Travelers in Thailand can make the most of their trip to Southeast Asia by crossing the border into Laos. Laos is a fascinating country somewhat undiscovered compared to neighboring nations and is well worth adding to an Asian sightseeing itinerary.
There are several checkpoints between Thailand and Laos, a valid Laos visa is required whether arriving in Laos by air or overland.
Foreigners reaching Laos from Thailand can find information below about the different border crossings between the 2 nations and how to apply for a Laos eVisa to travel from Thailand to Laos.
Visa Needed to visit Laos from Thailand
The majority of foreigners need a visa to enter Laos, citizens of just a few countries can access the country without one.
The most convenient way to travel from Thailand to Laos is with an eVisa. As the entire application process is online, it’s possible to request a Laos eVisa from anywhere in the world with an internet connection.
Furthermore, the application is quick to complete and most people receive the approved document within 1 to 3 days, suitable for a spontaneous trip across the border with Thailand.
Overseas visitors with an eVisa can enjoy up to 30 days in the country.
How to apply for a Laos visa when arriving from Thailand
Five Laos entry ports accept the Laos eVisa. Travelers passing through one of these ports can get a Laos visa from Thailand online, provided they meet all the Laos eVisa requirements.
The electronic Laos eVisa application form should be filled out with a few personal details and passport information. Conveniently, all supporting documents are uploaded digitally which means that there’s no need to present paperwork in person at an embassy or consulate.
By applying for a Laos eVisa online, travelers can also avoid joining long lines at the airport or immigration offices at land borders. Tourists who cannot use one of the entry ports listed above will need to obtain a Laos visa on arrival.
Laos -Thailand Checkpoints
Thailand has a number of land border crossings points with Laos, travelers can select the one which is most convenient depending on their location. Regardless of the checkpoint selected, foreigners will be asked to present a visa for Laos to make a land entry from Thailand.
The Laos eVisa is accepted at Lao-Thai Friendship Bridge I and II crossings making these convenient options for international visitors.
Lao-Thai Friendship Bridge I: Nong Khai to Vientiane
This is a good option for travelers who wish to begin in the capital city of Laos, Vientiane. Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge I goes across the Mekong River and is 1.17 km long.
The crossing is not far from Udon Thani, a major Thai city well connected by public transportation. From here the border town of Nong Khai can be reached by bus in under one hour.
There is a shuttle bus service across the bridge every 20 minutes during bridge opening times, 6:00 am to 10:00 pm. The ticket costs around 20 Thai Baht ($0.60 USD). Normal working hours are 8 am till 16.30 pm, an additional overtime fee must be paid to make the crossing at other times.
It is not possible to walk or cycle over the Friendship Bridge. Travelers should have their passport and eVisa ready for inspection by border officials.
Can you drive across the Friendship Bridge from Thailand to Laos?
It is possible to drive a car across the Thai – Lao Friendship Bridge. Motorists should take the lane for private cars.
There is a 200 baht exit fee for taking a car over the bridge. Traffic drives on the right on the Thai side of the border, with a changeover at the other end as traffic in Laos drives on the left.
Lao-Thai Friendship Bridge II: Mukdahan to Savannakhet
This crossing connects the Mukdahan province in Thailand with Savannakhet in Laos. This is a convenient choice for travelers staying in or close to Nakhon Phanom in Thailand, which is around 2 hours from the crossing.
Approximately 2 buses an hour leave Mukdahan and cross Friendship Bridge II to Savannakhet. It is 1.17 km long. A one-way ticket costs in the region of 50 baht ($1.60 USD).
Anyone using this crossing is advised to apply for a Laos eVisa in advance in order to avoid queues on arrival at the checkpoint.
Other land border crossings between Laos and Thailand
People who wish to enter Laos with an eVisa should select one of the 2 land border crossings explained above. Travelers who are willing to wait in line for a visa on-demand at border crossings from Thailand into Laos can also cross use any of the following:
- Friendship Bridge III: Nakhon Phanom in Thailand to Thakhek in Laos
- Chiang Khong in Thailand to Huay Xai in Laos
- Nakaxeng in Thailand to Kaen Thao in Laos
- Chong Mek in Thailand to Vang Tao in Laos
- Chiang Khong in Thailand to Huay Xai in Laos
Anyone crossing the border from Thailand to Laos with a visa on arrival should allow extra time for their journey, especially during the peak season.
Flying from Thailand to Laos
Flying is another convenient way to get from Thailand to Laos and may be favored by tourists who are not staying close to the border with Laos.
There are direct flights from Bangkok to the main airports in Laos: Vientiane Wattay Airport and Luang Prabang Airport, both accept the Laos eVisa. Airlines offering these routes include Thai AirAsia, Lao Airlines, Thai Airways, and Thai Smile. The plane journey from Thailand to Laos takes just over an hour.
On arrival at the airport, travelers must present their passport and valid visa for Laos in order to be granted access to the country.