The rules for obtaining a Thai visa are going to change next week so I had to act quick and get a new double entry visa. From next week on it will only be possible to apply for a single entry tourist visa in most countries’ consulates. A new multiple entry visa will be available to apply for in your country of residence. As I didn’t want to fly to the other side of the world or have a tourist visa that ‘only’ allows me to stay for a maximum of 3 months in Thailand, I chose to get a double entry Thai tourist visa in Vientiane, Laos.
Getting transportation to the Laos border, crossing it, applying for a Thai visa and arranging a hotel takes a lot of preparation. Luckily there are some visa run companies that can help with this process. I used a company called Thai Visa Service. They charge a total of 6,550 Baht (about 160 EUR) and for this price they arrange transportation from Bangkok to the hotel in Vientiane one night at a hotel, 2 breakfasts and 2 dinners. The visa application is also included in these costs so it’s a very good deal.
We left in a bunch of minivans at 20.00 on Sunday evening from the center of Bangkok. After 2 stops and a very long drive, we entered the city of Nong Khai at about 6 in the morning. From this point we had to pass Thai border first, get on the bus to cross the Mekong river that separates Thailand from Laos, and then pas Laos immigration. All of this took another 2 hours, most of which was spent standing in the burning hot sun.
Then it’s off to the Thai embassy to get in line and apply for the Thai visa. The embassy in Vientiane is well known for the easy visa application process. Many countries only give out a single entry tourist visa but in Vientiane you can get the double entry quite easily so it’s always very crowded here.
The application took another 2 hours and then finally to the hotel for some well deserved rest.
The hotel was quite large with a swimming pool and restaurant but the rooms were rather basic. Not the best hotel room I’ve ever stayed in but also not the worst. WiFi internet could only be used in the hotel lobby unfortunately.
After sleeping I went to explore the city a bit. Although Vientiane is the capital of Laos it’s a relatively small city for Asian standards with less than 1 million inhabitants. The streets are very quiet and time seems to move much slower here than in Bangkok.
Random street in Vientiane, Laos
Random temple in Vientiane, Laos
The currency in Laos is called Kip and has a very low value. Thai Baht are also widely accepted, which is very convenient.
There’s not much to do in the area of the hotel. There are some restaurants and small supermarkets nearby but for anything else you would have to take a tuktuk. They are always waiting for clients just outside the hotel’s entrance.
A nice looking Laotian villa probably owned by a foreigner
The visa run company collected the passports for us at the embassy on Tuesday, so we could go straight from the hotel to the border. Here we had to wait in line for about one hour to pass Laos immigration. After this we were finally back in Thailand with the possibility to stay another 6 months in the country.
The Thai Visa Service company is a great way to get a Thai visa without having to plan anything. You can just pay the fee, jump in the minivan and relax. Doing it by yourself would probably be more expensive, unless you would take low quality cheap transportation.
Unfortunately the communication of the company isn’t too great. They don’t always explain what’s going to happen and sometimes you have to wait around without knowing what you’re waiting for and how long. Luckily for me, I don’t have to repeat this process for another 6 months at least.