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Friday, July 28, 2017

Crossing Vietnam Borders



Singaporeans can stay in Vietnam for up to 30 days without a visa. Similar to Cambodia, international drivers licence is not valid and has to be converted to a Vietnam driving licence in advance. Applications have to be mailed in to Department of Transportation in Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh and there is a processing fee of VND 30,000 to 70,000 (under S$5).


Knowing which borders to cross in Vietnam is important. You don't want to make a detour that will land you in the middle of nowhere.


Cambodia x Vietnam Borders

International border checkpoint @ Ha Tien a charming & sleepy seaside town with some nice hotels, shops, markets, eateries, just don't expect everything to be open all the time.

Immigration Checkpoint @ Tan Chau is on the Mekong river and a passport office for immigrants. It looks like a jetty, do people really still come in by boat. Maybe the Vietnam citizenship services are still located here.

Cambodia Vietnam Border @ Binh Hiep is the main gateway. It looks like the suburbs with a grocery store, a petrol station. It's more for tour buses with large groups of people.

Border checkpoint @ Moc Bai that is a built up area with backpacker hostels, eateries and even a duty free at the border. Do stop by the duty free if it is open as I hear the liquor is cheap. Dirt road is big enough for a car or motorbike, I don't think tour buses can come through here.


Laos x Vietnam Borders
There are numerous borders each identified by a number. However, you really only need to know 2, one on the southern part of Laos and one on the northern part of Laos.

Laos Vietnam Border 605 @ Lao Bao is the main gateway and leads on to a sprawling border town. Located on the southern part of Laos. Checkout the picture of the gateway above.

Border Crossing 113 @ Tay Trang a picturesque hillside highway. Located on the northern part of Laos.


China x Vietnam Borders
There are many smaller borders not mentioned here. These are just the main ones of interest to me.

Located on the western part of Vietnam there is hekouzhen @ Lao Cai. Lao Cai is a big border town with public buses, community market and tourist spots for sightseeing.

Located on the eastern part of Vietnam is dongxingzhen @ Mong Cai. Another big border town with 4* hotels and service apartments in addition to regular homestays and backpacker inns.

Also located on the eastern part of Vietnam, next to Hanoi is Vietnam citizenship services @ Dong Dang.


Friday, July 21, 2017

Crossing Indochine Borders



Laos is relatively fuss-free, Singaporeans can travel visa-free to Laos for 30 days or less and international drivers licence is valid there for 1 year. No car permit documents are required and car insurance costs 300 baht a week (under S$13).


Singaporeans can travel visa-free in Myammar for up to 30 days. However, foreign vehicles require MTT permission or authorized Travel Agent registration 4 weeks prior to arrival at the border. International Drivers Licence need to be converted to a local Myammar Driving Licence prior to arrival as well, apply via mail to Road Transport Department in Yangon or Naypyitaw, it costs USD$20 and is valid for 5 years.

Vehicle Permit (this one is for bicycles) from moz.travel

Singaporeans visiting Cambodia for less than 30 days do not require a visa. It sounds hassle free especially if you are travelling across the border by bus, motorcycle or tuktuk. However, if you are driving a car, you will need to purchase car permit and insurance to the tune of over a hundred US dollars at the border and it's only valid for one week, have your car related documents ready.


Not only that, international drivers licence is not recognized in Cambodia, you will have to apply for a licence conversion that will cost you something like usd$35 and take minimum 1 month to process. Luckily, online applications are now available so you can apply for a licence conversion before arriving at the border. Cambodian driving licences have a validity of 1 year or 3 year period, it's quite troublesome to keep track of the various validity periods.


Friday, July 14, 2017

Crossing Thailand's Borders



Singaporeans entering Thailand for less than 30 days do not need a visa. If you are driving in via border checkpoints, you are only allowed to enter Thailand twice in one calendar year. International driver's licence is recognized in Thailand. However, insurance requires a Thai drivers licence for stays longer than 3 months, so if you are staying for more than 3 months in Thailand, you should get a Thai drivers licence.

 Car Permit in Thailand from ExpatGo.com

Car insurance and Temporary Car Permit have to be applied for and purchased at the border. It's a minimum amount requirement, I am told most people pay for more coverage and I will probably do so as well. Total costs less than $100.


Thailand x Malaysia Borders
There is a duty free shop on the Malaysia side of the border, it's by no means cheap but its a great place to stretch your legs and take a break.

On the eastern part of Malaysia is the Rantau Panjang - Sungai Golok border checkpoint.  

On the western part of Malaysia is the Wang Kelian - Wang Prachan border checkpoint. There are some markets and its in the middle of a nature reserve so nobody lives here. This place also offers Malaysian citizenship services.

Next to WK-WP is Padang Besar border checkpoint for trains. There is also Bukit Kayu Hitam - Sadao border checkpoint that is completely fenced in and built up, that leads to Hat Yai.

In the middle, between eastern and western Malaysia is Pengkalan Hulu - Betong border checkpoint.


Thailand x Laos Borders 

On the northern part of Thailand, from Chiang Mai to Chiang Rai region is Phu Sang National Park border checkpoint.

Heading up north from Bangkok to the city of Vientiane Laos is the Friendship Bridge border checkpoint. There is a duty free shop and cafe on the Laos side.

There is a second friendship bridge border checkpoint at Mukdahan - Savannakhet. Border towns with schools, airport, eateries.

On the eastern part of Thailand is Chong Mek border checkpoint that has a bus terminal, shopping, markets, temporary eateries.


Thailand x Cambodia Borders

Cham Yeam border checkpoint is located at the southernmost part of Thailand. It's a seaside town with a market and some nice hotels.

Poipet International Border is on the eastern part of Thailand at Sa Kaeo going into Krong Siem Reap where Angkor Wat is located, UNESCO World Heritage site. It's also where Thailand citizenship services are located. See picture above.

In between Cham Yeam Border and Poipet International Border is Chantaburi- Phsar Prum Border where Cambodian citizenship services are located.


Friday, July 7, 2017

Crossing the Malaysian Borders




Singaporeans entering Malaysia are allowed to stay 30 days or less visa-free in one calendar year. International drivers licence is valid in Malaysia for 1 year only.


All cars are required to pre-register for Vehicle Entry Permit or VEP, processing fee is $10 and it's valid for 5 years. Thereafter, each time you enter or exit Singapore/Malaysia borders it will cost you $20, payment by cash card only as cash payments are subject to an additional $10 surcharge. When entering Malaysia from Singapore, payment is 20 ringgit and payment is by Touch'n'Go cards that are used on Malaysian roads and toll booths. Coming back from Malaysia to Singapore, ordinary cashcards or CEPAS cards are accepted and its $20 singapore dollars.


Some Singapore car insurance covers Malaysia, you might want to extend coverage for all countries before leaving. If your insurance company cannot do that, than you have to buy car insurance at the border, have your car documents ready. If you are driving a foreign car into Singapore, you can only do so for 15 days. Thereafter, you have to apply for an extension from LTA and the maximum is 90 days. If you wish to keep the car in Singapore past the 90 days, you have to apply for COE etc that is the same as a new car purchase.


One last thing to remember is : Singapore registered vehicles at Malaysia borders need to have a minimum of 3/4 tank of petrol. If not you will be turned away at customs or even prosecuted in court and fined up to $500.