Border Crossing Vietnam Laos Motorbike: Tips For First-Timers

Border Crossing Vietnam Laos Motorbike

Introduction

Border crossing Vietnam Laos motorbike is a great step-up for your adventurous journey from the S-shaped country. Few backpackers join this itinerary because they lack the time or never think about this idea. 

As an experienced person, we recommend adding it to your to-do list now. However, there are a few caveats, especially regarding the paperwork to ensure you can get through the border.

6 International Border Crossing Vietnam Laos Motorbike Tours

6 International Border Crossing Vietnam Laos Motorbike Tours
Beautiful sunrise on Mekong river , border of Thailand and Laos.

Sop Hun / Tay Trang Motorcycle Tour

This land border is located at the northernmost point connecting Muang Khuan in Laos and Dien Bien Phu in Vietnam. Regrettably, it is impossible or very expensive to bypass this barrier by motorcycle travel

Some of our friends were banned from leaving Vietnam when they tried to reach Laos from here. Some had also experienced a bad situation – being blackmailed by immigration officials when they arrived at the location.

Border Crossing Vietnam Laos Motorbike: Tips For First-Timers border crossing vietnam laos motorbike 6 | Vietnam Motorbike Tours
Buffalo trail in Dien Bien Phu

Na Maew (Na Meo) / Nam Xoi Motorbike Tour

The international crossing point takes you to Sam Neu town in Laos. The good news is that you can bring your motorbike back and forth between the two territories. On the downside, the paperwork costs a lot, including $20 for an import application and $45 for a Laos visa.

We also do not recommend this route for inexperienced riders. The road on the Vietnamese side is seriously degraded, posing many dangers. We, who gained a wealth of experience in adventure motorcycle tours, spent many hours of the day bouncing on the muddy path.

Nam Can / Nam Khan Motorcycle Trip

Set between the two major towns of Phonsavan and Vinh, Nam Can is a pleasant border crossing for international tourists. Many of our friends have been riding motorbikes from Vietnam to Laos and vice versa without any problems.

When we took this motorbike route in August 2021, the weather in Vinh (Vietnam) was so scorching that we even got sunburn. So remember to bring a lot of water, sunscreen, and jackets.

Nam Can / Nam Khan Motorcycle Trip
After riding on a dusty road in Laos

Nam Phao / Cau Treo Motorbike Trip

Also located in Vinh, but Nam Phao takes you to Lak Xao in Laos. Many riders have shared their fast and enjoyable immigration process here, but most often travel in groups.

We’ve never followed this border crossing motorcycle path before, but many of our pals in our travel club told us that the roads were quite easy to conquer.

Dansavanh / Lao Bao Motorcycle Route

Lao Bao is our favorite international border gate since it is not far from Da Nang and Hue – popular tourist cities. Most of our motorbike trips from Vietnam to Laos and the other riders have a convenient crossing experience.

The road conditions are also superior, facilitating our team a lot. If your time budget allows, wandering in A Luoi for a while and enjoying their local delicacies is also marvelous.

Dansavanh / Lao Bao Motorcycle Route
LAO BAO international border gate landmark between LAOS and VIETNAM with unique contemporary asian architectural design

Bo Y / Ngoc Hoi Motorbike Route

The location is in the central region of Vietnam (Kon Tum) and connects to the major town of Laos, Attapeu. The border route sends chills down to your bone, with one side looking straight down the cliff. Plus, you cannot let your guard down since logging trucks may appear from hidden corners and take up a large portion of your lane.

On the bright side, the border agencies of both countries are very tourist-friendly. We did not have to apply for an import license for our motorbikes or pay additional fees.

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Required Documents For Vietnam And Laos Motorbike Tours

Passport

A passport is indispensable in any case. Not only Laos, but you also cannot enter any country without providing the legal basis for your immigration.

If you plan to return to Vietnam after your trip to Laos, you must provide an original invitation letter with a red stamp. Border officials can briefly check your travel plans before providing an exit stamp.

Motorcycle Documents

Some border control offices do not allow tourists to cross the territory with motorbikes. In some cases, you must always have your motorbike papers ready. Customs may ask for a blue card if they suspect you of smuggling. It is a lousy scenario when you cannot prove your ownership.

Others

You also need to prepare some documents for the Laos visa on arrival (we will cover the specific process below):

  • Passport photo
  • Lao VoA form (available at Visa counter)
  • Cash for visa fee
  • An International Driving Permit (Some immigration officers may ask for it)

Border Crossing Vietnam Laos Motorcycle From Lao Bao: My Own Experience

Process At The Border Agency

We arrived at the immigration office on the Vietnamese side early in the morning, located in a large complex. However, it is not the right destination for visitors from Vietnam. Instead, we ran further to reach another large building on the Lao side. Parking our motorbikes outside, our team walked into the counter “Vietnam exit procedures.”

We submitted a Vietnam visa and invitation letter and waited for a quick interview. The staff asked us about our upcoming plans in Laos. Some friends advised us not to mention our entry by motorcycle, but we did not take it. The conversations were very friendly and basic. After only a few minutes, we received an exit stamp.

Our team then headed to Laos’ VoA counter to complete the entry visa application form. The staff here required a passport photo and a $35 fee (may be lower or higher depending on your country of origin). He confirmed our travel plans again and completed the necessary procedures within 10 minutes.

So the paperwork was done! We returned on our motorbikes to cross the border. You cannot start the engine and ride straight to the neighboring country. Our motorbike tour went through two checkpoints of Vietnamese officers and then on to Laos. A new country welcomed us as soon as we finished our preliminary checks at both stops.

In short, the whole process took about 1 hour. No one asked us about our motorbikes, but we did notice a “vehicle import” building in the border area. A friendly officer explained that it is for motorcycles larger than 175cc.

Process At The Border Agency
Vietnam offroad trip to Laos

Exchanging Money

Fees at the border agency can all be paid in dollars, but as soon as you set foot in Laos, the unit of liquidity is mainly Kip. Some women around the border may approach you and propose money exchanges; just turn them down. We looked through their deals for times, and most are unprofitable. It is no surprise since these suppliers live off the exchange rate.

Instead, we usually visited one of the two banks that appeared right after the two border checkpoints – Lao Viet Bank or Phongsavanh Bank. Both serve a reasonable exchange rate to convert USD or some remaining VND to Lao Kip. 

Swaps between Lao Kip and Euro are available. The biggest plus of their service is a publicly listed rate to consider before your trade.

We missed these two places at the first border crossing and got stuck in an awkward situation. Our vehicle ran out of fuel on the way to the center, and the small-town banks did not provide the financial services needed to fill our wallets.

> View more: Vietnam motorbike tour to Laos 2024-2025

Road Riding Tips

So you have the essential information for smooth crossing borders. However, consider a few of our tips in Vietnam motorbike tours to keep the journey pleasant after that.

  • Border agencies are not open 24/7. Hence, it helps if you arrive before or after your lunch break.
  • Try to complete the procedure immediately and speed to Thakhek or Savannakhet before dusk. Most parts of this route have no street lights or pedestrians, so it’s pretty scary.
Road Riding Tips
New friends in Laos
  • The weather in Laos is boiling. Cover your body and fill up a few water bottles. If you run out of water, ask the gas station for a free refill.
  • The gas stations on the way to Savannakhet are far apart, so fill up your fuel tank before setting off.
  • Be careful with the goats and cows on the road.

Conclusion

Border crossing Vietnam Laos motorbike does not require much effort if you know the basic rules and be honest. The immigration procedures take only a short time and pay off soon after. You will have a great time discovering unspoiled nature and cultural values in another beautiful country. 

If you want more about our Vietnam motorbike tour to Laos, follow our blogs now!

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