Vientienne to Loei (Thailand) via Kenthao

Discussion in 'Laos Road Trip Reports' started by ozzyboy, Feb 26, 2005.

  1. Hi
    I havent contributed to this section before, apart from advertising my bike for sale, and have really only just had a good read of whats going on here so thought I would add my small trip done a month or so back.
    Started off from Chiang Khan, in Loei, where I am living, and rode my Honda XL600 with a friend to Nong Khai, took the bike across to Vientienne. The price has radically reduced and is just 260 baht to enter the bike into Laos across the Friendship bridge. They seem insistant on having the exact date that you return, and where. We told them Xanakham, to cross back to Thailand on the new Tha Li bridge.
    The trip from then on was quite fun. Ten days in the Laos capital, then we began on what I thought would be a few hours trip. The travel time from Chiang Khan to Nong Khai is 3 hours, following the mighty Mekong river, and we thought there abouts the same on the other side to reach the little village opposite C.K., called Tuk Dat. No such luck. It took us from 11am till 8pm to get there, the road is in places almost impassable, yet in others its almost like a super highway!!
    The start is about 80k's of sealed road out of Vientienne, then a turn and a few k's further on across a 1 lane bridge then dirt the rest of the way. It seem that they are putting a new road in as there are different lenght areas of widely graded, almost 4 lanes of very flat and hard dirt, where you can hit 80/90 k's no worries at all, then suddenly you hit the goat track and you are down to 2/4/6 k's (so it seems), but very slow and tricky because its alternately very dusty and ridged tracks to follow. As my bike is quite heavy you have to watch the ridges but as they are sumtimes hidden under 20 or more cms of dust, is not easy and I almost toppled the bike a few times as I had to go so slow. The road or track does not exactly follow the Mekong on that side and weaves in and out a bit so many times you do not see the river, but the amazing part is the scenery, it was like being tropical splender in places as we went over many many high hilltops and the views and silence when the bike was stopped was incredible. I also have a YZ200 Yammy dirt bike and if I could have taken that and been solo it would have been motocross heaven but sadly its not plated so cant leave Thailand. The hilltop riding seemed endless and after crossing one you could sometimes see the road cutting through the forested hills seemingly 10k's or more away and off you went again. Not realising how long we would end up taking, i was in no rush and really enjoyed most of the riding. Some places you get to a small village, some even with no power and some with the very wide graded roads, the problem being in other places the illegal logging trucks that thunder down the wide bits, letting you eat dust for hours!! But where they come from I dont know.
    And you sure do have to get out of their way, the flash their lights and honk their horn and if you ended up under one theres not much help around. Some of the wood houses get a middle shade of brown from all the dust and wait for the rainy season to get clean.
    Then there ar sections that are being worked on with bulldozers and earth machinary, and in places you have to wait half an hour or so till they make you a track, so you can carry on, where they have bulldozed half the hill away. Some parts of the trip we saw no other vehicle for an hour or so then the usual 2 wheel rice field diggers, old 100 cc chinese bikes and trucks some so beat up it was a wonder they still worked. Sadly the last 2 hours were in the dark and I did not enjoy that bit much, but we finally made it to Tuk Dat.
    The next day had a few hours to sightsee this very isolated place, and could look over the Mekong and see Chiang Khan, many Laos people can cross here on day passes, and do to get stuff to sell, and at somewhat higher prices, Laos despite its poorness, seems to have higher prices than Thailand, some of the stuff we saw was almost double the Thai price. Then we headed on to Xiyaburi (not sure of the spelling) the town across the Mekong 20 odd k's before the new Tha Li bridge, about 60 k's but nearly 4 hours travel, then wait for a car ferry to take us across the Mekong, we had hoped to get to the border before it shut at 5pm, but it was a 3 hour wait for the ferry, or 2000 baht if we ordered it just for us, so we waited about 2 hours, and just at dusk a 4X4 came across and we crossed for just 200baht, staying the night at X. The next day after a few more hours sightseeing, we headed to the border, a better road and many trucks, but still dirt, and some of the wooden bridges are just divided plankes so you have to be careful not to fall between them, and we must have breathed a ton of dust, the road getting better the last 10 or so k's, and the last 4 k's its brand new blacktop to the bridge.
    Even though we were 1 day over due on the bike pass, the Laos immigration said I was the 1st foreigner he had seen on a bike, and must have got a bit confused as he forgot to fine me the 200 baht bike fee for being 1 day late. The Thai immigration also said I was the 1st foreigner to cross that way, but it was 10 mins and we were through, and just 1 hour ride back to Chiang Khan.
    I would like to do the trip again one day, but with a motorcross bike and one up, the fun then would be awesome.
    Hope this is of interest to someone, its a good trip, but not for a road bike and the scenery is fantastic.

  2. Pete
    Good report mate.
    Now we know that it can be done & you were the first - well done.
    Im in Luang Prabang with a couple of mates right now, heading south to Vientiane for a few days, and was undecided whether to exit via Khammouane or back track to Luang Prabang, down to Sayabouri & try Kenthao, the same crossing you used.
    However with your report I will most likely try to exit via Kenthao.
    Send me a message off board with your phone number & I'll look you up on the way home.
    Thanks for the report & pls keep 'em coming.

    Keep the power on
  3. Pete
    Can you please confirm what are the names on the port stamps in your passport for the crossings you used.
    My guess is they should be Kenthao on the Laos side, & maybe Tha Li on the Thai side?

    Keep the power on
  4. Hi Dave,
    Well just to make things interesting, it is Tha Li where we re-entered Thailand, and according to my Thai friend, Kenthao was the Laos departure. But they dont stamp Kenthao, they put Namheung on the departure satmps for both my passport and the bike passport. Its the name of the river you cross. I guess very Thai style or Laos style in this case..
  5. Hi Dave,
    Well just to make things interesting, it is Tha Li where we re-entered Thailand, and according to my Thai friend, Kenthao was the Laos departure. But they dont stamp Kenthao, they put Namheung on the departure satmps for both my passport and the bike passport. Its the name of the river you cross. I guess very Thai style or Laos style in this case..
    (Of course I did say in my post Xanakham, but this is the province.)
  6. Hi Pete

    Nice report. Now we know that we can exit at this crossing. Did it look possible for bikes to enter Laos there?

    I did meet a Thai 4-wheeler club in Luang Prabang that had entered Laos in January at the new crossing - so it is possible to bring a vehicle in, but so far, nobody has reported entry with a bike.

    In early February, the Lao visa office at the Friendship bridge in Nong Khai told me that there was no visa on arrival set up at the new crossing. Did you notice if this is true?



    "Life's journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally worn out, shouting "...holy shit...what a ride!"
  7. Hi BobS
    As I was told by the Laos border office, there is no visa on arrival issued there, but if you get a Laos entry visa issued by any Laos embassy, even the 1 in Udon, you can enter there, but if your bike is Thai registered and you have the bike psssport you can get the bike pass at the border. If your bike is foreign registered I think you have to get that organised when you get your entry visa at an embassy. You might have to check that one.
    The Thai side issues the normal 1 month visa on arrival.

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