Laos Country Guide

Getting In



Russians, Korean, Japanese, Swiss and ASEAN nationals including Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, Philippines can enter Laos "visa free". All other tourists need a visa to enter the country in the form of a tourist visa for one or possibly two months. Visas can be obtained and issued in advance from the nearest Lao Embassy or Consulate before entering Laos.
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Visa on Arrival
A visa on arrival is available for selected nationals arriving at airports in Vientiane, Luang Prabang and Pakse. Visa on arrival is also available at most international land (border) crossings i.e. entering Laos from Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia and China. Visa on arrival are available at the following crossings:
  • Thailand-Laos - Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge No. 1 (Nong Khai-Vientiane), Chiang Khong-Huay Xai, Nakaxeng-Kaenthao, Nakon Phanom-Thakhek, Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge No. 2 (Mukdahan-Savannakhet) and Chong Mek-Vangtao.
  • Vietnam-Laos - Tay Trang-Sop Hun, Na Meo- Nam Xoi, Nam Khan-Nam Can, Cau Treo-Namphao, Lao Bao-Dansavanh and Bo Y-Phukeua.
  • Cambodia-Laos - Dong Kralor-Veun Kham.
  • China-Laos - Mohan-Boten.
Visa on arrival is granted to most nationals from countries in Europe, Americas, Asia and the Pacific countries. 

 Houy Xai crossing across the Mekong River by Ondrej Zvacek

Applying for Visa
When applying for a tourist visa or visa on arrival, have with you 1-2 passport photos (some require one and some require two photos). You need to fill a form, have a passport valid for at least 6 months and pay a visa fee. The processing time for a visa from the embassy or consulate is usually 2-3 days and some may have same day processing for an extra fee. Visa on arrivals are usually processed in 10-15 minutes but may take longer (but less than an hour) depending on the volume of applicants at the time. 

Visa fees vary by nationality, embassy and consulate ranging from USD20 to USD60. It is usually cheaper to get a visa on arrival - Chinese pay USD20, Americans USD35, Canadians USD42, Australians USD30, Chileans USD30, Belgians USD30, Swedes USD31, Germans USD30 and British, Dutch, Italians USD35. Other nationalities usually pay USD30. Expect to pay a "surcharge" (around USD1) and entry stamp fee (usually USD1) at the checkpoint.

In Phnom Penh, Cambodia, travel agencies can arrange a visa the same day (but charge as much as USD58) while getting it from the embassy takes a few days. Getting a visa from the embassy in BangkokThailand, costs around 1,400 baht for most nationalities, plus 200 baht more for "same day" processing. Visas are also available at the Lao Consulate in Khon Kaen, Thailand, for the same fee. It's cheaper and quicker to get one at the border.

Visa extensions are available from the Immigration Department in Vientiane, Immigration Department in Luang Prabang, Police Station in Pakse and Police in Phonsavan. An extension is not possible in Savannakhet but you can do a border run to Thailand for a new 30-day visa. Extensions cost USD2 per day plus a "form fee" of USD1-2. The process is easy - turn up in the morning with your passport and one photo, fill in a form and return in the afternoon for your extension.

Town of Phonsavan by Oliver Spalt

Country Guide

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