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Help me plan my SE Asia trip

Discussion in 'Asia Pacific' started by brecchi, Jan 26, 2018.

  1. brecchi

    brecchi Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2005
    Oddometer:
    424
    The pertinent details are:

    1. Will likely go in April. Plan on 6-7 weeks. I know it will be hot.
    2. Would like to see Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Malaysia and Singapore.
    3. Initially wanted to buy or rent in Bangkok, skipping Vietnam because of the cc restriction. But now I'm considering renting/buying in Saigon and including Vietnam in my travels.
    4. I've read a lot about border restrictions, especially the new ones in Thailand. Would appreciate any advice on this.
    5. Budget of a few grand.
    6. Particularly interested in a Honda PCX 125 or 150. I like scooters too.

    I've done extensive motorcycle traveling both in the US and through the Americas for extended periods of time. Not so much in left hand drive countries.

    Thanks for any advice!
    #1
    SoPaRider likes this.
  2. rosmoe

    rosmoe Been here awhile

    Joined:
    Aug 6, 2004
    Oddometer:
    704
    Location:
    Summer, California Winter, Thailand
    Check out GT-Rider for the latest info on riding in South East Asia. Think I would fly to the countries you want to ride & just rent a bike there Can be a big hassle doing the border crossing on a motorcycle. In Thailand I would rent out of Chiang Mai & explore the great roads & sights in the north. 10 days or 2 weeks you can see a lot. Then fly down to Krabi, pick up another bike & check out the area. I stuck a little arrow on my left hand rear view mirror to remind me what side of the road I should be on. Not really needed in traffic, but on some of the small mountain roads where there is no traffic, it is easy to forget. A lot to see in Bangkok, but best done on public transport. Don't even think of riding a motorcycle in that city, plus it will be very hot & humid. Stick with the subway or skytrain. You will have a great time.
    #2
  3. brecchi

    brecchi Been here awhile

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    Thanks, I'll look into that. I do like the idea of crossing borders with the same machine, unbroken through all the countries I want to visit. I guess I will have to decide if it makes sense.

    Do you guys think my itinerary is too ambitious considering my timeline? I initially was going to fly into Bangkok and get a bike there, leaving Vietnam off the itinerary.
    #3
  4. rosmoe

    rosmoe Been here awhile

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    Summer, California Winter, Thailand
    I would certainly not miss Vietnam, lots to see there. Your time seems to be about right, you can wing it as you go. Do get a International Drivers Permit, the cops in Chiang Mai will want to see that if you are stopped. Don't have one, will cost you 400 Baht.
    #4
  5. brecchi

    brecchi Been here awhile

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    Cool, I was wondering if I was rushing it by including Vietnam. It seems my best shot for a bike would be to rent or buy there. Is one preferable over the other?
    #5
  6. Pukaii (kyle)

    Pukaii (kyle) n00b

    Joined:
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    If you want to buy a bike in this part of the world you must have a work permit.
    Renting a bike is not hard here specially Thailand. Im living here in Thailand if you have any question about Thailand feel free to ask, I will try my best to help.
    #6
  7. brecchi

    brecchi Been here awhile

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    Thank you, I didn't know about needing a work permit to buy a bike. Im actually thinking a 150cc scooter might be a good choice to rent.

    Are you aware if rental places will allow you to cross borders with Laos, Cambodia, or Malaysia? I do also realize that I can only cross twice by land in one year without applying for a Thai visa.
    #7
  8. Pukaii (kyle)

    Pukaii (kyle) n00b

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    About crossing without a visa I'm not the expert, none of my friends ever did. But about bike rental it is a lot easier to re-rent the bike after you cross each boarder and also much cheaper. They will charge you much more if you rent the bike from Thailand and cross the boarder ,but most town that have a boarder will got the shop that willing to prepare a paper for the bike you rent from them to go across the boarder. 150cc. bike for me I think a bit under over taking power. You should see how we driving here you will understand, its really different but at the same time making sense. and for the Bankok shop that do allow bike to cross the boarder I will keep asking around for you
    #8
  9. brecchi

    brecchi Been here awhile

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    Thanks Pukaii. Ive asked a couple of shops already and they have told me that they will not rent to cross a border, that I would need to buy. But according to you, I don;t think I will be able to do this.
    #9
  10. Pukaii (kyle)

    Pukaii (kyle) n00b

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    I did talk ti one of my senior friend his name is Tum, He do a lot of trip that need to cross the border with his expat friends. I think you should email him, his email is theunit@mac.com
    If any one can give you the best advice, for me I think he's the man. I also will keep asking around for you.
    #10
  11. brecchi

    brecchi Been here awhile

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    OK, I will email him, thanks. I've also asked about this on HUBB - there are so many conflicting stories, I am realizing that I will likely have to play a lot of this by ear.

    I'll copy and paste a bit of what I wrote over there to add to what I've already written:

    "I'd like to see Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Malaysia and Singapore. And maybe cross for a day bike-free into Myanmar.

    I'll most likely be flying into Bangkok. I'm not sure after researching this whether its better to rent or buy and what borders Ill be able to cross. I do know that I can rent in Vietnam and visit Laos and Cambodia according to Tigit in HCMC.

    I also know that I'll only be able to cross back into Thailand twice by land. I'm thinking of getting a bike or scooter in Bangkok, heading north and possibly crossing into Myanmar for a day off the bike when I'm in the Chang Mai area. Then down south into Malaysia (on the bike), Singapore (off the bike) and back into Thailand where I will return/sell the bike. Then bus to HCMC, rent there and head north to Hanoi, then back to HCMC through Laos and Cambodia. It would be nice to then bus back to Bangkok, but I will have already used my 2 land crossings for the year so I'm thinking I may have to fly back in order to catch my flight back to the States from Bangkok.

    Does this sound doable within my timeframe? And are there a bunch of things I'm not thinking about, legally/borders or otherwise?"
    #11
  12. fuzzg

    fuzzg n00b

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    NZ
    Hey, I got a 110 cc Hinda Blade from Tigit and it was faultless, helpfull people and will give you advise on latest border crossing info. I'd say 6-7 weeks is doable but won't give you much time to relax but that depends on what you see/where you go. I done 10 weeks around Vietnam, Laos & Cambodian in 2017 and didn't even attempt to land border between Laos & Cambodia, instead went back into Vietnam for 1 day (and to get my coffee fix).


    FuzzG
    #12
  13. brecchi

    brecchi Been here awhile

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    Nice - so it seems like its very doable to rent in Vietnam and visit Laos and Cambodia, even if you need to go back into Vietnam to avoid the Laos/Cambodia border crossing. Thanks for the info.
    #13
  14. imjustin

    imjustin Adventurer

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    Location:
    Singapore
    You may skip Singapore; we are a small city-state with not much nature/nice scenic views, and everything is really expensive here.

    If you do make it all the way down to the South of Western Malaysia (i.e. Johor Bahru), and you still decide to cross over into Singapore, pls pick a good time to cross the border/causeway. You do NOT want to be stuck in the 2-3 hour traffic jam that is the 100,000 motorcycles that cross from JB into Singapore every day for work.

    With that said, if you do come to Singapore, drop me a PM. I'll be happy to show you around for nice food! :)
    #14
  15. brecchi

    brecchi Been here awhile

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    Thanks for the offer Justin - I've always wanted to visit Singapore, at least for a couple of days. I wish I could be there for the F1 race! I will contact you if I make it there.
    #15
  16. brecchi

    brecchi Been here awhile

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    Plane ticket to BKK for 10/18. Plane ticket to fly out of HCMC on 12/20. What I do in between is up to me. I may actually have to postpone the flight for 2 weeks due to a USCIS meeting but fingers are crossed. The idea is to chill in Bangkok for a few days and rent a scooter or bike, head south to the beaches and Malaysia, in time to make it to MotoGP on 11/4. Justin, if you are reading I'd love to spend a day or 2 in Singapore and I could use some pointers.

    From there, I'll likely head north to Chang Mai and possibly a day or 2 in Myanmar off-bike. Then I'll have to decide how to get to Laos and Cambodia. I'll possibly return the rental in Bangkok, go to HCMC and rent a bike there where I have been told that I can cross into Laos and Cambodia with the right paperwork. A loop from HCMC to Hanoi, then back down through Laos and Cambodia would be ideal.

    Getting everything together using a L North Face Base Camp Duffel and a backpack with waist strap. Both have served me well in the past. Can't decide whether or not to lug a helmet along with me. I'm bringing a set of cheap ATV tank panniers as well.

    A few questions:

    -Recommended scooter/bike rental spot in Bangkok that will let me cross borders? (I'm familiar wth the usual restrictions, Vietnam, etc.)

    -Waterproof boot recommendations for SE Asia? I have a couple of pairs, but the Forma Adventures are a bit of overkill for what I'll be doing. Ideally a short boot style would be ideal, and price does matter a bit here.

    -I love cities as much as riding off the grid, any must see stuff in the big cities would be appreciated from major landmarks to tiny food stalls.

    - I like carrying a heavier backpack on long rides as it really does keep my upper body strong and in good shape. Would you all recommend something like a Kreiga for support? The generic backpack with waist strap has been my go to but I wonder if its worth the $ to step up.

    - Also, I'm wondering about the immediate things needed when arriving at BKK - SIM card, good exchange rate for $, etc. I'm an Apple guy and I do need the phone for work so I'm wondering if a second phone with local SIM cards would be the best option. Also, I think an iPhone can be used for free with WIFi. Anybody know about this?

    Thanks guys, I'm starting to get excited. Once I find out on Monday if my USCIS issue can be postponed, I'll have 2 days to finalize everything before I head to Dulles!

    -Ben
    #16
  17. QED

    QED Been here awhile

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    Location:
    North Idaho
    #17
  18. pakawala

    pakawala Adventurer

    Joined:
    Sep 19, 2014
    Oddometer:
    22
    Once you clear customs at the Bangkok Airport there are ATM Machines directly behind them and many SIM Card booths in the area. They will install the thai sim card for your iPhone and you select the plan that includes internet. Ensure your Debit/ATM/Credit cards have chips imbedded in them.

    I definitely recommend buying a Garmin Etrex 30 handheld and buy/download the southeast Asia Map for $99 Walmart sells the double AA batteries/charger.

    My thoughts are I think your plan is a little ambitious to cover the area/countries you listed.

    I live in The Philippines and ride. Two years ago we rode the southern islands for almost 2 months on similar terrain/roads that you will encounter. My average speed was 37KpH for the entire trip. Because of the heat, we departed 6am each day and rested in the shade 11am to 1pm then rode until maximum 5pm. Bring a Camelback, cool material long sleeves or your forearms will get bad sunburn. White material keeps you cooler because it don't absorb the sun. Go to a drug store when you arrive and buy 20 or so packets of oral hydration salts to add to your water. One packet is like drinking a couple Gatorades. Bring a box of 1 gallon good quality freezer bags. They come in handy. We kept a wet wash rag with a dash of green alcohol inside the bags so you can keep your face fresh on stops. Too many other suggestions to list here.

    Buy a couple tubes of Preparation H with injectors because you may get hemorrhoids during the trip like we did. Luckily it was part of our gear.

    Do you have your route planned? How many Kilometers per day do you plan on riding?
    #18