Laos Visa Run, in and out
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I had to do a Visa run recently, unfortunately because it is the Christmas holiday season my preferred flight to Kuala Lumpur and back to Bangkok ended up being too expensive.
I decided Laos would be the next best bet, flying to Udon Thani and taking overland transport to the border and back.
My flight from Don Mueang to Udon Thani with Thai Lion air cost just 725 baht (booked online 2 days before travelling).
After taking a 200 baht van from Udon airport to the border, and passing through Thai immigration I took the cheap bus across the border to the Laos side.
Not sure if anyone would ever import narcotics into Laos, it is a relatively poor country and a heavy producer of opium and other drugs.
The short, uncomfortable 15 baht bus journey across the river to the Laos side.
Crossing over the friendship bridge to Laos.
Forms to fill in for the Laos Visa on arrival. It costs $35 or 1500 baht to process the application.
Collect your forms from window 2, fill them out then submit them at window 1, then collect round the corner 10 minutes later at window 3.
After getting into Laos, I went straight to a convenience shop, bought a bag full of cheap beer Laos, then did a 180 and queued up to get out of Laos. I estimate I was in the country for only 20 minutes. I do like Vientiane, but it’s a bit quiet for me and I didn’t have a couple of days to relax in the sleepy capital this time.
Laos people filling in their immigration forms to get to Thailand.
Laos people on the way to Thailand.
A couple of coaches full of tourists turned up, these lot were mostly Russian. You can tell they are in a group by the passes they wear around their necks.
World’s strongest man contender sits precariously on the thin plastic chairs.
The waiting area for my van to Udon Thani airport. This is on the Laos side and I’ve done this trip once before for 300 baht. But on this day it was early afternoon and there weren’t enough people to fill the seats.
I ended up drinking all my beer waiting. I took a few pics and video clips, and abandoned waiting for the van from the Laos side to take my chances at Nong Khai. The taxi price I was quoted was 1000 baht direct to the airport, but I declined as sometimes it is more fun to roll the dice.
I took the bus back over the friendship bridge for 20 baht, and hoped to find some transport on the Thai side to get to the airport for a reasonable price.
The World’s strongest man contender going through Thai immigration. As there was a couple of tourist coaches that turned up, the queues were longer than normal but nothing crazy. On the YouTube video (VLOG 34) it looks worse than what it was.
I passed through to Thailand after about 20 minutes of waiting, and got my stamp with no questioning from the immigration officer (to my delight).
On the Thai side I spotted a bus with Vientiane – Udon Thani written on the side. I approached the driver and luckily there were a couple of seats free, and I was more than happy to pay 100 baht he asked for to be dropped off at Udon Thani Bus Station.
Udon Thani Bus Station. The journey was around an hour, not the most comfortable (as you can see from the video) but sometimes needs must. I kind of like the adventure of travelling by bus sometimes.
From the bus station the Taxis are 150 baht fixed price to the airport. I was more than happy (and relieved) to pay their monopolised price to get to the airport.
I had no return plane ticket to Bangkok yet as I was unsure what time I would be at Udon. I checked Thai Lion Air, Nok Air and Air Asia for the flight times and best prices. 1225 baht to Bangkok from Air Asia was the cheapest and the earliest leaving plane so I snapped up a ticket with glee.
Nok air are by far the most popular carrier from Udon Thani airport. Also in the pic you can see a monk on a smartphone, I thought that monks aren’t allowed any personal possessions?
A couple more beer Lao in the departure lounge (80 baht a bottle) go down nicely before my plane is called.
There are also a couple of other coffee shops at the small airport waiting area.
Ready to get out of Isaan and back to Bangkok now.
It’s old school here in this small airport. Walking to the plane feels more romantic to me than passing through a claustrophobic, airconditioned tunnel.
Finally back in Bangkok. No checked bags for me but a quick chance to take some more snaps.
To my horror the official taxi queue is nearing bedlam, with many more passengers than drivers. I abandon this plan and head upstairs to departures to see if I can get a cheeky taxi.
To my delight there is hardly anyone around at departures, and not many of the whistling boys to stop me from flagging down a cab. I get one in about 1 minute of waiting, and also avoid the 50 baht airport taxi surcharge.
I was carrying no bags on this day so it was easy for me to jump in a cab, if you have a lot of luggage then this would be more difficult. It also helps to speak Thai as you can jump in and speed off quick as a flash.
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My fixed costs for the trip were as follows:
250 taxi to Don Mueang
725 Thai Lion Air BKK – Udon Thani
200 van to the border
15 border bus
1250 Laos Visa
20 border bus
100 Bus to Udon Bus Station
150 Taxi to the airport
1225 plane back to BKK
250 Taxi to my front door
TOTAL = 4185 baht
Not the cheapest daily visa run I’ve ever done but it was an emergency run due to some factors outside of my control. I refuse to go to Cambodia (or anywhere) in a van due to some bad past experiences. I also got to drink a lot of Beer Lao on this trip which softened the blow of doing the visa run and made it much more enjoyable! 🙂
Minh Huong – Blogger Travel Thailand