How to do: Thai Visa run to Vientiane, Laos
Step by step instructions, photos and the costs involved to get a Visa from the Thai Embassy in Vientiane, Laos
Going to Vientiane in Laos is by far and away the most common Visa Run used by people wishing to extend their stay in Thailand. This article will deal mostly with folks wanting to do this trip from Chiang Mai, but equally as easy is flying from Bangkok direct to Vientiane.
After nearly 20 ‘how to’ blog posts at Guroo Asia, this is the first time I am going to interject my personal opinion – rather than attempt to just give the facts. If you are an older person, or over 6 foot, or find it difficult to sleep in minivans or seated up-right … or unless you are absolutely broke and on a budget – TAKE A PLANE! I have done this Visa Run 2 times now over the last few years using a van service and each time was an uncomfortable ride with no sleep. The advantage of using Aya Service to do this trip is that they held your hand all the way to the Thai Embassy. After July 2015 this will no longer be the case. Your Minivan ride will be from one Aya depot to another.
[hr]Visa Run to Vientiane, Laos in a Nutshell
Get to the Town of Nong Khai then to the Boarder
1st Stop: Depart Thailand (Free)
2nd Stop: Get your Laos Visa (US$30-35)
3rd Stop: Thai Embassy (8.30am-12.00pm)
Go and find your Accommodation in Vientiane
Next day after 1.30 Get Visa from Embassy
Take bus back to Nong Khai
Leave Laos (15,000 Kip at Boarder)
Enter Thailand (Free)
Get back home!
1: Get Yourself to Nong Khai
A visa run from Chiang Mai or Bangkok, Thailand to Vientiane, Laos can be done via minivan (visa run service) bus and/or airplane. It is approximately 700 km to the Thai border town of Nong Khai from both these cities, and overland these trips are done overnight (to arrive when the Embassy is open during the morning to accept applications).
Visa run services usually leave about 7pm and arrive at their depot the next morning at 5.30am to 6am. Bus services traditionally take an entire night of travel (12 hours), and Flights take about an hour or so. If flying from Bangkok you arrive directly at Vientiane Airport, and if flying from Chiang Mai you land at Undon Thani and take an hour bus trip to Nong Khai.
Check and Book Tickets via Train, Bus and Plane to Nong Khai
You can also book Aya Services Minivan whose office is located just a 5 minute walk to the Boarder crossing and Immigration. If you don’t know this you might be tempted to pay for a Tuk Tuk but it is an easy enough walk. Aya will provide you with a Laos Visa application (requiring one passport photo) and take you to the first stop off point. Visa Run by Air Flying will is about twice as much as taking a bus, but is over in one hour and allows you to arrive fresh and ready. Different airlines offer different times and flying from Chiang Mai you can only go to Nong Khai. Flights from Bangkok go straight to Vientiane. NOTE: If you fly to Bangkok first (or flying from Bangkok) then you get your customs and entry done at the airport and can skip to point 4 Typically Nok Airways have a great deal on airfare, and you fly from Chiang Mai’s CNX airport to Udon Thani’s UTH airport in about an hour. From there you take a ride to Nong Khai, cross the border and catch another songthaew into Vientiane which is another 30 minutes. If you do not use Aya services you can download your Laos Visa on Arrival Form from us here at Guroo Asia
2: Getting to the Immigration Checkpoints
The Nong Khai Customs and Boarder Post is right at the beginning of your trip. On the right hand side is your exit point from Thailand. This consists of a few booths with Immigration Officers who will inspect your departure card and stamp you out of Thailand. Then you cross the road to the Lao Visa point to apply for and get your Visa.
At the Laos side you will need:
One Passport Photo
Visa Application Form for Laos (Here)
US$30-35 ( Baht is accepted)
Lao Visa Exemption
Lao visas are not required for citizens of many countries. The following countries will have to apply for a Visa before getting to the Immigration Checkpoint.
Lao Visa Costs
Below is a list of visa fee for different countries. If your country is not on the list, it probably costs you $US30 to get the visa or you’re not eligible for getting Laos visa on arrival.
|Country||Price (US Dollar)|
Procedure to Get Visa on Arrival at Lao-Thai Friendship Bridge
It’s pretty easy to get the Lao visa on arrival at the Friendship bridge. Windows are numbered so just go in sequential order 1-2-3.
Step 1: Get Visa application form at window #1, and fill it out. (although if you are reading this you will have downloaded the form and have it ready)
Step 2: Return the completed form with 1 or 2 passport type photos and visa fee, plus over time if you arrive out side working hours, on weekend or Lao public holidays, to the official at window #1 or window #2 if it is active, and wait to be called.
Step 3: When you’re called, collect your passport with the visa, at window #3 around the corner. Make sure you KEEP your departure sheet for exiting Laos.
This will take 10-15 minutes. If you go before opening hours (which most tours will do) there is an extra $1 fee for making the staff start working early.
3: Getting to the Thai Embassy and Applying for your Visa
Once you have your Visa you walk 50 meters towards the Laos entry point, show your Passport and Visa to the Immigration staff and walk out to the chaos of drivers trying to get your fare into town.
If you are using Aya Services they provide a ride. You will as a group be guided along together and put into a seated truck. If you are doing it on your own, you will negotiate with the driver or taxi to take you into Vientiane and the Thai Embassy. Almost everybody crossing into Laos is heading to the Thai Embassy so don’t worry too much about how to get there. Everybody knows.
Procedure to Get Thai Visa at the Thai Embassy in Vientiane
The Vientiane Royal Thai Embassy (Consular) location is at:
No.15 Ban Ponesinuan, Bourichane Road, Vientiane Capital
Monday to Friday
08.30 hrs.–12.00 hrs. Application for Visa
13.00 hrs.–15.00 hrs. Distribution of Passports
Saturday – Sunday
Warning: In the last 6 months Immigration have tightened up. As politically incorrect as it is to say, many dark or black skinned people (from certain countries I assume not including United States or the G7) and people dressed in scruffy attire are being denied. Basically Spiritual travelers and Black people are going to have a more difficult time.
Having said this, I myself went to Vientiane on 1st July 2015 and did not see any discrimination and a few dreadlock baggy pant lip pierced people also applying and getting their Visa’s.
Step 1: When you arrive line up with the 50-200 other people in the cue. I have been on a Monday (busy) and a Tuesday (not busy). The doors will open and on the busy days you are given a number. On the non busy days you will line up at the document checking table.
Step 2: Your application and Documents will be checked. Currently the Thai Embassy website for Vientiane is a mess, and the Visa Application form available on their site is wrong. The new form is here. You will need …
Passport (2 copies of front page)
2 Passport Photo‘s (Take extra just in case)
Visa Application Form (Here)
Fee 1000-2000 Baht (depending on what Visa you are applying for
Step 3: When your documents are checked you will be given a number. You sit and wait until that number is called.
Step 4: When your number is called you approach the window and hand over your documents. Your bill will be stapled to the 2nd copy of your passport.
Step 5: Go inside the building to the cashier and pay – you are all done
Now head into Vientiane and find your Accommodation
4: Getting your processed Visa back
The Thai Embassy open for document retrieval at from 1-3pm. Once you get yourself back to the Embassy (it is a 30 minute slow stroll from where most people stay) or about 100-130 baht for a Tuk Tuk.
Step 1: You will on your receipt have your number allocated. Once the Embassy opens, follow the crowd and go and take a seat. Depending on the day you will either pick up your passport at the window outside or be sent into the Building where you paid.
Step 2: Get your passport and head back across the boarder 🙂 Easy Peasy
5: Getting Back to Thailand
If you are flying via Bangkok, you just need to get to the airport and do the normal process with Customs and Immigration at the Airports. If you are taking the bus, minivan service or flying from Udon Thani then you need to get back across the Freedom Bridge.
The easiest and cheapest way is to take the International Bus service. From the Embassy the Bus terminal is a 10 minute walk or an negotiated taxi ride. When I did it, we convinced a few people to take this method and shared a Taxi for 40 baht per person. The only reason you should not use this method is if you want to buy Duty Free at Laos. The bus is a quick and easy point to point trip.
Step 1: Get yourself to the Market Bus Terminal and buy the 10,000 Kip (42 Baht) Ticket from Vientiane to Nong Khai. The Bus runs every 30 minute to hour (depending on the time of day) and gets you right across the Freedom Bridge stopping off at both Immigration check points.
Step 2: The Bus will pull up to the Laos Customs and Immigration point. After 4pm Laos Immigration will want you to purchase a exit Ticket (12,000 Kip) which is a card you use to go through the barrier after getting your exit stamp. Go through the Laos Immigration Stand, then through the barrier and back on to the Bus.
Step 3: Next Stop the Thai Immigration Boarder. You will get off the Bus and fill in your new arrival and departure cards and go through the Thai Immigration and Customs point.
Step 4: Congratulations you are now back in Thailand. If you are using Aya services you can walk back in 10 minutes or pay 20-100 baht (depending on your negotiation skills and time of day) to get back to Aya and ready for your trip back to Chiang Mai. If you are heading on to Udon Thani to the Airport or Bus ride back to Chiang Mai, then get back on the bus which will take you to the Bus Station.