Ticket was bought. Bag got packed. Dinner was eaten. And tuk-tuk was taken.
This was the beginning of my VISA run to Laos PDR. It was supposed to be a quick run to Laos where baguettes where supposed to be eaten, Beer Laos was to be drunk by the Mekong River and I get myself a double entry Tourist VISA in Vientiane. However, as many things do, things unexpectedly changed and my trip ended up being extended for a few extra days due to Thai public holidays which meant the Thai Embassy in Vientiane was closed for a few days.
So, after grabbing an overnight VIP bus from Chiang Mai to Udon Thani for around 600ish Baht, another small and quite crap bus for 35B from Udon Thani to Nongkhai, a short tuk-tuk journey to the friendship bridge for about 50B, 1500B and a few passport photos for a Laos VISA, another bus for 15B and then a minivan, I finally arrived at the Thai Embassy hot, tired and not wanting to deal with VISA application forms.
However, this was the reason for the journey, this was the reason for the harrowing bus journeys and why I was here, so I mustered up a minimal amount of motivation and got the forms filled out. 60-day Tourist VISA with two entries. 2000B. Bam! Applied. But but but, instead of picking it up the next day (a Friday!), we had to pick it up on the following Tuesday due to a Friday and a Monday being public holidays that me and my friends were completely oblivious too.
What to do with four unexpected days in Laos????
Vang Vieng or Luang Prabang, or both. Well, from what I hear of Vang Vieng, it really isn’t what I want right now, if ever. Luang Prabang seems just what I need. This was Krissi’s favourite place in Asia and we always said we would return together. Tired, hot, dirty and broken from the travel, we decide to get straight on another bus and headed towards Luang Prabang. 110,000Kip from the Northern bus station and we were on our way with rice bags, deck chairs and people filling the isles of one hell of an old rickety bus.
Little did I know but the next 10ish hours were very testing, both physically and mentally. A time for some Addithana to kick in.
The stars were out, the road was pretty non-existent, but we were alive and arrived at Naluang Bus Station at 1.30am. We discovered this was not good, as there is a midnight curfew around Laos where businesses shut, doors get locked and people go to sleep.
So, at 1.30am there were three tired, hot, sweaty ‘bagged up’ backpackers wandering the charming streets of Luang Prabang lookin for a place to stay.
Arrrgh. VISA’s can be confuzzling. Here’s the low down on the Tourist VISAs….
- You fly, you get a 30-day VISA on arrival.
- You walk, you get a 15-day VISA on arrival.
- If you overstay its 500B per day fine that is paid when you exit.
- 60-day Tourist VISA can be applied for out of the country.
- A 60-day Tourist VISA can be extended by 30 days at any immigration for 1900B.
- A double or triple entry means you need to leave the country and your next 60 days can begin.
- Watch out for the expiry of both your VISA and your exit stamp. Your VISa expiration is much more significant.