The beauty of Laos lays as an unknown gem tucked between Vietnam, Cambodia, and Thailand. Incredible waterfalls, intimidating caves, thrilling sites, pristine islands on the rivers, mystic views, and challenging heights, are you ready for Laos? Before embarking on your two-wheel joy ride, here is the complete Laos travel advice to prep yourself up with.
How To Rent A Motorbike In Laos
Renting a motorbike in Laos is not much of a challenge as it is a popular vehicle to get around. Laos motorbike tours are also ubiquitous in all adventure tour operators.
You can either opt for a self-ride or guided motorbike tour to start exploring the country. Most reputable operators come with clear-cut pricing, motorbike options, customization requests, inclusions, exclusions in the package. If you are looking for taking a Laos motorbike trip, check out on vietnammotorbiketoursclub.com.
Normally, a driving license is not required when it comes to renting a motorbike in Laos. However, it’s now illegal to drive around without one. So if you are pulled over, chances are that you will take full responsibility and won’t be covered by your travel insurance.
How To Cross Border To Laos With Your Motorbike
Cambodia or Thailand to Laos (and vice versa) border crossing are rejected most of the time as you will need documentation proving your ownership on the bike. Even with correct evidence, it is still notoriously difficult for foreign travelers to cross the border. Some cases end up with $50-$100 bribes but we all know it’s not worth it.
Border crossing with a motorbike from Vietnam to Laos, however, is legal and actually a prevalent Indochina route among travelers on two-wheel rides. Many people decide to rent their motorbike in Vietnam and continue their trip to Laos as the rental service providers will offer detailed consultations and suggest what to prepare.
The required preparations usually include:
- Original invitation letter
- Passport with photo and more than 4 empty pages
- Filled Laos VoA forms
- Blue card for motorbike
- $30 – $50 Visa fee
Your bordering cross route will start at Lao bao Border in Hue, Vietnam. After having your invitation letter verified and approved at the Vietnam Exit Formalities, you will receive an exit stamp from Vietnam.
With the exit stamp, you can now fill the Laos VoA form, and submit your passport and Visa fee to get you and your vehicle through Laos’s border.
Note: The application does not guarantee 100% success as the border officer may claim your case as suspicion or invalid documentation. Still, it is the most consistently working way to cross the border to Laos with your motorbike.
Are Motorbike Scams Popular In Laos?
No. But it happens. Most scams relate to renting Chinese knockoffs and stolen bikes. Some agencies may even steal back the rented bike and frame you as the thief.
It will not be the case if you rent a motorbike from a tried-and-trusted company. Also, it is advisable to have a meticulous check on the vehicle, test-run it, and take a photo of any damage already on it for any evidence in need later.
What Is The Best Time To Have Laos Motorbike Tours
Our Laos travel advice is that you should start your trip during the dry season – From November to March. The weather is quite stable and not too hot this time of the year.
Beware of the hot season – April to June and the wet season – From July to October. Getting baked by the scorching sun or soaked by the pouring rains should be the last thing you want, let alone all the dust, dirt, and mud turning your ride into a torturous slog.
How Is The Traveling Cost In Laos?
Local currency – Kip is preferred in Laos, you will need to exchange your currency for daily use. Most local Laos vendors and sellers would preferably accept cash, ATMs in remote areas can also be very far between. Make sure to load your wallet with Kip in big cities or town centers to avoid any inconvenience on the way.
Laos has remained a highly affordable destination, comparable to any other Indochina countries. Most local meals are around USD 2-3, and if you want to stay on budget for your accommodation, finding a hostel/ guesthouse/ homestay at around USD 10 is totally feasible.
What Should Be The Visa Strategy To Visit Laos
Visa should be ruled out from possible issues in your Laos motorbike tours as it is now super convenient to get the approval. You just need to show up at the border, get the form filled, pay the Visa fee, wait for around 10-15 minutes, and receive your Visa on arrival. Citizens from many countries can actually get a free Visa on arrival for 30 days.
Other countries in the Middle East and Africa may need to apply in advance. The Visa fee is around USD 30-50 (can be USD1-2 extra for passport photo), and the process is pretty straightforward.
Laos Travel Advice – The Dos And Don’ts
- Choose a trustworthy travel agency or motorbike rental company
- For greetings, say “Sabai Dee” while touching your palms together below your chin and bowing your head forward
- Besides following the dress code, walk gently and talk with a low tone when visiting religious sites
- Show respect by greeting the monk if you face one
- Take off your shoes before entering a Laotian person’s house
- Don’t show P.D.A (Public display of affection)
- Don’t touch the monk or sit down higher than him
- Don’t give money to children as it encourages begging
- Don’t bath nude and walk around in bikinis if you don’t want uncomfortable stares.
- Laos people generally are chill (or slow sometimes). They normally avoid arguing loudly and the bargaining culture is not strong here. Don’t rush or aggressively bargain with them.
Many people don’t even know about the existence of Laos, others avoid the country because of its missing oceanside. But there will be so much more than an ocean that you will miss out if Laos is not included in your motorbike trip.
Rooting from our Laos travel advice, it’s safe to say that Laos is a motorbike-friendly destination. Have some time in Indochina? Give it a visit!