Laos tour with friends May 2010


Senior member
Jan 11, 2011
Chiang Mai, Thailand
2007 KTM 990 Adventure Suzuki DRZ 400
Laos tour with friends May 2010

Dates: May 1st -9th, 2010

Chaiyapum - Khon Kaen - Nong Khai - Loei - Nan - Muang Nguen (Laos) - Pakbeng - Luang Prabang - Phonsavan - Vientiane - Chaiyapum

Distance : 2,500KM


George (UK): 2010 Kawasaki KLR 650
Kevin (NZ) : 2010 Kawasaki KLR 650
Som (Thai) : 2004 BMW f650 GS dakar
Phillip (Thai) : 2007 KTM 990 ADV


1. George & Kevin didn't have the Thai customs temp. import document for their bikes
2. Got into laos with some complications
3. 240km (from Pakbeng) dirt road eastbound from Muang Nguen to Luang Prabang is amazing
4. Try the Ancient hotel in LPQ
5. Phonsavan, Tajok village excellent stop for bomb craters and bomb shells
6. Phonsavan Auberge Hotel great views and interesting owner
7. Vientaine - Laos orchid hotel, biggest double bed i've ever slept in, nearly 3m wide
8. George and Kevin at the Vientiane border, very worried


I went to school, 28 years ago with George's wife, who contacted me, seeing that i was motorcycle touring in Thailand, telling me that they were shipping 2X new KLR 650's from NZ to BKK to do some touring here. I said I'd help and ending up riding with them once they were here.


It took them 4 days to get the bikes out of Klong Toei container terminal in BKK & they nearly missed us as we were headed to khon Kaen for the bike meet on may 1st. They managed to clear the bikes on the 30th April and amazingly found their way to Chatturat, Chaiyapum on their own with my email directions, very impressive.

Quick nights sleep in Chaiyapum, then with 25 Harleys from Chaiyapum and Pak Chong, we all rode up to Khon Kaen and stayed at the cactus hotel, 500 bht. The KK bike meet was excellently organized Mr. Gooding and a very fun evening.


Next morning, we left the group and the 4 of us rode to Nong khai, hoping to travel north across the friendship bridge with 1 Thei reg. bike. I asked G&K if they had their entry paperwork, they told me they had everything.

The Thai customs officers had no problems letting Som northbound across the bridge (Thai reg. bike), we're not sure if it was because she was with 3X farrangs or not, but interesting. Problem then came that G&K weren't given the Thai temp. import document by their agent in BKK, so there was no way the customs guy was letting them out of Thailand. For G&K, who were shipping their bikes onwards after Thailand , the implications of this struck home pretty quick & phone calls and emails were sent immediately.

So new plan was needed, it being a sunday, so we rode to Loei, stayed at the super-value King Hotel to ponder our options.


We decided to ride to Nan, stayed at the Dhajavai hotel, 600bht and G&K were able to get a copy of their Thai customs temp import by email, this meant that we could enter laos at at the Nan border/ Muan Nguen (Laos) border point the next day & its a fantastic ride to the border there if you havnt done it.

The Thai Customs guy at the Nan border is a lovely guy, he's given me 60 days when i've come back in there and super friendly. Be careful with the immigration guy there, 60 ish years old, usually only wears a white under T-shirt, he;s calculating, looking for ways to trip you up for a bribe.

At the Nan border, the Thai customs guy, pondered over G&K "copy" of their temp. import & ended up giving them at temporary "EXPORT" document, the same as the Thai reg. bikes get leaving Thailand. He insisted that we must come back to Nan to close this out or the paperwork would end up in a mess (ie 2X temp imports would be open when they re-entered Thailand elsewhere as they hadnt signed off on their 1st one as they only had a copy and Nan doesn't have a computer to check documents). This was starting to Blow G&K's brains as they'd never been here before. We said we'd be back.

AGL insurance office at the Laos border

Through into Muang Nguen, hassle with the soldiers 100m before the white customs and immgtn building, then we got visa on arrival (1,350 bht), insurance (150bht) and 14 days temp. import. Now being 3.30pm, we decided to head for the ferry and slept in Pakbeng for the night (50km ride) . FYI the backpacker boat didn't arrive until 6pm, so all the hotels were empty until then.










Next day up early, south back across the ferry (30,000 kip), then ENE along the 240km(from Pakbeng) dirt road to Luang Prabang. Locals were telling us we had to cross 8X rivers, there are 2 rivers you HAVE to go through. With still having little rain, the 1st was just a trickle, the 2nd a 20cm deep, 2 meter wide "puddle". I'm sure in the rainy season its a different story, all the other river crossings are bridges.


Back across the Mekong on the ferry, be careful with the steep sand

If you're an ADV rider here in Thai/ Asia, you must do this road, 240km (from Pakbeng) of dirt. Some of it is in mountains, kinda MHS on dirt, some flat, but its fun. We had Som with us who was careful & we were averaging about 35km/ hour, at the end where flat, cruising at 100km on dirt, lots of fun. There is a 2nd mekong ferry crossing you have to do about 100km (roughly) from Luang prabang, we wern't aware of this


George on the dirt road to Luang Prabang

2nd ferry crossing towards Luang Prabang


In Luang Prabang (everyone COVERED in dust and dirt wanting a shower bad) , we stayed at the new Ancient Hotel, which is on the same road as the LP bakery, but 300 meters east (away/back from town), just east of where the night mkt starts. USD$50 fantastic hotel, will stay there again (LP bakery said its the best value in LP FYI) . Ate at L'Elephant, big steak, felt great.


Ancient hotel in Luang Prabang



Filling up with mystery 91 octane (David & Mr. Early will be pleased to hear i had some 95 octane in my MSR bottles to dilute this horrible stuff)

Next day, up early and the long 400km ride to Phonsavan, no real easy way around it. Fun ride all twisty's, highly recommend it. Huge rain storm with hail as we entered Phonsavan, found some cover. Stayed at the Auberge hotel, great views, (USD$55). No mosquito nets or fans in the rooms, very strange for a decent hotel, they do spray your rooms with some limited success. Owner rides dirt bikes. knows Theirry (jules bikes rentals Vientaine) and jim (remote asia bike tours).

Hail storm approaching Phonsavan

Room/ Cabin at the Auberge

View from the Auberge resort

Phonsavan is fun for those that havnt ventured. Go NE 32km to the village of tajok, that s where all the creative use of bomb shell casings is easily found. Also 10km west on the way back, take the right turn for a dirt road and there are many bomb craters easily found in a field. This is where the U.S were bombing the Hochimein Trail, where it was the quick route for the Viet communists to travel south to south Vietnam. Lots of big bomb craters to see, we even found a cluster bomb, george threw it not knowing what it was (back at the MAG OXE we got a fright ).



Bomb craters from the Vietnam war


Plain of jars Phonsavan



Som's leg where she slipped on some mud and dropped her bike, lucky fall ... aa0f_m.jpg

We then had to decide whether to go back to Nan to close out G&K Thai temp export for a foreign bike (all very crazy, never heard of this before), or push west then south to Vientaine. G&K decided that they would take the risk on getting their bikes back into Thailand at Nong Khai, so off we went.

Nice ride down R13, got to Vientaine about 4pm, stayed at the Laos orchid near the mekong, USD$60. 3 meter wide double bed, out of the 1,000 hotels ive stayed in, biggest bed ive ever seen. Good secure parking under the hotel, ate some Laos food, then early night, all nakered.

Next Day, off to the border, G&K sweating that they may have to go back to Nan, the thought of it made them want to sell their bikes in Laos (Jim was contacted!). G&K got back through Thai customs at Nong Khai Hassle free apart from the Customs printer breaking. I had an interesting problem, asked for 60 days having a 1 year Thai Non-O visa, Thai customs guy came out and said that they were now only giving 15 days. G&K just got 30 days keeping their mouths shut, I told him this and he looked pretty stupid and didn't have an answer and gave me the standard 30 days chuckling embarrassed. BE CAREFUL THERE NOW all you people on temp import.

So G&K left today for BKK on a VIP bus, their bikes are at my house ready to be trucked to BKK and shipped to NZ. they have 2X Thai temp imports still open on both bikes (both still unexpired/ valid), should be fun for my customs agent friend to clean up the mess.

very fun trip.

Interesting talking to G&K at the end of this tour as to the highlights. Their top place was Pakbeng, they loved it there.
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