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Unless you have an education or volunteer visa every three months you must leave the country of Thailand to be re issued a new visa. Sounds simple but most that have done this before knows its a big pain in the ass. Last year I did a terrible 12 hour run just north of Thailand to Myanmar so I wasn’t about to be smashed into a bus for 21 hours to Laos Vientiane. I did some research to find the best method of attacking this process by asking friends around the community as this can be a very popular topic for many digital entrepreneurs. My overall trip was a success and I had a lot of fun during my travels over the last few days. The video shows some visuals and highlights of my overall trip. Below are the Five Steps you’ll need to do in order to complete your Visa Run. At the end I will share how next time I can cut my cost and time by almost half just by learning from my own experience.
First Step: Book a ticket to Udon Tani, Thailand from Chiang Mai. A 1 hour flight with Nok Air leaves once a day around 4 o’clock pm. This flight cost me 4922 THB round trip and included 1× Cabin baggage – 56 × 36 × 23 cm 7 kg and 1× Checked baggage – 15 kg. The only reason why I even booked with this airline is because they have a roll on policy for cyclist. This means you don’t have to pack your bike in a box, allowing you to save time and money. They typically do release the air pressure in the tires so it’s important to have a bigger stronger pump. It was funny while I waited in the airport a kid came up to me and asked me if I was on YouTube. I said yes and he asked for my channel name so he can watch some videos. About ten minutes later him and his brother asked for a #selfie.
Second Step: Arrive in Udon Tani and check into the Baan Rare Guesthouse which cost me 250 THB for one night +250 THB (booked again on return). This was a 4-8 bed dorm style with a shared bathroom. They do have 500THB options if you need more privacy. It was a casual good vibe there and I made a good friend in just a few hours. When you do arrive many restaurants are closed at this time so you have two options: either 7-eleven food or you can go to the eastern corner of the lake to see my friend and his son selling burgers. Enjoy some tasty food and watch the sunset over Nong Prajak Park. That’s my kinda night 🙂
Third Step: Cycle to the Thai-Lao border (Friendship Bridge) which is a very smooth and fast 60km ride that should take you about 2.5 hours depending on your fitness. It’s another 15km (half hour) to the center of Vientiane. They do have tuk tuk’s (taxi) if you don’t have a bicycle, but I know nothing about these rides. If you are going to cycle in the sun wear a hat and cover up plus drink plenty of water. On the ride there I noticed many 7-elevens on the other side of the road but there are other stores you can stop at for a juice when needed. The general direction when at the border is to stay to the left and go inside the building in the photo to the right.
Hand in your departure card to the officials and go to cross the bridge to apply for a Lao Visa which allows entry for 30 days. The cool thing about Thai / Lao people is if you smile and act respectful they’ll point you in the right direction. They’ll know words like visa and stamp and funny thing is I actually didn’t get stamped into Lao but I did get approved for a visa. The only thing you need is 1500 THB and know all your addresses for where you will stay in Lao and where you stayed in Thailand. Fill as much information as possible even the part that asked you to list your friends in Laos or Thailand.
Fourth Step: Check into the Orchid Guesthouse along the Mekong River for 160,000 KIP (686 THB) for two nights. The rooms are clean and simple and the view on the fourth floor is nice. I also topped up on my sim card for a 35THB in the shop next store, down the block they have an ATM with ZERO fees, and I dropped off my 1kg cycling clothes to be washed for 8,000 KIP (35THB). I ate at The Golden Age buffet for unlimited food and the next night I ate at Reunion Cafe for amazing Pad thai and some sweet and sour chicken.
Fifth Step: Head down to the Thai Embassy at 7am to apply for a TR visa which grants you two months plus and extension option. This visa will cost you 1,000 THB but I recommend you go to the booth at the entrance and have them take your photo, give you a form and make photo copies of your passport for 115 THB. They open the gate around 8am and start the line at about 8:30am. Hand in your form and get a ticket to come back the next day at 1:30pm to pick up your visa (this is when you pay). *Extend your visa for an additional 30 days at the Promenada Resort Mall in Chiang Mai for 1,900 THB.
My overall total cost was 8,793 THB (251 USD) for an additional 2 months stay in Thailand. This is not including food or drank because I figured I’d need to do this anyway. Now, me personally I really enjoyed staying in Udon however I literally can cut my cost in almost half the next time. Check it out:
Saving – 3,178 THB
New grand total – 5,615 THB (160 USD)
+Optional 30 day extention for 1,900 THB = (214 USD) – Every 90 days
**Unavoidable cost – 1,000 THB – Thai Visa & 1,500 THB Lao Visa = (2,500 THB)
I don’t regret staying in Udon because I met a really good person in the hostel and we hung out all day mostly taking about her home in Korea while trying to identify life’s purpose. I also had a good time talking for hours with the owner of the Veggie Burger Party. The conversation we shared about business, life, balance and travel was priceless. I do regret paying double for my flight, that was crazy. The end result was a successful visa run and I was able to enjoy the exercise to clear my head a bit and travel to a different town I have never been. I can always make a few extra bucks to get the money back but you can take what I learned away.