6 weeks around Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos

Discussion in 'Asia Pacific' started by MrPopples, Oct 16, 2017.

  1. MrPopples

    MrPopples Been here awhile

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    Hello guys.

    With my girlfriend, we just booked a flight ticket to siem rap and a return from Hanoi.
    Somewhere around March.

    I'm pretty much convinced that we need a vehicle to move around (my girlfriend is relatively sure we can manage by bus and tuktuk... Argument pending ;))
    I'm thinking about a pair of small trail bikes... Like a 200wr... I'll need something a bit lower for the girlfriend though ;)

    Some open questions I have:
    -is driving really crazy there? I'm riding in Europe... I'm used to adapt to the local traffic. I managed to survive in the south of italy.
    -are all bike rental agency require you to leave your passport there? We plan to cross some borders... The passport would be more useful in my own pocket.
    -is there a way to have the same insurance company for all 3 countries?
    -im being told that drivers, when spotting tourists, try to create an accident to get some money out of it... Myth or reality?

    I have much more questions... But those are the ones I need to sort out before debating the idea with my girlfriend. ;)
    #1
  2. Mark Manley

    Mark Manley Long timer

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    Renting something like a 125cc scooter will be fine, traffic moves slowly and most people are on them. Yes the rental company will require a passport but you will not be able to cross borders with it anyway so some public transport will be needed. Driving can be quite full on but sit back and watch how the locals ride, I have not heard of locals trying to create accidents, it might happen occasionally but lorries and buses will be your biggest danger. I suspect few motorcycles are insured, you can ask at the rental company or perhaps someone can recommend companies which hire bikes with it.
    #2
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  3. MrPopples

    MrPopples Been here awhile

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    Thx Mark.
    No border crossing with the rental kinda hurts as we would have to make one loop per country to pickup/giveback the rental... Not the initial plan :(
    I'm too used to travel across Europe where there's virtually no border.

    Back to planning I guess... I must then have to juggle with multiple bike rental and public transportation... :)

    Just thinking out loud here...
    Seems buying a little bike with Vietnamese plates in Cambodia is quite cheap... And feasible.
    If I'm looking there: http://khmeradz.com/vehicles/motorcycles-for-sale
    I see lots of bikes used to tour the area... I could buy 2 bikes for around 500 dollars... And try to sell them before leaving.
    Opinions?
    #3
  4. 0theories

    0theories Enthusiastically Skeptical...

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    If you plan on going across borders, buying is probably your best bet. I bought a bike in Laos (with Vietnam plates) and rode it around Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam, then sold it in Vietnam. Great fun and I only took a small loss as I needed to sell it quick. 125s are pretty common, but many are scooter-like. Try to find something with a clutch like a Honda Bonus. Vietnam plates are essential to travel between borders... Parts and repairs are cheap. I had to have the engine completely rebuilt after I let a Brit Expat who has a bike business in Saigon change my oil :( It was only $70 for the rebuild and the bike ran like a dream after...

    Good luck!
    #4
  5. MrPopples

    MrPopples Been here awhile

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    Thx. That makes sense.
    Did you ever wrote a ride report for this trip? Sounds like exactly what we are planning except we would start in Cambodia and leave from Vietnam.
    #5
  6. Pecha72

    Pecha72 Long timer

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    As mentioned above, VN plates seem to be the ticket to enter all 3 countries. Choice of suitable VN plated bikes for sale at the right moment could be the problem. It is hard to say beforehand, how a buy/sell thing is gonna work. And note, do not expect the Cambodia/Lao border to be easy either, I´ve had my share of worries there, and have heard similar stories from others as well.
    If my GF was travelling with me, then I´d pick North Thailand over one of the countries you mentioned, it´s very easy to rent bikes in Chiang Mai, and roads are fantastic. Unless your missus absolutely prefers to travel “rough”, I think North Thailand would be a good choice to go as a couple.
    A trip, that has stayed in my memory, was from Luang Prabang up on the Mekong river on a small cargo ship for two days, with our bikes on board, staying overnight in a small village of Pakbeng, and bikes offloaded at Huay Xai, from where we could cross into Thailand (but those were Thai plated bikes, and the owner of them was actually with us, he lived there, and completely handled all border crossings... and it was way back in 2005).
    #6
  7. MrPopples

    MrPopples Been here awhile

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    @Pecha72 : kiitos! :)
    The missus chose Cambodia/Vietnam/Laos... I'm kinda just a passenger here.
    a "boat cruise" in a cargo ship is definitively along the lines of the trip. The GF would love it (no, it's not a joke, she's passionate about "transportation" and would love crossing an ocean aboard a big cargo ship... don't ask me :p)
    #7
  8. Pecha72

    Pecha72 Long timer

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    this is from the boat ride, now I remember it was carrying hundreds of bags of salt, and it was funny to go and lay on top of them, and just watch the small villages and other life on the river slowly float by. I believe you can do this also south from Luang Prabang, if water levels allow the boats to operate. The boat we´re in, is very similar to the one you see coming across on the photo.

    [​IMG]
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  9. advantagecp

    advantagecp Adventurer

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    In 2015 I was denied passage from Laos to Cambodia with my Vietnam-plated bike. It's a scam where the Cambodians will not let you in so you are stuck in no man's land and most will just sell their crappy Honda Win clones and move on. I got the Lao side to let me walk over and talk to the Cambodian Customs guys. "No go."

    So I backtracked, crossed into Vietnam, hung out at Kon Tum for a few days, then went south to Pleiku and headed straight west for an uneventful border crossing into Cambodia. That Vietnam multiple-entry visa came in handy.
    #9
  10. fuzzg

    fuzzg n00b

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    I done 9,000km over 10 week in Vietnam, Laos & Cambodia in 2017 on a 110cc Honda Blade with VN plates from a https://www.tigitmotorbikes.com/ and used http://vietnamcoracle.com/ to plan & https://maps.me/ to navigate [log into google maps and create a route, export to .kml and email to myself, when i open the email Maps.me imports the route :)]

    To answer you questions directly:
    • Driving is crazy there, personally I though Hanoi was the worst but other people will have different opinions, its all relative, stay focused and go with the flow, I do think there is a logic to how people ride but it is not something I can put into words.
    • As a general rule, yes your passport is the deposit for the bike
    • insurance doesn't exist to my knowledge - be very specific on what your personal travel insurance covers, most won't cover you if you don't have a relevant/local licence, there is lots of info on this topic on the web, read your travel insurance policy very carefully
    • I never saw/felt that an accident would be created to get money out of tourists, there are enough tourist with road rash in every hostel that the locals don't need to help tourist crash.



    I used the following border crossings without incident:

    • Vietnam/Cambodia -Le Thanh Dorder Gate

    • Laos/Vietnam - Bo Y Inernational border gate

    • Vietnam/Laos - Na Meo Border Station

    • Cambodia/Vietnam - Moc Bai Border Crossing
    My general advise is to be smart about how far you expect to travel in a day, 200km is nice and achievable, 300km is doable but not something you don't want to do every day, 350+km is something you will do but regret it after the fact.


    If your after any more specific info just ask.


    FuzzG
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  11. MrPopples

    MrPopples Been here awhile

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    Just to let you know that we are currently in Vietnam and we rented with tigit, as suggested multiple times on this forum :)

    1st month in Cambodia, we used tuktuk and buses... But we finally ended up renting from tigit when we reached HCM.
    We discarded Lao completely as we don't want to rush things...
    Writing this from Buôn Mê Thuột, 4th day of riding from Saigon.
    Covering roughly 100-150km a day, 2up on a 110cc Honda blade seems about right.
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  12. WesF

    WesF Been here awhile

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    Any more info on your trip Poppy???
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  13. MrPopples

    MrPopples Been here awhile

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    I didn't make any ride report though, the first part in cambodia was by tuk tuk and busses and the last part in vietnam was on a honda blade (which is elligible to a ride report afaik ;))
    we completly avoided Laos, as time didn't really allow it. we didn't want to rush things.

    anything specific you want to know?

    What I can do is answer my own questions now :)
    ride slow, be predictible, use the horn... and try to ride like the locals do... you should be fine.
    we had some "near miss" with trucks overpassing other trucks on gravel roads...
    seeing two trucks in front of you is kind of scary, but you jump in the grass/mud on the side of the road and you survive the encounter... it's how they drive, they don't see a problem with it, there's no point in yelling, they just won't understand.
    we didn't cross any borders, but tigit is used to it and have things to propose for these cases.
    we didn't have any insurance...
    Myth.
    Most of the times, in the countryside, when locals find out you are a tourist (and having a blond beard and sunglasses doesn't help blending in), they honk and salute you. 99.9% of vietnamese were friendly.
    even those that tried to scam us were friendly.

    [​IMG]
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  14. WesF

    WesF Been here awhile

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  15. MrPopples

    MrPopples Been here awhile

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    depends what you like? chilling on the beach? visiting "museums"? beautiful scenery? meeting with locals?

    It was our first "long" trip together, the first "adventure" we had... so we didn't really know what we would enjoy.
    it appeared that we hate other tourists, we hate organized tours and we hate when the place is too "fake".

    For example, we had a really bad day at Ha Long Bay whereas you can read everywhere that it's a wonderful place.
    I'd equally give a pass to Phu Quoc...
    HCM city is a big modern town. There's plenty to do/see there... but nothing of interest to me :)

    Some things we liked a lot:
    -The "north loop" in vietnam for the stunning sceneries (note that the closer to the chinese border you go, the harder it is to find anything but dog for lunch)
    -The cambodian waterfront (south, kampot and around) for the "dolce vita" and the great food.
    -The elephant conservation initiative in vietnam, meeting the elephants and the people helping them out was a nice experience.

    It's hard to tell you what to do...
    if we are like minded, and you only have 3 weeks around Hanoi, definitively go around on a scooter to visit the north.
    don't hesitate to book small guest houses, it was the best accomodation we had... and you might even end up singing karaoke in vietnamese after some ginseng shots :)
    #15
  16. WesF

    WesF Been here awhile

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    1/ scenery & locals

    2/Tourists are the devil in shorts......................I am looking at an organised mo'bike tour around the NE for a week....(safety is #1 factor, places l would not find by myself #2, don't need to worry about food or accomodation #3..................the fact that l will be riding with beer drinking Aussies is another plus, but watch this space, they may be Christian Liberals on a "Let's convert the locals to our religion" mission!! ;-)

    3/Tour covers that area.(if anyone feeds me dog l will have to very politely be sick all over their kitchen & dining table as well as any random people standing around!)
    May go to Cambodia as my own side trip using flight & scooter rental.
    Love elephants & went to a sanctuary when l was in Sri Lanka.
    #16
  17. Signal 13

    Signal 13 Been here awhile

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    Congrats on a successful trip. My wife is Thai and speaks Lao and Cambodian as well...was like I was cheating because it made traveling around that region so easy. Fun memories of us tooling around on our Honda while making memories, although we always rented a vehicle for the longer trips. We're looking to go back to Thailand within the next 5 years and I'm hoping to sneak away for some adventure riding in Vietnam.

    As for the dog...tastes like chicken.
    #17
  18. orry

    orry Adventurer

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    I felt like I was cheating a bit as well being married to a Thai lady but we had no tour guide or fixer so it was still an adventure on our honda 110 step through (Thailand only)....we thought the chicken Lao style was cat :lol3
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  19. irishrover

    irishrover Adventurer

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    Great Part of the world, Lived in Cambodia for two years and rode Vietnam Lois and Cambodia its a fantastic part of the world but not for everyone.
    #19
  20. Banause

    Banause Adventurer

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    Hi folks,

    I am currently planning a motorcycle trip in Vietnam thought about opening another threat. However since you guys seem to know a lot about the area I just ask for your advice and hints here - hope OP doesn’t mind :)

    The conditions are that I can take around 3 to 4 weeks off from work between Mid-Decembers to Mid-January. But since I don’t want to do the North to South / S to N Trip in a hustle of around 3 weeks of effective riding I intend to stay in the Northern part of Vietnam. I thought about flying to Hanoi and start exploring the North heading to SaPa Valley and the areas around. Crossing into the northern part of Laos is also an option, if it is worth it.

    However I wondered what kind of trip you recommend doing within 3 – 4 weeks starting from Hanoi. Are they any specific places you can recommend?
    I am mainly into Nature and National Parks but I also intend to explore the coast / beaches for a couple of days and of course some nice roads would be great.

    About the weather: I read that it can get a bit chill in the northern parts of Vietnam in December and February but has anyone some more experience regarding riding in that area in winter? At least it should be rather dry :)

    About the Bike: I intend to buy a Bike on arrival since I am on a budget and expect the bike to drop maybe one or two times. Plus I also like the idea of owning a bike in Vietnam for a while.
    Are there any Hints for a reliable bike other than the Honda Win :)

    Thats it for now. I am looking forward to your opinions and answers.
    Probably gonna have some more questions afterwards though.

    Ride safe
    #20