Crossing Borders with a Motorbike

Crossing Borders with a Motorbike
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Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos

A Vietnamese motorbike can go into both Cambodia and Laos, and get back into Vietnam again. Tigit will allow crossing borders on our rental motorbikes, but the customer must pre-book and tell us in advance of their plans.
A Cambodian or Laos motorbike (or any motorbike outside Vietnam) cannot enter in Vietnam.

For a full loop of Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos a traveller must have a Vietnamese motorbike.

At Tigit we believe Thailand is no longer possible to enter on a Vietnamese motorbike. We do not know why, in the old days it was possible!

Casual motorbike holiday
Vietnam is casual, Laos and Cambodia are much more volatile!

Travellers must finish back in Vietnam if using Tigit

It is not possible to send a motorbike from Laos or Cambodia back to Vietnam. Travellers with plans of finishing in a different country may use our buy and buyback program where we sell off older rental motorbikes at a lower price. The buy and buyback contract follows the same principles with full maintenance warranty from Tigit, but allows a traveller to buy an older motorbike with the idea of selling it onwards without too much loss on resell.

open motorbike roads
open motorbike roads

Vietnam Cambodia Borders

Vietnam to Cambodia both the Moc Bai border (2 hours from HCM) and Ha Tien border (near Phu Quoc) are commonly used.
Less known is the Cửa khẩu Lệ Thanh Border to Pleiku. Any major border will work to Cambodia.

There are no difficulties crossing into Cambodia and out of Cambodia. It is a good idea to have the blue card of the motorbike, although in our experience a border agent has never asked for it!

Cambodian Visas are all “on arrival” and from what we know the process is very simple.

Adventure motorbikers, traveling and crossing borders
Hardcore experienced adventure seekers found in Cambodia

Vietnam Laos Border Crossings

According to this article from LaotianTimes, nine of Laos’s border checkpoints will discontinue providing visa on arrival services to tourists, including Na Meo. We recommend applying for a Lao Visa in Hanoi instead. 

The only consistently working border (correct at time of writing this) is the Na Mèo border crossing near to Hanoi. Tigit customers have also succeeded through the Lao Bao border near to Hue. However, we do not have a large enough sample size to firmly recommend Lao Bao as a viable border.

Taking a motorbike into Laos appears to create controversial debates and mixed results on the internet blogs. Backpackers on Chinese motorbikes are commonly rejected into Laos and this causes misinformation about the known and successful Na Meo border.

Tigit customers have never failed through Na Meo.


offroad outside Vietnam motorbike when crossing borders between south east asia countries
Terrain is rugged outside of Vietnam

Cambodia to Laos or vice versa

There are reports around the internet that this border can reject travellers. Tigit customers seem to succeed but sometimes difficulties occur in needing to pay up to $100 in bribes to get through. There are also reports of an illegal “ferry” nearby that takes the motorbikes over the river allowing the traveller to cross the border motorbike free! Customers of Tigit have reported that this works, but obviously we can not recommend this and we take no responsibility in the safety of it. We simply know that it exists!

One way or another, travellers will get through this border. Worst case scenario a traveller can come back into Vietnam and pop around through a different border.

expect the unexpected motorbike holiday
expect the unexpected

Maintenance and breakdowns in Cambodia and Laos

The Tigit contracts all state that customers must change oil and service the motorbikes in genuine Honda Head mechanic shops. Honda Head are also found in both Cambodia and Laos and the service remains to be professional.

Cambodia in particular has excellent mechanics and breakdowns or problems are usually fixed quickly, professionally and cost efficiently. Even the backstreet mechanics seem to be vastly superior to the Vietnamese when it comes to mechanical skills and stocking quality parts!

Laos also has a continuation of Honda Head but not many of them! In Laos, travellers must use backstreet mechanics, but as with Cambodia the mechanics seem skilful and stock high quality parts.
Fixing motorbikes in both Cambodia and Laos is not a problem!

Vietnam suffers from high taxes on imported components which creates this thriving market of Chinese garbage such as Honda Win motorbikes. It also creates a Chinese garbage market of replacement parts which means a high quality motorbike can quickly be ruined with low quality replacements. Tigit likes customers replacing parts in both Cambodia and Laos, and we often encourage it!

Keep receipts and Tigit will refund replacement parts at the end of the journey.

motorbike sunsets
Who can complain with sunsets like this!

The XR 150cc is the best motorbike for all three countries

Tigit has disclaimers about the Honda XR 150cc being difficult to fix in Vietnam in comparison to other models. When it comes to all three countries combined then the Honda XR 150cc becomes the most internationally recognised motorbike out of our stock, and as a result becomes the easiest to maintain over long distances and across borders.

Parts for the XR 150 will always eventually be located in all three countries.

The XR 150cc is also the best suited for variable terrains and Laos in particular can get very mountainous with a lot of pot holes!

For those on a budget, then the Honda Blade Semi Automatic is the best choice. These can also be fixed everywhere, but the Honda Blade never breaks down anyway. Statistically the Honda Blade remains to be our most reliable motorbike over distance despite being the cheapest.

Remote places on motorbikes
Remote places on motorbikes

Have motorbike skills and an adventurous attitude

The big loop of Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos takes around 2.3 to 3 months to complete. It is a long way, and when done properly is around a 10,000km journey.

Usually a Tigit Motorbike will be serviced and checked after every rental. Most “long” rentals will be 3 to 4,000km. A traveller hitting a 3 month holiday and 10,000km of road must be aware that wear and tear on components is going to happen and that they must be able to detect and check their own motorbike.

Tigit will gladly co-corporate and refund parts that need replacing on a journey providing the customers use our support channels to discuss and send pictures of old components.

Tigit can not translate in Cambodia and Laos and so travellers must fend for themselves when it comes to diagnosing problems and getting the right price. We can help with ideas, potential quotes and provide general support.
Mechanics in both Laos and Cambodia appear to be both skilful and honest!

Adventure motorbiking

Theft, crashes and major breakdowns

Travellers venturing off into both Laos and Cambodia should understand that Tigit has no control outside of Vietnam. We are unable to translate to police or deal with motorbike losses and crashes. Within Vietnam we have emergency contacts and a very large country wide coverage for dealing with dire situations.

When bad situations occur outside of Vietnam, it is the travellers responsibility to find a way back for the motorbike. If it is not returned to Tigit we consider it lost or stolen and will charge accordingly.

get a good motorbike
get a good motorbike

Crossing borders on a motorbike is an amazing thing to do!

Travelling across borders is an amazing feeling and not commonly done on a motorbike. With the right amount of time and an adventurous attitude this Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos loop is a once in a lifetime experience!

Vietnam having a lovely mix of mountain and coastal roads. Commonly driven by backpackers with both the famous Hai Van Pass and Ho Chi Minh road thrown into the mix. Tigit routes and maps for Vietnam.

Cambodia is hot, dusty and desert style driving, The famous Angkor wat temples (which can be viewed with a motorbike), and some extreme offloading for the thrill seeker.

Laos is mountainous and reports of travelers suggest that Laos is the most beautiful of the three countries!

Suzuki Raider customised for Cambodia
Suzuki Raider customised for Cambodia

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November 29, 2019

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17 Replies to “Crossing Borders with a Motorbike”

  1. Hello !
    I’m in Cambodia and when the border will open again I’d like to go to laos or Vietnam with my bike. It has Vietnamese plate but no blue card.
    I got a police ticket for not wearing a helmet few days ago. They let me go without paying but gave me a ticket. I’m supposed to pay it within 20 days or it will rise up.
    Knowing that they don’t have my adress, my passport and even my real name, only the numberplate of my bike, do you think it is ok not to pay the fine? Will I have problem when I’ll leave the country?
    (The no blue card thing is another problem, for now I’m just asking for the fine, can they see it when I check out of the country?)
    Thanks for your time

    1. I think you would get away without paying that fine. The border won’t link up to the police properly.
      I don’t think you can cross the border without a blue card.
      Vietnam may work, but Laos you have no chance. They are strict on the Laos border.

  2. Any update on Vietnam to Laos border crossings? (evisa applications) says “There are currently 8 checkpoints [listed] that allow foreign visitors to cross from Vietnam to Laos. Immigration officials at the Lalai border checkpoint do not issue visa on arrival. Foreign nationals entering Laos at Lalai are required to carry a valid Laos visa”.

    Sounds good, as if an evisa obtained online will do the job. But, then contradicts itself by saying “The Laos eVisa is currently valid across 3 designated entry ports” …. which are two airports and the Lao-Thai Friendship Bridge …. not much use to us on bikes!

    So is an evisa useless?

    1. Jon, thanks for comment.

      I’ve read different posts saying a visa can be obtained from the Laos Consulate in Hanoi in 15 minutes (one day service), and another saying is this actually takes a day (lodge application one day and collect the next). Difference could mean extra day in Hanoi.

      Any view?

    2. Sorry at this time we can not advise. We are having clients getting randomly rejected at borders, some getting through. At the moment we are unable to figure out the reasons.

  3. The Na Meo border is impossible if departing Vietnam with an evisa many have reported. Define evisa. What is an evisa? Is it defined as the $25 visa obtained from government website or an visa that is not obtained from an embassy? Visa agent told me today it is impossible to depart Vietnam through na meo with an evisa if you are departing with motorcycle. Is it true? Also there are some reports a multiple entry visa is needed to depart Vietnam into Laos? Any accounts of this?

    1. The Visa rules always change. E-visas are something requested I think and only available for some countries. The important thing is to get a normal Visa, this still requires the process of creating the Visa online through the government portal.
      I have not heard problems about a non multi entry visa.

    2. We are currently traveling in Laos. We entered Na Meo border which was super easy and very friendly. We only needed to pay 3 USD import tax. The road afterwards is not the best, mostly gravel with mud. Fairly easy to ride with a good bike in dry season. Sam Nuea is a wonderful little town to welcome you. PLEASE BE AWARE: From what we know that Lao border have stopped to obtain visa on arrival so you need to apply for a Lao visa in Hanoi. When we arrived on the border in November the visa on arrival counter was still there and they seem to be active but I don’t know when the news will reach them and they stop providing visas. HAVE FUN.

  4. I recently just finished a trip with my gf from Phnom Penh to Saigon and back (through Moc Bai) on my motorcycle with a Cambodian license plate. I beg to differ from your info, because we went through the border without any hassle. I looked up some information beforehand, and all websites either have zero experience doing this before or said it’s impossible. It’s not! It’s standard customs and immigration procedure. I brought my International Driver’s License and my bike’s registration, but they didn’t even ask a single question about my motorcycle and just let me through.
    Idk if it’s uncommon for foreigners to travel from Cambodia to Vietnam on a bike, because there’s hardly any info about it, just wanna say it’s possible and my gf and I did it! 🙂

    Hope this helps!

    1. Glad you made it through. You are definitely not supposed to be able to do that 🙂
      It is possible they turn a blind eye to cheap motorbikes (not sure what you were driving). But I do know the dirt bike market in Vietnam is propped up by illegally importing the motorbikes from Cambodia. There is no way to do it legally.

  5. I have plan to ride on my 250 cc from Pattaya to Ha Giang its Vietnam – China Border and ride back.
    My query is can i ride my thai number plated bike from thailand – laos – vietnam and back ?

  6. Actually , its not allowed to visit angkor wat with a Motorbike. They will charge you a very high fee. Its not even allowed to drive a motorbike in Siem Reap as a Foreigner.

    1. I was told the same when I was there. It was 3 years ago now though.
      We had not problems driving around.
      This article is based off a personal experience.

  7. Just letting you know I’ve taken my cambodian registered bike across the border crossing from cambodia to Vietnam both ways without a question being asked .This was in 2018 and 2019 .The crossings were moc bai. the phnom den one just south of chau doc and the ha tien crossing. If your bikes over 150 cc I’ve heard maybe this can’t be done. My bike is registered in my name but my mate only has rego card for his .

    1. They are relaxed on the Vietnam Cambodia border for sure.
      However bringing a Cambodian bike into Vietnam is definitely illegal. This is the source of the “no paper”, “large capacity” motorbikes that are sold on the backstreet markets here.