In this post, I’m going to show you how I did my very first visa run from Bangkok, Thailand to Savannakhet, Laos for about ฿3,120 THB.
There are other cheaper methods but this is the route I’m comfortable with, and it worked for me.
5 easy steps to do a Visa-Run from Bangkok
฿760 THB – VIP Bus (I highly recommend VIP Buses) from Mochit Bus Terminal in Bangkok to Mukdahan Bus Terminal.
Mochit Bus Terminal in Bangkok
Don’t get confused with Mochit BTS Station and Mochit Bus Terminal. These are two completely different unity and located in two separate locations.
There are no buses that go straight from Bangkok, Thailand into Savannakhet, Laos. You will have to transfer onto another bus near the Thailand/Laos border at Mukdahan Bus Terminal and cross into Laos.
Some people prefer leaving the Mochit Bus Terminal in Bangkok during the evening and getting to Mukdahan Bus Terminal by the morning to save money on hotel costs.
However, I find it very hard to sleep overnight even on a comfortable VIP bus. I prefer leaving Bangkok during the morning and getting to Mukdahan by evening and then checking into a hotel near the Mukdahan Bus Terminal to rest. The following morning I’ll continue to cross the border into Laos and come back to Bangkok.
There are multiple hotels near the Mukdahan Bus Terminal ranging in price from ฿350 THB to ฿500 THB per night and up.
฿50 THB – Bus from the Mukdahan Bus Terminal comes every 20-30 min. to cross over the friendship bridge and the Mekong River into Laos.
Mukdahan Bus Terminal – Next to the Thai/Laos border
When you enter the bus at the Mukdahan Bus Terminal, you must get off the bus at the Thai immigration on the Thai border to hand in your passport. Make sure you take all of your belongings when you get off the bus because it will not wait for you if you are stuck in line or if there is a problem with your visa or passport.
Once you have exited Thailand, you’ll have to wait to get on the same bus (if possible or another bus) to go over the friendship bridge over the Mekong River to the Laos Immigration. You do not have to pay for the bus again since you already paid the ฿50 THB at the Mukdahan Bus Terminal.
*Remember to pack light and only take one or two days’ worth of clothing.
฿1,500 THB – Visa on arrival into Laos.
Applying for visa on arrival at the Laos Immigration
You do not need to get this visa in advance. Just get there to fill out a form, hand over a visa photo and about ฿1,500 THB for the Visa on arrival to Laos.
Different countries are priced differently, I’m from Canada so it was ฿1,500 THB or $42 USD and I can stay for 60 days in Laos. Price for other countries, see here.
You do not need a visa to enter Laos if you have a passport from Japan, The Republic of Korea, Russia, Luxembourg, Switzerland, and ASEAN member countries. Passport holders of these countries are eligible to enter Laos and stay for 15-30 days without a visa.
฿50 THB – Bus from Laos (comes every 20-30 minutes) back to the Thai border and Thai Immigration.
Don’t forget to try the famous Beerlao
Once I crossed over to Laos and just walked back to exit Laos. I got my exit stamp from Laos then paid another ฿50 THB for the bus ticket to go back to the Thai border and to the Mukdahan Bus Terminal.
Since I already paid for my Thai Multiple Entry Tourist Visa and it is still valid, there was no charge to reenter Thailand.
Again, the bus will not wait for you once you leave the bus to get the stamp to reenter Thailand with the Thai Immigration. Make sure you take all of your belongings when leaving the bus.
฿760 THB – VIP Bus from the Mukdahan Bus Terminal to the Mochit Bus Terminal in Bangkok.
Inside a VIP bus
There are cheaper buses around ฿500 THB to go back to Bangkok, but they are older, stop more frequently to board new passengers and less comfortable than the VIP Buses. Remember it is a 12-14 hours journey, so for a few hundred baht more you can get a much better experience. I used both, so I should know.
Total = ฿3,120 THB for transportation & on arrival visa to Laos
+ ฿450 THB for a hotel in Mukdahan
Doing a visa-run yourself is actually very easy and straightforward as long as you have enough funds and have all the paper-work valid. It’s just time-consuming, and costly over a long haul.
If you’re in a rush or if you don’t mind paying extra, I recommend flying. Although flying is the fastest form of traveling, it is also the most expensive. For the rest of us, it’s going to be through a company where they pick you up and take you over the border or do it yourself like I did here.
What you need to bring
Here is my checklist of what to bring. It is very important to double check these items before you head out to grab a taxi to the bus terminal.
- Your passport, make sure you still have a valid reentry visa back to Thailand.
- Passport photo IDs – I had two extra photo ID when I went to get my 30 days visa extension at the Thai Immigration building.
If you look at my photo ID, you can see it is not a white background. The blue background is fine with the Laos Immigration; they never said anything about my photo ID needing to have a white background. Some tour companies might tell you other-wise and charge you to take a new photo ID with a white background.
- Bring cash for the Laos visa on arrival – the cost will depend on your country. Bring the currency as quoted, Thai baht, US dollars, or Laos kip. Don’t bring other currency because it will be a problem to do the conversion rate and you will probably end up paying more than you needed to.
Country Price (USD) Australia 30 Canada 42 China 20 India 40 Sweden 31 USA 35 UK 35 Others 35
- Bring a pen to fill out the forms.
- Also, bring enough Thai baht for the buses, food, drinks and maybe an emergency. I always bring at least five thousand baht cash with me.
- I bring at least two days’ worth of clothing. You want to bring as little as possible and travel as light as possible. Unless you’re planning to stay longer in Laos.