Putting your bike on a bus or train in Southeast Asia is easy.
It’s also a great way to get between highlights unless you have literally months to explore the region. Here’s a country-by-country summary of what you’re likely to encounter… with special thanks to GoingEast for the information on China.
- Cambodia – Expect to pay a fee and see your bike tied up with the chickens on smaller buses. On routes between main cities, there may be room underneath.
- China – Here bikes aren’t a problem at all. You will pay extra but the bikes will always travel with you. People who travel by bus in China don’t carry very much luggage, so there is usually lots of space.
- Laos – Your bike will almost certainly be strapped to the back or roof of the bus. A fee is payable, usually at the end of the journey and about 50% of the ticket price. There are some fast buses between major cities, although ‘fast’ is a relative term. The roads are still slow roads, no matter how few stops the bus makes. Expect lots of karaoke music videos.
- Malaysia – In this developed country, bikes will always encounter a fee and must always be reduced in size to make them fit in the small storage area. If the bus is too full you won’t get on so try not to travel in peak times. More about bikes on buses in Malaysia…
- Thailand – Be prepared to turn the handlebars and remove the wheels to make the bike fit in the luggage compartment. Bikes can incur a small charge, depending on the operator. Have some rags or packing material handy to protect the frame from scratches. More about bikes on buses in Thailand…
- Singapore – Buses don’t like to take your bike unless it’s in a box or a foldable one. Cycle out of the city or take the train.
- Cambodia – There is one trains her. Yes, one, and it goes once a week between Battambang and Phnom Penh. It’s so painfully slow that you’ll almost certainly want to get a bus instead.
- China – If you are taking an overnight train, you must bring your bike to the cargo company at least one day in advance if you expect it to arrive when you do! Train times in English for China
- Laos – There are no trains.
- Malaysia & Singapore – Like Thailand, there are trains and it’s no big drama to get your bike on them. Your bike will go in the cargo section for a small fee. Run by Keratapi Tanah Malayau
- Thailand – The bike can sometimes go in the 3rd class carriage, depending on the journey and how the full train is. For longer trips, your bike will have to go in the cargo wagon so check beforehand that the service you want to take has a cargo wagon. A small fee, about 90 Baht, is charged for the bike. Note: you are responsible for retrieving your bike from the cargo wagon when the train stops at a station and there’s not always a lot of time! Run by the State Railways of Thailand. More about Bikes on Trains in Thailand…