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In order to visit Laos, travelers (unless they are ASEAN residents) need to obtain a visa. Laos offers a 30-day visa on arrival at all of its airports at land crossings. Visas may be extended twice for up to 90 days without leaving the country. Read on to find out how to apply for and renew your Lao visa.
Tourists will need to fill out two forms at immigration, an entry form and a visa application form. A recent passport photo must be submitted with the visa application form. Tourist visas are good for 30 days and prohibit employment. Lao visas take up a full passport page and the entry stamps take an additional quarter page. Make sure your passport is good for at least six months. The form asks for the name and address of your contact in Laos, it’s fine to put your hotel information here.
Lao Kip is a non-convertible currency that people are not supposed to bring out of the country. Visas to Laos need to be paid for in USD and prices differ based on passport. Immigration prefers crispy, new bills in exact change. While extortion is uncommon, public servants are not paid well and often not paid on time, meaning immigration officials may conveniently not have change for you. It is also possible to pay for a visa in Thai Baht, but expect to pay more.
Australia $30 USD
Canada $42 USD
China $20 USD
India $40 USD
Sweden $31 USD
USA $35 USD
UK $35 USD
Others $30 USD (Check first, some countries are exempt and others are not eligible for visa on arrival.)
When you enter Laos by land, head to the Visa on Arrival window to obtain a visa before passing through immigration. Once you’ve filled out the forms, given your passport photo (bring two but they usually only ask for one) and paid, wait 10-15 minutes for your name to be called. Then proceed through immigration. If you are arrive early in the morning, late at night, on the weekends or on a public holiday expect to pay an ‘overtime’ fee, usually $1 USD.
There are four Lao-Thai Friendship bridges, one in Vientiane, Savannakhet, Thakhek and Ban Houayxay. There are other land crossings with Thailand at Pangmon, Negun and Xienghon in Sayabouly Province and Vangtao in Champasack Province. There is a crossing at Veun Kham into Cambodia and a crossing at Botene into China. The Burmese boarder is currently closed. There are four border crossings with Vietnam at Ban Kheo, Namkan, Lak Sao and Dansavanh.
If you’re flying to Laos, chances are you’ll apply for your visa at one of three international airports: Wattay International Airport in Vientiane, Luang Prabang International Airport or Pakse International Airport. Visitors can apply for a visa on arrival in the airport. Forms are usually available on the airplane or you can print one out and bring it with you.
The current law states that foreigners can cross by land into Thailand twice per calendar year without a multi-entry Thai visa. Tourists can fly back and forth between Thailand and Laos and unlimited amount of times, obtaining a new Lao visa on each re-entry. If you’d like to extend your visa, it costs 20,000 kip per day plus an application fee. So you’ll need to do the math to see if this option makes sense. If you overstay your visa, you’ll need to pay $10 USD per day overstay. There are visa extension offices in Vientiane, Luang Prabang, Savannakhet and Pakse.