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Old 12-23-2012, 06:01 PM   #1
selzbytes OP
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Location: Twin Cities, Shanghai PuDong Xin District
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Living in China - Asia Trips

For the next 2 years we are hunkered down in China - Shanghai specifically. This presents us with an opportunity to plan and do some riding in Asia.

Thus far it appears to be more effort than I'm willing to do in order to ride in China - unless someone has figured that all out. So looking for suggested places to rent and ride in Asia.

I'm all ears -

Thanks in advance.
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Old 12-24-2012, 10:14 AM   #2
Pecha72
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For a first-timer in Asia, I'd definitely recommend to start off in Chiang Mai, north Thailand. There are fabulous riding opportunities in many countries all across the region, but generally Thailand is probably the easiest. In the north traffic isn't too bad, and those roads and mountain views are simply among the best in the world.
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Old 12-24-2012, 06:21 PM   #3
selzbytes OP
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Originally Posted by Pecha72 View Post
For a first-timer in Asia, I'd definitely recommend to start off in Chiang Mai, north Thailand. There are fabulous riding opportunities in many countries all across the region, but generally Thailand is probably the easiest. In the north traffic isn't too bad, and those roads and mountain views are simply among the best in the world.
Thanks! Any suggested places to rent / buy from, routes, times of year to avoid, etc?

Will definately lookin into Chiang Mai.
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Old 12-25-2012, 08:33 AM   #4
Pecha72
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I once spent a month in that region from early February to March. That seemed like the perfect time to be there, very warm but not oppressively hot (around April/May it could be) and no rain. Actually I've never been there during the rainy season, so can't comment on that.

I rented from my friend near Bangkok, and once I took my own bike there from Europe, so don't really know about rental options in Chiang Mai. But there are several of them. www gt-rider dot com should be the website that has the info. Plenty of route options to be found there as well. But all around Chiang Mai it's a rider's paradise, simple as that! The very best roads for me have been close to Lao or Burmese borders. The so-called 'Mae Hong Son loop' was fantastic, but there's no shortage of equally great options.
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Old 12-27-2012, 06:58 PM   #5
sinned
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Quote:
Originally Posted by selzbytes View Post
For the next 2 years we are hunkered down in China - Shanghai specifically. This presents us with an opportunity to plan and do some riding in Asia.

Thus far it appears to be more effort than I'm willing to do in order to ride in China - unless someone has figured that all out. So looking for suggested places to rent and ride in Asia.

I'm all ears -

Thanks in advance.
Gidday, you might find that you can get a lot of country specific info from www.mychinamoto.com of which I am a regular forum participant (that and many other motorcycling forums).

China riding & motorcycle D/L:
Riding inside China is not that difficult. If you have an overseas motorcycle/drivers license then you simply need to have it authenticated/translated, then sit a 100 MCQ theory exam, pass it and you will be provided a Chinese drivers license. If you don't have an overseas motorcycle lisence then it gets a little more complicated, and in that case I'd recommend going back overseas and completing the motorcycle license abroad. If the first situation applies to you, then after successfully gaining your Chinese D/L take your newly acquired Chinese drivers/riders license along with your passport, and employment/temporary employment visa and you can purchase a range of bikes, anything from locally manufactured 50cc + to the likes of imported BMW (official BMW Motorrad), Harley-Davidson, Ducati, Gilera, Suzuki and many others. Take care though as there are two markets; the 100% legal but potentially expensive market if you are looking at anything imported, versus the grey [less expensive] import market bikes of which there are many. Taking the time to read mychinamoto.com will help you work out the legal stuff.

Shanghai license plates:
If you live in the inner areas of Shanghai, then you will be obligated to get your bike plated with a very expensive inner Shanghai "A" plate (as long as the bike is 100% legal and not a grey market acquired model). If however you live outside the inner designated area you can be afforded that much cheaper and affordable Shanghai "C" plate. Another source for everything Shanghai is www.shanghaiexpat.com where you can find info on the drivers license situation etc.

Shanghai license plates are allocated on a lottery type system in Shanghai which with the principles of supply versus demands, dictates that prices are inflated to unrealistic levels to many an outsider. Motorcycle plates are worse off, and are no longer issued by the Shanghai municipal authorities, instead motorcycle plates in Shanghai are able to be transferred between one bike and another. You (or an agent on your behalf) find a plate on another bike with a willing seller, you (or your agent) buy the plate and go through the appropriate legal procedure to have it attached to your bike. Keep in mind that bikes are only allowed on the "roads" for around eleven years from new before being made to mandatory scrap the bike meaning it has to come off the road permanently. Yes unbelievable as it may seem. Actually the same held true for cars too until recently, now though cars do not have the same fate, and the eleven year scrap rule was lifted for cars. The other thing about Shanghai motorcycle plates is that they are even more expensive now than the car lottery plate system (Shanghai only allocates a limited number of car plates each month, supply does not meet the demand= inflated pricing). Why the motorcycle plate is more costly than a car plate, well it's not only the limited supply but also because a motorcycle plate can be exchanged for a car plate for a very small fee. But not the opposite way, meaning a Shanghai issued car plate cannot be exchanged for a motorcycle plate. The Shanghai government does this to encourage more people to give up motorcycle for cars. There are many reasons for this so it is not so easy to say, that the rule seems ill conceived given environmental concerns and the issue of global warming etc. One thing though as a consequence of the policy is that each time a Shanghai issued license plate is exchanged for a car plate, it is lost from the pool of available plates. The Shanghai authorities do not release that exchanged motorcycle plate, back to the market -it's gone for good. Keep in mind though that other jurisdictions outside Shanghai have different rules and prices are much more affordable outside Shanghai, which is why some people flout the rules by getting plates from other jurisdictions even though they may live in Shanghai. There are companies that are set up to offer these types of services too. Basically there are multiple jurisdictions here like mini empires, and Chinese are very pragmatic.

Bikes available:
Aside from all the major foreign brands and imported (legally) models, there are other motorcycles available in China from several Chinese motorcycle manufacturers and JV that are manufacturing mid displacement motorcycles e.g. BJ600/QJ600 (Benelli/Qinjing) CF650NK, CF650TR, Jetmax (maxi scooter) CFMoto, JH600 Jialing, LX650 Loncin plus others...

I'm in China and I have 4 motorcycles in my garage... plus a car that gets very little use, so while it might seem difficult to be legal and ride big displacement motorcycles inside China it isn't, but it can be costly initially.

As for tripping round there are many motorcycle tour groups and companies that offer these types of cross border type tours... for a price naturally. There are a number inside China for foreigners to come in, hire bikes and be taken on guided tours. There are also some that offer the cross border tour options too.
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sinned screwed with this post 12-31-2012 at 07:38 AM
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Old 12-28-2012, 04:01 AM   #6
selzbytes OP
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Sinned,

Thank you for a very thorough description - I'm motorcycle licensed in US, and can get international license without much effort.

I'm living outside the inner circle of Shanghai - Pudong out near Century Park.

With regard to simply running errands and such in the greater area, what are the requirements for a lower displacement bike?

Thinking we'll just take our major riding trips outside of China, and simply buzz around here on a standard with 100cc or so................... If I understood some locals correctly small displacement (100 and under) are treated like bicycles - no license required. When I asked if there were issues of licensing, or purchasing gas, etc, they advised that small displacement is no issue.

Thanks in advance - missing being on 2 wheels of any size.
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Old 12-31-2012, 07:59 AM   #7
sinned
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Originally Posted by selzbytes View Post
Sinned,
Thank you for a very thorough description - I'm motorcycle licensed in US, and can get international license without much effort.
Internal Driving Permit [IDP] (it's not a license and should always be produced with the Drivers License the International Drivers Permit was issued against, when requested) is pretty much useless in mainland China. There also other countries that are also not signatories and consequently do not recognise nor able to issue IDP's.

Quote:
Originally Posted by selzbytes View Post
I'm living outside the inner circle of Shanghai - Pudong out near Century Park.
You will need to check if that falls within the A/B plate or the outer C plate areas. I haven't lived in Shanghai for more than 7 years now, so I'd hate to steer you wrong with out of date info. The rules differ remarkably from one place to another. China is full of little kingdoms and differing rules and laws.

Quote:
Originally Posted by selzbytes View Post
With regard to simply running errands and such in the greater area, what are the requirements for a lower displacement bike?
It used to be that <49cc scoots were classed the same as bicycles and could be ridden in cycle lanes and designated roadways in SHANGHAI. Again this was the way it used to be more than 7 years ago when I lived in Shanghai, so check as rules may have changed. At the time, with those rules in place those types of scoots with that capacity engine one wasn't required to have a Drivers License. Again I have no idea if that rule has been changed.

Quote:
Originally Posted by selzbytes View Post
Thinking we'll just take our major riding trips outside of China, and simply buzz around here on a standard with 100cc or so................... If I understood some locals correctly small displacement (100 and under) are treated like bicycles - no license required. When I asked if there were issues of licensing, or purchasing gas, etc, they advised that small displacement is no issue.
Please be highly sceptical of any information "the locals provide, much of it is either incorrect, BS or just provided on the basis that you being a foreigner - the local providing the information assumes and thinks, the rules will probably not apply to you, or that you should not worry about it, since you will likely not get into trouble. Those days are long gone. Like I commented above, there was a rule about lower displacement engines at the time, but you'll need to check. The place to check that would mychinamoto.com - loads of well informed riders on the website, with quite a number in Shanghai. You will get accurate info there.

Quote:
Originally Posted by selzbytes View Post
Thanks in advance - missing being on 2 wheels of any size.
Grab yourself a MTB just to get a feel for the traffic flows and how the road rules are implemented in the "field"
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Old 12-31-2012, 05:21 PM   #8
Witold
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Listen to what Sinned is saying. China is a PIA for bikes, but doable if you take the time and effort. And if you do, it is probably very rewarding. Inner Mongolia, Tibet, etc all look awesome. But again, PIA, requiring special permits, etc.

For Fly and Ride options;
-Chiang Mai, Thailand - it's cheap, straight forward. All the rental places in CM seem to be legit. But the riding in the area is nothing special IMO. Mae Hong Son loop is just OK, but it really depends where you're coming from. It's still a good ride if you can jump on the plane and get to CM quickly and cheaply.
-Vietnam - North Vietnam looks great. Easy and cheap rentals.
-Laos and Cambodia- easy and cheap rentals. There are some dirt bike outfits.
-Leh, India - This is by far the best riding you will do, ever. It's not just good for the region, it's amazing compared to anywhere in the world.
-Katmandu, Nepal - easy and cheap rentals. Probably 2nd best after Leh.

Now that I think about it, almost every country going South and East has something going on and it's usually cheap and easy. Malaysia, Indonesia, Philippines, Sri Lanka - almost everyone seems to have some cheap moto rental and cheap accommodations perfect for a moto trip. Do any of them for a short ride, and save Leh and Katmandu for a long ride, IMO.
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Old 01-01-2013, 12:48 PM   #9
Pecha72
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riding in the area is nothing special IMO. Mae Hong Son loop is just OK, but it really depends where you're coming from.
So, where are you coming from?



Actually now that India was mentioned (and I fully agree, that the Himalayas will surely be the ultimate riding experience, but chances are itīs not as easy as northern Thailand, for example), some southern parts of India are quite nice on a bike, too... this is on Enfields near Munnar in Kerala:

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Old 01-02-2013, 12:14 AM   #10
Witold
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So, where are you coming from?
Coming from Washington, DC. Not the most amazing riding area, but DC is about 3 hours away from West Virginia where we have better riding than any place around Chiang Mai. I've done several variations of MHS loop, including going down to Mae Sot and Tak (which really should be incorporated into more CM loops...) MHS loop is interesting for travel's sake, looking at some villages and stuff. It is quite pleasant and it is a good ride. It's just that I don't think it's worth too much effort. From China it might be worth it depending on flights available, but it's definitely not worth it from the USA.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Pecha72 View Post
Actually now that India was mentioned (and I fully agree, that the Himalayas will surely be the ultimate riding experience, but chances are itīs not as easy as northern Thailand, for example), some southern parts of India are quite nice on a bike, too... this is on Enfields near Munnar in Kerala:
So far, I've done a pretty good job covering Karshmir/Ladakh/HP/Rajasthan/UP... basically North India. But it's worth mentioning that areas around Assam/Bihar are probably just as wonderful. And as you mention, lots of people are enjoying their rides in South India as well...

India can be logistically difficult, but one can make an easy trip of it as well. Just fly to Leh, get a bike, and have several pretty easy and stress free loops available that are really, really worth it. I am tempted to say that it would be just as easy as any Chiang Mai loop.

I guess it really depends on the OP's time allowance and where he can fly easily and cheaply.
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Old 01-02-2013, 02:04 AM   #11
Pecha72
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As part of our trip from Europe to Oz we rode through India with my GF as pillion in -07 (from Wagah, Pakistan border to the extreme south and then Chennai)... after that we shipped to Thailand, and rode through Thailand (not the north, but Iīve done it several times on another trips).

 
I can only speak for myself, but for me, out of these two, more or less EVERYTHING has been just, should I say, easier in Thailand! And donīt get me wrong, I love India, too, but itīs a tough country to travel, especially on a bike. Traffic was right there among the very worst on our whole trip. And hey, good luck with your stomach LOL!! To put it short: India (travelling on a bike) seldom felt like a HOLIDAY, but Thailand felt like one most of the time.

 
Sure if youīd go directly to Leh, and then rent, maybe itīs not the nightmare that would be to get out of Delhi, and then head across the plains to the mountains. The mountains were in fact the only place, where traffic wasnt totally congested, and even that is a bit relative..... but at least bad driving, and challenging road conditions will still remain. Thailand is much more developed in that respect, even though Thai drivers arenīt perfect either.

 
So for a first-timer for Asia, Iīm not sure if Iīd recommend India/Himalayas ahead of Chiang Mai. And even if the Himalayas cannot be beat, CM area (for me) is still exceptional, the overall experience I mean. As a European, Iīm used to comparing it to the Alps, Pyrenees, or the Norwegian coast, and for me it holds up pretty well. Really just opinions, like everyone elseīs, but I think every biker, who loves curvy roads, should go to North Thailand at least once.

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Old 01-03-2013, 02:34 PM   #12
Witold
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As part of our trip from Europe to Oz we rode through India with my GF as pillion in -07 (from Wagah, Pakistan border to the extreme south and then Chennai)

To put it short: India (travelling on a bike) seldom felt like a HOLIDAY, but Thailand felt like one most of the time.
Agree 100%... I spent 4+ months in Kashmir and Ladakh and pretty much every day was awesome, fun, and relaxing. But when I got back down to Delhi, Agra, Rajistan, UP, India was getting on my nerves after 2 days. Crowded, dusty, filthy, touts.

Basically, the Northern parts have a completely different feel from "India". They are not crowded. They are mostly not populated and what little population there is is either Buddhist or Muslim.

Flying into Leh and renting a bike would be very easy, very cheap, and fun riding. Other parts of India can be PIA and expensive if you want a nice clean place to sleep.
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Old 01-04-2013, 08:11 PM   #13
selzbytes OP
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Thanks to all for the dialog on this topic - very helpful. Our move to China from the US was a bit of a surprise and we had short notice. We'd had all our trips planned for the next 2 years in North America. This opens up new horizons for us - having thought we'd never actually ride in Asia.

I've been to India no less than 18 times for work - always in the cities and cannot agree more - it gets on one's nerves. Had honestly NEVER considered it as a riding destination specifically for that reason but having seen other's ride reports there India is on the list - or perhaps Sri Lanka.

Any experiences or comments regarding Sri Lanka? It's much safer today than even 2-3 years back.
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Old 01-05-2013, 01:41 PM   #14
Witold
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Looking at ride reports here on Advrider gives one a pretty decent idea of what is possible where.

It is also worth looking at Google Maps and turning on Pictures to see the general scenery. Also... the more pics in the area, the more touristy it tends to be.

I heard good things from Sri Lanka... but only from Sri Lankans. When I tried to point some more specific questions about Sri Lanka to them, I didn't really get much insight. It seems like it a very over crowded country (850 people per square mile) that is probably as dirty as India and the scenery doesn't look all that special... But I don't really know, I've never been there, I'm just guessing.

If you are familiar with India, you must do Leh when you have 2-3 weeks to spare. Delhi has cheap direct flights, and Leh has increasingly more motorcycle rental places (rent something other than the cheap, old Enfields, though.) You will not only enjoy riding there, but you will be itching to go back. Guaranteed.
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Old 01-21-2013, 06:20 PM   #15
wishhealth
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Originally Posted by selzbytes View Post
For the next 2 years we are hunkered down in China - Shanghai specifically. This presents us with an opportunity to plan and do some riding in Asia.

Thus far it appears to be more effort than I'm willing to do in order to ride in China - unless someone has figured that all out. So looking for suggested places to rent and ride in Asia.

I'm all ears -

Thanks in advance.

Hello

I am Shanghai native. I love riding as you guys. I think the most difficult thing for you riding in Shanghai is the motorcycle licensed plate. With the Shanghai yellow 'A' or yellow 'B' motorcycle licensed plate you can riding in downtown, but the price of yellow 'A' or yellow 'B' is almost RMB80,000 and they are not easy to get. With the Shanghai yellow 'c' motorcycle licensed plate you can riding in the outside of S20, but only Shanghai suburbanites can have yellow 'c' . Except Shanghai motorcycle licensed plates other city's plates are illegal riding in Shanghai. I have a Shanghai yellow 'c' , haha.

About your drive license I think is ok, only in accident the police will check your drive license.

Happy to assist if I can. Let me know your questions.
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