Riding across South East Asia Mainland – Knowing Basic Rules

Riding across South East Asia Mainland – Knowing Basic Rules

South East Asia mainland includes Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Myanmar and West Malaysia. Geographically located between two nominated civilizations: Indian and Chinese, they have shared many common features in culture, the law as well as a political institution. However, the traffic rules are not in the list. Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia are driving on the right while Thailand is on the left, but Myanmar is much different from these others. That makes the cycling or motorcycling tours across those countries challenging in a very interesting way.

You may want to refer our similar post on:
Common and different aspects in Buddhism at South East Asia mainland

Left-hand side or right-hand side?

Regardless of paper works, that is the most complicated issue while traversing across South East Asia countries. S.E.A mainland seems the point where this rule is so separated in comparison to other parts of the world. That comes from the historical feature of those countries since colonial times. Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia were reigned by the French government, has remained the habit of driving until today: keep on the right-hand side. Thailand was not really invaded by any country but they actually signed a decree with the United Kingdom and influenced by the UK for several decades. That has resulted keeping driving on the left in Thailand today. Myanmar is the weirdest case, they were ruled by the UK in a long history and now they are driving on the right-hand side but the steering wheel on the right too.

On the short list, when you are driving in:
A car in Myanmar with a back glass on the left-hand side

Learn more:
A guide for motorcycling in Vietnam

For motor bikers and bikers, you just take notes the side of riding. Motor-biking is very popular in Vietnam and Thailand, which are two largest motorbike consuming countries over Asia. It is the most favorite mode of transportation in those countries. Motor-biking is also loved in Laos and Cambodia. For Myanmar, motorbike does not allow in Yangon and Naypyidaw but it has become a favorite choice of the Burmese recently in other cities when embargoes on Myanmar were lifted.

From those real aspects, cycling across South East Asia mainland is the most enjoyable adventure when you may not encounter the prohibition by law and the sole thing you should pay attention is the side of riding. The motor-biking is very fantastic but you must be escorted by a local support team, including tour guide and/or mechanic who absolutely understand the rules and safety instruction. That doesn't not help you stay away from troubles due to law violation, but to keep you safe from accidents with locals such as in Vietnam, where we must say the traffic regulation awareness is relatively low.

View our cycling tours connecting two countries here

Rules for driving/riding on left-hand side:

Left-hand traffic

Rules for driving/riding on the right-hand side:

Right-hand traffic

You will have to keep these rules in your mind while biking or motorcycling across South East Asia in order to avoid law violation or unexpected accidents. Depending on this feature, ActiveTravel ASIA often designs biking and motor biking programs connecting Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. That makes our riders avoid confused.

Thailand and Myanmar are similar and different all at the same times where the steering wheel is on the right, but Thailand drives to the left and Myanmar drives to the right-hand side. The motor biking and cycling adventures within and across those countries are mostly in the North where the terrain is very challenging and the scenery is spectacular. Main destinations in Southern Myanmar, Yangon and Naypyidaw, prohibit motorbikes and in Southern Thailand, Bangkok, is dealing with the terrible traffic jam.

Refer related posts:

Understanding motorbikes used in our motorcycling adventures: in mainland of South East Asia, motorcycling tours in Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand are the most popular. Adapting to local law and nature features, each country prefers different motor types.

10 basic techniques for bicycle riders: keeping balance, how to overcome various obstacles such as mud, sand or rock and much more…

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