Laos to Cambodia Crossing for Dummies

Discussion in 'Cambodia - General Discussion Forum' started by SwedishRider, Nov 14, 2005.

  1. SwedishRider

    SwedishRider Member

    I found BobS description of crossing from Thailand to Laos (
    http://board.gt-rider.com/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=441 ) quite helpful so here is a similar guide for the less organized border from Voen Kham, Laos to Koh Cheuteal Thom, Cambodia.

    The first thing you will meet on route 13 south is the first Laos custom gate. I arrived Sunday lunchtime and they let me thru as soon as they finished lunch without any money to pay. Note the nice two lane European style road.

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    After a short while the road will abruptly stop and there will be a dirtroad to the right and a mudroad in the forest straight ahead. The mudroad straight ahead is highway 13 to Cambodia.

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    After a few kilometers passing thru mudpools you reach the real Laos border. Dont go straight thru the pools cause some of them are deep but if you stay on the edges and have some speed then it is no problems. At the border they charged me $1 plus another $1 because it was Sunday. The locals behind me paid with some cabbage ;)

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    After another hundred meters you reach the Cambodian border. Here they now offer visa on arrival which was new to me. Unfortunately they also wanted a special letter for the bike that they said I could go to Vientiane or Bangkok to get in order to bring my bike. Then they realized that it wasnt realistic so they said that I could get the letter from the customs office in Stung Treng. Then they realized that there is no way for me to get there and back without the bike since there is almost no one living on the 60 km to Stung Treng and even less taxis. So they let me thru in exchange for promising to go to the customs office in Stung Treng or otherwise I would come back to the border (Oh, sure I would...). They wanted $3 and I quickly gave them that before they could change their mind about the bike. It is probably negotiable if you have all the required papers.

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    I was easily fooled by the ease to get gas in Laos so I assumed that there would be one place to get gas in Cambodia. When my reserved kicked in I realized I could be in trouble. My reserve is only 2l which is less than I needed to go the 60 km dirt road to Stung Treng and it didnt look like there were any gas stations coming up.

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    Luckily there was one guy selling gas along the way and I bought his six 500ml bottles of gas for $5 which felt like a bargain.

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    Then you simply do about 50 km more of dirtroad until you see the river and think that you just have to cross the bridge. Then you realize that the bridge is not even finished halfway and there is no people around to help you there.

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    The solution is to go back a few hundred meter to where you see a giant Angkor beer ad. There you see a road leading up to you right (if you are coming from the border). Take the dirt road a few hundred meters down to the local small port. There they will take you on a boat across the river for 10000 riel ($2.5). They were almost ashamed when they mentioned the amount in public and looking at the faces of the people around me they probably thought they ripped me off big time. They didnt know that I would probably pay them $100 if they demanded it cause where else could I go?

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    At arrival in Stung Treng the first thing you see is a big roundabout. In order to go to the customs office you take a right and continue 800 meter until you cross a wooden bridge and after that another 200 meter will get you to the customs office on your right. The first two times I came here the customs officer was at the market so I only spoke with his wife briefly. The third time I came here, 6pm on a Sunday, he was at home and had a nice bike parked outside. He seemed to be a biker himself and was very very friendly. He spoke good english and I filled out two copies of a customs declaration form stating that I was taking the bike into Cambodia and then he stamped and signed the forms and gave one copy to me. I didnt have to pay anything.

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    Conclusion 1: Get the letter to allow you to take the bike into Cambodia from the Cambodian embassy in advance.

    Conclusion 2: Dont be a dummy and get fooled by the modern southern Laos because northern Cambodia is not the same. That also means to get enough gas to take you the 60km to Stung Treng after crossing the border.

    Hope Im not taking the fun out of crossing the border now ;)

    Great thanks also to Joyce (joycekuipers) for giving me a new exhaust pipe bolt since I lost it while crossing the border! It was a great night with you guys in Stung Treng.
     
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  3. scot harper

    scot harper Ol'Timer

    Hey you crazy swead, keep those posts coming! I'm sitt'n here in Sydney Australia wish'n I was rid'n bar to bar with you.
    Name towns an places you visit don't matter if the seem obscure, tell us of your falls, you got'ta fess up on them.
    Regards Scott.
    your eather on the gas or on the brakes , theres nothin in between!
     
  4. jimoi

    jimoi Ol'Timer

    I passed over the border on my VN registered 250 and all is accurate above. What is a little different is that the turn to the ferry at Stueng is along the road and and there is a small fork in the road. The left is a wider road and the split right is smaller and uphill. From here, it takes you done to the ferry. I crossed on the car ferry and didn't have to pay as a gas truck paid for the entire boat for some reason.
    Road conditions were fine all the way down from the border but fuel is scarce from the border to Stueng. Before leaving Lao, there was fuel available at 30, 22, 10 and it looked a bit empty at 6 KM point.

    According to the manager of the Pakse Hotel, this border is a little haphazard and can close with no notice. Best to check with Lane Xiang in Pakse before going.

    In addition, there was a lot - A LOT - of mine tape on each side of the road between Laos and Cambodia. The RCAF were de mining and had a pretty substantial pile on the border.

    Customs didn't care at all about the bike, on both sides. I tried to get my VN export paper stamped to make the return easier but was told, no need.

    Ride Safe
     
  5. Mingh

    Mingh Active Member

    SwedishRider and Jimoi
    Thanks heaps for the invaluable info! We crossed this border a few days ago and taking Jimoi's little remarks into accounts the crossing was as easy as following a lonely planet suggested itinerary.

    Our 2 cents:
    As suggested we asked the embassy in Vientiane for paperwork to bring the bike temporarily into cambodia. They said we'd get everything at the border. On the Lao side they only cared about getting the 2 usd per head. At the Cb side, they were extermely friendly, so much that we even forgot to stop by customs opposite... Upon our return the official looked very serious. We thought we were toast. But when showing our VN registration and a printout of the lao Laisser passer (thanks GT-Rider) he only murmured the word "stamp" He flicked tru some forms but really didn's seem to know what to do. When we mentioned Stung TReng (as in Swedishrider's report) he was happy to waive all responsability and tell us to get legal in ST

    As to the lao paperwork: We asked for docs at the Lao embassy in Hanoi. they suggested that everything would be done at the border. The Lao officials looked completely blank at our request to register the bike, or provide us with docs of any kind. When we explained officials in vientiane they said we should check with the Lao embassy in Hanoi.... That's a full circle of red tape to you sir, but we had zero problems or suggestions for bribes regarding the bike
     
  6. Philippe

    Philippe Ol'Timer

    Hi everybody
    We passed the Voen Kham border on Jan 12 from Cambodia to Lao, with 4 250 cc bikes registered in Kh.
    On the Kh side very friendly and just happy to see our registered moto card. No money asked form passport and custom.
    On the Lao side, we paid 1 $ for the passport stamp, then a few Km further at custom office, we asked then a few times to make the paper work, but they say no need. We didn't pay anything here.
    We could not also make paper insurance for lao!
    10 days later in Vietiane at the Friendship bridge, the Lao custom asked for the Voen Kham custom paper. We explained the story and no problem they let us go to Thai. We didn't pay anything.
    On the other side, we made the Thai custom papers for the bikes. It was not clear for us why caution was only 9,000 B for the XR, 75,000 B for the Yamaha TTr and over 300,000 B for the Djebel!!! We try to get a Thai insurance for the bikes at the Pepsi shop (this is the agent!!), but he had only for car and the Thai border officer just tell us to proceed like that! So, we crossed Issarn without insurance!!
    We crossed back to Kh at O'Smach. Not any problem. They even didn't ask to see our moto registered cards and didn't care for the bike!!!
    Officers were extremely happy to see that we were speaking Kh and they excused thenselve that it took too long for the passport stamps (as they did a mistake and has to make it twice!!)
    It was quite long trip 3300 K from P. Penh back to P. Penh.
    I will report later on.
    Philippe

    pH
     
  7. harrythefinn

    harrythefinn Ol'Timer

    Hi Philippe,
    Was Matti with you? I'm in Taiwan but will be home in March.Did the guys meet you in Pakse?E-mail if you have time.
    Thanks
    XR650R. (soon to be reassembled/reincarnated!)
     
  8. Philippe

    Philippe Ol'Timer

    Hi Harry,
    Nice to hear from you!
    Hope you have great time chinese new year in Taiwan!!
    Yes, Matti was with us.
    Yes, we met with our 2 friends in Pakse.
    We had great time, but only too much tarmac road on the way back through Thailand!! Fortunately, Lao beer is good and cheap!!
    Kristian in Kampot (Rusty Key Hole bar on river front) is organizing a rally all around Cambodia with max off dirt roads. Take off on Feb 19, in PP. (Anchor dirt bike!!!)
    I am sure you would like to join!!
    Got smoke from my pipe, so after changing my XR piston will be ready for another take off on the 19!
    Take care
    Philippe
    pH
     
  9. davidmc

    davidmc Member

    I may be crossing the Lao-Cambodia in 4-6 weeks and I am a bit worried about the road on the Cambodian side. We are travelling two-up on a Transalp, heavily loaded with street oriented tires (Metzler Tourance).

    My understanding is that the road to Stung Treng used to be a nightmare but is better now? I also heard a rumor that the road from the Laos border to Phnom Penh is all paved, but this is contrary to this report. The dirt road in the above pictures looks pretty good, is it like this the whole way?

    And what about the river crossing, will the locals be able to get my 300 kilo bike + gear onto the boat?

    And advice on doing this border crossing with my bike? Or should I just go into Cambodia from Thailand? Advice is appreciated, thanks!

    David McMillan & Erika Tunick
    Paris to Sydney 2005-2006
    www.mototrekker.com
     
  10. rhiekel

    rhiekel Ol'Timer

    Hello David:

    I have crossed the same road into Cambodia from Laos several times. You are correct the road used to be a nightmare. Now the road looks like a runway for an airport . Only tricky parts are where they are building bridges there are short bypass roads. Some of these have very deep soft silt with mystery terrain below it so go slow and paddle your way through. Never saw any pavement but am sure it will appear soon. Further south from the border the road turns into a standard pot holed road, just pick your way through. There is only a single ferry crossing. I just rode up to a small roll on ferry along with a truck,
    so no problem with the size of your bike. I went from Paxse all the way down to Kracheh where I spent the night. Nice ride along the Mekong river....
    I plan on being in Cambodia in about two weeks. I will email you and see where you are. I was planning on doing the same route you are doing now until my bike ended horizontal on the road in Northern Laos instead of vertical a few days ago. So now back in Chiang Mai recovering.....Ride safe and watch the gravel in the corners........
     
  11. davidmc

    davidmc Member

    Great news, this sounds superb! I can handle the sand for a few meters at a time, but for many kilometers...well my bike is too much of a pig!

    The roll on ferry sounds easy too, is this in an obvious location? I am wondering why the person who submitted the excellent ride report ended up with his bike on the bow of a small boat?

    Sorry to hear about your bike mishap, I know all about gravel and "invisible" sand in the corners too. I have learned this lesson the hard way too...

    David McMillan & Erika Tunick
    Paris to Sydney 2005-2006
    www.mototrekker.com
     
  12. rhiekel

    rhiekel Ol'Timer

    Am fuly recovered now. Was just a severe sprain as I made the fools
    mistake of trying to dab a foot down at the last second to save me from going down....Went down anyway and tweaked my knee in the process. Next time will sort of hang in the bike and just slide along to a complete stop.
    As pointed out in the thread earlier as you are motoring along the main road you suddenly come to a huge beginning of a bridge across the river from Strung Treng. Back up a ways and then turn to your right which will lead you down to a small sort of jetty sticking out into the river. I only saw regular ferries which were tiny roll on roll off types. Due to the extensive road construction they need to move a lot of heavy equipment back and forth along the road where it crosses the river hence the standard ferries. No worries on the death dust, only for short distances on the detours. Did catch a patch in the middle of a good stretch while doing 100 k plus. The KTM started doing the tank slapper thing for a few seconds. Woke me up.......
    I will be in Vientiane on Thursday night along with David I think.
    Hopefully we can catch up for a beer and swap some lies..
     
  13. Eriks

    Eriks New Member

    Hi there, crossed this border with Norwegian registered Yamaha on Saturday. Used a Carnet, and was through both sides in less than an hour (incl. the following detour:).

    A few advices for those using a Carnet:

    The Lao custom will stamp your bike out of the country, though remember that they are six km. before the immigration, so it is easy to ooze by not realizing it is the the custom and then have to go back the bumpy six km's (this happend to me after the road block boys just waved me through the first time). In comparison the Camb. custom is not much more than ten meters from the Camb. immigration.

    Secondly, I had to show the officer at the Lao custom where to stamp the carnet. Apparently they (at least him)[:D][:D] were not familiar with the document, so make sure they do it right.

    OK, thats it.
     
  14. SwedishRider

    SwedishRider Member

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