Photo by Damir Bosnjak on Unsplash
2. Departure card
3. Visa documents (including 2 passport sized photos)
4. Proof of address (contract with apartment)
5. 7000 baht in cash
6. Slipper socks for the overnight bus
7. A jumper for the overnight bus
How do I get to Laos?
From Mochit bus station in Bangkok you will go to Mukdahan (province in Thailand).
From there you will get a bus that takes you to the Thai border, where you will get your passport stamped. This is where you need your departure card. Be sure to pick up a new arrival/departure card for when you come back.
Once you’re stamped and ready to go, get back on the bus, which will take you across the Friendship Bridge to the Laos border where you will fill out some paper-work and pay (1500 baht) for your Laos visa.
From there try and pair or group up with other travellers to get a Tuk Tuk to the Thai Consulate. I bumped into another teacher and we shared a Tuk Tuk which cost us 100 baht each. You could probably barter them down.
How do I get my visa?
On my visa run there was a drastically long queue which took four hours to process. You’ll definitely want water. But before you jump in the queue, run across the road and get a photocopy of the stamp you just received in your passport at the Laos border. There’s a little shop which charges 10 baht for this.
When I finally put my visa application in, I had a banging headache, stomach cramps and was questioning if I even wanted to stay in Asia. This is all part and parcel so just ride the waves. Hopefully, this blog will help make your journey a smooth one.
FYI, even those who arrived at the consulate at 7-8 am still waited around for the consulate to open, however, they were the first to be seen, so the earlier you get there the better.
I couldn’t believe there was only one person processing the applications of about 500 people. But can you imagine how she felt? I would be livid.
My newly found teacher friend and I met a few other people during the queue and we hung out later than evening.
To be fair, the visa run has been a really good experience and I felt like it was a trip that had a lot of substance. You meet people in a similar position as you and it bonds you. I’m building friendships with the people I met. The experience has added a layer of depth to my travels.
There are buses from outside Mochit BTS that take you to the bus station. You need number 3 or 77.
I recommend getting the bus around 5pm. My bus departed at 17.40 which was perfect as I arrived in Mukdahan just before the first bus to the Laos border. If you have some time before your bus departure, grab some food. Your bus is going to be about 11-12 hours. There will be a stop for food (you’ll have a little coupon attached to your ticket to use in the canteen at the designated stop) but you might just wanna sleep through this stop so it’s always good to have some dinner before the bus heads out.
The bus from Mukdahan to Savannakhet (Laos): Don’t worry too much about getting a seat, the bus takes about 10 minutes and the first to get off is the first to get in the queue for the stamp out of Thailand. You’re all getting back on the same bus to go to the Laos border. However, you do kind of want to be first in the queue at the Laos border because that means you’ll be heading to the Consulate first which means first in the queue of that looong queue. Best case scenario is that you’re on and off the bus first and sit at the front. If you miss the front then wait til everyone gets on and that means you’ll be standing at the front.
To pick up your passport and visa the next day, you can get to the Consulate for as late as 2pm. The queue goes pretty fast; I was out by half 3.
You’ve almost made it. Now all you have to do is get a Tuk Tuk to the Laos border, get stamped out the country and buy your ticket for the bus back to Thailand. You’ll need your departure card filled out ready for when you get to the border. Once you get stamped back into Thailand get back on the bus; it will take you to Mukdahan Bus Station. Buy your ticket back to Bangkok. I recommend the 18:30 bus. You get back to Mochit in time for the vans back to your province.
Last but not least: Where to stay?
I stayed at Savan Cafe as was recommended by my friend. It’s a gorgeous French building with delicate and retro decoration. The staff are pretty laid back but this is Laos and they get paid pennies for their time; don’t expect Western customer service. The place is clean and tidy and they have a good selection of food.
I paid 280 baht for a 6 bed mix dorm but there were only 2 of us because it was low season (June).
There’s a rooftop where you can chill and drink beers. It’s also close to other venues like Tamarind Cafe. It’s a cafe, so it’s open to locals, making it a great spot for meeting a mixture of people. Overall, I just loved the architecture of this building and the energy it invited. The bed was also really comfortable.