Laos Country Guide

Getting In

 
 

By Land

There are two types of border crossing into Laos i.e. international and local border crossings. While international border crossings into Laos are open to foreigners, local border crossings are only open to locals living on both side of the borders. This section only includes border crossings that are open to foreigners including crossings from Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and China. Though Laos shares a border with Myanmar, there is no international border crossing for foreigners. Prepare to pay a "surcharge" (around USD1) and entry stamp fee (usually USD1) at the Laotian checkpoints.
 
 
 
 
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Thailand to Laos
Most border crossings between Thailand and Laos are across the Mekong River. From north to south they are (Thailand-Laos):
  • Nong Khai-Vientiane - The first Friendship Bridge across the Mekong River and the busiest of the crossings.
  • Chiang Khong-Huay Xai - Usual route from Chiang Rai to historical Luang Prabang. There are easy bus connections.
  • Chong Mek-Vang Tao - On the route between Ubon Ratchathani and Laotian town of Pakse.
  • Mukdahan-Savannakhet - The second Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge across the Mekong River. 
  • Tha Khaek-Nakhon Phanom - Third Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge across the Mekong.
  • Bungkan-Paksan - Paksan is well-connected by road to the south on Lao Route 13.
  • Chong Mek-Vangtao - There are songthaews waiting in Vang Tao ready to take you to Pakse.
Visa on arrival is available at all Laotian immigration checkpoints except at the Bungkan-Paksan crossing.

There is a train link across the Mekong River from the Thai town of Nong Khai to the Laotian town of Tha Naleng near Vientiane. There are two shuttle services in each direction per day, with connections to Bangkok. Visa on arrival is available when crossing the border by train. The train is not a very attractive option because the railway station is in the middle of nowhere.

Third Friendship Bridge by Rolf Heinrich

Vietnam to Laos
There are at least six border crossings that can be used by foreigners. These include (Vietnam-Laos):

  • Cha Lo-Na Phao - Remote border but there is direct transport between Dong Hoi in Vietnam and Thakhek in Laos.
  • Lao Bao-Donsavanh - Major entry point into Laos if entering Laos from Central Vietnam.
  • Cau Treo-Namphao - Passes through the spectacular Keo Nua Pass.
  • Nam Khan-Nam Can - Land crossings from Northern Vietnam into Xieng Khuang province.
  • Na Meo-Nam Xoi - Difficult crossing on both sides due to infrequent transport.
  • Bo Y-Phukeua - Nearest town on the Vietnamese side is Ngoc Hoi and Lao side is Attapeu.
  • Tay Trang-Sop Hun - Remote outpost between Northern Vietnam and Northern Laos.
Visa on arrival into Laos is available at all immigration checkpoints except at the Cha Lo-Na Phao crossing.

Cau Treo-Namphao checkpoint Pho Nay

Cambodia to Laos
Pitfalls when crossing the Cambodian-Lao border are you often have to change buses (some of them are small minibuses). Then, there are the hours spent getting to remote guesthouses where the buses pick up backpackers. If your luggage has been sent on another bus because of "lack of space", it may disappear.

The Stung Treng-Veun Kham (crossing by boat) is now closed to foreigners. The only crossing for foreigners between the two countries is at Dong Kralor-Veun Kham, which is a short distance from Stung Treng-Veun Kham. Visa on arrival into Laos is available at the Dong Kralor-Veun Kham crossing.

China to Laos
There are daily buses travelling between Jinghong in China's Yunnan Province and the Laotian town of Louang Namtha - the journey takes about 7 hours. There are also daily buses from the Chinese border town of Mengla to Louang Namtha, the first bus leave at 8:00 a.m. Buses cross at the Mengla-Boten checkpoint and a visa on arrival into Laos is available here.

 
Laos
Country Guide

Laos Hotels
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Champasak
Huay Xai
Louang Namtha
Luang Prabang
Muang Sing
Pakse
Phonsavan
Savannakhet
Thakhek
Vang Vieng
Vientiane

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