Muang Ngern & Entering Laos

Discussion in 'Laos - General Discussion Forum' started by DavidFL, Aug 9, 2016.

  1. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    There has been a recent hiccup at the Muang Ngerrn border entering Laos.
    Complaints have been made & the Vientiane Times has investigated.

    The story which appears tomorrow in the Vientiane Times.

    Thai motorbike tour group experiences border issues
    A touring caravan of bigger bikes from neighbouring Thailand was recently refused entry at the Nam Ngeun-Houai Kon International border between Laos and Thailand in Xayaboury province upon arrival at the Lao side of the border.
    The immigration police at Nam Nguen border checkpoint initially refused entry to the small Thai touring group because they did not have the required permission documents before they were finally allowed to pass.
    Deputy Director of the Xayaboury Information, Culture and Tourism Department Mr Khampiew Phommahane, told Vientiane Times on Tuesday that he called the provincial governor to ask him to talk with the border police and request that they allow the group to enter the country.
    He said the Thai group of riders organised to tour in Laos through a local tour company.
    Now some tour companies, especially in Luang Prabang province, are quite concerned about complications at the Nam Ngeun border in Xayaboury province .
    This is because most caravans for bicycles and motorbikes via this border are being arranged with local companies in neighbouring Luang Prabang, not with the authorities in Xayaboury.
    “Previously, group tours of bicycles and motorcycles could pass this border and is just now that we have seen Nam Ngeun border officials not allow the touring caravans for big bikes to cross,” Mr Khampiew said.
    It is only the Nam Ngeun international border in Xayaboury province where problems with big bike caravans have been reported while no problems have been reported at any other international borders.
    Nowadays, the immigration police at this border are prohibiting the caravans for big bikes unless they possess permission documents from the Ministry of Public Security, Ministry of Public Works and Transport and Ministry of Information, Culture and Tourism.
    However some police officers at the border checkpoint admitted they have only received such orders by word of mouth but not in writing so the situation remains unclear.
    Mr Khampiew explained that the provincial governor will soon hold a consultation meeting with relevant officials from the provincial Public Works and Transport Department and Department of Information, Culture and Tourism.
    As per his suggestion, Xayaboury has three international border crossings with Thailand, so caravans of motorcycles from Thailand wanting to tour in Laos via the companies have other border crossing options.
    These include the Nam Heuang-Nakaxeng International border between Laos and Thailand in the south of Xayaboury with Loei province and also the Phoudou border. However the Phoudou border is an international border only on the Lao side while the Thai side has yet to be upgraded.
    The owner of one tour company in Luang Prabang province, who asked not to be named, told Vientiane Times that he will have to answer questions from his partners in Europe and tell them that the authorities are working on this problem.
    In the meantime, he will advise tour groups from Thailand wishing to come to Luang Prabang province from Thailand to cross at the Nam Heuang-Nakaxeng International border, where no problems are known to have been experienced.​

    I understand that part of the complaint from the local officials was a derogatory Facebook post (since deleted) by one of the dissatisfied Thai riders, that caused the caused the nasty knee jerk reaction from the Ministry Of Public Security.

    For the time being Muang Ngern maybe a no go for entry & I understand there is a 10 bike group planning to exit there in the coming days. Stay tuned.
    All other international border crossings are operating as normal for entry into Laos.
     
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  3. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    To reconfirm that the border at Muang Ngern is still closed to all bikes - even with a permit issued from Vientiane!

    A 10 bike Thai group with permits issued from Vientiane, via a Lao tour operator, was refused entry on 10th September!
    The boss of Muang Ngern immigration flat out refused to allow the entry.
    A huge row erupted between the Lao operator, a not un-influential person, & Muang Ngern immigration.
    But no satisfaction at all - it has only poured fuel on the flames & worsened the situation; such that NO vehicles - cars or bikes - are now allowed entry into Laos via Muang Ngern, unless you are working for the Hongsa Power company & have documentation to prove it in advance.
    Thai immigration will not even let you out to go to Laos, without this documentation at the moment.

    So effectively the border is closed for all entries into Laos.

    Exiting appears to be ok.

    Some history
    Originally this border crossing was purely opened to facilitate the transport of materials for the construction of the Hongsa power plant & only vehicles related to the power plant were allowed to cross with the appropriate documentation.
    Then somewhere along the way the policy was relaxed & normal tourists were allowed to enter & visa on arrival was available.
    Traffic boomed. The motorcycle groups & convoys became frequent; however complications arose with the volume of bikers – accidents & bad behavior seem to have upset the local police & officials; such that not even with a permit are motorcyclists (including cyclists) allowed to enter.
    The Muang Ngern officials have dusted off the old rule book & only vehicles related to the Hongsa Power plant are allowed to enter on arrival!

    Public transport buses are allowed to cross, but no private vehicles unless you go via a tour company.
    AND two wheels – motorbikes & bicycles – are banned from entry – permit or no permit!

    Let's hope common sense prevails & the governor of Xayaboury does something sensible to remedy the situation.

    All other points of entry are ok.

    Thank you Kay & Noah at Big Bike Tours for the latest tip off, (who were not involved or associated with the 10th September fiasco.)
     
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2016
  4. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    Information to hand now suggests that all 3 border crossing in Xayaboury province are closed - entering & departing - to motorbikes & bicycles.
    The 3 crossings are
    Muang Ngern Laos / Hua Kon Thailand
    Phu Du Laos / Phu Du Thailand.
    Nam Heung (Kenthao) Laos / Nakraseng (Tha Li) Thailand.

    The Lao immigration are unhappy & not budging despite complaints from other government departments.
     
  5. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    Confirmation From the Vientiane Times
    22 September 2016


    Xayaboury refuses entry to motorcycle groups
    Caravans for bicycles and motorbikes are now prohibited from entry at all border checkpoints between Laos and Thailand in Xayaboury province.
    Last month, it was only the Nam Ngeun international border in Xayaboury province which was refusing entry to tour groups into Laos but now its other two border crossings are also prohiting the groups.
    Deputy Director of the Xayaboury Information, Culture and Tourism Department Mr Khampiew Phommahane confirmed to Vientiane Times on Wednesday that all of the borders in Xayaboury now prohibit touring motorcycle caravans.
    “The tourist police unit does not prohibit the caravans of bicycles and motorcycles, but they are banned by the immigration police at the borders,” he said.
    The reason why the immigration police are now refusing such groups entry into Laos through the three border checkpoints in Xayaboury remains unclear.
    Mr Khampiew added that some police officers at the immigration police told him that they have a signed agreements with Vietnam or China but did elaborate.
    Xayaboury has three borders with Thailand, namely the Nam Ngeun-HouaiKon International border, the Nam Heuang-Nakaxeng International border and the Phoudou border. However the Phoudou border is an international border only on the Lao side while the Thai side has yet to be upgraded.
    The provincial Department of Information, Culture and Tourism in company with the provincial Tourist Police Unit have made a proposal to the provincial governor to address this problem but the governor has yet to reply.
    It is only the borders in the province of Xayaboury that are refusing these caravans but borders in other provinces and in Vientiane, the capital Laos still allow them to pass.
    So caravans of motorcycles from Thailand wanting to tour in Laos via tour companies still have other border crossing options.
    Previously, group tours of bicycles and motorcycles could pass these borders in the prefecture but now border officials have stopped allowing them to pass.
    Last month, the immigration police at Nam Ngeun border checkpoint initially refused entry of a tour group to Laos, which was later extended to the other two borders.
    The owner of one tour company in LuangPrabang province, said on Wednesday he will bring a tour group of motorcyclists from Europe to Luang Prabang via the border between Laos and Thailand in Vientiane, the capital of Laos.

     
  6. jethro69

    jethro69 Ol'Timer

    Not that it matters now....I think it's just the other way round. The Lao side could not issue VoA, and thus the Thais don't want to let anyone over.
    However, if you have already a Lao-Visa, or are one of the few nations who are Visa-exempt for Laos, you should be fine.
    Of course the first thing you'll hear is "cannot", but I'm Visa exempt, crossed early this year. other way round should always work.
     
  7. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    I agree the Lao have got it the wrong way around re Phu Du & the reporter in Vientiane has been told - twice now; but they keep rehashing the same error.

    A Chiang Mai - Luang Prabang loop via Uttaradit Nan - Hongsa
     
  8. mohdrashidin

    mohdrashidin Member

    David, I am planning to return to Bangkok from Luang Prabang through that border in December. Is it open or I have to reroute through Vientiane?
     
  9. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    Well it's not open now. What the situation will be in December is anyone's guess, but you'd expect that eventually it will re-open, but when is the $64 question that can only be answered by the police in Muang Ngern.
    So I'd be planing another exit port.
     
  10. lipmeng

    lipmeng Ol'Timer

    Dear all

    I rode to Phu Du border crossing from Xayaboury today and was refused and told to the Kenethao border (Nam Heung). I was also refused by the border Kenethao (Nam heung) and the official explained tome that motorcyles are not allow at this border (coming in or going out) due to many accidents by motorcycle groups touring the country.

    So I have checked in to a guest house in Pak Lay and use the ferry to cross the Mekong then ride to Vientiane.
    Would be glad to know if anyone of the members have use that route with ferry crossing ...such as condition of road, jetty to use & fees. I checked the Google Map and it is reportedly to be 201 km but the local officials at border told me it is only about 150 km.

    Any reply before tomorrow will be helpful & deeply appreciated.

    Regards

    Lip Meng
     
  11. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member


    Arh bad luck. They have closed all of Xayaboury province then.
    Terrible news.

    Re the river road I think most of it is asphalt now; & should be ok unless it rains & gets greasy.
    You should be ok on the AT - just take it easy.
     
    lipmeng likes this.
  12. mohdrashidin

    mohdrashidin Member

    that's a good info Lip Meng as I was told earlier that only going into Laos is a problem but on going out wasn't.. so i'll exit through Vientiane from LP when we ride there next week.
     
  13. lipmeng

    lipmeng Ol'Timer

    If you are riding with "others" and coming from LPB and planning to exit VTE with some time to spare...I suggest that you can ride to Xayaboury then to Pak Lay for overnight before crossing the Mekong in Pak Lay to VTE using the "ferry" the ride to VTE via this route as it will be an experience for you guys. Bear in mind that you need to have a dry day to ride this route as one section is gravel road along the beautiful Mekong...approx 25 to 30km stretch and is dusty & potty sometimes. The total distance from Pak Lay to VTE using this route is approx 203km and the first 20km after the ferry is narrow and a little hilly thereafter some good section of low land padi fields then there is a left hand turning on "T" junction where the gravel part starts for approx 30km. After that is it good and the last 60km to VTE is like Sepang track ...smooth and some sweeping curves...do be cautious on speed as it is still Laos.

    Have fun and consider this you will not regret ....if you have ride the VTE-Viang Veing-Kasi- Phu Khun-LPB hwy
     
  14. Jimenator

    Jimenator Member

    Hi David,

    Thanks for your fantastic information. I have been through Muang Ngern in the past, but by car not motorcycle. I was wondering if the rules are still the same, no entry by motorcycle (or car) unless you work for the Hongsa power plant? This is a silly rule and by preventing cars from entering there the Lao side is effectively breaking the Thai-Lao transport agreement (which doesn't apply to motorcycles) but it does apply to cars, trucks and buses. I wonder if the Thais are also refusing Lao registrations coming into Thailand there - it would be unfair if they weren't.

    Jim
     

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