WARNING, V DULL: Shipping Report: India to Thailand by air

When we were looking for information for shipping bikes it was very hard to come by for this route, so we decided to put this on for anyone looking to do a similar thing.  So here’s a shipping report for anyone trying to ship bikes from India to Thailand. 

Obviously we didn't actually want to ship at all, and would much prefer to do it all overland, but Burma aren't willing to give motorcycle tourists visas, so that was that.  We went as far as we could, right up to the border in Bangladesh (we even asked the border guys), but then turned back and sent it from Calcutta.

We researched various departure points and destinations around the area and this one won in terms of price AND speed.

Kathmandu to Bangkok was pricier on flights for us, and based on other peoples reports pricier for shipping too.

Chittagong in Bangladesh for sea shipping proved to be far more expensive, far less professional, and much much slower.

Chennai, Sth India, to Bangkok looked to be about the same price for shipping, maybe a little more on the flight.  We were right up north though and when the trip was factored in it made more sense to go to Calcutta.

There was talk of sending it to Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia and riding up to Thailand, but this meant for us going the wrong way in a big loop, and judging by the reports it didn’t seem to save much money…

We used:

DHL Lemuir Logistics,
Tower A, 11th Floor, DLF IT Park, 8 Major Arterial Rd, New Town, Rajarhat, Kolkata. 

We used a guy called Swapan Dutta, but he wasn’t around much as I’ll explain later. 

The phone number for the office is : +91 33 44 00 59 28
Mr Dutta's mobile is: +91 38 36 182 345
email: swapan.dutta@dhl.com

Process in India

We went on a Monday, but as it is India, they were closed for a holiday (National Brother Day...).  Returned on Tuesday, and arranged quite efficiently to do the whole thing the next day including bike flight!

 This was all that held the bike up the whole way..... it did work though and got there fine.

Pleased, we returned on Wednesday for an arranged appointment.  Then we were left sat in reception for 2 hours without anyone speaking to us...  The crating process was started, though without our knowledge.  We met them a while later and helped crate it.  We had to change the dimensions they had decided to make the box to, which they did fine.  The crate company were very good and efficient.  The crate was quite rubbish, but just standard for India I think.  Possibly if you are very precious about your bike you may want to make your own, which would probably be fine with DHL.  Our bike was not tied down with any straps, and we didnt have any.  It had small wedges of wood around the front forks and rear tyre keeping it stood up.  It all looked a little dodgy but it did make it there fine.  We took the front wheel off, and windshield to save space.  It was a bit smaller, but if we had been there for the whole crating process it could easily have been a bit smaller still. 

The bike got crated at the side of a road, when finished it was lifted onto the back of a van by several flip-flop wearing men.

A few hours later crating was done, and Mr Dutta promised to get the paperwork sorted for us that evening, though it was too late to ship that day.

Thursday we went back for our meeting at 9.30, and were kept in reception again for 3 hours without any sign of Mr Dutta.  When we eventually asked what was happening, we were told Mr Dutta was not actually in the office that day.  Another guy told us he would get onto it and do the paperwork (that Mr Dutta hadn't done the night before like he said he would).  He told us to go for a walk for a while, and he would call us in an hour. A couple of hours later we called him, and were told nothing would be done that day and to come back Friday.

On Friday we went back, waited another couple of hours, finally collected all forms, and went to the airport to meet the DHL agent there for bike inspection.  The DHL agent met us two hours late and immediately went on lunch.  There was a theme developing...  Eventually after waiting another few hours, we met with customs, who tried to extort a bribe (to not open the crate back up to check for drugs) and failed, and then also did not open the crate, thanks to realising we weren't good for any money.  He did the paperwork pretty quickly after this, and the bike flew on the saturday night.

There was also some small problem with the price suddenly increasing once it was at the airport and we had already paid.  It was all a bit confusing, but in the end they agreed to waive the extra fee, as they had not been the best throughout the week.  (They didn't actually say this... In fact they sent us an email telling us how great they'd been.)

Overall they did get everything done and it did come in at a good price,  but don't believe it when they tell you it wont take long. They seem to like to keep you waiting without telling you what is going on . We worked out we spent over 20 hours waiting for someone to do something that week.

Our flights we arranged on Saturday, and flew the next morning.  They were with Air India, through a travel agent.  That bit was easy.

Process in Thailand

Got to the International Cargo Complex at the new airport in Bangkok at about 10am. 

Once there and with a security badge (available from the office right at the gate), you have to take the shuttle bus to the Thai Airways Cargo depot down the bottom.  Once there, ask for the storage fee payment office, and pay the storage fee, which for us for one day was 600Baht.  Then take the receipt and get bus back to near the gates.  Go to the customs office, and go upstairs to the 1st floor.  Walk around the glass screen into the actual office area, and randomly approach someone.  They will point you to the right man, who will do somehting to your forms.  We just gave him all of ours, and he did something.  Whatever it was, it cost 30 Baht.  Then go back downstairs and hand in all your forms plus two photocopies of carnet (if you have a carnet, if not, just the reg docs, just for details of the bike), two copies of main page of passport, and two of the visa entry to Bangkok, and your passport.  This all goes to the person in charge of a Temporary Import of Personal Vehicle. In our case she was very nice and smiley.  She will take about forty minutes to do something else to the forms, and will bring you a form to sign which holds you liable for a whole load of money should the bike not leave the country within a certain amount of time (Thailand don't use the Carnet system so this is only way to do it).

Getting it back in Thailand was fairly easy. Customs staff were friendly and helpful.

Then take all your finished forms, get back on the shuttle bus to the cargo area, where you'll find your bike.  The cargo guys will uncrate it all (free of charge), and you will get to put it back together again.  They then sign one piece of the white slip you now have, and you then get the other bit stamped by the inspector on the way out.  Our bike didn't actually seem to get inspected at all.  We also didnt get the other bit stamped, he just waved us through.  This may or may not cause enormous troubles on the way out of Thailand.  Check for updates!  Then you are off, but do not go on the motorway on the way into Bangkok as you will be fined $25 by the very present police. Bikes not allowed.

Price Breakdown

The freight bill total with all docs and all money at Indian customs came to: 310GBP or 24,000IRP or $490 (USD) depending how you like your money.

The breakdown on the actual bill wasn’t very specific, but the total price was fair, and he put us on the next weight tariff up, meaning we saved money.  We didn’t ask for this, he offered.

Crating charge:    6000IRP / 75GBP / 120USD

(crating was high we think, and we’re fairly sure they scammed us on it together.  DHL will bring the crate company themselves, meaning lots of room for them to privately negotiate a scammy price.  You could probably say you want to make it yourself and save about 2/3rds of this price, easily.  Also the crate they made was fairly rubbish.)


2 X Tickets including all taxes = 9000IRP / 115 GBP / 180USD

Thai Customs payments:
Storage fee (one day): 600BAHT / 11GBP / 17USD
Form fee: 30BAHT/ 0.40GBP / 1USD

Hope this can be of use to someone


  1. Hello you two(+ manfred),thats brill you have taken manfred to new heights,it could have been the fastest and highest he has ever been,or at least for twenty years?.Keep on trucking stevex.

  2. Hi There.

    I only started reading your blog about a week ago, so I'm trying to catch up on your older posts and also try to follow along where you are right now.
    I must say, my wife and me are living vicaroisly thru your blog. We have not done the big trip yet, but the info you have on your blog wil come in handy later once we have the money saved.
    Enjoy every minute of it. Even when your patience is getting tested, it's better than being at work in the office.
    You are living the dream ! Keep on trekking.

  3. Hello!
    At this moment I'm working on the last preparations for a similar trip to Malaysia.

    This morning I found out that the Chinese overland trip from India to Laos/Thailand is possible but will be very expensive.

    reading this very informative entry automatically uplifted my mood :)

    I will probably follow your steps to transport the motorcycle.
    I will make a similar post on my site to inform other people about my experiences.

    Gr. Hendri


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