Laos is one of the last places in Asia that will issue a multi-entry tourist visa for Thailand. Basically it’s like attaining two tourist visas in one trip. It is the equivalent to a 5 month visa.
The Laos visa run can be a great experience or just a quick and easy Thai visa run. I’ve done both and prefer the fun and adventure Laos offers than Cambodia or Malaysia.
The post will focus on the easy steps for the Laos visa run. If you want the story and the full retelling of the greatest visa run of my life, that post will be coming soon.
Step 1 – Get to Bangkok
You will be leaving from Bangkok. If you’re in Samui or Phuket, take a flight or a bus.
Step 2- Travel to Laos
There are three ways to travel to Laos: Bus, Train, or Flight.
The bus sucks, skip that.
The train is a good option if you aren’t on a time frame and can handle a little discomfort. If you purchase a first class seat, you will get a bed on the train. Note, do not get a bed next to the door of the train. The door will slide open and shut which will wake you up throughout the whole night. Also, if you are taller than 6 feet, the bed will be too short to allow you to lie flat. The train is always late in Thailand. Expect lots of waiting. But the train is by far the cheapest option.
Book the train from Bangkok to Nong Khai. Then when you reach Nong Kai, you take a short taxi ride to the border of Thailand and Laos.
To buy your ticket, you can go to the Bangkok train station or have one of the many travel agencies set it up for you. Due to the language barrier, you might prefer to have the travel agency set it up. And as always, make sure you ask at least three different travel agencies to get the best price. The price for a one way ticket ranges from 500 – 1000 baht.
If the train is on time, it will leave at 8:45pm and arrive in Nong Khai at 9:00am.
With Laos Airlines you can fly directly to Vientiane Laos from Bangkok. The flight is around 4,000 – 5,000 baht.
The flight is only an hour and can be book directly in the airport, through a travel agency, or online at http://www.laoairlines.com/
3- Entering Lao
You will need an entry visa to enter Laos. You get this at the border.
Unlike Thailand, an entry visa in Laos is not free. Depending on where your passport was issued, the fee to enter Laos is between 800 – 1,500 baht.
Make sure you have a pen and two passport photos available.
The Laos entry visa is good for 30 days
If you don’t mind the unknown, do not book your hotel ahead of time.
Once you enter Laos, take a taxi to Vientiane which is the capital city. The taxi ride is about 20 minutes from the border and will cost around 400 baht.
Have the taxi drop you off at the, “Nam Poo”. (Laos for ‘the fountain’ or ask for Nam Phu fountain)
Around the fountain you’ll find many hotels within walking distance. Check out a few hotels and you’ll find that prices range from 300 – 800 baht a night. In Laos, most places accept the U.S. dollar, Thai Baht, and Laos Kip as forms of payment.
5- Attaining Thai Visa
My philosophy, “Why do something you don’t want to do when you can pay someone else to do it for you?”
This is no different. Ask your hotel if they offer a visa service. Most do. Give them your passport and money for your visa. A tourist visa is around 1,800 baht and a multi-entry tourist visa is around 3,000 baht.
It will take two full days to receive your visa.
6- Go Back to Thailand or Party
Once you have your Thai visa, you can either go back to Thailand or party and adventure Laos.
If you decide to party, take the 3 hour bus trip to Vang Viang. I’ve talked with hundreds of travelers throughout Asia and most will agree, Vang Viang is one of the best places in Asia.
Vang Viang is a mountain town in Laos and is known for river tubing, partying, and drugs:
Rope swings, zip lines, tubing, drinking, and parties everywhere. You rent a tube for 200 baht and take a truck to the top of the river.
You are greeted with a free shot at the first bar. Not only is the bar full of tourist such as your self, but there are huge rope swings and zip lines available for anyone to use. Everyone is drinking inexpensive drinks, swimming, and have fun.
Along the river there are nearly 20 bars which offer really cheap drinks, rope swings and more. Ever played mud volley ball with a bunch of girls mixed in a little drunken mud wrestling? If not, you’re missing out.
Is alcohol and rope swings a safe combination? Probably not. But it’s a hell of a lot of fun!
Not only is there none stop partying along the river, but once the sun goes down, the nightlife is in full swing.
There are bars, pubs, and dance clubs throughout the whole town. Party till the sun comes up.
Ever want to try a marijuana pizza or a mushroom shake? If so, check out Slide Bar or Sunset Bar.
Vang Viang is one of the must see places in Asia. Come once and have the time of your life!
Things to Note about Vientiane Laos
1- Where to Eat
Near the fountain in Vientiane you’ll find some very good restaurants which offer cheap food. This is where you want to eat. The food is very good, the menus offer a lot of variety.
2- What to Drink
Try Beer Laos. One of the best beers in Asia. And very cheap.
3- Sex in Laos
You may have heard, sex with Laos women outside of wedlock is illegal. Although this doesn’t stop the women of Laos from sleep with tourists, it does make it a little more challenging for the tourists.
Most hotels will not allow you to take a Laos woman into your room. When you book your hotel, ask if they allow Laos women in the room. If they say no, no problem. You can still rent the room. Later, simply ask one of the employees to tell you what hotels do allow Laos women. You’ll find one right up the street from you. They are often not the best rooms in Laos, which is why they make a great back up plan for the nights you don’t go home alone.
4- Laos Women
Laos women tend to be more beautiful than Thai women, but a little more reserved. If you want an easy pick up, head to one of the few dance clubs. If you want a bit of a challenge, try to pick them up in a restaurant.
The nightlife in Vientiane can’t be compared to Thailand, but it can be fun. Start with Vienglatry May around 11:30pm.