A Chiang Mai - Luang Prabang loop via Uttaradit Nan - Hongsa

Discussion in 'Laos Road Trip Reports' started by DavidFL, Mar 4, 2015.

  1. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    An entertaining ride & long way to go to Luang Prabang, just for a couple of nights to hang out beside the 'Khong; but what the heck it's just another adventure ride.

    BTW there were a couple of reasons for taking this route
    1. Big Bike Tours were in Uttaradit for the night with one of the editors of Motorrad magazine in Germany
    2. The PhuDoo border between Thailand & Laos was "officially opened" on 8th Feb 2015
    so combined that was good enough reason for a ride.

    Chiang Mai - Uttaradit is a bit of a blast on R11 all the way now & I did not leave Cnx until early afternoon to arrive in Uttaradit just 15 minutes after Big Bike Tours arrived from Khao Khor & Laos.
    Needless to say it was a big night with loadsa fun & chatter about bike touring in the region.
    The next morning BBT was on the road early & I sauntered off from Uttaradit around 9.45AM. I was in no rush & just planned to over night in Sayabouly "across the border."

    The border is actually quite a way out - 150 kms, but the road is generally a beauty
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    basically it is a straight blast out R1045 from Uttaradit & somewhere along the way it becomes R117. I think.

    You cross the Nan river just outside the Sirikit dam
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    & the Golf Coures
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    It's hard to get lost with so many signs proudly pointing you to Uttaradit's new international border crossing
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    In a few places they are fixing the road but none of it is an issue at all
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    In general its is an awesome ride
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    arrival time at the border is lunch time.
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    There's not much going on, except today is the day for a big one-off Talad Nut
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    more to come....
    Attached files [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
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  3. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    Whilst the market may have been busy, there was not a lot going on at the actual border crossing.

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    The Thai officials were a bit excited to have a farang going across the border on a motorbike & cheered me on - filling out the paperwork for me; even immigration with the TM2 notification of conveyance.

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    All cleared & set you off you go up over the ridgeline to the Lao side.

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    Right on the ridgeline is where you make the traffic change over from riding on one side to the other

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    as dangerous as too I thought

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    The Lao facilities are down in the hollow

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    Again there is almost no one around

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    more coming..[​IMG][​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]
     
  4. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    Rocking up to the Lao office it was smiles & "sabai dee" all round, & I was directed to the first booth - immigration.
    Handed an immigration card I filled it out & handed it back in.
    The officer entered my details in his book & I handed over my passport photo for the visa.
    Someone else asked for my bike papers & started filling out my customs form.

    Then the immigration guy looks back at me puzzled, laughing & says where is your visa?
    I tell him with you, that's what I'm applying for here.
    No. No visa. Cannot do.
    What??
    No visa?
    No visa on arrival?
    No you have to get the visa first.

    No no no I don't believe you?
    Yes no visa.

    Have to go back to Thailand.

    Laughter all round, as the Lao guys assumed I knew & had a visa already.

    We chat a bit more - there are NO Ministry of Foreign Affairs staff at this border crossing to issue visas on arrival - maybe in 6 months they say.

    Oh well. ......return to Thailand.

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    The Thai border checkpoint viewed from the Lao side
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  5. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    Back on the Thai side there is even more amazement & laughter; especially with a huge welcoming committee - Nai Amphur, Police & Immigration big wigs - waiting with flowers to welcome the governor of Luang Prabang. He is inbound for a temple festival in Phrae of all places.

    The Nai Amphur smiles & personally hands me a cold towel & a bottle of cold water, then apologizes to me for he lack of Visa on Arrival on the Lao side - because yes they all understood that the border was fully open & you could just get stamped in - visa on arrival on the Lao side. Its amazing how the left hand does not know what the right hand is doing I thought.

    So what to do - LPQ was my destination.
    Which way to do - there were 2 options
    1. South to the Tha Li / Kenthao border
    2. North to the Huay Kon / Mueng Ngern border.

    Thai immigration suggested Tha Li, but I knew better - Huay Kon it was.
    Riding south to Tha Li via the border was going to be a long ride, but by riding North I could be in Nan in a few hours, over night there, then next day ride into Luang Prabang from Nan.

    So ride back out west from the border & make 2 right turns to end up on the Wiang Sa road.

    Its an amazing mountain road, but remote & isolated.
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    There is still 15 kms of ratty gravel to keep you on your toes riding a road bike.
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    & then you've got another 10-12 kms of road woks - improvements for asphalt.

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    Arrival time in Nan was just on 5PM & I was exhausted. Damn hot, slow moving kitted up. Only breakfast at the Seharaj in Uttaradit plus 1 Gatorade + 1 M150 + 2 scoops of choc chip ice cream all day. Well done I thought. I'm now heading in the opposite direction to my original planned destination of Xayaboury - it had been one of those days.
     
  6. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    Onward LPQ here we come.

    A convenient Nan departure after lingering over a Hot Bread brekky.
    Customs & immigration at Huay Kon were easy on the Thai side.
    Lao was almost the same, just squeezing through at 11.45AM.

    Then it was ride...non stop

    The Hongsa - Xayaboury road
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    I last did this road in March 2013.

    You can see more pics in here, doing the road in the reverse direction Xayaboury to Hongsa.

    http://www.gt-rider.com/thailand-motorcycle-forum/showthread.php/38094-GTR-2013-Mekong-Boat-Trip-Houei-Xai-Luang-Prabang-amp-a-bit-more

    It hasn't changed a great deal, although there are some road improvements going on towards the Xayaboury end
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    Onto the Xayaboury bridge
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    the river is looking awfully low & unhealthy
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    Back on the power & non stop into LPQ
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    The river is low low in Luang Prabang also, not a surprise..
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    Just in time for a stunning sunset on the 'Khong
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  7. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    3 nights down in Luang Prabang it was time to hit the road again.....PhuDoo2 here we come.

    Its a long way down past Xayaboury to Pak Lay & then out to PhuDoo.
    The road from Pak Lay to the border is a beauty...race track for those so inclined.

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    I was at the border at 3.30PM
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    Exiting the Lao PhuDoo border checkpoint
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    There was one hiccup leaving Lao, they put the wrong date on my exit stamp one day later - the 2nd of March & I had to return to get it restamped to the 1st.
    Oh well these things happen at new border crossings.
    After surprising the Thai immigration guys - hi there I'm back - it was a quick check in & a hot ride 150 kms west straight into the sun.
    Arriving in Uttaradit at 6PM.
    Whoopee. All done.

    But what do I think about using PhuDoo for a Thai - Lao border crossing....well it's a long way out of the way & perhaps only useful as exit point from Laos, but certainly not a useful entry point.
    The crossing has only been set up for the cement trucks to carry their load in from Saraburi to to be used for the construction of the Xayaboury dam, which (the dam) is not necessarily a good thing IMHO.

    Will they ever get Lao Visa on Arrival there - to be honest I cant see a real need for it, as very few non locals are going to use that border crossing.

    Road data from my GPS tracks will come in a few days once I get my map programs reinstalled after a computer reformat while I was away.
    Stay tuned for just a bit more.
     
  8. kchow24

    kchow24 Ol'Timer

    Hi David,

    I wonder what happen? Can't see any of your photos... is it something wrong with my setting?
     
  9. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    It is a problem I have had on the server. 2500 of MY images went walkabout.
    I have started to re upload them bit by bit, but it is going to take a long time & most people will not be aware of it sad to say.
     
  10. kchow24

    kchow24 Ol'Timer

    No wonder..
    I'm planing my trip up to Laos this year end, was thinking to get some info from here. To check any interesting place to visit.
     
  11. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

  12. nolanyusof

    nolanyusof Active Member

    Tomorrow will be on LPQ for 2 nights.

    After reading your update and hassle that might be to cross to CK. I will try to cross this border for the 1st time. Hopefully it will be smooth.

    Will be in CNX on 10 Nov 2015 after completing my ASEAN tour to Myanmar.

    Hopefully will.meet u guys once in CNX.

    Nolan
     
  13. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    Good luck Nolan Yusof. Please let us know how you go. I hope you got your Versys shock fixed in Udon / Khon Kaen okĀ  at the Kawasaki dealers I suggested.

    Kchow24 - please not all the images are back up.
     
  14. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    Finally...

    Chiang Mai - Uttaradit

    [​IMG] Elevation Profile Chiang Mia - Uttaradit

    [​IMG] Distance & Travel time Chiang Mai - Uttaradit

    Uttaradit - Phu Doo

    [​IMG] Elevation Profile Uttaradit - Phu Doo

    [​IMG] Distance & Travel Time Uttaradit - Phu Doo

    Elevation Profile Uttaradit - Phu Doo - Nan = "the long way round"

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    Distance & Travel time Uttaradit - Phu Doo - Nan

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    Elevation Profile Phu Doo - Nan

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    Distance & Travel Time Phu Doo - Nan

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    Distance & Travel Time Nan - Huay Kon - Xayaboury

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