Visa Run in Vientiane : A few tips to make your life easier
For those who follow me on Instagram you probably noticed that my one year visa extension get denied early this month.
With 7 days to leave the Kingdom I had to go on a Visa Run to Vientiane to fix the situation and apply for a new visa.
So if for whatever reason you're in the same situation and happen to have to do a Visa Run to Laos from Bangkok, here are a few tips.
Bangkok to Vientiane : Flight and Hotel
There's a few options to go on a visa run to Vientiane from Bangkok.
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, cross the border on the Thai side, then on the Laos side before you go to Vientiane.
You might save a couple thousand bahts (at most), but it takes a while.
AirAsia Go Flight + Hotel Package
This time I was looking for something as fast and as convenient as possible.
Just in and out with the minimum of trouble, time wasted standing in line and in transports
AirAsia got offers on their website (through a partnership with Expedia) for Flight + Hotels packages that end up pretty cheap.
With a round trip flight Bangkok to Vientiane + 4 nights in the cheapest hotel they offered it was 5,300฿.
Probably not as cheap as if I did the Udon Thani + Bus thing but definitely worth the extra money for avoiding the hassle.
If you wand to check the cheapest option you can use the form from 12go.asia below, they usually have 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 Vientiane took about 5 hours.
I took a Grab Taxi for 300฿ (including highway toll) to Don Muang Airport at 10.20am.
I arrived at the airport at 10.50am and in 15 minutes I was through Immigration, Security and waiting at the gate.
How's that possible?
- Check in online the day before and download your 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 on a regular basis. 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.
The flight itself is a short 1h10, just the 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.
You need to pay 30$ (or the equivalent in Thai Bahts) for a 30 days tourist visa.
Then a 15,000 Kiep (60฿ or 1.75$) for a Bus to Vientiane that will drop you near your hotel.
Application for a Thai Visa in Vientiane
Make sure you show up early to apply for your Thai Visa in Vientiane.
It's one of the most popular destination for Visa Run from Thailand.
The Thai Embassy have about 300 people or more every day. It's bonkers.
The first day I arrived at 8.30am and had to wait 3 hours to put my application. And there was 1 paper missing.
The next day I was there at 7.40am. Even though the applications start at 8.30am, the gate open at 7.30am and you can sit inside as you wait.
I had only 30 people in front of me the second time and I was out by 9.15am.
Another benefit of being in the first ones to apply, you're in the first one to collect your visa on the next day.
I came in a 1.30pm the following day and was out by 1.45pm.
One tip to save money, walk from your hotel to the Thai Embassy.
Vientiane is pretty small and the local Tuk Tuk as everywhere will try to rip you off.
And unlike Bangkok, no Taxi Meters and the regular ones are pretty expensive.
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 $$$ for beers to celebrate your visa and walk to go there.
Thai Visa Application
Depending on the visa you need and your situation, feel free to skip this part.
If your situation is a bit tricky, you're not sure you have the right papers, you've been on overstay before...
Anything that make you think they might declined you application or if have money to spare and your time is more valuable than staying 1 hour in line for nothing.
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 for your visa, but that's the price to pay for having nothing to do.
It's not for everyone and you might be on a tight budget.
But that's definitely an alternative option.
I've used him 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 passport back.
What to do in Vientiane ?
Well, honestly, not much.
I've been there 3 times and I've done the few touristic attractions.
This time it was just about work and having a few beers with people I met at the Thai Embassy.
If you like me you happen to have to work from your laptop:
- Green Box Hostel, where I was staying, have a decent internet, good enough to work online.
I wouldn't recommend you stay there as it's a bit dirty and not really confortable but it's cheap and you can get work done.
- Coffee Shops to get some work done :
- Where to have a few drinks :
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.
Any feedback, suggestion or question, please let me know in the comment