Trip advice needed Vietnam/Laos

Discussion in 'Vietnam - General Discussion Forum' started by Iwantablackrz, May 15, 2010.

  1. Hi guys,

    Please don't flame me for some of my ignorant questions. I've been reading up on here but I'm conscious that some of the threads I might be taking for gospel date back to 2003 so some might not be so up to date. As such I have a few (hopefully simple) questions for you.
    The plan:
    Basically, fly into Hanoi, buy 2 Minsks, 2 months, big diversion into Laos, fly out of HCMC.

    That's pretty much it. We don't have too many 'rigid' plans and are pretty relaxed in which roads we end up traveling. It's always easier to make a informed decision on the road rather then from a map months prior to the trip. This said of course we do need a bit of a rough itinerary.

    We are thinking of coming into Laos from Vietnam at the Na Meo/Na Xoi crossing. How is this crossing? Is it a difficult entry point into Laos? From my understanding it seems easy to exit Vietnam but harder to enter. Other than bike registration papers is there anything else that will be required?

    Our back up for this entry point would be Nam Kanh/Nam Can. Any information regarding this would be great too. :)

    The entry into Vietnam ideally would be Dene Savanh/Lao Bao. This is my major cause of concern as I always seem to be reading about the difficulties of getting into Vietnam.
    As per this map it also seems to indicate that it is not an entry point for motorcycles. I'm not sure how far this rings true as I seem to be reading of entries at other points that are also flagged the same. Any information regarding this crossing? Anyone done it? Any stories of successful entries? Anything that will need to be prepared prior to re-entry?

    I'm thinking that the entry point on Route 8 would serve as a back-up at this stage although I would like to travel a further south if possible before heading back into Vietnam.

    Any advice or information would be much appreciated! :thumbup:
  2. DONT go on a Minsk, but on a reliable Jap bike.
    If you can get out of Vietnam on a Viet registered bike you should be able to re-enter at any legal international Vietnamese land border crossing.
    Some crossings will be less difficult / easier than others. If you have the right paperwork, the biggest problem is communication I think.

    Regarding the map entering Vietnam, on a non Viet registered bike it is impossible unless you have prior approval from inside Vietnam, that is why the map says no motorcycle entry.
    I used the Na Meo / Nam Xoi crossing exiting from Vietnam at the end of March. You can read about it here
  3. Agree with David.

    I know that it is easy to get a Minsk but.........if you have aproblem in Laos you will have quite a problem with a not easy solution. The same rental guys would be open to selling a Jap bike with a buy back agreement. The 250cc off road bikes would be your optimum choice. Leaving Vietnam and re-entering would require you to own the bike.
    Couple of things:
    If you are on a Vietnam registered bike the border crossings should be no problem and definitely easier.
    When you get your Vietnam visa make sure it is a multi-entry one. You can get it on line and there are some agencies that can get you "sponsored" so you are able to get the multi-entry visa.
    As for your route, it is a matter of choice. The North of Vietnam is beautiful and mountainous, the South is also great fun; the long thin central area is a long, long way and quite monotinous compared to North and South. So your idea of going into Laos looks good.
    Use your browser and look up "Travelfish". Loads of good info on Vietnam and Laos.
    Have a great trip and post report and pics here.
  4. Thank so much for your timely replies guys.

    When you say purchase a bike Dougal are there business's that have 'stores' in both Hanoi and HCMC to make this possible? Only thing is we aren't doing a loop so we would need to buy in Hanoi and sell in HCMC for this to work. This said my biggest concern really with a 250cc admittedly is the price. I have no objection to a superior Japanese bike but my friend and I are very much on a budget. The more we save the further we can travel. ...although I also understand the irony of this statement! Even if we sell and get the money back we'll probably be running a bit lean over the duration of the trip if we have to spend the big bucks on our bikes.

    If we can get a reliable Jap bike for our budget of sub $600US then I'd be all for it! Honda GL or something maybe? :think: We'll be sure to have a look around if they are as bad as what you guys make them out to be and your recommendations are duly noted.

    Thanks for the link David. Just a quick one but are we required to hold a Vietnam or International license of any sort for any border crossings or travel?

    The other quick question I had was involving some of the roads between Vientienne and Luang Prabang, Laos. While traveling last year on these roads (on mini bus) I noticed that at certain points there where men who waved the bus down and asked for payment from the driver before being allowed to continue up the road. I observed that sometimes the payment was simply a few packs of smokes but I'd be curious to know what the deal are with these guys. Do you guys stop? If so what's the expected payment? Keep on riding? Not sure if this exists in Vietnam also.


  5. Dave,

    If you look at the topic just below yours "Rentals in Vietnam" I included the contact details of 2 guys, one in Hanoi and one in HCMC who have just such an arrangement for selling and buying back bikes. Get in contact with them and see what they can do.
  6. Thanks for that Dougal. That's really helpful and I would think it'll be likely we'll give those guys a call when the time comes. Hopefully they have some non-Minsks bikes too! :p
    It'll be nice not having to worry about selling the bikes in our last few days before flying out though!

    Can anyone help with my 'road toll' query?

    Thanks so much for the help so far guys. You've been really helpful. :)
  7. Hi Dave,

    If you are driving in Vietnam you need a Vietnam license or an International license. International should be easy for you and the best way to go since you are going to more than one country..

    As for the tolls: there are many official toll gates on the major roads and these often include a small booth ahead of the main toll asking for donations for road maintenance. Sometimes they are there sometimes they aint. It might be the same deal on minor roads, I don't know. One thing though is that motorbikes do not need to pay tolls and there is a lane for driving through.
    If all else fails just play the dumb tourist.
  8. Small update for those that would have been waiting for a trip report in a few months.

    Sadly my mate pulled out a month or so back due to a job offer he got back in Oz. So unfortunately (for me) I've had to put the trip on hold for now. A great dissapointment and I don't think my words could truly sum up just how much I was looking forward to it or how dissapointed I am. I had to make a judgement call whether to go solo or cancel and due to my 'relative' lack of riding experience I thought I'd put it off for this year... which in all honesty I'm now regretting and thinking I should have just gone anyway.

    I will be back. I am very determined to ride the golden triangle once more. Infact, even more so given that I now have all the gear and after all the research I have put into this.

    So anyway, I get access to my long service leave mid next year and that will comfortably keep me going for 3-5 months on the road if I so desire so for now we'll just have to see what the future holds. :)

    Thanks to those that have assisted answering my (many) queries. Thanks Dave for the map. :)

    Seeya's next year!
  9. G'day,
    What are mates for? They mostly dissapoint you when you try and organise something that is over the top (in normal eyes). I am planning the same trip in February. So far I have 6 mates who are "interested". Guess what? I will end up on my own. That is the nature of mates, may be one will come, it gets too hard for some people.
    Just go and do it, you won't regret it, and all your mates will just live with their excuses.
    Tom ex Oz now in Chiang Mai
  10. Thanks Tom. Yes, that's what I've found. It's easy to make excuses and sadly that's the situation I'm in now. I can't fault the guy. Life's about making decisions based on what's best for you. If a new job is what he felt was more important then all the best to him. Obviously that didn't work for what I thought was/is best for me though! Haha!

    Not to fear. I think planning this trip now with the expectation I'll be doing it alone won't have the same outcome as this one. As you say, I think it's always a case of regretting what you didn't do rather than regretting what you did do.


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