Laos tourist visa application & Visa on Arrival (VOA) at Huay Xai Immigration

You can get a Laos tourist visa application on arrival (VOA) which are available for many countries at Huay Xai Immigration and usually permit a stay of 30 days. But check first whether you can enter visa free, or can get a visa on arrival at the border, or must first apply outside Laos for a visa, as it depends on your nationality.

Many tourists to Laos first come to Chiang Mai in Thailand, before traveling up to Chiang Rai (3 hours) and then on to Chiang Khong (2 hours)  to enter Laos at the Huay Xai Immigration checkpoint across the Mekong River Friendship Bridge at Chiang Khong.

 

There are 4 tourist visa categories for a Laos tourist visa application.

 

Lao Tourist Visa eligibility – 4 types:

  • Visa free is currently limited to 15 countries – see below
  • Laos Tourist Visa on arrival (VOA)
  • Visa required before you travel
  • An E-visa which you can apply for at https://www.laoevisa.gov.la/index

For a VOA, tourists are responsible for ensuring that they qualify for a Lao VOA prior to their departure to Laos, as VOA is not offered to some countries and are required to obtain one before departing.

To see if you qualify for a VOA check here https://embassies.net/laos-visa-exemption

 

Laos visa free countries:

Laos Tourist visa on arrival form

You’ll need the following to apply for a Lao tourist visa on arrival (VOA).

  • 2 passport photos 2.5cm x 3cm
  • Your passport with at least 2 blank pages and 6 months validity from date of entry
  • Completed Lao Immigration form with your photo (see below)
  • Completed Lao arrival/departure card (see below)
  • Fee of US$30 to $45 depending on your nationality

You can pay in Thai Bt if you wish but better to pay in US$ cash. Try and have the exact amount otherwise you will get your change at a poor exchange rate in Lao kip. If paying in Thai Baht it will cost you a lot more than in the US$ equivalent. There may also be additional charges if immigration is working on a weekend or after hours.

Once in Chiang Khong, to exit Thailand make your way to the Chiang Khong border checkpoint about 9 kms south of the town. After you have been stamped out at Thai Immigration, you are in No Man’s Land and have to buy a ticket to get a bus across the Friendship Bridge to Huay Xai Immigration. (Hours 0600 – 2200). The buses leave every few minutes and it takes about 10 minutes to cross the bridge, before doing a figure eight manoeuver on the way, as they change from driving on the the left to driving on the right hand side of the road in Laos.

This Laos Visa application is the preferred form when applying for a tourist visa on arrival at Huay Xai Immigration, as it has the red office stamp that is specific to Huay Xai Immigration. Please note it must be trimmed to 150W x 260H mm which is it’s correct size otherwise it may be rejected. You can download it here

Complete it before you depart Thailand. That way you can avoid the queues and the crush when everyone rushes off the bus and scrambles to get the forms to complete, and a place in the queue.

As most tourists are travelling early in the morning to catch a boat, it’s not uncommon to have a 30 to 60 minute wait at Lao Immigration, especially if several buses arrive at once. Once you arrive at Huay Xai Immigration, it can be confusing and chaotic, as there are few signs with often 60 or so people trying to find forms and wondering what they have to do, or jostling to get ahead of the queues.

Grab a Lao Arrival/Departure card off one of the tables at Immigration and complete the Arrival portion.

Once you have your Laos visa form (with your photo attached), and with arrival card completed, queue at counter No 1 on the right.

The officer will take your papers and passport. Move over to counter No 2 on the left and wait near the Visa Fee sign for your name to be called. Once called approach the window, pay your visa fee and your passport will be returned. CHECK THAT IT IS YOUR PASSPORT as it is not uncommon to receive someone else’s in the confusion.

You’ll receive a Lao tourist visa in your passport, along with an immigration date stamp with the date of your visa expiry. Check that the entry and exit dates are correct.

You can then exit through Customs where tuk tuks, jumbos or minibuses will be waiting to take you into Huay Xai town or to the port (in Lao thaheua) to catch a boat down the Mekong to Luang Prabang.

Huay Xai Immigration on a very quiet morning

Laos arrival/departure card

Huay Xai Immigration on a typical busy morning