How-to: Thailand to Laos Visa Run

When I heard that I had to do a visa run to Laos after being in Thailand for about a month, to say the least, I was furious. Then when I started to deal with the fact that I had no choice in the matter, I got a little nervous. I don’t really know anything about the country – let alone our town – yet. So I went to Google and searched. I found a blog that someone wrote that described almost exactly what I needed to do. It made me less nervous; but I wish that it were more blunt. I wish that it was easy to read and I could just know exactly what to do. So I have decided to do my part and write out exactly what is needed to do a visa run to Laos from Thailand.

– Go to the local bus station and get a bus to Mukdahan.
I lived in Roi Et, Thailand so the bus cost me 120 baht. Also, it is better to get there early. I arrived at the bus station around 5:00 am.

– When you arrive at the Mukdahan bus station, buy a ticket on the Thai-Laos bus to Savannakhet.
The Thai-Laos bus will take you across the ‘Friendship Bridge’. It costs 45 baht per person. During the trip, the bus will stop and you will have to get out and get your passport stamped saying that you are leaving Thailand. This cost about 20 baht per person.

– When you arrive in Savannakhet, you will have to get a ‘Visa on Arrival’ before crossing into Laos.
This costs 1,500 baht per person and takes no time at all. Just make sure to have your passport and an extra passport sized picture.

– Once you cross the border you will be in Savannakhet, but the town is still pretty far away. The easiest way is to grab a tuk-tuk to town.
The tuk-tuk will cost 200 baht and just tell them to take you to immigration or the embassy.

– Once you are at the embassy, you will need to get a 60-day visa for Thailand. For the visa you will need 2 passport-sized pictures, a copy of your passport, the visa application, and 1,000 baht.
Across the street from the embassy, you can get a copy of your passport for 5 baht. Also, it is very important to know the times when you can get your visa application into the embassy. They open at 9am and stop accepting application at 11am.

– After you turn in your application and money, you are finished for the day. You will need to be there at 2pm the next day to pick up your visa.
There will be lots of tuk-tuks waiting outside the embassy. Just tell them to take you to a cheap hotel. It’ll cost about 85,000 kip. They also will take baht.

– At 2pm the next day, make sure to arrive at the embassy with the number that they gave you and pick up your passport.
They hand out the passports by number so it’s nice to have a low number.

– Grab a tuk-tuk to the border.
It’ll cost either 50,000 kip or 200 baht, depending on what currency you are using.

– When you arrive at the border, go through customs to leave Laos.
It’ll cost about 40 baht to leave. I would also suggest exchanging your money back to baht before you go through customs.

– Get a ticket for the Thai-Laos bus again and go across the ‘Friendship Bridge’ to Mukdahan.
For some reason, it costs 50 baht per person going back across the bridge. You will also stop half way across. Get out and have them stamp your passport. Then wait for everyone and get back on the bus to go the rest of the way to Mukdahan.

– When you arrive at the Mukdahan bus station, grab a ticket back to your town.
If you are going to Roi Et, then it’ll cost 120 baht per person.

That is step-by-step of going to and from Laos from Thailand. Here are a few things that might come in handy while you are in Savannakhet. First off, the town itself is very small. The main area is around an area called ‘The Plaza’ (Although it is really just a block with a big building and a large unused area). There is an ATM and exchange on one of the surrounding four streets called BCEL. It is the only one that takes bankcards that aren’t from Laos. Also there is a great restaurant right there around the plaza. I don’t recall the name of it but it has a little sign that says Pizza on it. You can get pizza, fish, coffee, sandwiches, etc. Right next to the restaurant is a shop that sells almost anything. They have a great selection of liquor, snacks, bathroom supplies, etc.

That’s about all that you need to know about doing a successful visa run from Thailand to Laos. I hope this helps all the tourists and English teachers in or coming to Thailand.

– Justin Dorr, “How-to: Thailand to Laos Visa Run”, Yahoo! Contributor

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