If you are nearing the end of your extended visa exemption and want to stay in Thailand for up to 90 days longer, here are the steps you need to take in order to get a single entry tourist visa from within Thailand to Vientiane in Laos. This is referred to as making a visa run.
You have the option to purchase a single entry tourist visa from your local Thai Consulate in your country before you enter Thailand. Or you may choose to obtain one after you have been in Thailand for close to 60 days and after extending your original 30 day visa exemption. Either way they are good for 90 days from the date of issue.(90 additional days if your visa exempt is about to expire)
The visa is valid for 60 days and can be extended for an additional 30 days. For info on how to extend your visa or visa exemption for another 30 days check out How To Extend A Thai Visa.
Throughout Thailand and more-so within the tourist districts there are travel agent shops pretty much everywhere. They will always have a sign in clear view of the sidewalk advertising their services to take you on a visa run.
It’s a good idea to shop around a little as there can be a considerable price difference between some of the different shops. And in Pattaya for instance they basically all use the same one or two minivan services that make the actual visa runs.
A single entry tourist visa needs to be done at a Thai Consulate outside of Thailand and the visa runs will normally go to Vientiane in Laos. This can be done in any other country as well depending on your location in Thailand such as Myanmar, Cambodia and Malaysia. For instance if you are located in Phuket you will most likely go to Malaysia.
Some agents may advertise that they do visa runs to Cambodia but Laos is the popular choice from Bangkok and Pattaya. The Thai Consulate in Cambodia has been known to turn people away whereas in Laos they are much more tolerant.
I have done visa runs to Laos from Pattaya and they picked me up right at my hotel whereas when doing one from Bangkok, everyone had to meet at the Tesco Lotus parking lot right beside On Nut BTS Station.
From Bangkok I used Thai Visa Service and would definitely use them again. The runs from Pattaya were hectic to say the least due to erratic driving but that’s another story… Pattaya I paid in advance whereas the run from Bangkok I paid the driver just before we left.
It’s about a 10 hour drive from Pattaya to Laos and about 9 hours from Bangkok. This does not include all the waiting around in ques that you will have to do.
They leave in the evening 6 – 7 pm and drive all night to the Thailand/Laos border and you arrive at the border before it opens. The border itself, known as “The Friendship Bridge” opens at 6 am. There is a 7-11 right there and in addition is always someone there that will do passport photos for you that meet the requirements for 100 baht. Quite often and depending on the time of year, there will be many other minivans from other parts of Thailand.
Your minivan will stop a couple of times along the way at a truck stop like area with a large convenience store for a rest break and you will be able to stock up on food and drinks.
Normally everyone from your minivan will be given the same colored fabric style necklace and this is how your driver will identify you as there are usually many other minivans full of people doing a visa run as well.
When the border finally opens you then walk across The Friendship Bridge and you need to get into the que to get your exit stamp out of Thailand. Oh and by the way…the bridge spans the mighty Mekong River!!
The actual que doesn’t start until the immigration office opens at 8:30 am. After receiving your exit stamp you will then be sent to a bus pick-up area where there will be buses that will take you to get your entry stamp into Laos.
Again wait in que to get stamped into Laos and there will be different minivans waiting to take people to the Thai Consulate in Vientiane. The original minivan that you rode in before does not go into Laos.
That said, it’s time to get into the que again. This one is quite long. You will be directed to where you need to go and there is a large waiting area with coffee, other refreshments and snacks you can buy as you wait. Your minivan driver will take care of filling out most of your paperwork but you will have a few easy spaces to fill in. You will eventually hand in your passport and paperwork and you’re almost done.
It’s usually around 11 am/noon before you are finished at the Thai Consulate and there will be vans that will take you to your hotel. Everyone from your original minivan will be staying at the same hotel and your accommodation and meals are covered with the visa run service fee.
After you arrive at your hotel you are on your own to explore Vientiane, have a nap or do whatever you want!
At around noon the next day someone will arrive at your hotel with everyone’s passports and updated visa stamps. You will then hop in a van, ride back to the border, get stamped out of Laos, stamped back into Thailand and everything is much faster because there isn’t so many people all in the same place at the same time.
The van from your hotel leaves you at the Thailand border and after you are stamped back into Thailand you just walk across The Friendship Bridge again and your original minivan will be parked in the same area that it was left.
Then it’s just the long drive back and your minivan will again stop a couple of times along the way. The return trip is a breeze compared to going there.
Upon returning from the runs originating in Pattaya I was dropped off right at my hotel. When I returned from the run originating in Bangkok I was dropped off fairly close to where I was staying due to the traffic in Bangkok.