How to Get a 90 Day Visa
making the day run every 30 days. I told him that it had been years since I’d made a run for the 90 day visa, but it inspired me to make my next visa run to Laos for one of the Holy Grails of Thailand visas.
The following is how to make that journey by train from Bangkok and entering Laos via the Friendship Bridge at Nong Khai. If you are flying to Vientiane, you will probably need to procure a Laos Visa before your Thailand departure. Consult your travel agent.
Trains to Nong Khai leave Bangkok five times a day. The trip is approximately 12 hours long, so your best bet is to catch the 8:30 p.m. express and book a First Class cabin sleeper with air-conditioning. First Class tickets cost between 1000 and 1200 baht and have two beds per cabin, so if you’re travelling alone, expect company.
It’s recommended that you bring food along with you as the food on the train is both expensive and pretty bad tasting. If you don’t have time to buy food before you leave for the train station, don’t worry, there are plenty of shops there, including a few good restaurants to relax at while you wait for your train.
When you board the train, you’ll find that the beds in the cabin aren’t setup and that only one bench seat is available. Don’t fret. About an hour into the trip an attendant will come and setup the beds with clean sheets and blankets. Next step: sleep, drink, converse or whatever your hearts content and at around 7:30 a.m. the next day you’ll arrive in Nong Khai.
When you step off the train you’ll be greeted by the always prevalent taxi/tuk tuk drivers found throughout Thailand. Unless you’ve booked some other travel arrangements, you’ll need these guys. Establish the cost beforehand, which should be around 40 baht to the border. They’ll also ask you if you need a visa. Here’s where you need to make your first decision.
If you tell the driver that, yes, you need a visa, he will take you to a shop on the way to the bridge. For a price, they will take your photo and fill out the paper work for Lao immigration in a matter of 30 mintues. Expect a line as many foreigners also choose this option.
If you tell the driver, no, you don’t need a visa, he’ll take you straight to the Thai border. At the border you will checkout of Thailand just as you would anywhere else. Once through the checkpoint, catch a bridge bus for 15 baht. Pack yourself on with the other 100 people they stuff on the 70 person capacity bus and your off to the Laos border four kilometres away.
At the Laos border, fill out the one page paper work at the Visa Application office, or simply submit the paperwork you had completed for you in Nong Khai. You’ll need either $30 U.S. or 1500 baht as well.
For those choosing to fill out the paperwork themselves, don’t worry, it’s an easy process that will only take you about five minutes. You will, however, need to provide two visa photographs of your own.
After you give the immigration agent your application, photos, passport and application fee, take a seat, and five minutes later, they’ll call your name and return your passport with a Lao visa.
After you’ve gone through the immigration checkpoint into Lao, be prepared to pay a small entry fee of around 40 baht. Your next decision will be whether you want to hire a tuk tuk, or a taxi to get you to Vientiane.
Vientiane is about 22 kilometres from the Friendship Bridge border, which may play some factor on what you decide. Taxi’s cost around 300 baht per person, and a Tuk Tuk is 125 baht per person. If time is an issue, you’ll probably want a taxi which is much faster.