Crossing the border in Southeast Asia by motorcycle | NOMA Dasaurus (2023)

Crossing the border in Southeast Asia by motorcycle | NOMA Dasaurus (1)


Please see the comments at the bottom of this article for more updated information from other riders who have experience crossing the border on a motorcycle in Southeast Asia. Even if you have done this yourself, please leave a comment with your experience to help other people. Thanks to all.

Riding a motorbike through Southeast Asia could possibly be one of the greatest adventures you will ever experience in the region!

While a motorcycle ride through the whole of Vietnam has become a rite of passage for backpackers, the two neighboring countries of Laos and Cambodia are often overlooked.

Whether it's because people don't have the time or don't think about it is a real shame. Maybe it's because "motopackers" don't know that it's legal to cross the border with a motorcycle.

We have successfully crossed international borders three times - Laos to Vietnam, Vietnam to Cambodia and then back from Cambodia to Vietnam.

We give our best advice, based on first-hand experience and research, on what limits you can break and what you need to do it.

table of contents

(Video) An INDIAN crossing MYANMAR-THAILAND border on BIKE

    • Do I need travel insurance?
          • We recommend World Nomads.
  • Cross the border between Vietnam and Laos by motorbike
  • Cross the border between Vietnam and Cambodia on a motorbike
  • Cross the border between Laos and Cambodia on a motorbike
  • Crossing the border to Thailand by motorbike
      • TO UPDATE
    • Additional tips for border crossing

Do I need travel insurance?

Legally no. Smart, yes. Accidents happen every day and unfortunately some friends have been seriously injured or, in the worst case, killed on the roads in Southeast Asia.

Motorcycling is dangerous, there's no denying that. You may think that this won't happen to you or that medical care is cheap when you're injured. But not if you end up in a serious condition.

Seriously consider getting travel insurance before riding a motorbike in Southeast Asia! If you know the right company, you can even get travel insurance while you're on the road (if you've already started your trip).

If you want to learn more, read our pageDo I need travel insurance?

We recommendnomads of the world.

For our riding routes and routes we've taken through Southeast Asia, check out our articles below:

Motorbike adventures in northern Laos

Motorbike adventures in southern Laos

Cambodia motorcycle adventures

Motorbike adventures in southern Vietnam
Motorbike adventures in North Vietnam


Thakhek Loop Motorradabenteuer

Mae Hong Son loop

Note - all information below is based on ownership of a Vietnam registered motorcycle unless otherwise stated.

Crossing the border in Southeast Asia by motorcycle | NOMA Dasaurus (2)

Cross the border between Vietnam and Laos by motorbike

You can take a Vietnamese plated motorcycle between Vietnam and Laos countries. As far as we know you cannot take a Lao marked bike into Vietnam unless you are the registered owner of the bike. The two countries share 6 international border crossings.

  • Sop Hun / Tay Trang
    At the northernmost border between Muang Khua on the Lao side and Dien Bien Phu on the Vietnamese side, we were told that crossing the border by motorcycle is either not possible or expensive. ]The guys we bought our motorbikes from in Luang Prabang tried to cross the border here and were not allowed to leave Vietnam with them. We also heard from other drivers that the immigration officers tried to extort a large sum of money from them when they drove to this border crossing.
  • Na Maew (Na Meo) / Nam Xoi
    This border crossing near the Laotian town of Sam Neua allows Vietnamese-plated bicycles to be taken between countries. Upon exiting Vietnam, you'll have to pay $20 for an "Importation Form" that's supposed to be returned to customs when you leave Laos on your bike. They also charge a very inflated price for a Laos visa ($45). As of January 2015, the road on the Vietnamese side is in terrible condition as very thick mud makes driving quite dangerous. Allow for adequate daylight when attempting to make this crossing.
  • Nam Can / Nam Khan
    Between the major cities of Phonsavan in Laos and Vinh in Vietnam, the Nam Can border crossing is open to international tourists. We met two guys in January 2015 who got their Vietnamese motorbikes from Laos back to Vietnam at this crossing with no problems.
  • Nam Buoi / Cau Treo
    A convenient border crossing near Vinh and Lak Xao in Laos. We have also heard stories from people who have successfully crossed at this border. However, we have not met anyone who has personally done so.
  • Dansavanh / Lao Bao
    This border crossing is not too far from the city of Hue in Vietnam. We have no credible information about the possibility of crossing the border on a motorbike at Lao Bao, although we have heard stories that it is possible. We personally would not hesitate to attempt this border crossing ourselves.
  • Bo Y / Ngoc Hoi
    This border crossing is located between the major cities of Attapeu in Laos and Kon Tum in Vietnam. It is a remote crossing as the road is a beautiful mountain pass on the Laos side. Watch out for logging trucks on this road. We traveled from Laos to Vietnam at Bo Y with no problems. Border officials in Laos and Vietnam did not ask for bribes, fees or extra money for the crossing. Nobody asked for the import permits that came with our bikes.
Crossing the border in Southeast Asia by motorcycle | NOMA Dasaurus (3)

Cross the border between Vietnam and Cambodia on a motorbike

You can take a Vietnamese plated motorcycle to Cambodia and back. We've heard of people bringing Cambodian motorcycles to Vietnam, but we don't have any credible sources on this.

The two countries share 5 international road border crossings. They are as follows:

  • Bavet/Moc Bai
    This is the main border crossing between Vietnam and Cambodia and buses run regularly along the route. It is the most convenient crossing to get from Ho Chi Minh City to Phnom Penh and can be done on a big day. It's definitely possible to get a Vietnamese-plated motorcycle across the border at this international gate, although you may be asked for a fee or bribe.
  • Phnom Den/Tinh Bien
    Located near the Vietnamese town of Chau Doc, this border crossing can be a convenient place to get to Kampot or vice versa. We brought our Vietnamese plated bikes into Cambodia at this border crossing in July 2014 and had no problems with it. We were not asked about any additional charges.
  • Prek Chak / Xa Xia
    Also known as the "Ha Tien" crossing, this coastal border between Vietnam and Cambodia is open to international tourists. We met people who got their bikes across the border at this checkpoint and had no problems.
  • Le Thanh / O Yadao
    The northernmost border crossing connects Ban Lung in Cambodia with Pleiku in Vietnam. There are stories online of people having no problem crossing the border on a Vietnamese-plated motorcycle at this checkpoint, but the information is outdated.
  • Trapaing Sre border crossing
    This border crossing is near the town of Snoul in Cambodia and Dong Xoai in Vietnam. This is the one we took our bikes across the border back to Vietnam in October 2014 and had no problems at all.
Crossing the border in Southeast Asia by motorcycle | NOMA Dasaurus (4)
Crossing the border in Southeast Asia by motorcycle | NOMA Dasaurus (5)

Cross the border between Laos and Cambodia on a motorbike

Although there are no laws stating that taking a bike between Cambodia and Laos is illegal, corruption has made it difficult for international tourists to do so recently.

There is only one international border crossing between the two countries.

  • Veun Kham/Dom Kralor
    As this is the only legal border crossing between Laos and Cambodia, it is the most popular option. However when we did this in June 2014 we were told by locals and expats that a scam was taking place at the border. Apparently officials let Laos or Cambodia ride the bike but refuse if you try to cross to the next country. They then charge an extortionate fee to give you "permission" to cross. If you don't agree, a tout will appear and offer to buy your bike for peanuts. Stuck in no man's land, you have no choice but to sell your bike. Based on these stories, we decided to skip this border crossing and head to Vietnam instead.

Special Note:We met a local on Don Det, in the 4000 Islands, who made us an interesting offer. He offered to take us and our bikes across the Mekong to Cambodia and park them at his friend's farm before taking us back to Laos.

(Video) Crossing into LAOS with Vietnamese Motorbike (Cha Lo Border)🇻🇳🇱🇦

We could then cross the Laos-Cambodia border on foot and hitchhike to the property to collect our bikes. As tempting as we were, we decided against it.We do NOT recommend illegal border crossing between countries.But if you end up doing this, please let us know how you go about it!

Crossing the border in Southeast Asia by motorcycle | NOMA Dasaurus (6)

Crossing the border to Thailand by motorbike

Yes, it is possible to bring a bike registered in Cambodia or Vietnam to Thailand –but it is not easy.

First you need all the correct registration papers and bike insurance. Officially, the bike must be fully registered in your name, although there are ways to get around this.

If you do manage to take a motorbike to Thailand, you will often receive a form stating that you have 30 days to leave the country and you must state which border you are leaving at.

Our friend Seb found a “Power of Attorney” form online and had the previous owners of his bike and a Cambodian man co-sign it.

Seb was the first to cross the border, leaving his friend with the bikes. Seb took out compulsory motorcycle insurance and showed the forms to so many authorities that they finally let his friend across the border. This took 3 hours.


This is from Olli and Wooki, two Germans who entered Thailand from Laos:

Yesterday we crossed from Laos to Thailand via Friendship Bridge #4 between Huay Xay and Chiang Khong. All it cost us was one USD for some photocopies, 30 days free in Thailand.

At first they wanted us to pay for the police car to escort us crossing the bridge but when we told them we didn't want to pay we didn't have to.


The paperwork took about an hour to complete. The papers say we have to get the bikes back out of the country so it seems we can't leave without them.

Crossing the border in Southeast Asia by motorcycle | NOMA Dasaurus (7)

Additional tips for border crossing

Cambodian and Lao visas-on-arrivals are available at almost all border crossings.All Vietnamesemust be obtained in good time. However, we recommend getting your visa before you arrive at the checkpoints.

That way there is one less thing for the authorities to hold over your head should they prove difficult.

Another tip we've been told is to park your bike "out of sight" when checking out of one country and hide it when checking in to the next country.

Once your passport is stamped, hop on the motorbike and ride like hell before the authorities can stop you. Again, we don't recommend this (but it might work).

Motorbikes registered in Vietnam are the easiest to move between countries and we recommend buying one if possible. Make sure it comes with the blue registration form and keep it with you at all times.

Another thing to take with you is oneInternational driving license, although in Vietnam this means nothing. You may be asked for this at a border crossing, so it doesn't hurt to have one with you.

When dealing with customs officials, don't mention your motorcycle at all unless they ask about it. They might just turn a blind eye, but if you bring it up, they might consider charging for it.

Crossing the border in Southeast Asia by motorcycle | NOMA Dasaurus (8)

(Video) Vietnam to Laos Border Crossing by Motorbike | Vietnamese Plates & NO Licence

[box type=“info“ size=“large“ style=“rounded“ border=“full“]Do you have experience crossing the border by motorcycle in Southeast Asia? If so, let us know below which border crossing you used and how it went.[/Crate]


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