Getting to Laos
Bordered with 5 countries there are many ways to get into Laos and you can be as adventurous as you dare.
Laos – Luscious landscapes, winding rivers, beautiful people. With an experience to offer everyone, a visit to Laos will leave you with long-lasting and treasured memories. Here is some travel information about getting around Laos.
Under normal non-COVID circumstances...
Getting into Laos is getting easier and travellers from many countries can get 30-day tourist visas.
Travellers holding passports from the following countries are not eligible for Laos Visas on Arrival: Afghanistan, Algeria, Bangladesh, Burundi, Cameroon, Congo, Cote d'Ivoire, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Jordan, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Mozambique, Nauru, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Sri Lanka, Suriname, Syria, Swaziland, Tonga, Turkey, Zambia, Zimbabwe.
The Lao government has recently changed where 30-day tourist visas on arrival are issued. Travelers flying into Wattay/Vientiane International Airport, Pakse/Champassak International Airport, or Luang Prabang International Airport can still get a visa on arrival. When crossing via land borders, only the following borders are still issuing visas on arrival:
You need between US$ 20 and US$ 42 cash, one passport-size photo (4 x 6 cm), the name of a hotel or guesthouse and phone number. Those without a photo will have to pay an additional fee of about US$ 2. The visa fee varies depending on the passport of origin, with Canadians having to fork out the most (US$ 42) and most other nationalities paying between US$ 30 and US$ 35. It is recommended to pay in US$. No other foreign currencies are accepted at Airports. Overland you can use Thai Baht, but the Visa fee becomes about 1,500 THB which is approx. $48.
On 9th July 2019 the Lao eVisa service was launched. The website www.laoevisa.gov.la is the official online platform for foreigners to apply for Lao visa online prior to arriving in the country.
The eVisa service is open for 5 international ports:
The system will continue to expand to other international ports in the near future.
For those not eligible for a visa on arrival, Lao embassies and consulates abroad offer 30-day tourist visas. The process involves approximately the same cost and documentation as described above and generally takes three working days. In Bangkok, you can get your visa on the same day for an additional 200B express fee.
Business visas, valid for 30 days, are relatively easy to obtain as long as you have a sponsoring agency in Laos. A business visa can be extended up to a year.
The 30-day tourist visa is extendable an additional 30 days at a cost of US$ 2 per day. Tourist visas can be extended for 30 days, two times, to the maximum stay duration of 3 months without leaving the country. Visa extensions are available at the Immigration Department in Vientiane, Immigration Office in Luang Prabang, the Police station in Pakse, and the Police Station opposite the Lao-Mongolian Hospital in Phonsavan. Visa extensions are not possible in Savannakhet; however, you can do a visa run by crossing the border to Thailand.
Overstaying a visa is not a major crime, but it is expensive. It costs US$ 10 for each day overstayed, paid at the immigration checkpoint on departure.
Customs inspections at ports of entry are lax as long as you're not bringing in more than a moderate amount of luggage. You're not supposed to enter the country with more than 500 cigarettes or 1 litre of distilled spirits. All the usual prohibitions on drugs, weapons, and pornography apply.