Do you need a visa on arrival to enter Laos?
So you’re traveling to Laos. A beautiful country in South East Asia with land crossings to a ton of other nations, Vietnam, Thailand, China, Myanmar, and Cambodia too! With connections to so many countries, chances are you’ll find yourself in Laos at some point on a backpacking trip in the region.
But unlike most other south-east Asian countries you’re most likely going to need a visa to enter, and the visa on arrival to enter Laos is usually the cheapest and most convenient option.
How To Apply For The Laos Visa On Arrival
- Once you have crossed the border, and before you have entered Laos you’ll see the ‘Visa On Arrival Application’ signage. Head to the window and an immigration officer will provide you with a Visa On Arrival form to fill in. Tip: Bring a pen with you!
- Take the form and fill out the required information such as your passport details and address of your accommodation in Laos.
- With the Visa On Arrival application filled out. Submit it at the window along with your passport, one passport photograph, and pay the visa fee, (30-50 USD depending on your nationality).
- Your visa on arrival will be processed by the Laos Immigration which usually takes no more than 10 minutes. Wait for your name to be called out and your passport will be returned with your Laos Visa on Arrival inside. Any change owed will also be given at the time you collect your passport.
- You can then use your Visa on Arrival to cross into Laos and begin your travels in the country.
Do You Need a Visa To Travel To Laos?
You most likely need to obtain a Laos Visa on Arrival to enter Laos.
Travelers holding passports from Asean Countries can enter without a visa.
Travelers from European, American or any other countries will need a visa.
Laos officially and fully reopened to tourism this year and travelers can once again visit with no restrictions. However you will still need a visa to travel to Laos. For most people the Laos Visa on Arrival is the cheapest and most convenient solution.
What Is A Laos Visa On Arrival
The Laos Visa on Arrival is a paper visa inserted into a travelers passport. The Laos visa on arrival fills one entire passport page and when inserted it allows a traveler to enter Laos for tourism purposes and stay for up to 30 days.
The Laos Visa on Arrival is issued at the point of entry, airport or border crossing when entering Laos.
What Is The Difference Between Laos Visa Exemption and Laos Visa On Arrival
Few countries are eligible to enter Laos Visa Free, or on a ‘Visa Exemption’.
A Visa Exemption is where a government has an agreement with the government of another country allowing citizens to enter a country using only their passport,. without the need for a visa. In these situation only an entry stamp is planted in a traveler’s passport. Although for Laos visa exemptions are limited to Asean Passport holders.
A Visa On Arrival is where a visa application is made at the border, (a relatively straightforward and simple process), and the traveler can then use the visa to obtain an entrance stamp.
Who Can Enter Laos Without Visa
The following countries can enter Laos without a visa. Travelers from any countries not on this list will need to apply for the Visa On Arrival to enter Laos.
Asean Countries That Can Enter Laos Without Visa On Arrival
- Brunei (14 days)
- Cambodia (30 days)
- Indonesia (30 days)
- Malaysia (30 days)
- Myanmar (14 days)
- Philippines (30 days)
- Singapore (30 days)
- Thailand (30 days)
- Vietnam (30 days)
Asian Countries That Can Enter Laos Without Visa On Arrival
- Japan (15 days)
- South Korea (30 days)
- Mongolia (30 days)
Rest Of The World Countries That Can Enter Laos Without Visa On Arrival
- Luxembourg (15 days)
- Switzerland (15 days)
- Russia (30 days)
Can I Get Laos Visa On Arrival
The Laos Visa on arrival is suitable for travelers from most other countries. This map (source) shows which countries need to apply for a Laos visa on arrival.
If your country is not able to obtain the Laos Visa On Arrival you would need to visit a Laos Embassy to make a visa application before travelling.
Laos Visa On Arrival Requirements
There are very few requirements for a Laos Visa on Arrival. You need to have a passport with at least two blank pages, a filled out application form, a passport sized photograph and cash to pay for the visa.
The Visa on Arrival application is provided at the border crossing so all you need to prepare in advance is cash in the correct currency and a passport sized photo. Both photo services and currency exchanges can be found when you arrive at the border.
Some sources suggest you need two passport photos, but I only needed to provide one, in order to obtain my Laos Visa on Arrival.
I recommend buying 10 or so photos as you’ll likely need one again when you leave Laos and enter the next country or when you extend the Visa on Arrival. They are really useful to have when travelling.
If you prefer to have the application for prepared in advance you can download the PDF version using this link, print it out and fill it in before you travel. However this is not necessary and will save you no more than a few minutes at the border.
Laos E-visa or Visa Or Arrival
If you want to really be prepared then you can apply for a Laos E-Visa in advance, instead of the Laos Visa on Arrival. However I recommend choosing the visa on arrival because the cost is cheaper and its much more convenient solution.
Laos Visa Online
If you want to apply for the Laos Visa Online in advance then you can do so on the official website here.
Apply for a Laos E-Visa: https://laoevisa.gov.la/apply , check the cost for a Laos E-Visa here: https://laoevisa.gov.la/fee-calculator.
But like I said, it’s not necessary to apply for a Laos visa online. Just take a Laos Visa on Arrival instead.
The only situation I can see being beneficial in, if you plan to enter Laos at a border crossing which does not offer the Laos Visa on Arrival service, (which there are few of).
How Much Does a Laos Visa On Arrival Cost
The Laos Visa on Arrival is priced in USD, and the cost varies between 35 USD to 50 USD depending on your passport nationality. You can also pay for the Laos Visa on arrival using local currency from the country you are arriving from but I recommend changing up 50 USD before you travel, because using dollars is always cheaper than using the local currency.
How To Pay For Laos Visa On Arrival
I entered Laos from Thailand, crossing the ‘Friendship Bridge’. When I paid for the Laos Visa on arrival I was quoted either 1,700 Thai Baht or 40 USD.
Before I left Thailand, I bought a 50 USD bill, which cost me 1,700 Baht. So essentially I saved myself 10 USD by changing the currency in advance.
But be careful when buying USD, you’ll want to inspect the bill and make sure it is free from any tears, marks and is in good condition. The border agents issuing Laos Visa on Arrival prefer crisp USD bills. And any that do not meet their standards can and will be rejected.
How Long Can I Stay In Laos Using a Laos Visa On Arrival
Laos visa on arrivals are most commonly issues for tourism purposes. The Visa on Arrival is valid for 30 days. However it can be extended at immigration offices in Laos.
At Which Border Points Can I Get A Laos Visa On Arrival
The Following Borders are Issuing Laos Visa On Arrival
International Airports Issuing Laos Visa on Arrival
More information about Laos reopening borders after the coronavirus and do you still need a COVID test.
- Vientiane: Watta International Airport
- Luang Prabang International Airport
- Pakse International Airport (Champasack)
- Savannakhet International Airport
Land Border Crossings Where You Can Get Laos Visa On Arrival
- Thailand: Nong Khai-Vientiane (Lao-Thai Friendship Bridge)
- Thailand: Chiang Rai – Houixay
- Thailand: Nan to Sayabouly
- Thailand: Lao-Thai Friendship Bridge 2, Moukdahan to Savannakhet
- Thailand: Lao-Thai Friendship Bridge 3, Nakorn Phanom to Khammouane
- Thailand: Ubon Ratchathani to Champasack
- Cambodia: Dong Calur to Veun Kham
- Vietnam: Nameo – Banleui
- Vietnam: Namkan – Namkan
- Vietnam: Keoneua – Nampao
- Vietnam: Laobao – Dansavanh
- China: Yunnan – Luang Namtha
Laos Visa On Arrival Friendship Bridge
The Laos – Thai Friendship bridge is one of the busier land border crossings into Laos but info on getting a Laos Visa on Arrival here (VOA) is scarce. This is the border I usually use to cross between Thailand and Laos. The bridge is just over a kilometer long, stretching across the Mekong river.
Once you are on the Laotian side of the Friendship bridge you can easily and quickly apply for a Laos Visa on Arrival there. But just remember to change your money to USD and have your passport photos taken on the Thai side, before you cross into Laos.
Can I Get A Laos Visa On Arrival (VOA) From Popular Countries
Laos Visa on Arrival Australian
(Official Information) Australian passport holders can get a Laos Visa on Arrival. The cost is $30 USD.
Laos Visa on Arrival For US Citizens
U.S Embassy Official Information United States Passport Holder Can apply for a Laos Visa on Arrival, the cost is $35 USD.
Laos Visa on Arrival For UK Passport
Gov.UK Official Information UK/British Citizens can apply for a Laos Visa On Arrival. The Cost is $40 USD.
Laos Visa on Arrival for Indian
Indian passport holders do not need to apply for a visa in advance to travel to Laos. A Visa on arrival can be issued for Indian tourists at the border. The cost is $40 USD.
Official Announcements Regarding Immigration and Visa’s For Laos: https://immigration.gov.la/notice/
Read about how I crossed the Mekong River from Thailand to Laos (on the slow boat)