The Laos-down on Thai Visa Runs to Laos
Inevitably you’re going to want to stay for longer in Thailand. The beaches, the beer, the fun, the hostel friends you’ve made who will be your best friends forever… all these things. The standard 30 day tourist visa is never usually enough. That’s where the infamous visa runs come in.
Essentially you just need to hop a border by leaving the country, you grab an exit stamp, spend some time across the border (usually a night at the minimum), and then, probably to some sort of triumphant fanfare, you get to return to Thailand.
The Thai officials have a tendency to alter the visa and immigration rules depending on how they feel that particular month. So, we highly recommend that you check on the official visa websites and also check with your own embassies. Everyone you meet will want to share their idea or gospel on how to complete a visa run. Some of their info will be great, some of it will be shockingly awful. This article is a great start point and you can supplement from there.
Our following plan will work if you’re an American or UK passport holder. If you hold another passport, then (again) it’s worth checking other sources. We expect that other European passport holders should be fine following this, but better safe than sorry.
It’s also important to note that it might be a better option for you to apply for a Thai visa extension at any immigration office in Thailand for 1,900 baht. You can get an extra 30 days without having to leave the country!
Getting Your Thai Tourist Visa in Laos
Laos is Thailand’s northern neighbor and makes up part of the golden triangle with Myanmar (Burma). Depending on your citizenship Laos is a great choice because;
The Laos visas are either free (Russians for example – at time of writing) or not too expensive
Vientiane is an interesting and convenient capital city to visit
It’s another country to tick off your list in SEA.
There are lots of options for getting into Laos. If you’re lucky, you might find a cheap flight into Vientiane from Bangkok or Chiang Mai. This means you’ll be in and out without much hassle whatsoever! Otherwise, especially if you’re north in Chiang Mai, the bus distance isn’t that bad at all. There are also lots of companies who will put on a visa transfer service for you.
The procedure is really straight forward. First you get yourself to the consulate and apply for the visa which is 1000 baht for a single entry or 2000 for a double entry. Again, correct at time of writing. After that you can leave and explore the city. You’ll be told what time your visa will be ready, which is usually around 1:30 the following day.
What to Bring on Your Laos Thai Visa Run:
- Your passport – goes without saying…
- Photocopy of passport ID page
- A set of passport pictures – some agencies require 2, others 4, some even more. Take a good few to be sure.
- Photocopy of your visa page
- Your departure card – don’t forget this, no card, no visa.
- We suggest taking around 2500-3000 baht in cash, this should cover most costs.
Tips for Thai Visa Runs to Laos
There’s plenty to do in Vientiane, we strongly suggest you visit Pha That Luang. The temple is the golden, shining symbol of Laos and graces much of their national branding. We also recommend that you visit Patuxai, an Arc de Triomphe style monument.
Hilariously, the American government in late 1950s donated a huge amount of funds so that Laos could build an international airport (to no doubt help American visitations) and instead the Royal Laotian Government used the funds to build this monument. It is often referred to by its nickname, the “vertical runway”.