Vietnam to Laos via Cao Treo

Feb 5, 2014
On February 4th, 2014, we made it from Vietnam to Laos with our two Vietnamese Yamaha Nouvo bikes but....

The VN border guards at Cao Treo told us that no bikes are allowed in Lao, and that you have to walk to the border and continue on.

They wouldn't stamp our passports until we noticed that everyone else was paying a fee, so we paid 20,000D ($1) each, at which point they stamped them. He even gave me 60,000D change from the 100,000D note I handed him. They kept saying that we couldn't take the bikes. In broken google translate language, we asked if we could ride to Laos, check with the guards there, and if not, ride back to VN. We had multiple entry visas with a few days left on them.

We walked towards the bikes, hopped on and were ready to ride away, when one of the guards came to explain again that "no motorbike in Laos". We had 500,000D notes in our hands and they weren't even looking at the money. We started pleading, they said no. We pushed money into their hands, they refused.

Finally we dropped to our knees in the middle of the road, begging and saying please in Vietnamese, and he suddenly smiled and said OK. The second guard came out and was also smiles. We shook hands, said thank you, and drove on. I'm glad we didn't try to rush out before because there is an additional checkpoint where the guard sternly instructed us to park our bikes and hand him our passports. He went in the booth which had an AK-47 prominently displayed, and picked up the phone. We looked back and the first guard was standing in the road on his cell phone. He hung up, came out of the booth with his hand extended, shook both of ours and then gave us hugs.

There was no problem with Lao. We rolled up to a game of Bocce ball with the guards, threw a couple balls, went inside and paid 8000K ($1) and they let us go through. As we started up the bikes, a man leaned out the window and said something about motorbike, I pointed to the barrier leading into the land of a million elephants, and asked "OK?", he pointed, smiled and waved us through.

About 15 km into Laos, there was a sign in English for International Transport Permit, but we didn't stop.

Note that standard bikes in Vietnam may not have readily accessible parts in Laos, specifically a 16 inch tube for my rear tire. 300km to Vientiane and hopefully my hand sealed 17inch tube which the roadside mechanic cut and melded will hold up.

I suspect that it was a combination of having time left on our visa, the ability to re-enter, a couple of Vietnamese phrases, and that we kept smiling.

Good luck!