Update on Chiang Khong border crossing (Thailand) and Na Meo crossing with Vietnam.
Around May 10, 2017 I crossed into Laos from Vietnam on a 120cc Detech win with VN plates. The border crossing was very easy on both sides, and probably took ~45min in total. On the VN side I had to pay an export form of around 150,000 dong or so. I think the Lao import form ‘tax’ was $3. The Lao visa for an American is supposed to be $35 but somehow they refused my insistence and requested $45. I had driven through the rain that morning & wasn’t in the mood to come to a standoff with the Lao authorities so I paid.
The road from the border to Viang Xai, the closest town of significance is approx. 60km. However, in the rain it took maybe 3-4 hours. Several areas of the road were underwater to the extent that they were very close to the ‘impassable on a motorbike’ point. The road itself is in bad shape and is quite bad when wet. Make sure you leave the border with a full tank of gas (filling stations on both sides) and plenty of daylight to get into town.
On May 19, 2017, I attempted to cross into Thailand at the Huay Xai/Chiang Khong checkpoint. When I got there the Lao side informed me that Thailand would not let the bike in. After talking through it, they agreed to let me leave the bike in Lao and go talk to the Thai’s without stamping my visa or me paying any money. They were actually pretty helpful as I think they felt bad. Eventually one of the Lao officers called the Thai border and asked them about it and confirmed that I would not be able to take the bike into Thailand. It was around 9am in the morning so I had to make the quick decision to take the slow-boat back to Luang Prabang to sell the bike and move on with the trip.
The slow-boat passenger tickets are 210,000 KIP and the bike fee was an incredible 240,000 KIP (~30 USD). It took some haggling with them but they knew I had to get on their boat. There was one other VN win motorbike (bought in Huay Xai, probably from a backpacker in a similar situation as me). I don’t know how much it cost for the other bike’s two day trip. I lucked out and met someone in LPG quickly to buy the bike for a decent price, but I would recommend against ending up in LPG wanting to buy or sell a motorbike – there just isn’t a market there for them.
Great update Wendell
Many thanks & sorry you could not get into Thailand with the new "<250cc rule" for border crossings between Thailand & Laos; but I bet the boat trip with the bike on board was an experience. If you have any pics of that you can send them to me & I will upload them.