4 weeks solo ride to Northern Thai Laos - continuation from Northern Thai section

Discussion in 'Laos Road Trip Reports' started by lipmeng, May 28, 2014.

  1. lipmeng

    lipmeng Ol'Timer

    22 March 2014- Day 20th of the trip.

    The Laos immigration is swift and not much hassle but the customs officer only allows the bike for 14 days in Laos whereas my passport entry is for 30 days and so is my Laos motor insurance. I tried to appeal to the customs officer and explained about the extension of the bike entry from 14 days to 30 days as I need to travel up north and thereafter heading south to Cambodia. Unfortunately he refused to accede to my request and claims that foreign motorcycle is only allow for 14 days in Laos. I am skeptical about the reason that the customs officer gave me but nevertheless I will need to adjust the plan in Laos accordingly.

    Crossing to Laos section on the friendship bridge from Nongkhai.......................
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    Me grinning as I am in Laos finally.........
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    but still keep myself to remember riding at the right side in Laos.
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    First drop of rain since the begining of my trip on 3 March 2014.........happens to be in Laos.
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    Riding towards Vientiane capita......not far from the border.
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    Not much of a problem in getting to my buddy's office in Vientiane.
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  3. lipmeng

    lipmeng Ol'Timer

    I stayed in Vientiane for 2 nights only as my bike entry is only for 14 days.....................

    Sunday morning, we went to have breakfast and thereafter joined the fellow Malaysians for coffee and some snacks.
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    Most of the guys have been in Vientiane for few years except one of them just posted here from Saigon...............
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    Stayed in my buddy's placed which is a service apartment with secured parking.
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    Loaded up on Monday (24 March 2014) morning to ride out towards Vang Vieng.
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    Checking out.....passed apartment keys to my buddy at his office before heading out to Vang Vieng.
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    Traffic is not light as I expected in the morning in Vientiane....................
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    Since the weather looks cloudy in the morning, I decided to have a good breakfast at Le Benneton..............popular for their nice breads and croissants
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    Heading out of the capital on R13.........
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    Traffic eases as I am out of the capital....................nice ride.
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    Some pics of the rural area along the route to Vang Vieng.............
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    The reason for the poor quality of pics.........my hand may not be steady and camera is slow on responding.
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    Approaching to Vang Vieng........................
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    Checked in at Grand View Guesthouse for USD13.00 fan room with nice bed and bathroom. Coffee is free in the morning and the air cond room with river view is USD20.00.
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    The town is full of guesthouses and beer joints and mostly tourist doing the water tubing and having cheap beers.
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    Had a huge sandwich for late lunch and a pineapple juice.......restaurant have a nice view of the river and mountains.
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    After the meal..........exhausted it was huge.
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    Fried rice and morning glory for dinner..................USD6.00 too expensive...............taste just normal nothing better than Thailand.
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  4. lipmeng

    lipmeng Ol'Timer

    25 March 2014 morning.
    Breakfast at guesthouse....f.o.c instant coffee...2 sachets...self service and bought a sandwich from stall in front for USD3.00 which is also expensive as it is not from BURGER KING but road side stall.Everthing USD or KIP...tens of thousand. Ate all and no lunch as need to ride to Luang Prabang approx 200+km of mountains roads.

    My impression of Viang Vieng is not suitable for family but mostly caters for younger backpackers especially those who likes to booze will enjoy.Observed that many younger western tourist likes the place and at night most of them are at the bars or drinking on the streets while walking barefoot.

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    Riding out of Viang Vieng in the morning was pleasant as it was cool and traffic is not heavy although some of the roads are a bit potty as expected in this part of the country. Some common road hazards such as pigs, cows, poultry and pot holes just like Cambodia.The mountain scenery and farm lands are a common sight in the initial section of the route from Viang Vieng to Kasi enroute to Luang Prabang before Phou Khoun via route 13 which is the national HWY from south to north.

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    Riding this section has been enjoyable as there is never a moment of boredom and I will endeavor to ride here again in the near future with lesser load on the bike.
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    Surprisingly one can see a chinese eating shop in such a rural place .......................
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    Approaching close to the Phou Khoun section of the mountain road as the view is getting more amazing with huge mountains.
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    The first section of the morning ride up to Kasi is approx 60+km quite easy but the later part of the ride when nearing Phou Khon to Luang Prabang which is approx 160+km is demanding when riding solo on a fully loaded bike. There are so many huge mountains to ascend and descend moreover I have never seen so many mountains in my life and even those in Mae Hong Song is not as tough as these mountain roads. There are narrow with potholes, loose gravels, tight corners, heavy vehicles and buses and most crucial are those local village houses doorstep are at the main HWY13 with kids playing near road side and they cross the road with the dogs chasing after them.

    Hwy signage sponsored by beer company?........perhaps it should include " Don't drink and drive".
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    Houses with hand weaved bamboo & leave walls at the road side...............one may easily land into their bedroom if riding recklessly.
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    Although the locals are living in poverty but they have a million dollar view.
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    Mid way in the mountains the traffic was halted by an accident where a bus was slightly damaged by a lorry and everybody stopped while waiting for those involved to settle the issue amicably. I was considering to squeeze in between the gap but a driver of a minivan shows his sign language not to do so & wait as it is better not to take risk alone. While waiting I struck a conversation with two mainland chinese driving their SUV and they are from Chongging. Their SUV is a luxury model which I think something like Infinity and they asked me whether I'm from Hongkong. When I told them I'm a M'sian and their immediate respond is "what happen to the plane....MH390?".................................see how others look at M'sian now?

    We took pics and he gave me 2 bottles of chinese mineral water and a packets of seasoned radish which is also a China product.....very good as he claims. He also offered me chinese cigaratte which I politely refused.

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    A local man posing with my bike.....note the maroon colour SUV behind belongs to the chinese guy that I mentioned earlier (whom I met again in Luang Prabang later in the evening).
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    The journey was continued without any interruption neither any stop for drinks except for some occasional stops for taking pics without dismounting from the bike....................dangerous on narrow roads and legs are too tired.
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    Along the R 13 ......national hwy whereby houses are just inches by the roadside.
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    One of the few cyclist that I saw along the R13........
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    Approaching near Xiang Ngeun..........
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  5. lipmeng

    lipmeng Ol'Timer

    Entering Luang Prabang town.........noticed a significant presence of chinese businesses.

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    Checked in at Khonesavanh guesthouse which is located next to the Mekong for USD10.00 ......fan room with attached bathroom.
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    Met the chinese guy again who stays at the next door guesthouse @ USD25.00 more luxurious than mine......he buys me a beer Lao and we chatted while he played 9 balls.
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    Had dinner at the foodstall near the night market after surveying the places for food and found that those restaurants that mostly caters for tourist are expensive. Goes for the hawker buffet @ 10,000kip for 1 bowl to fill up as to eat all you can and there are many backpackers eating there......so I tried with a bbq pork for another 10,000 kip & coke for 7,000 kip. I think it is also expensive and the food not good even the bbq pork I'm skeptical what type of meat it is and is greasy. Thus, I did not finish the BBQ .
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    Had a Lao coffee at the road side for 10,000kip and did not buy any Lao coffee powder as it is 35,000kip for 200gm which I prefer to drink Huea Hom coffee from Mae Hong Song.
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    Met this adorable doggie at the guesthouse............but has sharp teeth!!!!!!!
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  6. lipmeng

    lipmeng Ol'Timer

    Wednesday morning (27 March 2014), I decided to check out of Luang Prabang and head to Pak Lay for a night before leaving Laos via Namheung.

    Had breakfast at road side shop. A bowl of rice noodles soup with meat and Lao coffee for 60baht. No need to use USD there as baht is widely accepted here. Food tasted good and so is the coffee.
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    Walked around the streets along the tourist belt near Mekong and there are plenty of nice guesthouse and some boutique hotels which price ranges starting from approx USD60 upwards. Cheaper guesthouse is approximately USD25 if one requires the comfort of air-cond otherwise go for the cheaper stuff if you staying alone. The budget guesthouse is approximately USD10 just to sleep under the fan as during the night it is cool.

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    Loaded up and ready to roll out of LP.......the young guesthouse operator who speaks mandarin.
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    Another solo cyclist heading out of LP towards south..................
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  7. lipmeng

    lipmeng Ol'Timer

    Heading towards Pak Lay from LP via R4 after exiting at Xiang Ngeun...........................

    Some minor roadworks on R13 before Xiang Ngeun.................
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    Initial section of R4 from Xiang Ngeun junction towards Xayaboury.....................light traffic for most of the section and good road surface.
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    Quiet road and smooth surface with cool morning breeze................lovely ride.
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    A short section of road repairs at the sides........................
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    Better surfaces ahead..................................and small hills in this section.
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    Approaching near Xayaboury...........................
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    Saw 3 riders on enduros along the road ..........mostly foreigners on local plated bikes and ride along for some distances.
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    Broke off from the pack and ride ahead.......................................
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    Noticed that this section of the road.......many heavy cement trailers with Thai plates heading towards Xayaboury.............perhaps due to the dam projects.
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    Arrived at Pak Lay and checked in at Pado Guesthouse for 400 baht no wifi but comfortable bed and secured bike parking.
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    In front of the main road at the guesthouse. Food is not convenient here as I need to walk approx 1km for lunch.
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    Had Phat Khaw Moo with fried egg and a drink for 100baht...time is only 4.40pm on Laos..........that was early dinner and went back to sleep till 6.00am next morning.
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  8. lipmeng

    lipmeng Ol'Timer

    27 March 2014 - 25th day of the trip.

    Ride out of Pak Lay early morning approx 8.30am without breakfast and outside is foggy. First time I switch on my headlights at the early section of the ride in Laos. Headlights are not allowed in daytime same as Cambodia. Distance is short from here to Namhueng border is approx 60km. Saw a chicken crossing the road using zerbra crossing but the dog further up just walk slowly across and a herd of cows roaming freely as they like.

    Usual morning routine.......loaded up the AT and ready to roll out.......better than getting to office routine except that now there is no income but outflow of $$$$$$.....
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    Some morning traffic in Pak Lay......................
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    Morning fog..........
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    Morning road hazard........................roaming cows.
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    Road hazards cleared ahead........................
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    Wonder how long will this tree be there before it is chop for timber.................seems to be quiet straight.
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    Selfie..................
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    My riding companion in the at noon......................shadow of me riding.
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    Approaching towards Namheung...................
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    Finally arrived at the border crossing in Namheung. The process by immigration and customs of Laos is smooth without much hassle and no payment required.
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    BON VOYAGE...........LAOS PDR.

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    I will return again and do it from Houei Xai on my next solo trip........................soon.
    To continue on the North Thailand road & ride report section for the return journey to Malaysia.
     
  9. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    I like the look of that guesthouse. Might give it a try next trip.
    Thanks.
     
  10. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    Wow. A lot of the mountain roads would be hard going - tiring - loaded up like that. You did well.
     
  11. Philleong

    Philleong New Member

    Lip Meng,

    Congrats on your Laos ride. Brings back memories of my Laos solo ride in Dec 2012.

    Just wondering, I thought motorbikes are not allowed to enter Laos via the Nong Khai - Vientiane Friendship Bridge. You successfully managed to cross over. Was it the usual immigration/customs/insurance routine, or was it pre-arranged via some agent ?

    Thanks.
     
  12. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    The Friendship Bridge at Nong Khai is ok to enter Laos; & has been ok now for a few years.
    Check out
    http://www.gt-rider.com/touring-information-overview/s-e-asian-border-crossings/thailand-laos-border-crossing-notes
    if you want to know more.
     
  13. lipmeng

    lipmeng Ol'Timer

    Hi Philleong

    David is right as the Nongkhai Friendship bridge is very easy to cross over to Laos as authorities are very efficient in processing the paper work. However the customs of Loas only allow my bike to stay in Laos for 14 days whereas my passport is for 30 days and the customs officer explained that for foreign bike is restricted to 14 days which till now I am still skeptical about the requirement. I also drove there in 2009 using my M'sian reg car but I did not notice the number of days allowed as I only stay for a couple of days.
     
  14. Philleong

    Philleong New Member

    Thanks David & Lipmeng for the useful border crossing info. Truly appreciate it.

    Planning to ride into Laos again this Dec 2014. This time, using my CRF250L which would be more fun than my previous attempt on my R1200GS in Laos. Last round in Dec 2012, entered via Chiang Khong ferry & exited via Nong Khai bridge. Route was Luang Namtha-Boten-Luang Prabang-Phonsavan-Vang Vieng-Vientiane. Now I'd like to explore Vientiane southwards till Don Khong.

    Hey Lipmeng, you still have your ZRX ? Saw your older posts somewhere with the ZRX. Brings back memories of my 2009 ZRX1200 (sold).

    I was in Ipoh just last week, driving on the way back from Bangkok with family. Should have started off in this forum earlier instead of just casually browsing.
     
  15. CraigBKK

    CraigBKK Ol'Timer

    What are riders' experiences with the enforcement of the 14 day restriction? Does everyone follow it? What have been the consequences of overstaying with a bike?

    Thanks.
     
  16. kchow24

    kchow24 Ol'Timer

    Hi Lipmeng,

    Did you purchase insurance for the bike while you entering to Laos? I believe you did, mind to share where you get the insurance issued? At the border of Thai or Laos?
     
  17. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    Officially there's a fine for over staying. 200? baht a day? But in practice it is not always enforced as they just seem to be happy you are leaving.
    I've over stayed many times & only paid a fine once.
     
  18. kchow24

    kchow24 Ol'Timer

    Hi David,

    Asking favor from you, any idea where to get the insurance cover for the bike (Malaysia Registered) going in to Laos from Nong Khai to Vientiane?
    Any counter or office located at the border?
    Thanks.
     
  19. Javawa

    Javawa Guest

    Right after the Laos Customs and Immigration at the Nong Khai to Vientiane bridge you will find the insurance offices at you right: AGL (I think this is the largest), Lao-Viet Insurance and Lanexang Insurance
     
  20. kchow24

    kchow24 Ol'Timer

    Hi Javawa,

    Alright, definitely will take note on my right while crossing.
    Thank you very much.
     
  21. lipmeng

    lipmeng Ol'Timer

    Hi KC

    It is exactly what Javawa mentioned regarding the insurance at the Laos side. Just ask the immi or customs officials if you have doubts as they should be able to guide you. Do note the period of stay for the bike in your customs form as mine was only allowed 14 days despite my appeal to the customs guy. It should be sufficient if you need to ride up north from Vientiane but may definitely exceed if you ride up north and then detour south to Cambodia.
     
  22. kchow24

    kchow24 Ol'Timer

    Hi Lipmeng,

    Noted, and with many thankssss..
    I'm going in this weekend or early next week, hopping that everything goes smoothly.
     
  23. lipmeng

    lipmeng Ol'Timer

    Hi KC

    Have a good ride and post it on the forum. BTW if you are riding north from VN to LPB , do spend more time as the route from Kasi to Phu Kun en route to LPB is lovely and also Phonsavan , Plain of Jars which I missed out should be enjoyable to ride as well. Do allocate more time to ride in Laos otherwise you will need to return back for another ride as what I am planning now.

    Regards

    Lip Meng
     
  24. kchow24

    kchow24 Ol'Timer

    Hi Lip Meng,

    Thanks for the info.
    I have another question, beside Laos Kip what other currency is acceptable and wisely used? I heard from someone mentioned Thai Baht is also commonly used in the whole country, is it correct?
     

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