Visas and border crossings forum

Vietnam to Laos with motorbike

  • iso_the_best

    Joined Travelfish
    10th April, 2011
    Posts: 1

    Posted from within Vietnam.

    Dear All,

    I would like to know if that is possible to cross Vietnam to Laos border with motorbike? My plan is to go to Laos from Vietnam with my motorbike and coming back to Vietnam by another border.

    I would like to cross the border at NamCan / Nam Khan for going and at Dien Bien Phu for the return.

    Is that possible?
    Do we have to pay a deposit?
    Which kinf of paper do we need?

    Do you think it is easier to put the motorbikes on the roof of a local bus from Vinh (Vietnam) and crossing the border by bus?

    That way we can maybe manage to say that the motorbikes are belong to Vietnamese citizen.

    I know that full of Vietnameses are crossing the border with their motorbike without any problems.

    Please give me your advices.

    Thanksssss!

    #1 Posted: 10/4/2011 - 00:40

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  • kenpreston46

    Joined Travelfish
    21st February, 2011
    Posts: 6

    Hello, I crossed twice into Laos with a Vietnamese bike, once from northern Cambodia in 2008, then at Lao Bao (Viet Nam) in 2009. In 2009 there was a little fuss when Immigration thought Customs should have given me paperwork for the bike. But it all came to nothing and I had a good 2 week trip. In 2010 they would not let me in with the bike at Lao Bao. Said I had to leave the bike at the border and take a bus. Then they said it would be all right to rent a Lao bike in Savannakhet or wherever and then I could go anywhere I want, but no more Vietnamese bikes with 3rd country riders. After that I heard other people say the same on this forum. It might be a real problem. Too bad, it's good riding and wonderful people. Rent in Savannakhet I guess.
    Ken

    #2 Posted: 29/10/2011 - 02:16

  • purcitron

    Joined Travelfish
    15th June, 2014
    Posts: 29

    @kenpreston46
    hi. can you please provide any northern vietnam/loas motorbike trip advice?
    thanks

    #3 Posted: 31/1/2015 - 20:02

  • kenpreston46

    Joined Travelfish
    21st February, 2011
    Posts: 6

    Hi, I'm just back from a couple of weeks in Laos, traveling from south to north, in from the Cambodian border and out at Dien Bien Phu. They are both excellent crossing points now. The officials were all friendly and helpful. You must have ownership paper for your bike. In Viet Nam it's the laminated card. It probably should have your name on it, but that's almost impossible to do. I had no trouble with a Vietnamese name (my mechanic in Hanoi) on the title. There is a small fee leaving Cambodia ($10) and a $2 fee entering Laos. No money to either side when I returned to Viet Nam. Go by Dien Bien Phu, not Na Meo. Na Meo road is really tough now. The new Lao road to the border at DBP is excellent for a while. It's too thinly paved and will break up in a couple more years, but the bridges alone are a huge improvement. Northern Laos is likely to be smoky in a few more weeks. . .they burn a lot of land for planting about now, but I'm not sure about the dates. It's wonderful otherwise, so don't hesitate, go for it. Get some Lao money (Kip) either in VN or maybe at the border. It's hard to spend USD. Baht spends fine I'm told. Have fun! Ken

    #4 Posted: 31/1/2015 - 20:26

  • purcitron

    Joined Travelfish
    15th June, 2014
    Posts: 29

    @kenpreston46
    thanks for the info!
    -what did you prefer please, northern laos or northern vietnam?

    #5 Posted: 1/2/2015 - 18:22

  • kenpreston46

    Joined Travelfish
    21st February, 2011
    Posts: 6

    Wow, that's hard. I always feel a little more comfortable in Viet Nam because I speak a little of the language and can read a lot of the signs along the way. . .but if you don't have either language it would be really hard to choose. (I always get along fine in Laos and Cambodia without any language capability beyond Hello, Please, Thank You and Toilet. . .and I suppose you could get by without Please if need be). So. . .the pretty scenery on both sides is similar, limestone mountains that are different sorts of gorgeous, some beautiful mountain rivers, though only Laos has the upper Mekong. If you can afford to take the slow boat from Luang Prabang to Houayxay, that's a good reason for going to Laos. Actually, Luang Prabang by itself is a pretty good reason. The road from Luang Prabang to Vang Vieng is gorgeous and rough as a cob right now. . .Luang Namtha area is lovely, and the road from there to Houayxay is great. But. . .northern Viet Nam is all kinds of beautiful too. The food is more Chinese-ish in Viet Nam, a lot of sticky rice in Laos, but more meat and bigger portions of fish. As a general statement the traffic is worse in Viet Nam, but in the far north, it's not much of a problem anyway. Highway 70 is always busy and often all broken up, it's the road from Hanoi to Lao Cai, which is an easy route to choose to come home from say Sapa or Bac Ha. I'm sorry, I can't decide. Have fun whichever you do! Ken

    #6 Posted: 1/2/2015 - 19:45

  • purcitron

    Joined Travelfish
    15th June, 2014
    Posts: 29

    @kenpreston46
    awesome. thanks for the actually-useful info!
    -any gear your recommend bringing please?

    im leaning towards a private, 10-day, motorbike tour from hanoi to sapa & back. ~$1500
    limited time & i want to see ha long bay, so vietnam seems more practical.
    will have to check out that laotian slow boat in the future!
    -Gene

    #7 Posted: 2/2/2015 - 01:15

  • purcitron

    Joined Travelfish
    15th June, 2014
    Posts: 29

    @kenpreston46
    awesome. thanks for the actually-useful info!
    -any gear your recommend bringing please?

    im leaning towards a private, 10-day, motorbike tour from hanoi to sapa & back. ~$1500
    limited time & i want to see ha long bay, so vietnam seems more practical.
    will have to check out that laotian slow boat in the future!
    -Gene

    #8 Posted: 2/2/2015 - 01:15

  • kenpreston46

    Joined Travelfish
    21st February, 2011
    Posts: 6

    I'm sorry to be so slow responding. Your 10-day trip seems a good choice, though I'd think you can go a long ways in 10 days. If you go by back roads you can make 2 days or 3 out of the trip from Hanoi to Sapa. Highway 70, the direct route between Lao Cai and Hanoi is a very busy road. . .lovely mind you, just busy, but at 300 km, it makes a long but do-able one-day ride. Whatever, 10 days should allow you to see some wonderful country. My mechanic and friend Mr. Dung (say it "Zoong") is affiliated with Flamingo Travel in Hanoi, which specializes in motorbike rentals and tours. I've never used their tour service, I just buy and sell bikes there and get mine worked on, but I quite like the people, so if you haven't settled yet, you might want to talk to them too. Google. You'll want a sweater, warm (rain proof if possible) gloves and rain gear. It helps to have riding clothes versus evening or hotel clothes, but I generally get by with 2 pair of levis, 3 shirts (long sleeves. . .roll them down at 10:00 a.m. or sooner if hot and keep rolled down until past 4:00 pm), and 3 sets of underwear and socks. If you're moderately comfortable/competent on a bike I don't think there's any real need for armor. Some people dress up for the riding, bright colors and armor and so forth. That's not the environment there. The speeds are low (or better be) and the bikes are family transportation, not sport vehicles. People touring usually put their backpacks into big heavy plastic bags or rice bags both of which you can get locally. Keep it to one medium sized back pack and a "day pack" which should be on the order of a man-purse (enough to hold compass, map, road atlas, diary. . .and not much more). You'll want to arrange things so you can get at your rain gear without getting into your main pack. I use a small pair of canvas saddle bags to carry my tool wrap and my rain gear and rubber boots. If you start in Hanoi you can get the saddle bags made in a canvas shop for very little money. A smart phone is good. Download Maps.Me for maps that can be used without an internet connection. . .it otherwise acts like Google Maps. You will probably just use wifi and gps. . .no phone or sim necessary, but if you want, sims and minutes are dirt cheap in country. Wifi is very common. Your guide and motorbike will come with tools and rubber straps and so forth. . .not something you need to find or carry yourself. I always have 2 cameras with me, one quite small and waterproof, the other for best possible quality photos. I do not try to carry a SLR any more, but use a top quality point and shoot to pretty good effect. I carry an old netbook to write on, but that's carrying it a bit far for a short vacation. I find a single interesting novel suffices for a little evening reading every night. . .you won't have much time to kill, it's just a habit of mine I guess. If you are fussy about clean sheets you might want to bring a "sheet bag", so at least you know who slept in it last night. I don't, but I've simply learned not to worry about it. Sheets are not always (often?) really fresh in low end hotels, which are the norm. I've never been bitten though. No need for canteen, you'll drink bottled water or beer mostly. What else? Have fun. Enjoy everything, even if it's uncomfortable. Don't get angry (or don't show it) no matter what. Say please and thank you and smile a lot. Go really slow when you're around houses. If you see kids along the road go slower. The whole school goes home for lunch, so from 11:15 to 1:00 all over the country there are multiplied thousands of kids out on the highway. Don't join groups of men drinking hard liquor. Do try all the food. . .it's mostly delightful, though some of the sauces are pretty hot. I eat and drink whatever the people around me are and I've not been sick to amount to anything in years. My wife says I have a cast iron stomach though. Do NOT drink tap water anywhere in country unless you've boiled it (or someone has).
    Let me know how you did!
    Ken

    #9 Posted: 17/2/2015 - 12:07

  • purcitron

    Joined Travelfish
    15th June, 2014
    Posts: 29

    @kenpreston46
    great! thanks for advice!
    ive actually emailed flamingo. so we'll see.
    im going to do a loop. basically hanoi-meo vac-sapa-hanoi. many other stops also. about 1500km.
    excited.
    -Gene

    #10 Posted: 17/2/2015 - 19:22

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