Phu Du Crossing/Uttaradit into Xayabouly

Discussion in 'Laos - General Discussion Forum' started by Ticino, Oct 10, 2014.

  1. Ticino

    Ticino Ol'Timer

    I've picked-up a survey job into Xayabouly. Wondering if anyone has some update on the new border post at Phudu/Uttaradit as an alternative to Tha Li?

    I'm travelling 4x4, car papers OK, visa exemption on both Thailand and Laos; i.e. no need for visa on arrival ;-)

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  3. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    Hi Peter were you able to find anything out?

    I just saw this in the news

  4. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    Supposedly open as of yesterday.






  5. ntb

    ntb Ol'Timer

    Any info on Lao visa on arrival or allowing motorcycles to cross over?
    Always good to hear about new border crossings.
  6. brian_bkk

    brian_bkk Ol'Timer

    Suppose to be ok according to the immigration officer.

    He said the border status changed on the Lao side yesterday.

    He was going to let me out with bike.

    I didn't have time to try. So will only be sure when some one does it.

  7. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    Officially opened 8/2/2015

  8. Ticino

    Ticino Ol'Timer

    Well, I was there four months ago and they told me it would take three months - et voilà!

    Visa on Arrival is, on the Lao side PRESENTLY NOT YET POSSIBLE.

    Cars need an ITP (international transport permit) being issued in literally any office of the Department of Land Transport against a nominal fee of THB 55 (status FEB2015). All you need is the original blue book in your name -OR- a power of attorney by the owner (the Missus or the finance company) allowing you to export the car on a temporary basis. No blue book and/or no ITP = you're not leaving Thailand.

    The above is only half the distance from the existing stretch from Thali (Loei/Thailand) to Kenthao

    Given the access to the border itself the new route is preferably easier; albeit the entry via Loei is shorter if coming from the South (Bangkok etc.).

    The Phu Do post is located at GPS 18.103538 101.159800

    Across the little hill, after approx. 2.6 kms, you find Ban Phakèo at GPS 18.10948 101.17776

    The sector Phu Du - Kenthao is brand new; the tarmac fantastic and one brand-new bridge of 25 metres length at GPS: 18.12484 101.19677 over Nam Porn

    In October 2014 there was no infrastructure yet such as passport photo or copy shop on the Lao side so bring your document(s) along if you need a visa for Laos.

    From Ban Phakèo to Kengsao (where you hit Road 4 coming up from Thali) it is 27 kms and then another approx. 12 kms to Paklay.

    Arguably one of the easiest and nicest land routes from Thailand to Luang Prabang by leaving Phu Du via Kenthao, Paklay, Xayabouly, Muang Nan upto Luang Prabang, 300 kms on good roads, pit stops en route and overnight facilities in Paklay or Xayabouly.
  9. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    I can confirm that Phu Doo is fully open for those with a Lao visa = no visa on arrival yet.
    Yesterday stamped out of Thailand by very happy helpful Thai officials, I thought everything on the Lao side was going well with my immigration card filled out, my name registered in the book for a visa, then asked where was my visa. No have, that's why I am here at this booth. Cannot! No visa on arrival. What???
    Laughs all round. So back to Thailand, cancel my exit stamps then get readmitted to Thailand
    All very funny because the Thais had cheered me off only 40 minutes before..
    They too did not know NO visa on arrival on the Lao side, saying that they also thought it was fully open as of 8 February.
    So now you know. It's not yet 100% "fully international" on the Lao side



  10. brian_bkk

    brian_bkk Ol'Timer

    Nice one David..

    Good on you for checking it out and updating everyone.

  11. DavidFL

    DavidFL Administrator Staff Member

    I can now confirm Phu Doo is ok to exit Laos - got stamped out of Lao this arvo & into Thailand at 4.15pm.
    Departure from Luang Prabang was 10 am & arrival in Uttaradit was 5.45pm.


  12. blackwolf

    blackwolf Active Member

    I've been across both Phu Du and Tha Li with my Thai registered truck. I should say that since I just paid it off and we were using my fiancee's name for the finance, I have not yet put my name on the registration (title) because that would cost upwards of 4000 Baht, possibly even 5000 Baht, a trip to my embassy for the address verification etc. etc. all just to add my name to the registration. But I'll do it before my road tax is up for renewal.

    In the meantime, a power of attorney needs to be used in conjunction with the blue book AND the ITP. Being in possession of ONLY the blue book or the ITP is not enough to leave the country. Similarly, the power of attorney is not a stand alone document; it must accompany both the blue book and the ITP and a copy of the owner's ID card should also accompany it too.

    Your maps are wrong - the distance from Ban Nakraseng (Thai border) to Kaenthao is a mere 7km. The distance from the Thai/Lao border post to Paklay (Paklai) is 68km. Maybe that's what you meant. The distance from Ban Phakeo to Paklay is about 32km or so, but it could also be 39km as you say (close enough)...when I drove across it was dark (around 7.30pm) and I remember the excellent new road from the top of the hill before the Lao checkpoint all the way to the route 4 intersection was in superb condition, better than even parts of the road from Uttaradit on the Thai side, especially the last 5km to the Phu Du crossing and the horrible potholed section in no man's land on the Thai side.

    However, the city you marked as Kaenthao on the second map is almost certainly Kengsao, the city at the route 4 intersection, with Paklay just up the road. Kaenthao is roughly 80km from the Phu Do crossing, not merely 29km.
  13. blackwolf

    blackwolf Active Member

    Phu Do is perfectly OK to cross from the Thai side into Laos. I did so on Sunday, March 22 at 5.30pm. But unlike most of you I don't need a visa on arrival for Laos as I am visa exempt. Just FYI though, Phu Do is the closest and most convenient crossing between Thailand and Laos if you are coming from places like Mae Sot (exactly 400km away, which is where I arrived from earlier that day), Uttaradit, Lampang, Sukhothai and Phitsanulok (although Ban Nakraseng/Nam Heuang is also convenient if coming from Phitsanulok). It is also convenient for Chiang Mai based travelers if heading for Vientiane and southern Laos. But for northern Laos including Luang Prabang, Chiang Khong or Nan (Thung Chang) are closer.

    However, being a new crossing I encountered a few oddities. First of all, the presumably new customs officer on the Thai side first claimed that my power of attorney, which I was using as the truck I was driving is not yet registered in my name and thus was not valid as I am a foreigner who does not reside in Thailand permanently and that according to him, there was a risk of not coming back. He thought that foreigners can't use powers of attorney, only Thais can even though (if you can read Thai like I can) there is clearly a field which says "nationality" i.e. สัญชาติ in Thai, hence if it weren't allowed, why would there be that field? I told him I have always crossed the border with a vehicle not in my name with no problems, just not with this vehicle yet. What I didn't specify was that in every case I was driving a Lao vehicle into Thailand but after just a couple of minutes of patient waiting he decided to give me the go ahead.

    The other customs guy told me to make copies of just about every document I was carrying - the blue book, power of attorney, ID card copy of my fiancee, my passport front page, my Thai driver's licence front and back, ITP (all the important pages), even the English "registration certificate", which is the translation of the blue book required for Malaysia. Overall 32 pages and it took me a long time to find a place to photocopy my documents, everywhere was closed except for the guesthouse about 500m before the crossing. I should have known and stopped off there when I first arrived. Given I can read Thai, the sign said: "photocopies" in Thai so I should have known better because photocopies are something most Thai bureaucrats love.

    Anyway, after returning to the border checkpoint with all my documents in hand, all the border staff became friendlier and immigration even took a few pictures with me, as they claimed they needed evidence to show their superiors they were providing "superior service", haha. The staff only wanted like 1/4 of all the pages I photocopied, the rest I kept in my envelope with the car documents. Customs took no interest in the goods I was hauling for my business in Laos; I was initially afraid that after all the hassle with my car documents I'd now have to face customs on this issue, but no. Overall, after spending an hour at the border (I asked about the closing time thinking that while I may get through the Thai side OK, it's 6.30pm already, when do you actually close? Oh, 8pm they told me).

    The other slight oddities were - they put an immigration stamp in my ITP as well (this is not standard procedure at other crossings, as I was told by Tha Li customs on a subsequent trip) and the exit stamp you get says "Nan, Thailand". Yet this wasn't Nan, some 250km away, but Uttaradit or Phu Du to be more precise. The customs stamped said "Thung Chang customs, Phu Du customs house" something like that. Again...a bit odd. You would think they'd have their own stamps by now. On the Lao side however they did, and the stamps said "Phou Dou".

    So after waiting like 15mins for the temporary car export documents to be filled out, my ITP stamped and everyone wished me a safe journey, I drove up the hill, stopped the car and took a few pictures of the traffic switchover on the Lao side and then it was a long downhill to the Lao side. I arrived there at 6.40pm but oh no, the gate was closed and locked! Nobody was there and the fact that the only car to cross over to Laos from the Thai side left at 5.30pm while in the full hour I was on the Thai side not a single other person or vehicle crossed was not very re-assuring.

    So after a couple of honks of my horn, flashing of my lights and seeing some activity on the Lao side, I had to wait for 15 mins before someone finally came to open the gate. I was about to give up and return to sleep on the Thai side. But alas, a guard came with his rifle and I asked him what time they closed, he claimed 8pm. Hmmm...but the gate closes when? Therefore, don't arrive as late as I did...better make sure you are at the Thai side no later than about 4.30pm in order to cross to the Lao side before 6pm, just in case.

    After 1 hour at the border and some very friendly banter (my ITP was again stamped with both an immigration and customs stamp, but this seems to be standard at all crossings on the Lao side), the customs agent wanted to know what goods I was transporting and warned me I would have to pay some customs duties. But in the end she decided there was no need. A car with 3 Thai engineers from Uttaradit was heading back in the opposite direction around 7.30pm; they seemed quite well versed in the closing times but I thought they were risking it coming so late. That was the only other vehicle I saw until I reached the route 4 turn-off at nearly 8pm.

    Overall a good crossing despite the initial scare I got from Thai customs, but it went smoothly in the end. While you can certainly cross relatively hassle-free if your documents are in order (and if you need a Lao visa, already have one), I think it will take them some more months before they are used to regular crossings since it's an isolated crossing that even on the Thai side takes you cross 148km of very isolated countryside where I didn't even spot one 7-11 along the way, very unusual for Thailand. In fact, I'd highly recommend refuelling in Uttaradit because afterwards there will be very few petrol/gas stations until you get to Paklay (though you may find one in Ban Khok, just before the border but that would require a slight detour) and you don't want to run out of fuel somewhere along the way.
  14. blackwolf

    blackwolf Active Member

    Visa on arrival not yet, but soon I guess. It was dark and I didn't care, since I don't need one (I'm visa exempt for Laos). But based on the other reports, it seems that the answer is still no. Maybe within 6 months though.

    No problems at all for motorcycles. I asked Lao customs, even though I arrived by car. Same at Tha Li. It seems the previous "restrictions" or "problems" encountered with bikes have been relaxed. Laos is quite open to allowing bikes in from Thailand nowadays. Not sure if you arrive in a large group, but individuals won't encounter any problems. The bridge crossings (except the 1st Friendship bridge for 250cc up bikes and the 4th Friendship bridge) and the other ones unless piggybacking your bike on the back of a pickup might be a problem though. Interestingly, at the same time as this is happening, on other threads I'm reading about Lao officials at the Lao/Viet crossings increasingly refusing Vietnamese bikes into Laos, mainly rental bikes (and presumably) smaller bikes.
  15. mohdrashidin

    mohdrashidin Member

    Hi Guys,

    I am planning a ride down from Luang Prabang to Malaysia and I was advised to go through Udon Thani and further south.

    However I would like to try to use this route:

    Luang Prabang - Xayabouri - Paklay - Phu Du and through 1047 to Nakhon Sawan (656km)

    Is this route do able in one day?
  16. brian_bkk

    brian_bkk Ol'Timer

    Nakon Sawan may be pushing it. I guess it depends on the rider and how long the border takes to cross.

    If you don't make it plenty of places to stop along the way and over night.
  17. Ticino

    Ticino Ol'Timer

    Agree with Brian, it is pushing. The border check at Phu Du can take some time (had a power black out once = 90 minutes waiting) and 1047 almost halfway down to Uttaradit has had better days.
    Suggest to stop at Uttaradit (447kms); if you're really really early then you might be able to go down to Phitsanulok (525kms).
    Apart from road conditions there is the traffic element (1047 sees a lot of cement trucks shuttling to the dam site at Xayabouly); interesting to read what you managed. Safe trails :cool:
  18. Ticino

    Ticino Ol'Timer

    Arriving at the immigration/customs house at 7.15pm (June 2015 that was) in Ban Phakéo (Lao border post) it might be pitch dark because they turned off all lights (despite the border closing only at 8 pm).
    Find them behind the building at Somtam and Beerlao; friendly smiling service - stamp out procedure for vehicle and me in two minutes ;-)

    Click here for the (low resolution) video:
  19. Ticino

    Ticino Ol'Timer


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