Visas for Laos
Vexed by visas?
The 30-day tourist visa for Laos can be issued at some entry points, via a travel agency or through a Lao embassy or consulate. Via an embassy, the visa should cost between US$30 to US$37 depending on your nationality and the office you use. The fee for Canadians is US$44.
Some nationalities, notably ASEAN members, may get a visa-free stay -- check with a Lao consulate or embassy for the very latest information.
Visa on arrival is reliably available at most overland crossings between Thailand and Laos, including the Huay Xai, Vientiane, Savannakhet, Tha Khaek and Chong Mek entry points. It is also available at both Vientiane and Luang Prabang airports (US$37, cash only, one passport photo). It is available at the Boten crossing with China and at the main international crossings with Vietnam.
Visa on arrival is not available at the Paksan crossing, but it is now available at the popular southern crossing from Cambodia.
Extending a tourist visa is straightforward and can be arranged at the immigration office in Vientiane. An extension costs US$2-3 per day depending on whether you handle it yourself or work through a travel agent. This means an extra 10 days will cost you $30.
All tourist visas are single-entry only. The visa sticker for visas issued from an embassy are full page, so bear that in mind if you do not have many pages left in your passport. If you want to stay in Laos longer than a month, it's no big deal to exit to Thailand and come back in on a new tourist visa for another 30 days.
While it isn't a big deal to overstay a visa in Laos, at US$10 a day, it is expensive. If you're looking at an overstay of anything more than a couple of days, you're better off leaving on time and coming back on another visa.
Things to watch out for
If you get your visa beforehand from a Lao embassy, it should be valid for 30 days, but be wary of being stamped in for 15 days instead.
There is no departure tax if using a land crossing, though on weekends and evenings you may be required to pay a small "overtime fee", generally not more than $1. If you're flying out of Vientiane or Luang Prabang international airport, there is a departure tax of US$10, but as of early January 2009 this fee was being incorporated into the price of airline tickets, so there's no longer any need to pay in person at the airport.
For information on border crossings and to read traveller reports, please see our Lao border crossing page, or the exhaustive Border Crossings FAQ which includes reports from travellers who have recently crossed.
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