From Loei (Kenethao border crossing) to Xayaburi, LP, Vang Vieng and back to Nong Kai


Junior Member
Feb 28, 2012
Suzuki DRZ 400 & F650GS & F800GS
There are not so many reports about crossing the border from Thailand to Laos at Thali/Kenethao (North of Loei), so here a brief write up on our trip beginning of November 2015. Best you plan to stay the night in Loei to get the next morning early to Thali and the Friendship Bridge crossing at Kenethao. It is, if I'm right the latest official border point between Thailand and Laos. On both sides it is quite a big affair with new buildings, drive ways, car parks etc, however, we had been the only travellers that day (ok, it was a Sunday) taking that crossing. So everything was easy going, no stress, no rush. On the Thai-side we faced the usual paperwork: The information of Conveyance and the Custom form for the bikes (and car) , beside the Immigration form for each person. We crossed with 5 bikes and one car, what took us approximately 45 minutes (mainly filling in the forms correctly). As usual, you need the ORIGINAL green (blue) book, it helps if you have the international 'Vehicle Registration Certificate', but this seems not to be mandatory any more, but for the car you still need the purple 'Carnet de Passage' booklet, at least they ask for our ones. The friendship bridge itself is a bit of a simple affair, rather short and narrow, however, good it is there. On the Laos side it is the usual paper work again, mainly import custom papers for the vehicles and immigration papers for the people. For most non-Thais, you need to 'purchase' a visa-on-arrival' first in one of the section of the new building complex, before you get your Passport and immigration card stamped. All done within an hour for all of us. So official part was over in less than two hours, however, you need a vehicle insurance and as it was a Sunday, the insurance agent was not around and had to be called. It took him an hour to arrive and it tokk another hour to negotiate the premium down from initially 900 THB to finally 150 THB for each bike. The A4 is in good condition all the way and we made it all the way to Xayaburi just around sunset. Stayed in the Sea Eagle Hotel West of the main road. There is much nicer resort just 100 meter down the road for the same price, but we found out about it only after we had settled already with the hotel and was wandering around in search of a restaurant, what we found a bit behind that resort. Food was great, but Xayaburi all together is a bit of a dull, dusty and especially dark town. In Xayaburi you can still pay in THB.Next morning it was a short trip to LP, under three hours, where we stayed in on of the many smaller but lovely guest houses towards the end of the 'peninsular'. No need to talk about LP, a great place and perfect destination for bikers and travellers.After a day off from riding, we went back on the road heading towards Vang Vieng. After listening to some Mini-bus drivers, we decided to take the 'old route' along the A 13 as the new route seems to have some serious problems with parts of the road broken and flushed down the hills, especially after the hefty rain we experienced over the last days. So we enjoyed again the lovely serpentine over the mountains and through the many mountain villages down to Vang Vieng, with lots of "Woah" and "Oohs" about the stunning landscape left right and in front of us. Vang Vieng has certainly changed a lot since the days we had been there the first time in 2006 and is in transition from a colourful idyllic backpacker resting point into a concrete and grey multi level Chinese Hotel place for older (and snorting) Chinese folks invading from the North this formerly lovely place. I guess the government wanted to clean up the place from the former booze and pot induced '24*7' full-moon-party place for the new 'quality tourism' from China.The next day the road turned really ugly in one stretch of permanent repairs and maintenance with absolute mad truck (and pick-up, SUV) drivers coming form all directions. Seems, they feel seriously challenged in their manhood, seeing a group of two wheelers driving 120-140 km/h in front of them, means they overtake you with all what the have with 145 km/h and simply push you to the right half way down the approach if they can not pass by because another crazy van/truck driver is coming ahead. So we decided to skip Vientiane to go straight to Nong Kai. There is a 'new' ring-road North East from Vientiane going straight to the border point. First part is a serious off-road experience as it is in the worst stage of construction, till you reach a traffic light, from where it is all Autobahn, all the way straight to the Friendship Bridge. Crossing back was no big problem and also relatively smooth, till the moment where a customs officially was convinced we can exit Laos only at the point where entered it. A quick chat with the big boss (two stars) and a lot of smiles cleared everything and the apprentice learned that one can exit Laos at any point, but how should a poorly paid customs officer, who never crossed a border himself, know about such worldly things. Drving with the motorbikes over the bridge was also no problem, even if there was a clear sign that this was prohibited. Driving over the bridge is a majestic thing, long and wide with the mighty Mekong below, made me feel good. Arrival on the Thai side again no issues. Papers need to get submitted at the various and right points. and I guess 30 minutes later we went off to get to our hotel at Nong Kai.Here my summary, taking the new crossing is a pleasant affair, driving in Laos on bikes is not different from Thailand, only on the 'right' side with lesser traffic. In fact all you need to prepare is the green book, a passport photo for the visa, your passport and some money (USD and THB) to pay for visa and insurance. OSM has good map material ( and at "" you can create and download the maps for any Garmin device or Garmin Mapsource, etc. Enjoy Laos, needles to say, still a hidden gem in many partsCarstenF800GSF650GS DakarDRZ400
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