It was the fourth time that we had had to do a visa run to Laos.. My wife did all the planning without any interference from me and I have to admit that it was our smoothest visa run to Laos ever.
We cross over the Friendship Bridge between Nong Khai and Vientiane, the capital of Laos. We actually live less that 100km from Laos, so a visa run to Laos should be very easy, but we have to travel 400km to get there, because Nong Khai is the nearest point where Europeans can enter Laos legally.
We took the 11 p.m. bus from Phitsanulok to Udon Thani as there isn’t one directly to the border from Phitsanulok. However, we only had 15 minutes to wait for the onward trip to Nong Khai.
I think that that bus leaves frequently as there were a lot of people in working clothes on it. The police flagged us down, boarded the bus and checked everyone’s travel documents except mine.
The bus got us into Nong Khai at about 6 a.m. Then it was a question of a short 100 Baht taxi ride to the Friendship Bridge and the border. I had never seen it so quiet. We filled in our forms and were away.
Visa Run to Laos
The bus over the bridge takes only a few minutes. Once in Laos, we were fleeced for $45 because we did not have the $30 US dollar notes. From there it was a 200 Baht, 25km ride into the city – the cheapest we have ever paid.
We had the taxi take us straight to the Embassy, because we had so much time. The visa has to be applied before noon. We arrived there at 9:30 a.m. When my number came up, the immigration officer asked to see our marriage papers.
We didn’t have them with us. She suggested that my wife went back to get them. I pointed out that I could not get into Thailand, but she said that I would get 15 days. As we were leaving very despondedly, the officer called me back and said that she would accept a fax or photocopy.
So, we took a taxi to a hotel we had stayed in before. It was now 10:30 p.m. My wife phoned her family and asked to be sent the marriage certificate by fax o the hotel. No-one in her village family knew how to get the job done. Numerous fax attempts failed.
Suddenly, at 11:40, a fax came through and we had ten minutes to do the twenty minute journey back to the Embassy, but it was now rush hour.
Our motor bike taxi got us there on time by weaving in and out of traffic, driving on the wrong side of the road and on the pavement. He scared us and dozens of pedestrians half to death.
However, it was a Thursday, so if we had not got the paperwork in, we would have had to collect the visa on the Monday afternoon, which would have cost us three more nights in a hotel.
The taxi driver got his cut though, he charged us double for the journey..It was our strangest ever visa run to Laos.
Copied from ‘Our Last Visa Run to Laos’ by Owen Jones in http://packageholidaystothailand.org with kind permission