So many stories about visa-runs to Vientiane! But the visa rules tend to change fast so I am going to share my experience of the new year. Read the last details on getting Thai visa in Vientiane, Laos (January 2018).
So I spent a month in Thailand allowed by the passport stamp I got at an airport and I wanted to extend my stay here. This is how I did it.
Bangkok - Vientiane transportation
My trip from Bangkok to Vientiane consisted of
- Getting from my room to Mo Chit Bus Terminal by bus / BTS / bus
- Bangkok - Nong Khai by night bus (around 420 baht). I bought a ticket for a 21:30 bus at 20:00 i.e. one hour and a half in advance. Mo Chit Bus Terminal building is a comfortable place to wait that has clean toilets (for free), round-the-clock supermarkets (7-elevens) full of food, sockets for charging cell phones (for free). Use the third floor (and its toilet) which is much less crowded.
- Nong Khai bus station - Nong Khai border cross (50 baht by tuk-tuk). I bargained and .. 50 baht was the best price I could achieve.
- A bus that connects two sides of the Friendship Bridge (20 baht).
- Lao visa (I don't need it so 0 baht).
- Payment for ... a ticket for passing the territory of the Lao Border checkpoint ... (45 baht). (I guess this is a consequence of the high level of corruption in Laos).
- A city bus from the border to the Vientiane bus station near the Morning Market (30 baht).
- 40 minutes walk to a hostel in the old town for free
Look at the map with the most important places on the way:
Tuk-tuk goes from Nong Khai to a Thailand-Laos border checkpoint
Thai visa in Vientiane 2018
Getting to the Thai Embassy Vientiane
The location marked on the map above.
On foot: expect a 40-50 minute walk (one way) from the city center of Vientiane.
On tuk-tuk, taxi, minivan: Vientiane is a bad place to get the local price for anything including transportation. Tuk-tuks ask 200 baht for a ride to the Thai Consulate (I stayed at the further end of the city center, at Ali Hotel). I bargained and paid only 150 baht as a result... which is twice or thrice more expensive than in Bangkok. (I really wanted to leave the hostel inhabited by bed bugs and this is my (formal) excuse for agreeing such a price).
By bicycle: at least, some places ask to leave your passport as a deposit that means you can't rent a bicycle since you need to submit the passport while applying for a visa. (Maybe there are places in Vientiane where you can rent a bicycle without the passport deposit - check).
What papers they ask to apply for a Thai tourist visa
The embassy has a website and the page dedicated to getting visas (no English translation currently - use your browser translation tools).
- A photocopy of the main passport page (with the photo)
- A photocopy of the last Thai passport stamp (because I arrived in Thailand without a visa this time). A photocopy of the last Thai visa - I had a Thailand tourist visa before while the recent previous trip to Southeast Asia so I decided to photocopy it as well - I am sure if it was necessary.
- A photocopy of the last Lao passport stamp (or Lao visa for those who need it)
- 2 photos (3.5 х 4.5 cm). They make 1-minute express photos for 80 baht at the territory of the Thailand Embassy Visa Section
- 1000 baht for 60 days tourist visa (it is possible to extend it for an extra month later at an Immigration Office which located in major cities and tourist areas of Thailand).
- A filled application form. You can get a form at the place for free. Fill the form while waiting in the longest queue. (Don't forget to bring a pen).
They started working at 8:30 (check the opening hours on their website). So I arrived at the place around 8:00 (afoot). I was a 334 person in the line... Maybe more than 100 people joined us later. The Visa Section stops working with visa applicants at 11:30 but there was no possibility to be late. They work very quickly. They spent literally ten seconds for each person - this was a super fast conveyor. Rare people stayed near the application counter longer (because of some mistakes they made in the form).
The order of things to do while applying for a Thai visa in Vientiane
I photocopied the necessary things in the city center in advance. (Possible to do it at the place as well).
The first day, the day of applying for a visa:
- I took a place in the queue
- I took an application form for free
- I filled the form. (They emphasize that you must specify your real address in Thailand so prepare it in advance).
- I went to take pictures of me for 80 baht
- I waited longer and hand over my papers and the passport and got a number
The second day is supposed for taking the passport with a visa:
I took a taxi having all my luggage with me.
- I took a seat waiting my number appeared on the electronic board
- I took a passport from the window, paid 1000 baht and signed - 5 seconds
I walked to the bus station and took a bus to the border.
I watched the people applying visa for a while and I noticed the Visa Section staff didn't ask them anything. Nothing about "a ticket away/back home" and "a bank account" or anything. They just didn't talk to anybody - ten seconds and "come tomorrow". I personally had no ticket to anywhere and no money in my bank account to show. So Vientiane remains a city where getting Thai visa is very easy.