Visa runs are part of the life of any expat in Thailand.
And Vientiane, Laos, is usually the go-to destination as it is seen as one of the easiest place to get at Thai visa.
So if you happen to have to do a visa run in Laos from Bangkok, here’s my experience and some tips to help you prepare your trip.
- Bangkok to Vientiane : Flight and Hotel
- Apply for a Thai Visa in Vientiane
- Thai Visa Application in Vientiane
- What to do while you’re in Vientiane ?
Bangkok to Vientiane : Flight and Hotel
There’s a few options to go from Bangkok to Vientiane.
The most popular one that I’ve done twice already is to fly from Bangkok to Udon Thani, in the north of Thailand, and then take a bus to cross the border.
Truth is, it’s long.
You have to take the bus to the border, cross the border on the Thai side, then on the Laos side and finally take a tuk tuk or taxi to go to Vientiane.
It’s cheaper than a round trip flight Bangkok / Vientiane, but it takes a while.
AirAsia Go Flight + Hotel Package
Another option that is fast and convenient is to book the whole trip and accommodation on AirAsia Go.
That’s the most convenient option and probably the easiest if you don’t want to waste your time standing in line and going through all the hotels available.
When you book on AirAsia they usually have offers on their website (through a partnership with Expedia) for Flight + Hotel packages that are really interesting.
You can also find this packages directly on AirAsiaGo.
I used it for a round trip flight Bangkok Vientiane + 4 nights in the cheapest hostel they offered and it was 5,300฿.
Probably not as cheap as if I did the flight to Udon Thani + Bus thing but definitely worth the extra money to avoid the hassle.
AirAsia Flight + Booking.com
Now the last time I did a visa run in Vientiane, I booked my flight on Airasia and a hostel in Vientiane on booking.com.
Airasia Go have great deals but their selection of places to stay is some times pretty limited.
With booking, I was able to find a better hostel, closer to the Thai Embassy and in the end the price was quite similar to what I would have found on Airasia Go.
Now if you wand to check the cheapest option possible to do the round trip from Bangkok to Vientiane, you should check on 12go.asia.
You can use the form below for that.
They offer on their website a combination of flights + buses for the trip.
Usually they are the one with the most options and cheapest rates.
Bangkok to Vientiane : Door to Door in 5 hours
The whole trip from my home in Bangkok to the hotel in Vientiane took me about 5 hours.
I took a Grab Taxi for 300฿ (including highway toll) from Sukhumvit to Don Muang Airport at 10.20am.
I arrived at the airport at 11am and in 15/20 minutes I was through Immigration, Security and waiting at the gate.
How’s that possible?
- 📱Check in online the day before and download your boarding pass on the AirAsia app
- 🎒Travel with a backpack small enough to use as a Carry On luggage so you don’t have to pay extra or queue to register your baggage.
- 👮♂️Security is a walk in the park if you’re traveling often. You know how to pack and what you need to remove at the scanner.
So here I was at the gate, waiting for the flight with more than 1 hour to spare.
The Wifi at Don Mueang airport is free and quite decent, perfect to get some work done.
If you’re a regular user of Grab app you can also get discounts for the airport lounge on the rewards section of the app.
The flight from Bangkok to Vientiane is a short 1h10, just enough time to watch a part of Joe Rogan Podcast with Elon Musk. (if you haven’t seen it yet, you should)
Then in Vientiane the airport is almost always empty.
So it’s pretty feast to go to through the immigration.
But you need to pay 30$ (or the equivalent in Thai Bahts) for a 30 days tourist visa.
(Note : you can now apply for an e-visa online here. Much easier, but you need to apply at least 7 days before your trip.)
Then to go from the airport to Vientiane center, there’s a bus that cost 15,000 Kip (about 60฿ or 1.75$) with different stops across the city.
Apply for a Thai Visa in Vientiane
Vientiane is one of the most popular destination for a Thai Visa Run.
It’s so popular that the Thai Embassy in Vientiane used to have about 300 people or more every day.
It was bonkers.
The last time I went there I arrived at 8.30am and had to wait 3 hours to put my application.
And there was 1 paper missing.
Now they’ve changed the system and it’s way more effective.
In fact, since February 2019 you need to make an appointment online to go to the Thai Embassy on this website :
Important : You cannot show up there anymore with your papers so make sure you book an appointment in advance before you plan your trip.
Try to plan as much in advance as you can as the first one who book for an appointment are the first one to be called on the day.
So the earlier you book online, the less time you will spend at the embassy.
Another tip to save money: Walk from your hotel to the Thai Embassy.
Vientiane is pretty small and the local Tuk Tuk will almost always try to rip you off.
And unlike Bangkok, there’s no Taxi Meters in Vientiane and the regular taxis are not as cheap as in Thailand.
If you’re by yourself, and you take a hotel/hostel by the “City Center”, in the touristic area, you’re probably no more than 25 to 40 minutes walk from the Thai Embassy.
Save yourself some money for beers to celebrate your visa and walk to go to the Thai Embassy.
Thai Visa Application in Vientiane
Applying for a Thai Visa in Vientiane is pretty easy and you now have a list of all the documents necessary on the official website of the Thai Embassy in Vientiane for all the different types of Thai visas.
Required Documents a for Thai Tourist Visa
To apply for a Thai tourist visa, according to the Thai Embassy in Vientiane you will need :
- Passport (passport must be valid for at least 6 months and contain at least one completely empty visa page).
- Copy of the main passport photo page (the page(s) showing your photo, name, date, and place of birth, and the expiration date of passport).
- Thailand visa application form (completed and signed by the applicant. You can download it here).
- Two photographs taken within the last 30 days (3.5 x 4.5 cm).
- Copy of the passport page with your Laos visa.
- Copy of the passport page with Laos’s entry stamp and Thai exit stamp.
You can make copies at the embassy or there’s a shop right outside that can do them too.
And if you need help to fill in the application form, there’s a really good website that explain you how to fill it correctly here.
Get help for your visa
Note that if your situation is a bit tricky or if you’re not sure you have the right papers or you’ve been on overstay before… there’s agencies that can help.
If for any reason you think they might decline your application, there’s a guy on the left of the Embassy, under a tent.
This guy, unlike all the ones at the gate is pretty “legit” (not legal) and will tell you if he can help you and how much it would cost.
Be ready to pay at least double as the normal price of the visa, but that’s the price to pay for having nothing to do.
It’s not for everyone and definitely not if you’re on a tight budget.
But that’s an alternative option.
Personally, I’ve used his service twice.
One time for a Tourist Visa and one time for Student Visa and he took care to make sure I got all the papers, gave my documents to the Embassy and the next day I didn’t even wait 5 minutes to get my passport back.
Do I recommend you to do the same? No.
But, can he helps if you got no other options? Maybe.
What to do while you’re in Vientiane ?
If it’s your first time coming to Vientiane for a visa run, try to take a few extra days to visit the city.
Hopefully you got the opportunity to go to Laos to travel and visit the country and really enjoy it.
But if you need to go for a Visa Run in Vientiane, I hope this few tips will make the process and your stay a better experience.
Any feedback, suggestion or question, please let me know in the comments below.