Visa Run to Laos from Thailand

Thailand Border to Friendship Bridge

When I was visiting Thailand for an extended time back in 2019, I had to do a couple of border/visa runs to extend my stay in Thailand. The first was a day trip to Tachileik, Myanmar, the second was a bit longer, a mini-vacation to explore Laos. I took the 2-day slow boat ride down the Mekong River to Luang Prabang and then made my way back to Thailand through Vang Vieng and Vientiane. More of my incredible travel stories through Laos including flooding of bathrooms, ants climbing the walls, bugs, and more bugs will be coming soon. When doing this as a Visa run, there are things every person should know when making this trip over the northern Laos border from Thailand. Here is my experience crossing the border and the latest for Laos Visa requirements.

Thailand Border to Friendship Bridge

Getting to the Laos Border from Chiang Rai

Chiang Rai Bus to Chiangkhong

To enter northern Laos via Chiang Rai, you will need to get to the Chiang Khong border to enter Laos over the Mekong River. The easiest way to do that is to buy a 65 Thai baht bus ticket at the central bus station. The first bus of the day leaving for Chiang Khong is at 6 a.m. and every hour after that, which will get you to the border in two hours.

Thailand Immigration Border

Thai Immigration Border

Once you arrive, head into the immigration line to get your Thailand exit stamp on your passport. If you get there first thing it will be quick through immigration, and you’ll be done before the tour groups show up. Once you are through immigration, you can purchase a bus ticket for 25 baht ($1) that will take you across the Friendship Bridge. Although you might have to wait for the bus to fill up before crossing, which takes about 20 or 25 minutes.

Crossing the Friendship Bridge from Thailand to Laos

Laos Immigration Border

Laos Border

This is the most confusing part of crossing the border into Laos. The first thing you need to do is fill out two arrival forms and bring with you two small passport-sized photos of yourself and US dollars for the visa fee. Your first stop is one of the windows on the right where you will hand in your arrival forms and passport photos. After turning in your forms, wait for your name to be called up to one of the windows on the left where you pay for the visa. Laos currently grants a Laos tourist visa for 30 days. The other options for you are to request a visa in advance from the local Lao embassy in the country you are in or complete a Laos visa online.

Huay Xai

Huay Xai

Huay Xai is the gateway Laos border city and the starting point to pick up the slow-boat ride down the Mekong River. Before heading into the city make sure to convert your Thai baht to Lao kip. You can do this right after paying for your Laos visa by picking up some snacks. Then you can pick up a taxi to take you to the pier to start your next adventure.

Exchanging Money at the Laos Border

Visa Run to Laos from Thailand Summary

I hope that this information helps you with your visa run to Laos from Thailand. When making these transitions from one country to the next, it helps to have all the information prior to attempting your visa run. Then you can move quickly through immigration to start your next adventure. Which in my case was filled with mishaps, crazy, and fun. Stay tuned for more.

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Further Reading

If you are exploring Thailand and Asia, check out these posts for extra travel inspiration:

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