how to get a thai visa in vientiane laos

How to get a Thai visa in Vientiane Laos

Learn how to get a Thai visa in Vientiane Laos.  Laos is one of the easier options for foreigners already in Thailand and looking to extend their stay or those who want to get a Thai visa before arrival.  Here’s a simple, step by step guide on how to do it, what it costs and what to bring.

How to get a Thai visa in Vientiane Laos

I live in Chiang Mai so I’m going to look at how to get a Thai visa in Vientiane Laos when you are travelling to and from Chiang Mai.

There are several options available depending on how much you want to spend.  The cheapest – and by far the most arduous – way is to travel back and forth on a minibus.   The 700km overnight trip will get you to the embassy in the morning when you can submit your application for collection the following day and then make the long trip back.

There is also the option of flying from Chiang Mai to Vientiane via Bangkok with Bangkok Airways.  This is the easiest but most expensive way and will still require you to spend two nights in Vientiane.

Like a good Buddhist, I choose the middle way:  fly from Chiang Mai to Udon Thani and cross the Friendship Bridge over the Mekong by bus and onwards to Vientiane.   Here’s how with costs at the end:


Travelling from Chiang Mai to Vientiane

Day One

Depart Chiang Mai airport at  4.10pm on Nok Air, landing at Udon Thani at 5.15pm.

udon thani airport

Booking desk for the ‘limousine’ to the Thai border at Nong Khai

As you exit the baggage claim area in Udon Thani airport you will see a desk selling tickets for a ‘limousine service’ to the Lao border.   Once you have your ticket walk outside the building and you’ll see some minibuses and the drivers will call out to you where they are going.  Simply show your ticket and get on the vehicle going to Nong Khai Friendship Bridge.  The minibus will leave when full.

udon thani van to border

To the untrained eye it might look like a mini bus but my ticket assures me it’s a limousine

Depart Udon Thani airport 5.35pm, arrive at the Thai border post at Nong Khai at 6.30pm

Go through passport control to be stamped out of Thailand and as you exit the building you’ll see a ticket desk immediately on your right where you buy a ticket for the bus across Friendship Bridge.

thai border with laos

Desk selling tickets for the bus across the Friendship Bridge

Getting a Lao visa on arrival

The bus takes about five minutes and when you get off you’ll see the visa windows just ahead, slightly to the left.  Get a visa form from window one and, when filled in, return it to the window along with your passport, the visa fee and one photo (one of us didn’t have a photo and it wasn’t asked for).  The fee can be paid in US$ or Thai baht.  It’s 1500 if you pay in baht.

Cost of a Lao visa on arrival

Below is a list of visa fees for different countries. If your country is available for a visa on arrival but is not listed then it’s probably $30 for a visa on arrival.  If you arrive before 8am, after 4pm or on a weekend or public holiday add an extra $1 to the fee.

Country Price (US Dollar)
Australia 30
Canada 42
China 20
India 40
Sweden 31
USA 35
UK 35
Others 30

After submitting your application, you have to wait about ten minutes before they start calling out names from window three and you collect your passport complete and Lao visa.  It’s important to make sure you have enough pages in your passport; both the Lao visa and Thai visas are stickers which take up an entire passport page each.

Note that there is a toilet available, if needed; it’s in the buildings opposite, on the side for re-entering Thailand.

Walk through the passport and visa check and you’re in Laos and will be approached by drivers offering transport to central Vientiane.  We paid 150 baht each for a minibus.  We had to wait for other passengers as we were first on board but it didn’t take long and we set off when three others had boarded.  It took about 25 minutes to our hotel, New Rose Boutique Hotel.

Arrive hotel in Vientiane 8pm

Thai visa laos

The visa section of the Thai embassy in Vientiane

Applying for a Thai visa in Vientiane

Day Two

We caught a tuk tuk from outside the hotel to the Thai embassy consular section; all the drivers know where it is.  It was about an 8 minute ride and cost the standard 50,000 kip (for two).  We arrived at 7am and were 3rd and 4th in line.  By the time the gate opened at 8am there were about 60 people lined up behind us.  We were let in to an open air waiting area and there were visa application forms on the table along with scissors and glue for trimming and affixing photos.

thai visa laos

You may have to wake a driver up but he will know where the Thai embassy is

For the visa you will need:

  • Your passport and two copies of the information page
  • Two photos (3.5 x 4.5cm)
  • Completed visa application form [download here]
  • Two copies of your Lao visa and Thailand exit stamp (if applicable)
  • Visa fee, payable in Thai baht only

When you enter the compound make sure you sit in the order you queued in at the gate and you will be processed in turn.  While you are waiting outside the gate, agents will turn up about 8am with their clients and walk to the front of the queue.  Just politely point out that you are already in the queue and don’t let them jump in.  In our experience they grudgingly accept this.

Thai visa in Laos appliction

Inside the Thai embassy in Vientiane, the waiting area for visa processing

Staff will turn up and start accepting applications at 8.30am.  You’ll first go to a table where you documents are checked then on to a window where you hand over the application and receive a receipt with a number.

Arrive at gate of Thai consular section 7am; depart with application submitted and receipt in hand 8.45am

Collecting your Thai visa in Vientiane and return to Chiang Mai 

Day Three

Passports and visas can be collected between 1-3pm and you will be called according to your ticket number so if you have to be done by a certain time make sure you go early when you submit your passport.  We met a woman who’d turned up on day one at 11am so she’d ended up with ticket 165 and there was a good chance she wasn’t going to get her passport back in time to catch her onward transport.   When your number is called, simply go to the window, pay the fee and you’ll be handed your passport with your visa.

If you are heading straight back to Thailand then you can get in one of the mini buses waiting outside for the half hour ride back to the Friendship Bridge.

When you go through the exit procedure on the Lao side you will be given a card to let you through an electronic gate.  There were prices displayed but we were not charged as we were there before 4pm; after 4pm it’s 12,000 kip.

Thai embassy Vientiane

It’s possible to copy your documents at the Thai embassy – but better to do it in advance

Once through Lao immigration there will be minibus drivers offering to drive you to Udon Thani airport.  We agreed a fare of 200 baht each and off we went, back across the Mekong and into Thailand.  The driver from Vientiane to the bridge offered to take us onwards from there to the airport for 400 baht and wouldn’t budge from that price but you can be sure you will have option when you get through to the Thai side so no need to pay over the odds.

Arrive Thai embassy 1pm; depart embassy in minibus 1.45pm; arrive Lao immigration Friendship Bridge 2.15pm; depart Thai side of Friendship Bridge in Nong Khai 2.55pm; arrive Udon Thani airport 3.4pm; depart Udon Thani on Nok Air 6.10pm; arrive Chiang Mai airport 7.10pm

Costs of getting a Thai visa in Laos

This is what the trip cost, excluding variables like hotel/guest house or food.   Vientiane is more expensive than Chiang Mai for food and accommodation.  We paid US$76 per night for a studio room at New Rose Boutique hotel but there are plenty of guest houses which cost less if you don’t want to pay so much.

Return flight Chiang Mai – Udon Thani


Mini bus Udon Thani airport to border


Bus across Friendship Bridge


Lao visa on arrival


Mini bus to hotel in Vientiane


Tuk tuk to/from embassy x 3


Mini bus from embassy to Friendship Bridge


Mini bus from bridge to Udon Thani airport


Total in Thai baht




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