As reported & with the rumour mill in over gear with confusing misinformation, I recently spent a night in Houei Xai to ascertain the real situation & probable causes of the problems. From what I can gather, taking directly to police, the tourist office, tour operators processing the paperwork - the current Laos bike import difficulties come from accidents with motorcycle caravans. Accidents have occurred, including the death of one local , & the police are not happy about it all. Negotiations for satisfactory compensation have been unpleasant & stressful & not always amicable. SO bike groups 6 & over need a police escort, or a police man in the group, to control speed & assist negotiate compensation in accident situations. 5 riders may be ok. 4 riders is ok, as long as you don't look like a tour group. CUSTOMS at the border aren't worried how many bikes come in - provided your paperwork is correct. IMMIGRATION don't care either, as long as you have a passport & visa. TOUR GROUP with paying customers - you need to go through the proper channels - get your bike import approved, get your route approved, use an official guide, notify the police & use an escort. That is the law; & always has been. Things have been slack for many years now; but because of the spate of recent accidents the rule book has been dusted off & the rules are being enforced. MUANG NGERN / HUAY KON is still a no-no: from the police. So we can assume the most serious accidents have occurred in Xayaboury province. How long it remains like this who knows. A KLX 250 ridden by a Thai was written off in a head on collision near Luang Nam Tha very recently. The riders was a Thai & is ok. He was very lucky - forgetting what side of the road he should be riding on. A bike caravan coming back from Vietnam was involved in a collision a few months ago & the compensation negotiations were not at all satisfactory according to the Lao. What happened to Lung Guichard I don;t know yet, but am checking. The boat skippers at Houei Xai say every time a big bike caravan comes back there are broken bikes & riders. They are a headache. So the popularity of big bike rides & caravans in Laos would seem to be a victim of it's own success at the moment. Customs & Immigration at Chiang Khong & Customs at Houei Xai both know about the "shutters up" at Muang Ngern & don't understand why they say. Complaining strongly to them does not make the border officials any happier. In Houei Xai for a tour group I was quoted 1,500 per bike + US$20 a head for paperwork. Enter in small numbers as friends, preferably no more than 4 bikes & you should be ok. Otherwise there is an official channel for you to negotiate & use. I hope this helps riders understand the situation a bit better.