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KWA

Vientiane for a few days. Cash, prices, logistics and any other boring stuff.

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Posted (edited)

I'm heading up there tonight and like the title says, need to know some of the more boring bits.

1)  What  is the best option for getting my spending money?  I have Thai Bank Card (Bangkok Bank), fees free UK bank cards, Thai cash and UK cash.

2)  I've got about USD $50 which I've been recommended to use for my visa as otherwise I'll be given a shocking exchange rate.  What is the current visa cost and what else do I need apart from cash and a photo?

3)  What are the entry rules for a Thai?

4)  Typical hotel costs for somewhere similar to D Hotel or Nature View in Pattaya and any recommendations for such?

5)  I arrive early morning in Nong Khai so plan to head straight over to Vientiane then.  How early does the border open and what are the logisitics for entering Laos?

Anything else you can tell the unwary farang traveller heading for a new city?

Edited by KWA

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Bear in mind the immigration info is 18 months old....

Assuming you are at the "border" in Nong kai, after you get checked out of Thailand there is a public bus that crosses the bridge. I think ther3s a desk to buy tickets, but it was slightly hidden behind a wall to the right. It's old, noisy and uncomfortable,  but costs something like 15b. When you get off, you should see signs for Visa on arrival.... and there are 3 windows..... collect a form from window 1 if you haven't already got one, hand your completed form, picture and $35 to window 2, loiter by window 3 to receive your passport back. You then pass through immigration and get stamped into the country.

Taxis are then plentiful... mine agreed 200b to my hotel but his eyes lit up when I offered him us$ instead. It's about 30 minutes to centre of Vientiane. 

No idea about rules for Thais,  sorry, but would be interested  to know. Same same about getting a new Visa if that's what you're there for, as I understand its changed from when i did it last January. 

Money... they love us$, will accept thb,  not sure about gbp,  but I'm sure you can change it into laotian kip. I usually take a couple of hundred us$ in small bills and that suffices me for several days. There are change booths, but not as many as pattaya! Not sure which do the best rates. 

As for hotels, I just booked one online. From memory, about 1500b per night, although cheaper and more expensive were available. The bulk of the bars, nightlife (what there is of it!) is near the river, although the place isn't big, is easy to walk and there are tuk tuks everywhere.

Oh.... they drive on the wrong side of the road, so crossing the roads on foot need care. Lots of restaurants, hundreds of coffee shops, sunset by the river is interesting. 

Hope this helps.

 

 

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Thanks - it's not for a visa so won't be able to help there - just going to see somewhere different for a few days.  Did you get asked for a hotel booking or exit travel arrangements when you entered Laos?

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Not that I remember. When I did the overland journey 18 months ago I definitely didnt, although I had a udon to utapoa flight booked. I did have a hotel booking both times, but dont remember having to present them.

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Posted (edited)

What "fees free" UK Bank card do you have ? 

The only one I've ever heard of that doesn't have any fees is the US Schwab card 

Edited by Stillearly

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Sound info from Painter in his post.

The border opens around 6 in the morning and last bus back over the bridge is 9:30 ish pm. Can get horribly busy at peak times especially if you get stuck behind a big tour bus. Useful tip for the boneshaker bus things that do the shuttle - try and stand as close to the door as possible. Or even better just wait for a green bus which might have air con. Or you could get a taxi from Thailand into Vientiane for 1000 ish baht but for that sort of money you would be sitting in the relative comfort of the taxi while the visa process takes place. No doubt you will be approached as you go into the border area before imm.

If you think Thais are bad drivers then be very scared of Lao people. They are on another level and just mental on the roads.

Nice place to chill for a few days though, Laos PDR means Laos Please Don't Rush. Enjoy 🙂

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A Thai needs a passport to enter Laos or you can get a 3 day pass based on their id card from an office on the Udon - Nong Khai road just before Tesco. Less than 100 baht including photocopying. It has a large bus stop/shelter outside. I have been told, but never used, that there are shops on the approach to the bridge which offer the same service. Look for the Border Pass signs.

There is no requirement to show a hotel booking or a ticket for onward travel. For 100 baht you can get a local who hangs around outside the Visa on Arrival area to fill all your forms in if you are feeling lazy. $35 US or 1,500 baht was what I was charged and you will get any change due.

 

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Here now so missed a couple of comments. To add to the good advice already given and answer a question.

We stayed on our bus to Nong Khai until the bus station.  If  the girl had been awake we could have jumped off almost at the bridge and saved the 120 baht tuk tuk back there.  They wanted 160 baht, were told by the girlfriend it was only 80 last time so split the difference (price for two people).

Bus across the bridge was 20 baht each.  It was busy but most had cleared immigration by the time I got there.

I stoppped for a smoke beside the toilet block just short of entering Lao and while there we got the forms filled.  I didn't know until later they had initially said 20 baht each but when it was time (for me) to pay it was 35 baht each.

Window 2 sent me to Window 1 who took the completed forms and payment ($35 USD or 1,500 baht, so dollars it was) and he handed them to Window 2 guy.  While standing at Window 3 I realised I hadn't got my $5 change.  Waited to get my passport before going to cause a stink and the change and receipt was with it.  Just as well I bit my tongue.  One $10 bill got refused  and fortunately I had another that was deemed OK.

Girlfriend had her passport as she said she'd previously travelled with ID card only but new they'd changed some rules.

UK fees free cards I have are Halifax Clarity Mastercard and and an MBNA Visa card.  A debit card is available from Starling Bank.  Monzo is also available but has restricted ATM withdrawals.

 

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19 hours ago, Stillearly said:

What "fees free" UK Bank card do you have ? 

The only one I've ever heard of that doesn't have any fees is the US Schwab card 

Just thought after I posted the above, that the Schwab also refunds ATM charges which the UK ones don't, so they're even better off.

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