Laos (Lao PDR) is a beautiful landlocked country surrounded by some popular tourist destinations like Thailand, Vietnam and China. Years of War and communist regime kept this country away from the tourist radar, but in the mid 90s this country open its arms to the backpackers and it has come a long way since then and now continuously becoming one of the popular destination in South East Asia. Despite the influx of millions of tourists now, Laos is still far away from the commercialization and offers vibrant culture, stunning countryside, amazing cuisine and very friendly people with a simple lifestyle to its visitors.
Different type of Visas: There are different type of short term stay and long term stay visas for Laos. Here, I am explaining only short term stay visas i.e. Transit, Tourist and Visa on Arrival, issued for the purpose of Tourism to the independent backpackers.
Transit Visa: Visa is valid for 3 months with maximum stay of 7 days per entry.
Tourist Visa: Visa issued is valid for 3 months with a maximum stay of 30 days per entry.
Visa on Arrival: Stay up to 30 days per entry.
Note: 1. Employment is strictly prohibited in the case of all there types of visa mentioned above.
2. Lao PDR does not offer any type of Double or Multiple Entry Visa.
How to Get Visa-On-Arrival for Lao PDR ?
1. Passport or travel document with validity not less than 6 months with one blank page.
2. A dully filled Visa-on-Arrival application form(Blank form available on a counter outside the immigration area, also Download here: Laos Visa on Arrival Form)
3. Two recent passport-size photographs (4×6 cm) required to be stapled on the form (Preferably coloured photograph with white background). If you don’t have photos you will be asked to pay a small fee (USD 1.00 or 2.00) for scanning your photograph from your passport, and placing it onto your visa application form.
4. A return or onward journey ticket out of Laos within 30 days of arrival
5. A complete list of all hotel reservation in Laos
Visa Fee : 40 USD for Indian Citizens, payable in Cash Only. Visa fee is also acceptable in Thai Baht.
Note: You may asked to pay an extra USD 1.00 over time fee plus additional USD 1.00 as an entry stamp fee on weekends, Lao public holidays and between 6.00 AM to 8.00 AM and after 4.00 PM. (In comments below, Loveleen mentioned that they always charge 41 USD irrespective of the time).
Validity: Visa-on-Arrival is valid for a single entry upto 30 days including the date of entry.
Extension of Stay:Visa extension is possible and we will discuss it in details later on in the same post.
List of 03 Immigration Checkpoits where Visa-On-Arrival (VOA) is available:
1. Wattay International Airport, Vientiane
2. Luang Prabang International Airport, Luang Prabang
3. Border Crossing from Nong Khai Province in Thailand to Vientiane Perfecture in Laos through the Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge
Please Note: At the border crossing of Chiang Khong in Thailand to Huay Xai in Laos, they have a display of all the countries those are not eligible for VOA and India is not among those country, but officially this border-crossing does not offer VOA for Indian Citizens. (I know at least three Indian Citizens, who got Visa-on-Arrival at this checkpoint, but again nowhere, this information listed officially).
Getting Laos Visa in India: It is better to get the Laos Visa in India itself to avoid any last minute problem or long VOA queue at immigration checkpoints. Getting Laos visa in India is a really easy and hassle free process.
In India, there is only one embassy office of Lao Government in New Delhi and there are no other consulates in other parts of India. So, all the visa application for the Lao PDR can be processed through the embassy at New Delhi only.
Embassy of Lao People’s Democratic Republic
S-420, Greater Kailsh Part II
Tel: (+9111) 4132 7352 (office)
Fax: (+9111) 4132 7353 (office),
Embassy Timings: Embassy remains open everyday from Monday to Friday throughout the year except Public Holidays of India.
Opening Hours: General Enquiry: 09:00 AM to 05:00 PM
Visa Application Submission: 08:30 AM to 12:30 PM and 02:00 PM to 04:00 PM
Visa/Passport Collection: 08:30 AM to 12:30 PM and 02:00 PM to 04:00 PM
Documents Required for Transit/Tourist Visa: Generally, for these two types of visas, documents requirements are similar. An applicant needs to submit following documents:
1.Passport or travel document with validity not less than 3 months with one blank page.
2. Copy of Passport front and last page with stamped visa pages
3. Visa Application Form completely filled out (download here: Laos Visa Form) (photocopy allowed)
4. Two recent photographs (3.5x 4.5 cm) of the applicant (preferably not older than 3 months)
5. A covering letter stating the purpose of visit
6. Confirmed return air ticket with complete tour itinerary.
7. A bank statement for last three months as the proof of adequate finance (INR 50,000 is sufficient for 15 days trip to Laos excluding air tickets)
8. A complete list of all hotel reservation in Laos.
Processing time: Normal processing time is 3 days.
Visa Fee: For Tourist as well as transit visa, visa fee is same i.e. INR 2400 (or 30 USD) for single entry. Same day visa processing is possible by paying extra INR 500.
1. Photo Specifications: Color Photographs taken against a white or light blue background (my advice is white background) and Your full face should be visible. The photograph should be taken without sunglasses and without a hat or any other head covering, unless you wear such an item because of your religious beliefs or ethnic background.
2. In case of travel to Laos with tourist visa, a confirmed return air ticket is required. If you want a transit visa, then a confirmed onward air ticket is necessary. However, if you want to enter in Thailand or Vietnam from Laos by road, then an application on A4 size paper stating your onward travel to these countries is required.
3. If you want to book a hotel after your arrival in Laos to get a better bargain, then it is advisable to book your hotels at websites like agoda.com and get your confirmed reservation printouts. Later, after getting your visa, you can always cancel all these bookings with full refund (in most cases) and then re-plan your trip accordingly.
Please Note: If required, you may be requested to bring additional documents by The Embassy of Lao PDR.
Overstay in Lao PDR: Normally all type of single entry visas are issued for 30 days only (except transit visa). Lao PDR does not offer the double entry or multiple entry visa also and there is no other type of visas available for the longer stay. If you fell in love with this wonderful country and wants to stay there for more days, then there are two type of options that you can exercise to overstay in Laos: First one is Visa Extension and Second one is Visa Run.
Visa Extension:There are two cases of visa extension:
In first case, you apply for the visa extension before the expiry of your current visa, then it costs you USD 2.00 per day for the extended day of stay.
In Second Case, you overstayed your valid visa duration and wants to pay overstay fine at the airport while departing our from Laos. It costs you USD 10.00 per day for the duration of overstay.
Documents Required for Visa Extension:
1. Passport in original with at least one blank page.
2. One passport size photo, preferably with white background
3. Duly filled visa extension application form available outside the visa extension counters.
Visa Extension Fee: USD 3.00 service fee + Lao Kip 2000.00 (or USD 0.25) application fee + USD 2.00 per day extension fee
Processing Time: In normal circumstances, visa extension is possible on the same day of application.
Visa Extension Office: In Vientiane, visa extension counter is located in the Immigration Office behind the Joint Development Bank (JDB) on Lane Xang Avenue opposite to the Morning Market.
Office Timings: Monday to Friday throughout the year from 08:00 AM to 04:00 PM. Office is closed for extension application on Friday afternoon. Lunch time is 12:00 PM to 01:00 PM and during this no application will be entertained.
Note: 1. If you are not able to reach at the extension counter by yourself, you can also take the services from numerous travel agents across the country for visa extension.
2. If you are unable to get a visa extension and overstayed the visa, then be ready to pay USD 10.00 per day fine at the time of your departure from Laos.
3. Visa Extension is not at all possible in case of transit visa.
Visa Run: This is very popular method to stay for the longer duration in Laos, especially if you choose to stay in Vientiane. Visa run involves four steps:
1. Leave Laos on the last day of visa to enter in Thailand. If you are in Vientiane, then you can take a public bus to the Lao-Thai Friendship Bridge (fare, 5000 Lao Kip). At Lao Immigration, they will stamp you out from Laos.
2. Take a shuttle bus from the Lao Immigration Office to Thai Immigration Office (fare, 4000 Lao Kip or 15 Thai Baht). You will get visa-on-arrival for Thailand after paying 1000 Thai Baht visa fee. As an Indian citizen, you are eligible for Visa-on-Arrival for Thailand at Nong Khai Immigration Checkpoint.
3. There is no restrictions for the time duration spend in Thailand before re-entering in Laos. So, you can again proceed to Thai Immigration. They will stamp you out from Thailand and you can catch the shuttle bus to Lao Immigration.
4. At Lao Immigration, apply for the visa-on-arrival after paying USD 40.00 fee. They will again issue a 30-day visa for you to re-enter in Laos.
You can do this visa run unlimited time, so that you can stay in Laos for the longer duration. But granting a Visa-On-Arrival is the sole discretion of Immigration Authorities even if you possess all the relevant documents. There are numerous travel agents in Laos, who can also help you in this visa-run.
Note: Visa-on-Arrival at Lao border does not allow you to work in Laos. So, if you are staying for the longer duration, make sure it is for tourism and leisure purpose only. Don’t engage yourself in any type of commercial activities.