Lao Minivan in Bangkok

I do not see many vehicles with foreign license (registration) plates in Thailand. I can recall four in the past year.

This Lao registered Hyundai Starex minivan stood out in my local supermarket car park a couple of days ago. The owner must be very rich. Laos is still a Communist country and one of the poorest in the world. The country is small and landlocked and I think most of the world has forgotten about it after the tragedy of the Vietnam War.

Lao Hyundai Starex Minivan in Bangkok

Lao Hyundai Starex Minivan in Bangkok - front

Laos uses a different alphabet to Thailand so I can’t read the plate or get any of my Thai friends to help. Wikipedia has articles on the Vehicle Registration Systems for most countries but it does not have one for Laos.

Lao Hyundai Starex Minivan in Bangkok

Lao Hyundai Starex Minivan in Bangkok - rear

They do not sell the Hyundai Starex in Thailand. The styling is quite distinctive.


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4 Responses to “Lao Minivan in Bangkok”

  1. seeharhed Says:

    If you ever visit Vientaine, Laos you will be surprise to see so many nice SUV and sport cars. You’re right about being a dirt poor country but you’ll be amaze to see so many nice cars. Most of those cars in Laos are paid in cash, there’s no such a thing as monthly payments. I don’t think you have to be super rich to own a Hyundai van…

  2. BKKPhotographer Says:

    No, I have not been to Vientaine. I expect Laos has high import taxes on motor vehicles like Thailand. There must be more well-off people there than I expected in a Communist country.

  3. seeharhed Says:

    Oh yes!!!! Laos have one of the highest import taxes and it still amaze me how those people can afford to buy cars. For example, fully loaded toyota land cruiser might cost around $50K+ in U.S. and that same car probably cost around $75-80K in Laos. Of course only small group of people can afford such a luxury cars and the rest of folks still use motorcycles or bicycles.

  4. BKKPhotographer Says:

    According to my Flickr friend channarong108 – (the user who helped me understand the Thai province numbering system on truck and bus license plates amongst other things):

    “You’re right that the province name is at the top. This car is registered in Vientiane. The province name on the plate is not “Vientiane”, but it is “Kamphaeng Nakhon”, which should be meant for the Vientiane capital.

    Based on my little knowledge about Laos language, the prefix on this plate is กข, which could be compared to AB in English.

    I visited Vientiane in December 2008, from my observations, the registration number system is similar to Thailand’s. The prefix indicates the vehicle type. The only major difference is the yellow plate is for private vehicle and the white plate is for public vehicle. “

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