Monday, February 1, 2010

Mini Trip to Laos - how to get a Thai visa

For U.S. citizens, you can come to Thailand and stay without visa for 30 days. But if you want to stay longer you need to get a visa ahead of time. A tourist visa will be valid 90 days. After 90 days, if you want to stay more, you need to leave the country and get another visa from a Thai Embassy outside of Thailand. And now we go to Laos...

We left Bangkok around 9 pm. Our destination was Nong Khai: a border city in the North East of Thailand. We took the bus from the Air Udon company, it was quite comfortable though. The bus cost us 450 baht each (around $15).

The bus ride took around 8 hours to get to Nong Khai. We arrived at 5 am. The weather in Nong Khai at that time of the year (Jan-Feb) is always good. The temperature was around 20°c.

After we arrived at Nong Khai bus station we needed to take a tuk-tuk to the border. Tuk-tuk costs around 100 baht (around $3). From the Thai border office, there was a mini-van service to take us across the bridge to the Laos border office.

For Thais, you do not need a visa to enter to Laos, and you can stay up to 30 days. For U.S. citizens, you can get visa on arrival. It will cost you 1,500 baht (or only $35 if you pay in US dollars). You also need 1 two-inch photo for the Laos visa, and the wait is around 30 minutes if there aren't too many other people.

After we arrive to Vientiane, we went to the Thai Embassy right away because people who need to apply for the thai visa need to submit the visa application before 12.00 pm. and you will be able to collect your passport in the next working day after 13.00 pm. Normally, the Thai tourist visa fee is 1,000 baht but at that time was a special promotion, so it was free!!! And you also need 2 two-inch photos. If you don't, there is a photo service place across the street from the embassy.

After submitting the visa application we had plenty of free time to explore this peaceful & charming city. We rented a motorcycle to get us around the town. It cost 80,000 kib (around 320 baht) a day. Riding in Vientiane is not hard at all (just a bit strange for me because in Thailand we ride on the left). And, oh, in Vientiane, you can use Laos kib, Thai baht or US dollars.

Patuxai (Victory Gate) is in the center of the city. It is a war monument dedicated to people who tried to fight for freedom from France. the design is similar to L'arc de Triomphe on Chammps Elysee in Paris. The entrance fee is not expensive but I can't remember how much it was. Up there, you can see the view of the beautiful Lane Xang avenue.

Pha That Luang is a beautiful stupa, it claimed to be a national symbol and the most important religious monument of the country. It takes only few minutes to ride from Patuxai. We had arrived late and it was already closed. So we just had a look from the outside.

Dining out, well time to eat :) Vientiane at night is quieter than I would have imagined. Our hotel on the first night was around Nam-pu area and it's closed to the famous Joma bakery cafe and Khop jai Dur restaurant (means 'Thank you') where we went that night. and one of our most favourite things here in Lao is "Beer Lao". It's really good. You need to try it if you come here.

Buddha Park (Xieng Khuan) is a park that full of beautiful/interesting statues. It took us around a 15 min. ride from the center of the town. The fee is not expensive, and worth it to visit.

Wat Si Saket is at the corner of Lane Xang avenue and Setthathirat road. It's probably the oldest standing temple in Vientiane.

Wat Pha Kaew, is situated just opposite Wat Si Saket. It's very beautiful. We didn't spend so much time inside because we arrived at the same time as a big tour group. So, we were just chilled outside.

                                                                                                                  - Thanks for visiting -


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