You will find the little town of Lao Bao within the Huong Hoa District of the Quang Tri Province of Vietnam. This area is within the north-central part of the country and the town shares a border with Laos. For years, the Lao Bao border was closed to travelers, but times have changed, and it is fairly simple to travel between these two countries if you know what to expect during your journey.
One of the best ways to experience the Lao Bao borderis to travel there on a motorbike. These are easy to rent anywhere in Vietnam and as long as you don’t have any issues at this border, you can go between Laos and Vietnam.
What You Need to Cross the Lao Bao Border
It is important that you everything you need before you even attempt crossing the Lao Bao border though. The most important document will be the invitation letter to Vietnam, because it is what will get you back over this border when you want to return to the country. You must have the original letter with the red stamp on it in order to have it approved!
The immigration officer at the Lao Bao border will ask you many questions about your trip and what you plan on doing when you are over in Laos. After reviewing the letter mentioned above, and checking out your motorbike, you will receive an exit stamp that will allow you to go get the Laos visa sticker.
Obtaining the Laos visa sticker is easy and straightforward. All you need to do is go to the counter that is labeled, “visa on arrival”, fill out the form, and give them a single passport sized photo with $35. The cost for the Laos visa sticker does vary according to what country you are from, so you may see a price as low as $32 or as high as $45.
You will also want to make sure you have at least four blank pages within your passport, as well as a blue card for the motorbike you are driving. Most of the time, the officers will not even glance at the blue card, but it still a good idea to have it in an easy to find spot.
When you are cleared to continue crossing the Lao Bao border, to get your Laos visa, you must carefully push your motorbike across the border. In fact, plan on doing this until an immigration officer tells you that you are finally allowed to turn your motorbike back on!
Tips for the Journey to the Lao Bao Border
It is best to start your journey to the Lao Bao border early in the day, because it can get crowded there in the middle of the day. An early start will ensure you are ahead of the crowds, although the process does usually move fairly quickly if everyone has what they need ready.
During your drive to the Lao Bao border, and once you have crossed over into Laos, you may encounter many different cows and goats on the road. It is important that you slow down around these creatures and allow them to move out of the way before trying to pass them, so you can avoid an accident.
The gas stations are fairly far apart, so it is necessary to fill your gas tank at each one you see to avoid running out of gas. It is also an excellent idea to take plenty of water with you, as well as a few snacks, for when you get hungry and thirsty along the way.
It important to note that you can also take a bus to the Lao Bao border, as part of a tour. This is much easier than riding a motorbike, because you can relax on the bus while the driver does the driving. Of course, once you arrive at the Lao Bao border, you will need to have all your paperwork ready, because the immigration officers will check everyone’s information before letting the bus cross over the border. You will all need to go in for your Laos visa sticker too, but most tour buses are ushered through in no time at all.
Return to Vietnam at the Lao Bao Border
Returning to Vietnam at the Lao Bao border is almost as easy as passing through the first time. You will need all that important paperwork again, especially that invitation letter to Vietnam. The only difference is that now you will go and get your exit stamp from Laos, so you can legally enter Vietnam once again.
The Lao Bao border is an intriguing destination and even if you do not plan on crossing over into Laos, you may want to at least go check the area out. Yes, it may be a little further than you want to go from where you are staying in Vietnam, but it is always fun to see a country from the other side.