Does anyone know if you can get a Lao visa upon arrival at Chong Mek (heading to Lao from Thailand). Having searched the web, there doesn't seem to be a definite answer, so was wondering if anyone knew for sure? Thanks in advance.
Welcome to Travelfish!
The last time I crossed at that border (about 18 months ago), Lao visas on arrival were not available. It may have changed -- sorry can't be of more help. If you do find a definitive answer, please post the details on our new Visa and border crossing thread if you have the time.
I followed a link from the Lao Embassy in Bangkok website to a Lao Government Tourism site (www.tourismlaos.gov.la). That site lists 15 visa on arrival points for Laos, including the Chongmek-Vang Tao crossing, where one can get a 15 day visa on arrival for $30.
However, the Lao Ministry of Foreign Affairs website lists only 14 border crossing points. According to this site, only the arrival points at Wattay Airport in Vientiane, the Friendship Bridge, and Luang Prabang Airport qualify for visa on arrival. The other 11 points, including the Chongmek-Vangtao crossing (and the Houysay-Chiangkhong crossing) "do not have full rights for visa on arrival."
Two official Lao Government sites with two very different answers. No wonder people have such anxiety about whether they can get a visa at the border or not. Hopefully folks will report back after they cross the border to let us all know what is the latest. In the mean time, I'd be pretty nervous going all the way out to Chongmek without a Lao visa in hand unless I'd heard from someone who had recently obtained a visa on arrival there that it was okay.
Thanks for the replies! Yep, the situation on the web isn't very clear at all is it! I think I'll get my visa in Bangkok and play it safe...
Last time I entered Laos, I came in through Lao Bao in Vietnam, and visas on arrival were not supposed to be available so we got ours via the consulate in Danang. However, when we got to the border we found we could have got a tourist visa on arrival... Always better to be safe than sorry though!
As an aside, the journey into Lao though was interesting and worthy of note! We caught a locals bus at 6pm from Hue and ended up at the border for about 9.30pm - with the border being closed! When we booked no-one had thought to mention this fact and that we would have to spend a night in a hotel at the border... Anyway, we went to sleep in preparation for the 5am start, only to be kicked awake by the Vietnamese Immigration Police, checking visas/passports! I love SE Asia, and there is nothing better than travelling in the region - but it certainly leads to you having some great stories to tell!
It won't be until August, but I'll find out for sure when I cross and post back!