19th April – Luang Namtha to Mengla (China)

Today we only have 37 km to drive to the China border at Boten over a very potholed road.  We pass an overturned truck that was carrying BeerLao.


The closer we get to the border the busier it gets with trucks & cars and there is a massive amount of construction going on and temporary accommodation for the workers.

When we arrive at the border our guide Johnny organises the paperwork to take the cars out of Laos and we then go through immigration and exit Laos.  This process was smooth and quick thanks to Johnny. We present Johnny & our drivers with some gifts and a tip and drive to the China border. This process was smooth and quick thanks to Johnny.

We meet our Chinese guide Green who spent all day yesterday here processing the paperwork to get our cars into China. We farewell Johnny who makes his way back to Laos and we enter China immigration which is a quick & efficient process as we all have our Chinese visas.  The boys take the cars through customs and appear very quickly, no doubt thanks to the work done by Green yesterday.  So we’re into China with no fuss at all. However we now have to all get a Chinese drivers licence and the cars have to pass an inspection in order to get Chinese number plates.  We drive to our hotel, check in & have some lunch and all meet again at 3pm in the foyer to start our paperwork.

Green has already filled in our drivers licence application forms in Chinese that we just need to sign and take to an office in Mengla.  They are all quite amused about us getting our Chinese licences, with only 3 of our team needing to have an eye test the paperwork is processed in a business like manner and we are on our way to get our Chinese registration for our cars.

We are told to line up our cars in a specific order and head to a shed, not knowing what was going to take place.  We thought the cars were just going to be inspected.  It turns out that each car was to perform a braking test and the headlights checked for brightness.  After the first pass of tests only 4 cars pass.  The remaining 4 cars have to repeat the test.  We were not fully aware of why the cars had failed the tests until after more tests were done.  It appeared that some cars needed the handbrake adjusted, which Henk & David did and Shiraz needed the headlights adjusted which Michael did. Once the adjustments had been made all cars passed the test thanks to the patience of the Chinese testers who had stayed on well after closing time.  I couldn’t imagine VicRoads staff putting themselves out like these Chinese officials have done today as this meant we didn’t need to come back tomorrow.  So at 6:45 pm we were given our Chinese registration plates & drivers licences.




  1. We could imagine the frustration you all had at the border – not knowing the possibility of some cars being allowed and others not. Sounds as though the Chinese officials had a sympathetic understanding as mentioned not like VicRoads.
    We are enjoying reading your blogs with great envy – what an experience to cherish!
    Stewart & Natalie

  2. In my experience this is a painless border crossing. Thanks for the effort you are making on the blog, the pics and words take a lot of effort, but appreciate the effort you make to bring this to us. Well Done

  3. Some of the Vic Roads branch’s would stay behind if you had a late registration as long as the boot had a few slabs! now with everything done on an appointment basis not a chance

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