Crossing the Border with a motorbike in Southeast Asia (Part 1)

South-east Asia is filled with highly adventurous terrain, ideal for motorcycling expeditions. In fact, some would say that there is no better way to transverse this region. Unfortunately, few riders attempt to cover all or most of these scenic routes. Why? Well, either they are unaware that one can cross borders and ride through the Lao, Cambodian, Thai, and Vietnamese trails in one helluva trip or have never really thought about it!

So here we are putting fresh ideas into your head or merely giving you insights into the best ways to cross over from one South Eastern country to another:

A) The Vietnam to Laos Crossing

Firstly, you will need a Vietnamese plated motorbike to attempt this crossing. However, a Lao-plated one may not be allowed into Vietnam. That’s a tricky start, right? Not really… Once you understand a few motorcycling laws of the land, all will be clear. Secondly, there are 6 ways to cross over from Vietnam to Laos. But before you get too excited; 2 paths are tried, tested and recommended, 3 somewhat possible and 1 close to impossible, especially on a motorbike. Hence, we will elaborate only on the best and briefly mention the others, more like a warning…

1) Nam Can/Nam Khan

One end of this crossing is in Phonsavan, Laos and the other in Vinh in Vietnam. It is a tourist friendly pass so you need not fear making your way through. Ride on and hopefully, they will allow your Laos registered motorbike into Vinh as well!

2) Bo Y/Ngoc Hoi

A better known pass, Bo Y/Ngoc Hoi begins in Attapeu in Laos and ends at Kon Tum in Vietnam. (or the other was around). It’s scenic value is unparalleled to any other Vietnam to Laos crossing. Many trucks pass this way so be alert while motorbiking across. Here would be a good time to don your fluorescents.

Somewhat possible:

  • Na Maew/ Nam Xoi: At Sam Neua, Laos. Refundable fee of USD 20 when exiting Vietnam, Lao Visa – USD45 (a bit much, according to us), Bad road, but better during daytime.
  • Nam Phao/Cau Treo: At Lak Xao, Laos, passable on a motorbike
  • Dansavanh/Lao Bao: Near Hue, Vietnam, a ridable crossing

Impossible:

  • Sop Hun/Tay Trang: Between Muang Khua, Laos, and Dien Bien Phu, Vietnam. Can be expensive and virtually impracticable on a motorcycle. In other words, try to avoid it.

B) The Vietnam to Cambodia crossing

Vietnamese registered motorcycles are allowed into Cambodia and the 5 available crossing routes are:

1) Bavet/Moc Bai

This is the most common and most often used crossover passage. Many vehicles move through the Bave/Moc Bai crossing and the best route is from Ho Chi Minh City to Phnom Penh. It takes an entire day to cross and there could be a fee involved on entry so be prepared for all.

2) Prek Chak/ Xa Xia

Famously referred to as the Ha Tien crossing, this is another popular tourist crossing. Many motorbikes, cars, buses etc. pass through here each day. Pretty safe.

3) Phnom Den/ Tinh Bien

If you wish to get to Kampot from Chau Doc, this is your path. No stress, no expenses.

4) Trapaing Sre Border Crossing

The connecting cities between this crossing are Dong Xoai, Vietnam and Snoul in Cambodia. Straightforward and stress free, this is a commonly used road.

5) La Thanh/ O Yadao

Up north, beginning at Ban Lung, Cambodia and leading to Pleiku in Vietnam is La Thanh/O Yadao. Numerous accounts of motorcyclists crossing over from here can be found on the net so we trust this one as well.

These are two primary South-east Asian border crossings. But that’s not all. In Part 2, we address two more.

See you there GoBikerz!

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