Chiang Mai to Laos and back.

Discussion in 'Northern Thailand - Road Trip Reports' started by bombdefuzer, Mar 19, 2012.

  1. bombdefuzer

    bombdefuzer Ol'Timer

    Where: Chiang Mai - Nong Khai - Vientiane - Vang Vieng - Vientiane - Chiang Mai
    When: March 5 - 13 2012
    Bike: 1997 Honda XRV750 Africa Twin with Bridgestone Trailwings
    Riders: Solo
    Equipment: Garmin E Trex Vista ESRI Thailand map set, Jesse Panniers, Givi E30 Top box
    Total KM: 1977

    * Note: This is based on my own personal experience. Your experience may differ depending on the person taking the application, time of day, weather or level of personal grooming.

    Day 1
    March 5, 2012 Monday CNX - NK

    I needed to get my O visa over in Vientiane and decided the Africa Twin needed to stretch its legs. Since acquiring the Africa Twin (AT) in Jan 2010 I have not ridden it much due to work commitments. This was the second long ride I have done on the AT since the last BKK - CNX ride when relocating to CNX this past Nov from BKK.

    I set out in the morning of March 6 with a goal of reaching Nong Khai to overnight there. I made my goal and reached Nong Khai by 1730 (530 PM). Traffic was light and I had no troubles getting to Nong Khai. Upon my arrival in NK I searched around for a guesthouse and found a decent one with secure parking. Unfortunately due to my haste, I had forgotten to take the name of it.

    Day 2
    March 6, 2012 Tuesday NK - VTE

    The next morning I was off for the Friendship Bridge 1.

    After a short ride I arrived at the bridge departure area of Thailand. Since this was my first trip with a bike into Laos I was in uncharted waters. I parked the bike right up close to the departure booths, gathered my documents (green book, passport and insurance docs). I arrived at the window and was handed a customs declaration form. After just a few minutes I had it filled out and turned in. I was stamped out of Thailand via my passport and motorcycle export document. Off to the Laos side I went. Wow, this was easy I thought.

    Arriving at the Laos gates I walKed up to the booth with my documents (Import / Export declaration from Thailand, Passport and Green book). The officer looked over my forms and directed me to get my Laos Visa. This wasn't quite as easy. The window to get the visa form was closed and I had to wait 20 minutes for it to open up. After it opened I received my visa form and filled it out, turned it back in with my passport and $30. I suggest making sure you have USD or they will charge 1800 Thai Baht. This is a bit more than 30 USD. There are money exchange windows right there at the Visa area.

    With Visa in hand I went back to the departure booth and was stamped into Laos and directed to the "customs office"

    I rode through the gates and after passing all the buildings and not seeing the customs signs I turned around. Still not seeing the customs sign I asked a guy where I could find the customs office. He pointed to a building and in I went. I handed my paperwork to an outstretched hand. A few minutes later I had insurance for the bike at 150 THB if I remember correctly.

    Now, this is where it gets tricky. I was supposed to see customs so why did I get insurance instead? I figured insurance was a good thing but still was wondering about this "customs" office. Ahh what the heck, I got to get going…lol. So off to Vientiane. * Note: this will come back to haunt me later.

    The Thai consulate was going to be closed on Wednesday and Thursday so I had a one shot opportunity to get my Visa application in or I would have to wait until Friday to drop it off and pick it up on the following Monday.

    Due to my haste I had not plotted the Thai Consulate in my GPS and I did not have the Laos map set on this GPS, I had left it in the USA on my Garmin 60CSX. Moral to the story…plan ahead.
    I was across and into the Laos side and I asked a local which way to Vientiane. So off to the general direction of the pointed finger and within 45 minutes I was in Vientiane. Unfortunately, it was now 1100 AM and being very hungry and deprived of caffeine I decided to stop and take care of these 2 issues at the expense of getting to the consulate. I figured rushing was not a good thing and what the heck…4 or 5 days in Laos drinking the national beverage would be good.

    After my fill up I headed to the Mekong and stopped at The Tex Mex Saloon on Quai Fa Ngum.

    After a "few" beers I headed over to my usual guest house Khampiane hotel on Rue Hengboun Since working in Laos last year I have been staying here on every trip. It’s a little expensive at 1300 THB by Thai/Laos standards but the rooms are very nice.

    Day 3
    March 7, 2012 Wednesday VTE

    Commence beer drinking.

    Day 4
    March 8, 2012 VTE

    Continue beer drinking.

    Day 5
    March 9, 2012 VTE - Vang Vieng

    Early morning and I head to the Thai Consulate to drop off my Visa application.

    I arrive at the Thai consulate about an hour before they start accepting applications. I park the AT out in front. After dropping off my visa application, I return to the bike and begin to suit up. A policeman arrives and informs me I must pay a fine for parking. I ask him how much and he says 2000 Kip. I tell him Ill give him his 2000 Kip but I want a picture of him and me. He agrees and I take the photo and hand him his 2000 Kip (.25 cents US).

    I decide to depart Vientiane and explore Laos. I had no destination in mind. I just wanted to get out of Vientiane and take in some of the Laos countryside. Armed with my Android phone and google map I set off in a northerly direction. I took Rt 13 towards Don Noun after a short while I found myself on a dirt road. With no real destination, I decided to follow the dirt road. After an hour or so I emerged on the other eastern Rt 13, which if traveling North will lead to Vang Vieng. I decided to head up to Vang Vieng and overnight there.

    Upon arrival in Vang Vieng I stopped at the Vang Vieng Guesthouse. Rooms were 60,000 LAK, which is about 7.50 USD or 220 THB. The guest house has a covered area for parking and this is the main reason I chose the guesthouse as well as its proximity to the major bars and restaurants. No complaints on the guesthouse at all except I could not find a WIFI connection. No worries as the guesthouse across the street had one I pirated.

    Commence beer drinking.

    Day 6
    March 10, 2012

    Continue beer drinking.

    Day 7
    March 11, 2012

    Having enough of seeing and hearing every rerun of "Friends" and watching teenagers lounging and drinking fruit shakes all day, I decided to head back to VTE. The road is clear and I have an uneventful ride south down Rt 13 to VTE. Upon arrival I check back into Khampiane Hotel.

    Commence beer drinking.

    Day 8
    March 12, 2012

    I head over to pick up my visa at 1300 (1 PM) at the Thai consulate. After collecting the visa I head back to the friendship bridge 1 to depart Laos.
    The process is just the reverse of the previous incoming crossing. I arrive to the Laos gates and bring up all my paperwork. I get stamped out of Laos and am directed to a second window. At this window I am asked for a pink customs form….Uh oh. I explain I do not have one. I’m then escorted over to what appears to be the supervisor’s kiosk and again I tell them I never received one when I arrived in Laos. At this time I realized my mistake. I should have declared my bike in Laos via the pink form they were waving around. I stuck to my story and continued to tell all concerned I was never given one. After 5 or 6 minutes they gave up and told me to go ahead and cross. Whew…in hindsight I do believe they could have by all rights kept my bike for that error. Moral to the story….get all paperwork done !

    Its now 3 PM and I'm free and clear on the Thai side. It feels good. I follow my GPS and hope to make some serious travel before dark. One of my rules is to never ride at night. Well I seriously broke this rule. I was on Rt 12 when it started to get dark. I held my course and continued into Lom Sak through the national park. Halfway through the park I was absolutely hauling ass and in front of my twin halogens I see a long black tube stretching across my entire side of the road. At first I thought it was a pipe or a piece of wood. It turns out it's a cobra. I had to turn hard to avoid it but just buzzed its head. No doubt my legs were nearly over my tank in fear of the thing striking at me. I was going about 90 KM/H but every little precaution helps.
    There was very little traffic. Around the next bend I realize why. An overturned tank truck had spilled oil all over a downhill turn. Traffic was stopped in both directions. I waited about 30 minutes and they cleared the road.

    Upon arrival in Lom Sak I overnighted at The New Sawan Hotel, 47/6 Samakeechai Rd. I liked this hotel as they allow the bikes to be parked in the huge lobby. The lobby has 2 attendants present all nigh. The rate was 400 THB per night.

    Commence detox.

    Day 9
    March 13, 2012

    In the morning I make an early depart for CNX. I take the usual express route 12 to 11 and into CNX. Happy to be home.

    Attached files [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
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  3. Ian Bungy

    Ian Bungy Ol'Timer

    Looked Like a Fun Trip, I should have been with You! Glad You managed to fit a Beer in!!!
  4. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    Nice little trip report Chris & great to see you were able to ride into Laos across the Friendship Bridge.

    I'm a bit confused by

    & wonder does this mean you get your Laos visa on the Thai side & don't get it on arrival on the Laos side?
    Or is this a new "scam" on the Thai side & why it is 1,800 baht?

    It was also good to see the Laos customs realistic when you were leaving & just let you go. Lucky man.

    Thanks for the report & update.
  5. bombdefuzer

    bombdefuzer Ol'Timer

    Thanks for the catch David. Again, due to my haste I did not document as I went and also a contributing factor is the large quantities of beer Laos I consumed over the length of the trip. I will start to keep a paper journal as Im sure many of the seasoned trip posters may do.

    Thanks for the comments and input/corrections are always welcome.

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