Adventure Travel on a Motorcycle

An exotic, mystical and enchanting land with remote hill tribe villages, ancient ruins, beautiful coastlines and spectacular mountain views. Now imagine how much better it is to be visiting on a motorcycle, with the wind blowing against your face, sights, sounds and smells unmuffled by rolled up, tinted windows.

You see things differently on a motorcycle. You are no longer a passive observer watching the scenes go by, instead you are in the scene. The acrid smell of burning logs tickles your nose and the cold mountain air tingles your skin. You raise your arms for the low hanging tree branches, and the leaves brush by your fingers.

An adventure travel on a motorcycle is one of the best ways to see a country, especially in countries with challenging road infrastructure. Compared to its more glamorous counterpart, it is easier for a motorcycle to edge pass potholes and bomb craters. A motorcycle also makes it easier to go off the beaten track and explore narrow dirt roads.

And there are a lot to explore in countries like Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam. The mighty Angkor Wat in Cambodia, mysterious Plain of Jars in Laos and picturesque Sapa in Vietnam are but some of the famous attractions. There are plenty of waterfalls, lakes, rivers, hot springs, caves, mountains, jungles and temples to keep the traveller occupied. These South East Asian countries are also blessed with deep history and rich culture.

Because of the cultural and language barriers, it might seem difficult enough just to visit the countries, let alone renting a motorcycle and travelling cross-country. But many foreigners, including me, have made the same trips without much problems. Sure, the motorcycles do break down and we do lose our way once in a while. But, these are just part of the adventures and you can always depend on the friendly locals, who are armed with an uncanny ability to repair motorcycles and are always willing to point you out to the right direction.

31 thoughts on “Adventure Travel on a Motorcycle

  1. Hi – I’m off to Cambodia / Vietnam / Laos in August and stumbled across your blog while looking for random info…

    I had never considered travelling by motorbike but after reading some of your adventures I reckon I could be persuaded!

    Logistically, where did you hire the bike from, how did you navigate, did you carry spare petrol just in case you got lost, did you need to leave a big deposit? As you can see, I’m a total novice here but keen to give it a go!


  2. Hi Cocker,

    Glad to hear you are considering travelling by motorbike. I personally thought it’s pretty fun! Now, to answer your questions:

    1) There are quite a few motorbike rental shops who rents to tourists in the countries you planned to visit. You can check out the Motorcycle section of my trip reports for the exact address and related information. Hopefully, my Laos trip report can be completed within the next few weeks.

    2) Navigation is easier than it looks. There are kilometer stones and signboards on the roads. I would say a map and a compass are all you need. If lost, you can always approach a local for directions.

    3) I did not carry spare petrol for my trips but I think it would be prudent to do so. I try to top up whenever I can, even if the tank is more than half full.

    4) The deposit is your passport. If you want to leave cash in place of your passport, the amount is usually the price of the motorbike.

    I have taken a look at your blog. Looks like you are a born adventurer. 🙂

  3. hello, I am heading to Hanoi and thinking of travelling by motor bike.
    Motorcycle license is required to ride in Vietnam?

  4. Hi yawn,

    Note that this might not have the latest information. According to , an international driving permit is not sufficient and law enforcers have a right to fine you for riding without carrying a valid local license. That being said, rental shops will still rent you their bikes even if you don’t have a local license. Many tourists have rode without a license. Well, it’s your decision.

  5. Hi atticus

    I was considering travelling in august by motorbike through either vietnam or cambodia but was put off
    when I heard its the rainy season.

    Are the roads unmanageable at this time?



  6. Hi Joe,

    I guess it depends on the type of terrain you are going to ride. Highways or off roads? I did the Sapa loop and Bokor Hill station ride during the raining season. It’s manageable, albeit a little messy with all the mud and rain. But if you intend to do the Death Highway, I would suggest that you read Matt’s experience in Adventure Cambodia.

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  8. G’day! Great info here. Just wondering if you can give me an idea on how long it would take to motorbike from Phnom Penh to Vientiane, Laos – whether it’s cutting through Thailand or going around Laos/Thai border? Also what is your opinion on the condition of the roads in Laos compared to Cambodia? Cheers!!

  9. Hi Leigh,

    For time, you can check out the road distances and estimate about 40-50km/h. Of course, do check the logistics on bringing a motorbike across the country.

    For Laos/Cambodia road conditions, I would say they are quite similar.

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