thailand fairly well, it's possible it will have all gone back to normal soon after they realise their stupidity.

I may also /just/ be inside my 1 year visa multiple entry I got a year ago. So I leave here on the 18th September, and have to hit Mukdahan (and get through) by October 12th... Makes it a bit of a rush, but I'm not much for sightseeing anyway.

Cheers for the help. I'll cogitate further :)

#4 Bonny_Ricardo has been a member since 7/9/2011. Posts: 9

Posted by Bonny_Ricardo on 30/9/2011 at 22:11

Just to say, I got to the Bao Bao/Dansavan border today.

Midday, shaved, in jeans, pleasantly talking in Vietnamese (24 year old male) so should have got pleasant treatment (ie not a fat old guy with a beard in shorts shouting at them in English).

Viets adamantly told me to piss off as the Laos wouldn't let me in. Got my (Viet) friend on the phone to have a go, she eventually got me through to chat with the Laos. My Thai/Laos is rusty, but I can still do a fair bit and explained I already had a Thai visa, and even if Thailand wouldn't let the bike in, I'd just bring it back to Vietnam. Could they mark my passport etc.

Lots of 'bor dai'ing later, I was sullenly sent back to the border. Now sat in Dong Hoi (avoid this place, it's a hole), trying to work out my route of attack now.

My main logistical problem is, currency. I changed up all my dong to dollars (and transfered most to a home bank account), then expected I'd have to go to Ha Noi then hit the border later, so took out 5 million to save my sanity. Now looks like I'll be at the border the day after next (hopefully trying again, this time Nam Phao / Cau Treo.

Is Lak Xao ok with changing currency? Both Kip and Dong are bloody useless currencies, the only similar one I've seen before is Mozambican Meticais (which the swazis wouldn't touch).

I think if I don't get through this time, I shall call it a day and just camp in Ha Noi backpackers to sell it, then head to Laos. If it weren't for the mindscrew of currencies I'd keep trying various borders, but it's depressing watching money evaporating through changing states.

#5 Bonny_Ricardo has been a member since 7/9/2011. Posts: 9

Posted by ItsFridayMoanin on 21/4/2013 at 09:06

Just some anecdotal evidence here.

TL;DR I've taken a Vietnamese motorbike, Honda Win 110cc (paper not in my name) into Laos and Cambodia, no problems. A smile and patience go a long way. Showing frustration / aggression = nobody helps you.

Vietnam / Laos (Bo Y border)
Bought a Honda Win 110cc in Ho Chi Minh City. I have the blue Vietnamese registration card (not in my name). I ride around Vietnam for a couple months and want to cross into Laos at Bo Y, Vietnam. This is the Southern most part of Laos that touches Vietnam, literally just a few km North of the Cambodian border. I get out of Vietnam with the bike no problem (besides navigating the exit process in the near empty building - no issues with the bike). Upon entering the Lao border, I check in my bike and receive a small receipt. I get my visa and think I'm home free, but at the final gate to leave the border and enter Laos, they turn me back, pointing to a green paper. I offer the small receipt from when I entered the border, but not what they want. They say I need to go back and talk to the Vietnamese. I go back and chat up the Vietnamese customs guy, talk with him about his family for 10 minutes (it's a pretty slow border crossing). Finally I ask him a third time for a green paper for the motorbike (with 200,000 Dong in my passport) and I finally get the answer I need: if I had a car, I'd need a customs paper, but the motorbike is no problem. He refuses the passport with the money still inside :)

This is bad, because the Lao say I need something from Vietnam and the Vietnamese guy says he has nothing for me. I go back to the Lao and look around asking for a green paper. Finally after peeking in the "Customs" window (not the "Visa" window) I see the green paper the guy at the gate was showing me. I pointed to it and pointed to the motorbike. He asks for a paper from Vietnam. I tell him "I go to Vietnam and ask for paper for motorbike and he say no problem" I continue to stand there for a minute and repeat a couple times "Vietnam say no problem" Eventually, the Lao guy starts filling out the form. He gives me the green form and a copy for me.

I go back to the gate and the Lao agent sees the form, lets me through.

Laos / Cambodia (Hwy 13 by the 4000 Islands)
Leaving Laos I drive through a gate to enter the Lao border zone. I notice a sign as I pass through that says "Customs" and think maybe I need to check in there. I turn around (I'd already ridden 100 meters or so) and enter the little shack and hand all my paperwork to the Lao guy reading the newspaper with his feet on his desk. He takes my motorbike receipt and makes a stamp.

I continue to the border with zero episode. Everything is standard, no mention of the bike, no customs slip, nothing.

I haven't gone back to Vietnam yet, but want to just to prove you can do it, and tell whoever I sell the bike to in Vietnam that you can go all over. Will update on that episode.
Safe travels everyone!

#6 ItsFridayMoanin has been a member since 21/4/2013. Posts: 2

Posted by Bonny_Ricardo on 21/4/2013 at 20:42

Nice to hear it worked for somebody :)

I went to a second, quieter, border... no joy then either. My biggest problem was my Viet visa was single entry, so I couldn't just give it a try and see, like you did. If they adamantly refused me entry to Laos with the bike, it would have to be abandoned at the border. Which is why I had to keep leaving it at the Viet side and walk to the Laos side.

The second border I tried actually nearly went nasty, as the guy who I first asked about accused me of stealing it.... Viet name etc. And then lots of armed men turned up. Still got to check Laos in the end, but only because I had a good Viet friend who brow-beat them.

But perhaps it more lenient now, maybe they're more used to foreigners, or maybe it is because the south is a thousand times more chilled out than the north. Who know, but good luck to you.

Let me know how it pans out, and enjoy Pakse.

#7 Bonny_Ricardo has been a member since 7/9/2011. Posts: 9

Posted by ItsFridayMoanin on 22/4/2013 at 01:09

I'd concur with the difference in attitude between North Vietnam and the South. I liken it to the difference between New York City and California. In the North the people smile a little less and I've heard more stories about getting ripped-off, bogus taxi drivers, etc in the North. I personally haven't had any problems bigger than a bus driver almost driving off without us, happened in the North, on the way to Cat Ba Island. Call me an idealist, but I think he just wanted to get us to hurry up.

Scary stuff with the guys with guns. Glad everything worked out with that.

BTW, Bonny, I'm sure you're familiar with the "right" attitude to have going into it. The comment about smiles vs aggression is more for the other people reading this post.

This is also a testament to the fact that different borders are different. Even different border agents can be different. They have a lot of license to use their judgement, less restrained by a standardized policy for every situation.

Cheers and good luck!

#8 ItsFridayMoanin has been a member since 21/4/2013. Posts: 2

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