Laos Border Crossings

sgBikerBoy

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May 30, 2016
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Thankfully not. The immigration people at Sadao didn't ask me for a passport stamping fee.

Speaking about passports, I just realized that my passport visa was only good for 2 weeks, and not the usual 30 days I was very used to. I've learnt (subsequently) that 30 day visa's are granted if I flew in to Thailand. Overland visa's are good for 15days. Bummer! And so I inadvertently overstayed for 1 day. Got that sorted out earlier today at Chiang Mai immigration for 2,400thb - 500thb for the 1 day overstay and 1,900thb for the visa extension.
 

sgBikerBoy

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Oh! I made it into Laos today! Since I was in Chiang Mai, I used the Chiang Khong - Huay Xai border, aka Thai-Laos Friendship Bridge IV. Here's what happened:

Chiang Khong (Thailand)
1) Went to immigration counter. Was asked for passport AND "bike immigration papers".
2) I only had the bike's (temporary import) customs papers. I was never issued the bike's "immigration papers" at Sadao.
3) Immigration office shook his head and asked to to head inside the main immigration office for assistance.
4) Main immigration office's officer shook his head and said something in Thai - seem to be blaming Sadao for incomplete paperwork.
5) He said, "I do paperwork for you." So he proceeded to fill in the incoming AND outgoing "bike immigration" paperwork. Gave me both copies. 200baht WITH official receipt, plus 20baht for photocopying my passport and driving license (first time I was ever asked for my driving license).
6) Went back to immigration counter to complete passport exist visa and handed the outgoing "bike immigration paperwork". I kept the "incoming" copy. Was asked to pay 200baht, but I insisted that I already paid the 200baht inside the main office and waved the receipt at him. He waved me off without collecting the money.
7) Immigration escort required 500baht to escort me to the Laos border. Paid him.
8) Moved ahead to the customs counter. Surrendered my bike's "temporary import customs" papers. Demanded 100baht from me. I asked for receipt. He said no receipt. I insisted that I need a receipt if I have to pay the 100baht. He finally said, "OK. No problem. I give you service." and shoo'ed me away. Scum!
9) Followed Thai Immigration escort vehicle over to Laos border. It was a truck with the word IMMIGRATION printed in bold and the Thai flag on it - so I guess it must be an official vehicle.

Huay Xai (Laos)
10) Went to immigration counter. Was asked to fill in immigration arrival / departure form.
11) Filled up the form and returned it to the immigration officer together with my passport. Gave me 30days visa without asking. Was asked to pay 200baht. I asked for receipt, and he initially said no receipt. I insisted for a receipt and he grudgingly gave me one. Serial no 00004. I think I was the 4th guy in the history of this immigration counter to successfully get a receipt. I'm not even sure how official this fee is.
12) Moved forward a little more and reached the Laos customs counter.
13) Was asked for the Thai bike exit paperwork. Gave to counter lady. She informed me that she could only give me 15days of permit for my bike. But I told her I've got a 30-day passport visa, and requested for a 30-day bike permit. After some long delay with multiple conversations with her superior, yet still ended up with 15-day import permit.
14) Customs demanded a 100baht fee. Again, I asked for receipt. He said "no receipt". I insisted. He then pointed to the bike import permit papers and said, "this is receipt" and sort of signalled that he was about to take that back if I don't pay. I paid the 100baht.
15) Welcome to Laos. Total bill - 1,000baht.
 

Goran Phuket

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Nothing new here, standard practice at Chiang Khong / Huay Xai. That was my most expensive border crossing ever, lost count how many people had to pay.
Unlike you, I never asked for receipt. All I wanted is to get the hell away from there and continue my trip.
 

DavidFL

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Nothing new here, standard practice at Chiang Khong / Huay Xai. That was my most expensive border crossing ever, lost count how many people had to pay.
Unlike you, I never asked for receipt. All I wanted is to get the hell away from there and continue my trip.

I agree & I don't like the touch ups either, but in the overall picture of things it's just a couple of beers (or lady drinks) that you would never hesitate to buy if you were thirsty.
When I first started going into Laos it used to cost a lot more money & a lot more time to get across the border.
 

DavidFL

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The friendliest - easiest crossing from Thailand to Laos must be Chong Mek / Vang Tao.

The least enjoyable one has to be at Laos - Muang Ngern / Huay Kon.
The staff on the Thai side are all OK.
View attachment 16

Thai Immigration Huay Khon
View attachment 698

Thai Customs at Huay Khon
View attachment 699

BUT on the Lao side...
The Lao officials here are incredibly slow, starting with the police who like to rummage through your bags for something to do.

The police barrier entering Laos at Nam Nguen
View attachment 700
it's the tall skinny cop who likes to practice his English & intimidate you

Its a slow process then.....

My Annoying Experience entering Laos at Muang Ngern in April 2016
Step 1 stop at the gate, let the policeman check your papers before you can proceed.
Step 2 get off your bike so he can look - rummage through your luggage (for something to do.)
Step 3 move your bike 40 metres to the immigration office.
Step 4 ask the Foreign Affairs staff for the visa application form. He doesn't have them so
Step 5 ask the immigration ofifcer for the visa application form. Fill out the form. Then
Step 6 take the visa application back to the Foreign Affairs officer, who will issue you with a visa
Step 7 take your passport with the visa back to the immigration officer who stamps you in
Step 8 pay an 80 baht tourist fee to the LNTA tourist official gleefully waiting to pounce & take your money.
Step 9 go back outside & walk back to the customs office hut & get the Lao customs temporary import papers filled out. The customs guy then passes your papers to the officer next door who check them
Step 10 get your Customs import papers back from the 2nd officer, who hopefully approves it & finds no errors. If there are errors he will hand the form back to the first guy who has to redo the whole form again. All the while you maybe sweating like a pig with your riding kit on.
Step 11 papers all done, get on your bike & ride another 50 metres to the exit gate & hand all your papers in again for the policeman to check it all once more.
All done then you are on your way & 100 metres down the is the AGL insurance office were you can get your insurance.

The Lao Immigration & Customs huts at Nam Ngeun
View attachment 701
Welcome to Laos & the PDR.

Confirmation of the correct name of the Lao border crossing
View attachment 702
it is called Nam Nguen, but I note in your passport the stamp says Nam Ngeun!

The officials at Muang Ngern have struck again & no bikes are getting in.
Muang Ngern & Entering Laos
 

DavidFL

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For those wondering if you are a tour group, then you need to go through the proper process via a Lao tour company.
They guarantee your trip & provide a guide.
If you are more than 6 bikes you should have a police escort, or at least pay for a police escort, who may or may not accompany you.
If you are a private rider(s), not more than 4 bikes the general rule is "no questions" asked.
But if the Lao officials have had a bad day, they may make sure your paperwork is 100% correct.
I think that he Ministry of Public Security (police) approval is an old rule / policy that nowadays generally tends to be forgotten for convenience; however... it can be dusted off every now & again.

The border crossings all seem to have a different attitude, some are easier than others.

You can read some history on the Friendship Bridge Crossings here
Thailand / Laos Border Notes

Laos Friendship Bridge No Entry

Enjoy & be patient.
There will always be a system to find our way through.
 

sgBikerBoy

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All these "Ministry of Public Security" talk kinda reminds me of something - in my recent Singapore-Malaysia-Thailand-Laos-Cambodia travel, Laos is the ONLY country where I got stopped at almost EVERY police roadblock. 2 asked to see my driver's license (although only 1 insisted on seeing it, and the other waived me on after seeing me trying to fumble through my keys to open my side box), 1 tried to ask for a bribe (he didn't get anything from me as I pretended to not know what he was saying - he couldn't speak english), but the rest mostly waved me on after they realised they couldn't speak english and I couldn't speak laotian.)

I never had any issues with roadblocks in the other countries.
 

lipmeng

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Apr 20, 2008
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Come this mid-September or early October......I will most likely try to cross via Chiang Khong bridge to Huay Xai and/or the border crossing at Nan.
Surprisingly the Laos customs only issue me 15 days entry for my bike eventhough I purchase insurance for 30 days. Perhaps will attempt to extend the 15 days permit at VTE if possible as to enter Cambodia via southern Laos.
Hopefully the planned ride for 8 weeks will be on.
 

sgBikerBoy

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It was 15 days either way for Thailand and Laos for me. Entering Thailand, I've got 30 days Customs permit for the bike but 15 days visa on my passport. And for Laos, it was the other way around - 15 days Customs permit but 30 days on my passport visa. And since the bike and I are virtually inseparable, I was always limited to the lower of the two numbers.
 
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DavidFL

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Come this mid-September or early October......I will most likely try to cross via Chiang Khong bridge to Huay Xai and/or the border crossing at Nan.
Surprisingly the Laos customs only issue me 15 days entry for my bike eventhough I purchase insurance for 30 days. Perhaps will attempt to extend the 15 days permit at VTE if possible as to enter Cambodia via southern Laos.
Hopefully the planned ride for 8 weeks will be on.

Chiang Khong should be ok.
Just ask for one month bike permit in Laos as you go in & do the paperwork.
Exiting Thailand expect to pay 500 baht for the immigration car escort.
 

DavidFL

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From a contact in Vientiane
A rule was made by the Ministry of Security in August 2015.
Motorbike tours: must travel with a tour agency, & a police escort for the tour.

Officially
Any foreigners who want to travel with motor bike through Laos must comply with the above (go via a tour agency)
1. The bike must be registered in the owner’s name. The original bike rego is required.
2. All rental bikes from Thailand must have a tour agency process their paperwork with an approved itinerary (no private riders on a rental bike).

The rules are not always strictly enforced, usually in the case of private riders, & in practice it generally seems as if up to 4 private bikes may not be considered a tour.
However, every now & again it seems some incident causes the rule book to be dusted down.

Incidents that I have been aware of
· accidents with tour groups & disputes about compensation
· accidents & culprits doing a runner
· a couple of Thai riders entering at Pakxan once, coming off the ferry from Thailand, not stopping to for both immigration & customs, continuing their ride through Laos; & finally running the border at Muang Ngern to exit Laos. They were stopped by Thai immigration & returned to the police in Muang Ngern
· modified, noisy exhausts – not popular at all entering Laos at Muang Ngern

Any stupid disputes &/or mis behaviour only antagonizes the Lao authorities & causes them to become anti bike friendly = everyone suffers.
 
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sgBikerBoy

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Chiang Khong should be ok.
Just ask for one month bike permit in Laos as you go in & do the paperwork.
Exiting Thailand expect to pay 500 baht for the immigration car escort.

Perhaps the Laos customs' treatment to Thai-reg'ed bikes are different? When I entered HuayXai via Chiang Khong earlier last month on my Singapore-registered bike and even after much persuasion, the Laos customs refused to give me anything more than 15days bike permit - even AFTER I got 30days on my passport.
 

brian_bkk

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Mar 30, 2010
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Perhaps the Laos customs' treatment to Thai-reg'ed bikes are different? When I entered HuayXai via Chiang Khong earlier last month on my Singapore-registered bike and even after much persuasion, the Laos customs refused to give me anything more than 15days bike permit - even AFTER I got 30days on my passport.

I had that once in Vientiane.
Every other crossing on my Thai registered bikes automatically recieved 1 month then one time they gave me two weeks.

Got stung a few days over stay which wasn't cheap. Always ask and look for 4 weeks now. Tell them you are going to xam neau if they ask where you will go. To them that is the end of the earth and back and they will be more accommodating to full 4 weeks.

When I queried the 2 weeks upon leaving vte told I need special permission from the boss for 4 weeks. Just nonsense as the next trips through vte and other crossings given 4 weeks off the bat.
 

sgBikerBoy

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I had that once in Vientiane.
Every other crossing on my Thai registered bikes automatically recieved 1 month then one time they gave me two weeks.

Got stung a few days over stay which wasn't cheap. Always ask and look for 4 weeks now. Tell them you are going to xam neau if they ask where you will go. To them that is the end of the earth and back and they will be more accommodating to full 4 weeks.

When I queried the 2 weeks upon leaving vte told I need special permission from the boss for 4 weeks. Just nonsense as the next trips through vte and other crossings given 4 weeks off the bat.

I tried. I begged. I pleaded. They still wouldn't budge. Oh well...
 

DavidFL

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From a contact in Vientiane
A rule was made by the Ministry of Security in August 2015.
Motorbike tours: must travel with a tour agency, & a police escort for the tour.

Officially
Any foreigners who want to travel with motor bike through Laos must comply with the above (go via a tour agency)
1. The bike must be registered in the owner’s name. The original bike rego is required.
2. All rental bikes from Thailand must have a tour agency process their paperwork with an approved itinerary (no private riders on a rental bike).

The rules is not always strictly enforced, usually in the case of private riders, & in practice it generally seems as if up to 4 private bikes may not be considered a tour.
However, every now & again it seems some incident causes the rule book to be dusted down.

Incidents that I have been aware of
· accidents with tour groups & disputes about compensation
· accidents & culprits doing a runner
· a couple of Thai riders entering at Pakxan once, coming off the ferry from Thailand, not stopping to for both immigration & customs, then running the border at Muang Ngern to exit Laos. They were stopped by Thai immigration & returned to the police in Muang Ngern
· modified, noisy exhausts – not popular at all entering Laos at Muang Ngern

Any stupid disputes &/or mis behaviour only antagonizes the Lao authorities & causes them to become anti bike friendly = everyone suffers.

Update September 2016
Motorbikes & bicycles are banned from entering Laos at Muang Ngern.
Exit seems to be ok.
More info here
Muang Ngern & Entering Laos

All other points of entry are ok
 

DavidFL

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Update September 2016
Motorbikes & bicycles are banned from entering Laos at Muang Ngern.
Exit seems to be ok.
More info here
Muang Ngern & Entering Laos

All other points of entry are ok

Update 21 September 2016
The latest info to hand is that all 3 border crossings into Xayaboury Laos province are closed - entry & departure - for two wheels = NO motorbikes or bicycles in or out!
Update September 2016
Motorbikes & bicycles are banned from entering Laos at Muang Ngern.
Exit seems to be ok.
More info here
Muang Ngern & Entering Laos

All other points of entry are ok

Update 21 September 2016
The latest info to hand is that all 3 border crossings into Xayaboury Laos province are closed - entry & departure - for two wheels = NO motorbikes or bicycles in or out!
See Muang Ngern & Entering Laos
 

DavidFL

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For the record I exited Laos today - 17th October 2016 - via the 4th Friendship Bridge at Houei Xai / Chiang Khong with no escort vehicle or fee paid - free to ride out of Laos. Whether is going to be permanent I don't know - I didn't ask. Just got on my bike & left.

However entering 3 days earlier coming across from Chiang Khong, Thailand I was still hit up for the 500 baht escort vehicle.
Of note too was it was close to 6PM & I had been told get there by 6PM because the staff with the car go home at 6PM & you won't be able to cross after 6 pm if the car is not there. Does this really happen in practice - I don't know, but you've been warned it maybe true.
 

jethro69

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Had planned a short trip to Luang Namtha early next month. With the disaster crossing into Xayabouri province recently, it seems Chiang Khong is the last possibility, which I almost religiously avoided because of that “escort vehicle nonsense”.

Still not decided, might just be easier to cross in Golden Triangle, for a couple of days, should not be to hard to get a scooter rented.

I cancelled another trip, takes me to Cambodia instead. Guess it must really hurt (financially) before things are going to change again.

BTW, where to buy the insurance in Huay Xai, if I’m going.
 

DavidFL

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Had planned a short trip to Luang Namtha early next month. With the disaster crossing into Xayabouri province recently, it seems Chiang Khong is the last possibility, which I almost religiously avoided because of that “escort vehicle nonsense”.

Still not decided, might just be easier to cross in Golden Triangle, for a couple of days, should not be to hard to get a scooter rented.

I cancelled another trip, takes me to Cambodia instead. Guess it must really hurt (financially) before things are going to change again.

BTW, where to buy the insurance in Huay Xai, if I’m going.

Yeah well the escort vehicle touch up displeases us on principle, but you can look at it this way - it used to cost 500 baht to get on & off that ferry & it was always a pain in the arse queuing up to get on standing in sun, then actually riding on & off often in the water &/or mud - so now it is still 500 baht but a lot easier, quicker & you're parked in the shade with all the paperwork done "on the spot" 20 metres away & no steps to walk up & down. Easy peasy.

BTW did you get caught out trying to enter Laos at Muang Ngern or ___ earlier on?
 

jethro69

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Dec 15, 2010
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BTW did you get caught out trying to enter Laos at Muang Ngern or ___ earlier on?
The last trip was early May, entering through PhuDu, existing Muang Ngern, no problems at all. Never found that they were troublemakers, at least once you know the rules and have you paperwork ready. Well, that's history for now.
 

DavidFL

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Chiang Khong
If you're having trouble with your documents - paper work for Laos, go to see Ms Na at Asia Venture
GTR-IMG_6272--.JPG


Na used to have a small coffee shop & internet cafe downtown opposite Bamboo Mexican restaurant, but the premises were sold & she is now south of town.

The new place is 1.8 kms south from the old location.
-GTR-IMG_6274--.JPG


Heading south on the right hand side
400 metres south of the traffic lights by the market / 7-11

-GTR-IMG_6273--.JPG


GPS Waypoint: N20 15.233 E100 24.521

Next to Dr Bike, bicycle shop
-GTR-IMG_6275--.JPG
 

pensionist

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Does anyone know how long the "vehicle registration certificate" is valid?
My existing certificate mentions tax renewal date in march 2016.
Tax is payed until next year but not mentioned as the certificate was issued last year.
Do I need to get a new one?