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Thailand – Laos Border Crossing

    In this article, I will guide you the steps and the documents needed for crossing into Laos via Thai-Laos Friendship bridge 1 at Nong Khai. However, this would be also generally applicable for all Laos Border crossing overland by motorcycle/car and I’ll share based on my personal experience.

    Important Note 1: It seems, from March 2017, they seem to have dusted off the old rule book & no foreign motorcycle less than 250cc can cross into Laos. Laos border crossing rules changes from time to time and no one knows about it until someone has been denied entry. I had luck accessing Laos with my 171CC scooter in March 2017 and 500CC motorcycle (Malaysian registered) in September 2019 via Friendship bridge 1 (Nong Khai).

    Important Note 2: No rental, Friend’s etc Motorcycle / Car is allowed. It has to be registered on your own name. Alternatively, you can also get cheap thrifty car rental in Laos.

    If you’re coming from Malaysia, you can also refer to Malaysia – Thailand Border Crossing.

    Required Documents To Drive/Ride Into Laos

    In a nutshell, you will need;

    1. International Driving Permit (IDP).
    2. Compulsory – Supporting letter from Laos Embassy in your home country (i.e. Malaysia).
    3. Third-party Lao Insurance for a vehicle. (Get it at the border)
    4. Temporary Imported Passenger Vehicle form.
    5. Original Vehicle registration card (Grant / VOC).
    6. Passport is valid for 6 months at-least.
    7. Copy of your road tax (if any) – Ensure it is not expired.
    8. Visa – (Not needed for countries that have been exempted).
    9. Immigration form (Arrival Card).
    10. THB 500 Escort fee on Friendship bridge crossing. (This varies at some borders crossing and I didn’t have to pay when I crossed via Friendship bridge 1)

    Preparation from Home Country:

    Write a permission request letter with your details (Sample) and hand it over by hand to;

    Embassy of the Lao People’s Democratic Republic to Malaysia

    Address: No. 7, Jalan Mesra, Off Jalan Damai, 55000 Kuala Lumpur.
    Email: [email protected]
    Google Map
    Tel: +603 21487059

    a. You need to attach copies of your Passport, Vehicle registration, Identification Card and International Driving Permit/License.

    b. You will need to pay RM 100.00 which they will provide you with an official receipt and you will get the supporting letter (Sample) within 3 working days.

    Border Crossing (Thai Side)

    Thailand - Laos Border Crossing By Car Or Motorcycle
    • Stamp your Passport at the immigration counter.
    • Return your Thai TM2 (with TM3 if you have a passenger) form(s) to the Immigration officer.
    • Return your Vehicle’s custom simplified vehicle import form that you got when you first get into Thailand. (For Non-Thai Registered Vehicle)

    Border Crossing (Laos Side)

    Keep your vehicle on the right side.

    laos border complex

    For foreign vehicle, just follow the sign and turn right at the border complex.

    laos border for foreign vehicle

    Now, you will need to get the immigration form (arrival card) from the first counter on your right. (see image below). You can just park your car/motorcycle somewhere here.

    At the same counter lane, there is a Kiosk where you need to pay about THB100 (they accept THB) for an entry fee. Get the receipt and keep it with your passport.

    payment for foreigner entry

    Now go back to the big immigration complex, head to counter A4 and get your passport stamped.

    laos border stamp passport

    Once you’ve done so, go back foreign vehicle lane and head to Counter B4. Here you will need to pay a fee for your vehicle and register your vehicle in their database. This is where you will need to provide your vehicle registration card, the letter from Lao embassy.

    laos border vehicle registration

    Vehicle fee(s) is as per below:

    laos border fee

    At the same counter (Counter B4), the customs officer will fill up the application form to temporary import your vehicle and pass it over to you  (form as per below) which you will need to bring it over to Counter # 105.

    laos border vehicle registration slip

    When you got the form, go to Counter# 105

    laos border customs office

    This is counter# 105.

    laos border custom office

    All you need to do is, pass over the application form to the officer in Counter 105 and he/she will sign on the form (to approve it).  Bring back the form to Counter B4, pay the vehicle fee which you will be given a receipt and the actual temporary import form for your vehicle. (green paper)

    laos foreign vehicle import form

    Finally, bring the temporary vehicle import form (green paper) to Counter B5 for final checking. Once the officer checked on it, he will let you pass into Laos! Do not lose this as you will need to return it when you exit Laos.

    laos border final checking on custom form

    Exiting Laos

    • Stamp your passport at the Immigration counter.
    • Return temporary import form for your vehicle (Green paper ) to the customs officer.

    Questions & Answeres

    Do I need Laos third party insurance for my vehicle?

    Yes, you can go to jail without it! Please note, the third party Lao insurance only covers bodily injury for a small amount and not for the repair works on the vehicle(s).

    You can buy Vehicle Insurance at the border complex itself, 50m on the right after the immigration counter at about 60,000 KIP for 14 days coverage. Just ask around if you can’t find it.

    laos third party vehicle insurance
    laos third party insurance

    Money Changer? Sim Card?

    Just after the immigration counter, you can buy Lao mobile data sim card. I paid about 20,000 kips for 3 days – 5GB data. The money changer is also just next to the telco counter.

    loas border money changer

    Do I really need the letter from Embassy?

    Well, it depends! I’ve seen those using Thailand registered vehicle crossing into Laos without the need of providing such document(s) from the embassy. This is because Thailand has a land transport agreement with Laos as they’re neighbouring country. If your vehicle is not Thai registered,  you must get supporting documents from the Lao Embassy in your home country in advance to avoid any hassle at the border as this was required when I crossed into Laos by my motorcycle.

    How long can I ride in Laos?

    The period that you can keep your vehicle in Laos varies. Nongkhai/Vientiane border’s custom normally gives 7 days but you can ask for a longer period. Other border crossings often give 30 days – best is to ask for 30 days on the Lao side.

    Do I need an International Driving Permit (IDP) / License?

    Yes! Most important for riders to know is that Lao insurance provider does not cover claims if the rider uses a national (non-Lao) driving license. I do own an IDP and this makes me much more confident riding in Laos and if you’re Malaysian, you can get it at JPJ’s office for RM 150.

    Is there any Insurance that covers vehicle damages?

    I’ve spent a lot of time asking insurance companies at the border but they don’t seems to understand English and I could not obtain information on this. If you have any info, please share it with me in the comment box below.

    Do I need Travel Insurance?

    Having a travel insurance is really important and some even choose not to have one but honestly, accidents do happen and they also seem to happen when you least expect it & least need it. Medical bills can cost a fortunate abroad and with good travel insurance, you can have peace of mind. so please, if you don’t do it for yourself, do it for your loved ones.

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    Rich Kent Tygart

    I have a couple of friends who have tried repeatedly to cross into Laos from Thailand on their touring bikes up in Nong Khai, which are big bikes, and they’ve been denied every time for some reason.


    Can you give me h/p bomber.
    I want aske about travel by car


    Hi Chis, is it possible for a foreigner (Swiss) living in Malaysia to drive his Malaysian car to Thailand, stay there for one month, then drive to Laos, stay there for 2 weeks, and drive back to Thailand for another month before returning to Malaysia?


    Hi Chis, is it possible for a foreigner (Swiss) living in Malaysia to drive his Malaysian car to Thailand, stay there for one month, then drive to Laos, stay there for 2 weeks, and drive back to Thailand for another month before returning to Malaysia?


    Actually (before corona virus) it was 30 days for Swiss passport holders. The 15 day limitation ended several years ago when they implemented the 2 visa-free entry per year rule via land border checkpoints.

    yuzli mohd yusof

    Important Note 2: No rental, Friend’s etc Motorcycle / Car is allowed. It has to be registered on your own name.

    Hi Chris, what about driving a car that is registered under company, and the company is owned by me?


    You can use a friend’s vehicle or even a company vehicle with a power of attorney document authorizing you to use their vehicle.

    Gason Veloil

    Hye bro
    Can u sent me ur wassap no
    I need to discuss about the frenship bridge…tq bro

    Firdaus Fahdhil

    Hai Rider Chris.. can u share yr iltenary about yr route..
    my plan to boten on 30.11.2017..
    pls guide me if dont mine..

    email : [email protected]