Lao Loop - Part 1

Discussion in 'Laos Road Trip Reports' started by Champasak, Feb 6, 2003.

  1. Champasak

    Champasak Ol'Timer

    Lao Loop - Part 1
    « on: Dec 22nd, 2002, 8:53pm » Quote Modify Remove

    Chiang Mai to Nong Khai:

    Headed out of Chiang Mai around noon for a 2 day run to Nong Khai. Followed Route 11 down past Uttaradit, looking for the best way to head east.

    Went about 30 kilometers south of Uttaradit, and came to a turnoff marked Chat Trakan. Turned left and went a few kilometers to a major intersection. There are no signs, but you want to turn right. This puts you on 1149, which goes to Chat Trakan and on to Nakhon Thai.

    Decided to take the scenic route thru Phu Hin Rongkla National Park. It was about 5 PM, but I thought it would be OK. Wrong again. The ride up thru the park was fine, but darkness was setting in. After the main park area, you come to a right turn marked Lom Kao - no route number.

    The road begins to get a bit worse, and fog is rolling in. It is not too bad until you exit the park boundary. Then you have a 10 kilometer winding downhill, and almost every hairpin bend is washed out. Glad the TDM had a bash plate.

    After the epic crawl downhill in the dark, turned right and headed south. Made it to Lom Sak and spent the night in a guesthouse. Not a lot of choices there.

    The next morning, went down to Route 12 and headed east. This is a great road thru the mountains. Then a speed run up 201 thru Loei and up to Chiang Khan.

    Headed east on 2186. This road runs along the Mekong for 150 kilometers. Decent road and great views. When you get close to Tha Bo, you will start seeing animals in the bush. For about 30 kilometers, there are hundreds of topiary - trees and bushes sculpted into living art.

    With a final run up Route 2, arrived in Nong Khai. Stayed at the Pantawee Hotel. Not much night life, but check out Jose's Restaurant - just west of the hospital. Good Mexican food and decent steaks.

    Nong Khai to Vientiane:

    Crossed over the next morning. No problems bringing the bike over, but it does have a valid plate and registration book. On the Thai side, they now have a vehicle inspection form as well as the temporary export and import documents. Oh yeah - 100 baht "fee" because it was Saturday. At least they have stopped the nonsense of "high winds on the bridge - put the bike in a truck".

    Standard ritual on the Lao side:
    1. Go to Room 5 and get the boss to approve the trip and give you the form. No charge.
    2. Go to Room 6 where the girl will fill out the form and her book. 2000 kip ($1 US = 10,000 kip)
    3. Go to the Customs room, where they give you the 7 day permission for the bike. That is all they are allowed to do there. No charge.
    4. Go to the Vehicle Import booth. Pay 200 baht for the bike and 10 baht for you. Pay two "overtime fees" - 8000 kip and 2500 kip. Get a temporary sticker that is supposed to go on the windshield.
    5. Go to the next building and buy temporary insurance. 30,000 kip for 10 days. Get a sticker which is supposed to go on the windshield.
    6. Drive 20 kilometers to Vientiane.

    Sounds complicated, but it is not too bad. About 1 1/2 hours total time, and I don't speak Lao. Probably more difficult with an unregistered bike.

    More to follow.

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  3. Champasak

    Champasak Ol'Timer

    Re: Lao Loop - Part 1
    « Reply #1 on: Dec 30th, 2002, 7:14am » Quote Modify Remove

    Sounds like you've got the Lao entry down pat now - well done. Simon had bad luck & didn't get in without the rego & the agent, which was a real pain.
    Regarding the run through Phu Hin Rongkla Nat park, its a shame you were doing it so late in the day, as route 2331 through the Nat Park is one of my fave rides. Yes, the road can get a bit chopped up on the switch backs at times, but the views on the Lom Kao side are totally awesome.
    When you got down onto the highway - route 12 or route 203 - was that Lom Kao or Lom Sak you spent the night in? I've had a couple of nights in Lom Sak & there's a half decent hotel (short time joint) in the same lane as the main hospital.
    I look forward to the rest of your Laos Loop report - come 'em coming mate.

    « Last Edit: Dec 30th, 2002, 7:16am by Davidfl »

  4. Champasak

    Champasak Ol'Timer

    Re: Lao Loop - Part 1
    « Reply #2 on: Jan 1st, 2003, 7:39am » Quote Modify Remove


    After coming out of the park, the first 9 k heading down to Lom Kao is worse than "a bit chopped up". The corners are about 75% gone, and some of the straights were totally washed away. It was manageable with the TDM, but highly questionable if you had a low clearance street bike.

    I stayed in Lom Sak. I found a small guesthouse on Rt 21, just south of where the back way comes into town. I did ride past the hospital while looking for lodging, but did not see any signs there.

    Getting into Laos is getting easier - IF you have a plate on your bike. Otherwise it is hit or miss - as both you and Simon have found out.

    More to follow on the trip report.


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