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Driving: Thailand - Laos - Vietnam and back

Travel Forums Asia Driving: Thailand - Laos - Vietnam and back

1. Posted by matcube (Budding Member 6 posts) 11y Star this if you like it!

Hi there,

Next January I would like to drive from Thailand to Vietnam (Hanoi) through Laos, to visit a friend there, and then back. I am Thai (well, my wife who is the owner of the car is) and have a Thai licence plate. Does any of you know how easy that is, what kind of bureaucracy I have to go through, and/or where to find additional information?

Thank you,


2. Posted by wildfk (Respected Member 465 posts) 11y Star this if you like it!

I'm farang and have been trying to get some clear info for some time. Under the ASEAN treaty private vehicles are permitted to drive from one country to another, however I hear that Cambodia restricts you to one province. As for insurance, I don't know. I think there is a 4wd company that organises convoys around Loas and Vietnam.

Please let me know what you find out!

3. Posted by danalasta (Respected Member 519 posts) 11y Star this if you like it!

Hi Matcube,

In my reply to your other posting on self-driving from Thailand to Europe,I mentioned about my off-road experience from Kuala Lumpur though Thailand, Laos to Kumming.We had actually wanted to get to China via northern Vietnam but were stuck with huge restrictions. So we gave up and settled for journey through Luang Namtha. We found Laos more accommodating though it is left hand drive there. (Not much of a problem for Thai registered vehicles to drive into Laos via Friendship bridge so long as procedures are followed).

Let me explain a bit:

In 2001, Vietnam placed an embargo on right-hand drive vehicles (in Malaysia, it is right hand drive). It was essentially an attempt to protect itself against an excessive influx of tourists. The ban also meant forcing visitors to spend more money in the country since they would have to shell out money for transportation locally. In Vietnam self-drive car is virtually non-existent. Only late last year, self drive tour was introduced by a leading travel agency at USD350 per person for a tour, starting in Hanoi, through Laos, Thailand and ending in Hanoi . This excludes USD250 per car.

Matcube, your problem will, therefore, be driving your car across into Vietnam!

In Laos,National Licence is accepted but International Driving Permit prefered, while in Vietnam International Driving Permit is required, in addition to a driving test conducted in Vietnam.That too, if you want to drive a Viet registered car!

But this much I can say about Laos:

As you come off the bridge the road curves round to the left to a rather simple and straightforward solution for a landcrossing between left and right hand driving countries.
As part of the bridge project a cross over intersection with a simple set of traffic lights has been installed to allow traffic to change sides of the road. This was done more for the benefit of Thai vehicles ( right hand drive ).

You will then come to the Lao immigration and customs building. You may end up paying 'overtime charge' of, maybe, 1500 kip each (20 baht) if you are there past their "core" working hours. This is in addition to the bridge toll for your car.

You then have to pay a 75 baht for third party insurance from the only insurance company in Lao Associete du Generale Assurances de Lao.

A permit is required for each province. You cannot get these at the border and I advise you to use a local government associated travel agent to obtain them prior to your trip. (We did that & if you want, do send me a PM). These need to be produced at immigration, and they will need to stamp the Vientiane document. Make sure they do, else it's a real hassle when you try to leave.
Customs also will want to see your Thai documentation and they will also inspect the boot and cabin of your car.

Remember, when you are applying for the car permit, you MUST indicate where and when you are going and where and when you will be returning.

My advice is if you are planning to use a govt associated travel agent, do not leave this to the last minute as these agents need about 10 working days to get the approvals. Also only a few agents are able to help. So do let me know.

And the cost of these documentation ? It was USD80 in 1999, and now it has gone up, really up! I am told it is USD200!



4. Posted by wildfk (Respected Member 465 posts) 11y Star this if you like it!

Has anyone driven to Ankhor Wat from Thailand? I would love to do that trip.

5. Posted by mighty (Budding Member 3 posts) 11y Star this if you like it!

We are planning an overland adventure driving Singapore to Europe starting May 2007. If you are interested then you could either join us as a passenger or alternatively join us with your vehicle in convoy for some or all of the trip. There are definite savings to be had if you join a convoy for the period you are in china as the cost of the compusory guide is then shared by all the members of the group.Currently we are a group of four persons with two vehicles.If you are seriously interested then you should e mail me