Crossing into Laos at Chiang Khong/Huay Xai

Discussion in 'General Discussion / News / Information' started by Champasak, Feb 1, 2003.

  1. Crossing into Laos at Chiang Khong/Huay Xai
    « on: Nov 25th, 2002, 5:52am » Quote Modify Remove


    we (my wife and i) are in Chiang Mai at the moment and already enjoyed (and will enjoy more) of the great northern Thailand roads. Thank you for all the information (and the great maps !).

    We are already travelling on bikes since nearly two years (Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand ...) and want to cross into Laos around end of december.

    We would like to cross at Chiang Khong/Huay Xai and continue to Luang Nam Tha. But even after some reading in this forum we are not sure and have some questions:

    - is there a ferry over the Mekong river or are there only longtail boats ? Is it possible to cross with our well laden bikes (Honda XL 650 V Transalp with boxes and all; about 270kg with gear/fuel without rider) ? What price can we expect for the crossing ?

    - what's the paperwork on the Laos side like (i already read a bit here and it seems to be not too easy/cheap) ? Is it maybe possible just to use the "Carnet" (even if Laos is not on the country list) ? What price can we expect for the paperwork ?

    - is it really only possible to get a 7 day-permit for the bike there (we have one month visas) ? Is it possible to get a longer permit if we would enter over the friendship bridge ?

    - last but not least: What's the road like ? I have to say that my wife is only about 169cm/50kg and you know the bike is heavy. Normally we have no real problems on dirt tracks (like in Oz) but understandably my wife doesn't like steep, winding, rocky mountain trecks on this bike too much.

    I know ! A lot of questions but it would be nice if someone could answer only a few of them.

    Ralf and Caroline
  2. Re: Crossing into Laos at Chiang Khong/Huay Xai
    « Reply #1 on: Nov 25th, 2002, 7:50am » Quote Modify Remove

    Ralf & Caroline
    Just short sharp reply (& more later) but......
    It should not be too much trouble for you go get into Laos. Maximum cost to pay is US$30-40 on the Laos side! If you haven’t sorted it out by the time you get this, e-mail me direct & I will give you the details for the best agent.
    I never recommend going down the Huay Sai - Nam Tha road two up though, especially on a heavy bike & one that is loaded up. Your best bet is to take a boat down the Mekong to Pak Baeng & then ride up to Oudom Xai.
    It is nice to know that you have done a lot of riding in Thailand already, we'd all like to read about it - where you have been & how it was. The riding here (& in Laos is pretty awesome.) It would be good if you could post some tips on the message board so that we can have the latest info & tips, if you want to share them.
    1. There are 3 excellent Laos reports on P3 of this board.
    2. I'll work on some answers to your questions.

    « Last Edit: Nov 25th, 2002, 8:22am by Davidfl »

  3. Re: Crossing into Laos at Chiang Khong/Huay Xai
    « Reply #2 on: Nov 26th, 2002, 1:50am » Quote Modify Remove

    Answers to your questions

    1. BOAT across the Mekong from Chiang Khong to Huay Sai. Yes, there is a vehicle ferry service. They operate whenever there are enough vehicles – usually trucks – or someone pays the freight to cross from one side to the other. Otherwise you can use the long tail boats, long tail cost is normally 500 baht & includes help lifting the bike into & out of the boat. They will go as soon as you pay the money, whereas with the ferry, you might have to wait a few hours, until it is booked to go. If you are able to get on the big car ferry I normally tip the boat skipper 100-150 baht to keep him happy, but sometimes they might ask for more.
    2. PAPERWORK on the Lao side is all in Lao, and so is a bit difficult to complete. That’s why the Lao customs at Huay Sai like to ask you to use an agent to complete the forms & get the travel permits from the relevant govt offices.
    A carnet is not necessary – Laos is not a signatory to the Intl agreement on Carnets, but is sometimes does help the process if you produce one.
    3. IMPORT PERMIT the standard import permit is usually 1 week. But extensions are possible in Vientiane (& most likely other provincial capitals?) Take a look at the Laos reports on page 3 of this message board for details on how & where to go about an extension in Vte.
    4. ROAD the road in from Huay Sai to Luang Nam Tha is 85% dirt, all steep & winding through the mountains, with a bit of asphalt at either end. The lovely old jungle road goes between Vieng Phukha and Luang Nam Tha. From Vieng Phukha to Huay Sai you have the big new wide dirt road, but it is usually a mess from the coal trucks going in and out. This means, in the wet it is badly rutted and sometimes impassable, then in the dry it is thick bull dust. If you have good experience riding on these sorts of roads – dirt, steep and winding, then maybe it is not so bad. Its actually awesome fun on a light weight dirt bike; but I would never recommend this to anyone two-up, especially on a big bike, loaded up – guaranteed you will drop it at least once.
    So my advice is to put the bike on a boat & chug downstream to Pak Beng , then ride out to Oudom Sai & on to wherever. I like to hire my own boat & go downstream, cost for this is usually 3,000 baht, from Huay Sai to Pak Beng. Getting your bike into the boat is tricky & “fun.”
    If none of this sounds too appealing, then the other option is to go in via Nong Khai.

    « Last Edit: Nov 26th, 2002, 3:57am by Davidfl »


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