Chiang Mai – Hanoi Back Part 7 Nong Khiew – Chiang Mai

Discussion in 'Vietnam - Motorcycle Trip Report Forums' started by DavidFL, Apr 21, 2010.

  1. #1 DavidFL, Apr 21, 2010
    Last edited: May 15, 2016

    Continued from
    Chiang Mai - Hanoi Back Part 1
    Chiang Mai - Hanoi Back Part 2 Sapa
    Chiang Mai - Hanoi Back Part 3 Bac Ha
    Chiang Mai - Hanoi Back Part 4 Hanoi
    Chiang Mai - Hanoi Back Part 5 Hanoi - Xam Nua
    Chiang Mai - Hanoi Back Part 6 Xam Nua - Nong Khiew

    DAYS 13-14-15 LUANG PRABANG. 26-27-28 MARCH
    It was time to wind down & take it easy going “home.”

    The 7.30AM view from my “resort” bungalow in Nong Khiew.

    The breakfast view of the way ahead

    On the road narrow twisting winding Nong Khiew – Pak Mong

    In Luang Prabang it was time to link up with the boys
    1. Armin & Joe in from Phonsavan
    2. Alex “Contact Travel” in from Chiang Mai in his pick-up for the night. He likes driving & travelling!
    3. Steve Van Beek relaxing in LPQ for a week or two, & writing a new book.

    The Soudaphone is my fave riverside hang out in LPQ, & some guys used to have trouble finding the place. But it is on the GT Rider LPQ city map + they have a nice new sign, compliments of GT Rider.


    You can’t miss the Soudaphone now.

    Armin & Joe headed back to Chiang Mai the “direct way” from LPQ. Luang Prabang – Hongsa – Huay Khon – Chiang Mai.
    The LPQ – Xieng Meng ferry service across the Mekong has greatly improved the last few years.
    but it still gets crowded at times.


    I hung out in LPQ for another couple of nights “watching the river flow” & looking at the boats

    luang-prabang-006. luang-prabang-009.

    & marvelling at the lack of water in the Khong.
    luang-prabang-010. luang-prabang-011.

    After 3 nights it was time to pack up & ride south to Vientiane.
    The way was hot & burnt.


    Whilst stopped snapping the beauty above I met this fellow
    GPS-mapping Laos?
    & the 500 baht question for Cambo fans is – who is it?

    Some of the way south was not all burnt & dry
    a glorious R13 view!

    DAYS 16–17–18 VIENTIANE. 29-30-31 MARCH

    Vientiane was the next stop for 3 nights R&R looking up mates & contacts

    Jules Classic Bike has a new shop ‘n office

    Luang Prabang - Vientiane
    Ex Luang Prabang 10.00AM. Arrival Vientiane 4.40PM.

    Need more info & maps for Laos, buy a GT Rider map
  2. DAY 19 VIENTIANE - LOEI. 1st APRIL 2010.

    One of my favourite rides along the Mekong: Route 211.

    For over 12 months now I’ve been wondering about the temple on a bluff overlooking the Mekong & exactly where was the turn off. I'd narrowed it down to 1 turn off & today was the day to check it out despite the H-E-A-T; & again it was another stinking hot day on the road.

    The temple name is Wat Pha Tak Suea, & the turn off is 12 kms east of Sangkom. (Actually right by the tiny Tharn Thong waterfall.)
    The road in is 7 kms, half of which are easy dirt. The temple is still under construction, but the views are absolutely stupendous.

    The first asphalt section


    The easy dirt section



    There's a steep "easy" hill at the end to get to the temple.

    Steps to the temple



    Well worth the effort & I will be making regular stops there from now on to check on the 'Khong.

    Wat Pha Tak Suea: N18 02.207 E102 18.334.
    The turn off on route 211: N18 01.632 E102 21.914.

    SOME MEKONG VIEWS so that you can see how low the river goes





    THE KAENG KHUT KU RAPIDS just out of Chiang Khan




    It's amazing how low the river is & hot the hot season is this year. I don't recall it ever being as hot as this for so long; & I admit to being significantly affected by it & slowed right down riding in the heat. :evil: :evil:
  3. Brilliant David, thanks so much for sharing, definitely on the 'to-do' list.

  4. Thanks for the reports & all the photos! Won't be the same now having no "Vietnam" report to open.
  5. Got a bit more to come, docs & summary that Im working on. Plus still got my Poi Sang Long pics from Thoed Thai to go up.

    However just booked to take happy-go-lucky to Hanoi 17-21 May.
    :D :clap: :D :clap:
  6. #6 DavidFL, Apr 24, 2010
    Last edited: May 15, 2016

    Sunday 14 March – Friday 2nd April 2010
    19 nights 20 days. Total distance for me was about 4,400 kms.

    HIGHLIGHTS (= I want to go back)
    • The Thai Dam villagers out of Dien Bien Phu
    • Sapa town
    • Bac Ha Hmong minority tribe & market
    • Mai Chau
    • Hanoi & riding there. Already got a return ticket to Hanoi, flying in with happy-go-lucky.
    • Friendly people. Mai Chau was fantastic & it was a shame we had to leave the next morning.
    • The challenging riding on the way in.

    • The heat
    • Pushing on every day – take more time.
    • The 40 -50 KPH speed limit. Ok we never got nicked & didn't pay any serious attention to it; BUT the minimum fine is US$ 150 starting at 7KPH over the limit. No negotiation + bike impounded & pay at the police station = DON’T get caught. SO watch it!

    Note that you can’t travel fast or long distances in a day because your travel speed is so slow. And this is not really a problem if you want to see the countryside, meet people & take photos. But if time is limited you might need to rush. On a big bike slow speeds can make riding hard work = a smaller bike is easier (& more fun?)

    • English is not great so the language barrier could be a problem for some people.
    • If you speak Thai, in the North you often find people who can understand what your trying to say & vice versa.

    • Good almost every day. Best meal was Dien Bien Phu (ok I was spoiled by a waitress). Lunch can be basic, but there were some good noodles here & there.
    • The fish (& salmon) was superb.
    • The coffee
    • Bia Hanoi good & cheap.
    • Note that restaurants are not always easy to find. You sometimes need to scout around, especially in the smaller towns.

    • Not difficult to find.
    • Always “comfortable,” although the Lan Anh in Muang Lay was different.
    • Generally inexpensive & good value for money.
    • We were told that there was nothing much, if any in Mai Chau, yet we saw at least 3 comfortable hotels / guesthouses.

    Mark Remenyi trail blazed the way in nicely, read what he had to do.!!!

    1. Passport.
    2. Visa – designating ports & dates of entry / departure. Issued in Bangkok
    3. Bike ownership book & bike particulars.
    4. ITP / Certificate of Translation of bike registration / ownership.
    5. Bike inspection certificate – translated into English. A tricky one



    6. Driving licence for Vietnam. If you have an ASEAN licence not necessary as the ASEAN licence works. If you're from out of ASEAN, an International Driving Licence should do the trick to get you a Vietnamese licence.
    7. Tour itinerary that needs to be approved by the Vietnam Tourism office. (Submit this to the agent, who submits it to Vietnam Tourism office, then gets the bike import approved.)

    These were submitted to a Vietnamese tour company, who prepared the import documentation.
    We were met at the border by the company owner / director, an ex-diplomat & personal friend of one of our group.
    With his expertise we cleared Vietnam immigration & customs in 45 minutes; as reported here

    What you should end up with

    Insurance: the Vietnamese agent assured us that we were fully covered & not to worry should there be an accident.

    Originally we’d been lead to believe that once inside Vietnam we would be “free” ride our own route & exit as proposed. This however was not the case, & at Tay Trang our Vietnamese agent informed us that they would follow with a service vehicle, plus carry the luggage for the whole trip. They would also pay all bills as we went & present us with a bill at the end. This was a significant surprise at the time, but because of the long close personal association & working relationship between the agent & Armin we did not complain or question this. I was only too happy to be in & ride Vietnam. In the end this generally proved satisfactory, although there were organizational hiccups along the way, mainly due to their inexperience in dealing with motorcyclists.

    As a seasoned S E Asia motorcycle tourer, it would be nice to be free to go as you please, but this is currently not the case in Vietnam. Indeed the procedure is very similar to my first trips into Laos 15 years ago, where you could only gain entry via a tour operator who "guaranteed" your safety & departure.
    In Laos the original fee we used to pay was 6,000 baht per bike, plus expenses on top that we paid as we went. After numerous trips this fee went down, & eventually Laos reformed & liberalized their tourism entry procedures so it was possible to do the temporary import paperwork yourself at the border.
    My gut feeling is that Vietnam will probably go this way in the future. Vietnam has signed international cross border agreements for the movement of vehicles in ASEAN & should start following the “same standard procedure” I hope. :think:

    I also believe that it is possible for the Vietnam agent to simply get the temporary import & tour route approved for you & not necessarily sell you a package. However as the agent is your guarantor for your safety & departure whilst in the country I understand their concern to make sure you are safe & leave properly with your motorbike. They are responsible for you.
    Perhaps in time, once you have built up credibility & reliability with the Vietnamese agent, he will take a chance & let you go on your own. To negotiate a no-guide / no-tour package trip is the next step... :)

    Any legal insured Vietnamese tour operator should be able to provide you with the import permits & papers.
    Once you have the right paperwork, agreeing on an acceptable fee for a package / temporary import service will be the main issue.
    The operator we used thought that it would not be worthwhile unless there were 7 bikes in a group & they were buying a complete package. I can see his point; especially considering the insurance / safety issue should something go wrong. But...

    • Only if your testosterone makes you insist on riding your own bike & money’s not a problem.
    • But consider if you ride from Chiang Mai it is at least 3 days to the border & back again = “1 week” is gone; & you’re not even in Vietnam. So…
    The best way to ride Vietnam is fly in & rent a local bike: Honda Dream or 250 Baja!

    STILL INTERESTED IN RIDING IN the report. Start here

    Chiang Mai - Hanoi Back Part 1
    Chiang Mai - Hanoi Back Part 2 Sapa
    Chiang Mai - Hanoi Back Part 3 Bac Ha
    Chiang Mai - Hanoi Back Part 4 Hanoi
    Chiang Mai - Hanoi Back Part 5 Hanoi - Xam Nua
    Chiang Mai - Hanoi Back Part 6 Xam Nua - Nong Khiew
    Chiang Mai – Hanoi Back Part 7 Nong Khiew – Chiang Mai

    :lol-sign: :lol-sign: :lol-sign:
  7. Thank you for the time & care you have taken with your tremendous trip reports,
    along with Silverhawk's of course, especially the time you both took to take such great pix.
    Extremely helpful and most enlightening and i'm sure will be much appreciated by many. :thumbup:
    This summation helped clarify for me any question of taking bigger bikes in.
    I hadn't realised that 40kph was the speed limit -which is enforced- really put the kibosh on it. :thumbdown:
    A Baja from Cuoung appears to be the easiest most sensible way to go.
    So a tip of the hat to the four of you guineapigs riding the Armin Tri-nation TT speed course.
    You didn't need pix of the morning ride out of Oudomxai, it sounded hairy enough just reading it.
    :clap: :clap: :clap:
  8. They have speed guns, as we found out on the run out of Hanoi to Mai Chau. Not that they were directed at us, but we were lucky.
    Re the speed limit, it could be 50KPH on the main highways, but we were told it's generally 40KPH & enforced.
    Harri The Fin seems to be ware of it to.
  9. They have speed guns, as we found out on the run out of Hanoi to Mai Chau. Not that they were directed at us, but we were lucky.
    Re the speed limit, it could be 50KPH on the main highways, but we were told it's generally 40KPH & enforced.
    Harri The Fin seems to be ware of it to.
    Our guide did tell me that "sometimes" it may be possible to negotiate. However unlike here, the negotiated fee is more likely to be something like double the standard fine. Apparently they also have a system of points that go on your record and you may suffer a loss of your driving privileges. For locals that can afford it, it could be worth paying. The guide added "that is why policeman are usually fat"!

    Thanks for the nice comments guys. :oops:
  10. If we can only ride about 40km/h,how many days then to reach Ho Chi Minh from Hanoi? :wtf: Is it standard speed limit all over Vietnam?
  11. Excellent report and well done. I'm glad you got in and did it the right way, it helps to build up so riders can eventually get in with not being escorted.

    In general, a good trip and it opens up return trips to places you'd like to ride even more. Ha Giang, Mai Chau area, Khe San area, Nghia Lo and so much more is out there - I'm glad you are flying back in and doing a trip this way. I would have to agree that taking a big bike in at the moment is great but time consuming and perhaps the expense might be level if you flew in and took a bike in Hanoi. David is correct as well - ride time in Vietnam is the goal and hot railing it across Laos on 1C eats up way too much time.

    The package you were given by the VN agent was most likely listed on the caravan permit they pulled from the related Ministries and sticking to it was in their best interest.

    I'd be happy to run with you at some point, while only 3.5 years riding in the north, it's pretty much all I did (minus drinks).
  12. For What It's Worth - I did a north loop in Oct 2009 and never saw any speed enforcement. Guess I was lucky. I rented a 250 Baja from and had a very positive experience.
    I have also rented a 250 Baja from in Laos and really enjoyed my experience with Jim and Quynh. She's much more attractive than Jimio. They (Quynh) arranged bikes, flights and hotels for my friend and I and even gave us a phone so as to have and emergency contact if needed. Jim is a wealth of info.
  13. :smile1: :smile1: :smile1:
    Come on you guys??
    :shock: :shock: :shock:
    Where are all you Cambo adventure riders......
  14. david nice trip to vietnam..a lot of procedure..anyway will get into vietnam next year or end of this year.. :happy3:
  15. I'm scouring my brain and have an idea on who it is but I'm not 100% convinced. i have seen pics of a certain Cambo "guide" that he has a remarkable resemblance to.....for better or worse. If it's the same person I'm thinking of I'll laugh my arse off. We need a close-up on the face for us geezers with bad eyes to make a proper determination.
  16. Is this any better
  17. Very interesting trip, great pictures.

    So...... What did it cost? That would be interesting info. I missed that part.
  18. #18 SilverhawkUSA, Feb 17, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 7, 2017
  19. Hi David,

    Many thanks for, as always, all the useful info.

    We (two couples) also decided to travel through Asia on motorbikes (yamaha Nouvo Elegance 135) which we bought & slightly customised in Chiang Mai. This was an unexpected decision and there was a lot of gear change/improvements & logistics to work on but we somehow manage to get through it event though sometimes feels like impossible ;) - like to a question asked in Myanmar: "Is it possible? Yes it's impossible."

    We'll are reporting on border crossings here:
    So far, Thailand to Malaysia which was a bit painful in terms of obtaining information what to do & where (this blog allows limited number of characters hence anyone PM me for more detailed info on how to get through this border on 2 wheels).

    All the best, David
  20. Bump for the guy who emailed me about Vietnam again.
  21. Bump for Herman asking.

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