Chong Mek Border CrossingThis was my experience of the immigration and customs procedures for a motor-biker (I presume the same will apply for car owners as well), moving from Thailand into Laos on 4.Apr.2015. This border crossing connects Highway 217 (Thailand) to Highway 16W (Laos).
|I chose to go into Laos at the most southern border crossing because it was the most established crossing|
between the two neighboring countries for a very long time until the other crossings became more popular.
|An aerial view of the crossing point. The Thai complex in red highlight and the Laos complex in green highlight.|
The Laos government were not too happy that the Thais chose to build their complex on the Lao side.
Other Thai-Laos Road Border CrossingsListing from south to north, excluding crossings by boat are;
- Mukdahan & Savannakhet (Friendship Bridge 2)
- Nakhon Phanom & Thakhek (Friendship Bridge 3)
- Nong Khai & Vientiane (Friendship Bridge 1)
- Chiang Khong & Huay Xai (Friendship Bridge 4)
The Journey to Chong MekStarting from Ubon Ratchathani, my next destination for the day was Pakse. Along Highway 217, for about 30km to the border, was new triple lanes on each side with broad shoulders. Riding along this road was lovely especially passing the northern parts of Sirindhorn Lake.
|Beautiful & straight Highway 217 on the Thai side|
At the end of Highway 217, a very impressive and uniquely designed immigration and customs complex will greet your eyes. There are shops lining the road leading to the Thai government complex.
|A view of Chong Mek town as seen from the Thai immigration complex|
|A view of the immigration complex as seen from the Thai side|
|The Thai Customs House for commercial vehicles|
- Passport & Entry Card into and out of country
- Valid Driving License (citizens of member ASEAN countries can use license issued by own country. Actually, they don't check your license at all.)
- Vehicle Registration Card (better to bring original otherwise photocopy will also do)
- 3rd party vehicle insurance (can buy around entry points)
- Simplified Customs Declaration Form for Temporary Import Permit for vehicle (Thai and Lao practice similar forms.)
- Permit for vehicles for driver at entry/exit. (Not required in south of Thailand but required here. It's a simple form as a declaration that the driver is bringing a vehicle into the country. If you did not get this form in southern Thailand, you can fill up this form when you exit Thailand at this place, but the officer will not like it.)
- Ah ha! At the Thai side, unlike the officers in southern Thailand, the Thai side did not charge "Overtime", if you know what that means!
- On the Lao side, hmmm...! The customs forms will cost you LAK10,000 (as per receipt) but you need to pay THB100. Bloody awful exchange rate. Then filling up the Entry Card and processing your passport will cost you another THB100. (This was small compared to my departure from Laos.)
Going over to the Lao sideThe moment you crossed into Laos, unmaintained roads and dust greets you.
Also, do not forget that you'll be driving on the right side of the road when you cross over to Laos.
|Even though you can see officers here, this was not the processing centre.|
The building under construction is the new Immigration & Customs House.
|This was the Lao Immigration and Customs House that I had to go.|
The front part was the Visa application. I needed to go to the rear of the building for documentation.
|At the rear of the building was the Immigration Counter (left of photo)|
and the Customs Counter (right of photo)
|At the rear of the building, in front of the Customs Counter were the booths selling vehicle insurance.|
|Opposite the Immigration House was Phongsavanh Bank where you can exchange for Kip.|
Don't remember seeing ATMs there.
On the Road to PakseHaving cleared all the formalities and documentations, I proceeded to Pakse.
|Taxis awaiting customers. They transport cargo as well as passengers.|
|Long line of container vehicles waiting to cross into Thailand|
|Good road from the border towards Pakse for about 10 km. After that, the road was not so good.|
In SummaryOn the Thai side, the building, roads and facilities were well maintained and operating efficiently. The Lao side was a different matter. Long queues could be seen and the building looks old. Have in mind that Laos is still a Communist country and the people still have their old ways of doing things.
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