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How to get a visa for Laos: Visa types and requirements

by Juan José Herranz | January 7, 2021
Get your visa for Laos

Laos is a country in Southeast Asia, bordered by Burma and China to the northwest, Vietnam to the east, Cambodia to the southeast, and Thailand to the west and southwest. It has an area of approximately 236,000 sq. km, a population of about 6.5 million and its capital is Vientiane. Laos is different from its neighbouring countries because it is calm and predominantly rural.

The perfect destination for those who want to get away from the big crowds.

Do I need a visa to travel to Laos?

Yes, anyone wishing to enter Laos must apply for a visa. The most common visa is the Laos eVisa, an online visa that will allow you to travel to the country for tourism purposes for a maximum stay of 60 days.

Types of visas for Laos

The reason for your visit to Laos will determine which type of visa you require.

eVisa

This is the most requested visa. It is a single-entry visa, so you can enter the country only once. It is valid for 60 days from the date of approval.

Tourist visas can be extended for up to 90 more days, for $2 per day, but it can only be done in Vientiane and Luang Prabang.

On Arrival Visa

There is the possibility of obtaining the visa on arrival to Laos. This has the same characteristics as the eVisa and can be requested at one of the country's three international airports, or through the two entry points by land. However, you may find queues for processing, and if there is a setback, you will have to solve it an unknown country for you. You also may have to pay some extra charges such as for a photo or other additional fees. 

Business visa

The business visa is valid for 30 days. It is straightforward to obtain, as long as the traveller has a sponsoring organisation in Laos. This business visa can be extended up to one year and can be obtained directly at the airport, at the border or the embassy of the country. The documentation required is the same as for a tourist visa, but you must also provide an invitation from the company you are going to do business with.

Transit visa

You can apply for this visa if you pass through Laos and have another country as your final destination. You will have to show the flight ticket to your final destination and cannot stay in Laos for more than 7 days.

How do I apply for a Laos visa?

If you are intended to travel for the purpose of tourism, you can choose between the On-Arrival Visa and the eVisa. If you choose the On-Arrival system, you will process it at the airport on arrival. If you choose the eVisa system, it will be processed online and you will arrive in the country with your visa already approved.

You can do this personally or through a third party such as Visagov.com. We will handle all the process for you!

If you need to apply for a business visa, you will have to make the application from an embassy or consulate. It is also possible to process a business visa on arrival at the airport or the border crossing if you arrive by land. A visa extension can only be applied for from inside the country in Vientiane or Luang Prabang.

It is advisable not to wait until your visa expires to extend it as the cost will be significantly increased. A visa extension is typically $2 per day if arranged before your visa expires. This price increases to $10 per day if the visa has already expired.

fishermen and boats in Laos

Who needs a visa for Laos?

More than 160 countries need to apply for the eVisa, or any other visa, before being allowed into Laos. A select few nationalities do not need to apply for the visa if the stay does not exceed 15 or 30 days.

Nationalities exempt from visa requirements for stays of less than 15 days are Japan, Luxembourg, Myanmar and Switzerland. Nationalities exempt from visa requirements for stays of less than 30 days are Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mongolia, Philippines, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

You can check our eligibility verifier to find out the specific situation for your nationality.

What are the requirements to apply for a visa to Laos?

To process the application for the eVisa, the business visa, the transit visa and the On-Arrival visa for Laos, you will basically need the same requirements. For all visas, you must have a valid passport with an expiry date of more than 6 months from the start of your trip and attach a recent, colour passport photo.

In case you want to obtain the business visa more efficiently and avoid some formalities, it is highly recommended to provide the documentation of the company or sponsor from Laos with which you are going to do business with. Although it is not compulsory, it will help to speed up the process.

For the transit visa, you will be required to show the documents explained above, as well as the ticket to your final destination.

Finally, for the On-Arrival visa, you do not need any additional documents. You must carry the same as for any other visa. However, do ensure that everything is in order, as once in the country you will not have the possibility of getting additional documentation that you may have forgotten.

Can the Laos visa be changed once it has been processed?

No, it is not possible to make any changes once the visa is in process. If you have made a mistake, you will need to reapply and pay again. The government authorities will not refund the initial fees.

How much does a visa to Laos cost?

Laos visa prices vary according to the nationality of the applicant. Fees range from $35 to $50 for most nationalities. There is no country of the European Union with a Laos visa fee exceeding $50. Payment must be made before sending the form. Once everything is completed and sent, you will receive your approval via email.

How far in advance do I need to apply for a Laos visa?

The tourism eVisa to travel to Laos has to be processed at least 5 working days before your entry into the country. With less than 5 days from entry, it will no longer be possible to process the visa online. However, to be able to deal with any unforeseen event or setback, it is always advisable to apply for a visa (eVisa) 15 days before arrival in Laos.

What are the entry borders to Laos?

There are several ways to enter Laos by land and by air. When planning your trip and associated travel route, you must consider that not all borders or airports will be accessible with a tourist visa.

These are the airports you can arrive with a tourist visa:

  • Wattay International Airport (Vientiane Capital).
  • Luang Prabang International Airport (Luanb Prabang).
  • Pakse International Airport (Champasack).

Land borders that can be accessed with a tourist visa include:

  • Lao-Thai Friendship Bridge (Vientiane Capital).
  • Lao-Thai Friendship Bridge (Savannakhet Province).

Wat Phousalao in Laos

Do I need any vaccines to travel to Laos?

It is advisable to keep your official vaccination schedule up to date and carry out any required vaccinations at least 4-6 weeks before travelling. The yellow fever vaccine is the only compulsory vaccination and only for travellers coming from a country where yellow fever exists.

Vaccines for typhoid, tetanus, MMR and Hepatitis A are recommended. Hepatitis B, Rabies, Flu and Pneumococcal vaccines may be recommended depending on your particular case.

What is the currency of Laos?

The currency of Laos is the Lao Kip (LAK). Both Thai baht and US dollars are accepted without any problem in Laos’ largest cities.

  • 1 euro is equivalent to 10,866 LAKs.
  • 1 dollar is equivalent to 9,165 LAKs.

This exchange rate is approximate, as the currency changes daily. You can find 500, 1,000, 2,000, 5,000, 10,000, 20,000, 50,000- and 100,000-kips notes.

Cash machines are readily available, and in the vast majority of restaurants, hotels and cafés it is possible to pay by card. It is important to bear in mind that the maximum amount of money that can be withdrawn from an ATM is between 700,000 and 2,000,000 LAKs, which is approximately $85/250.

If you find one along the way, take advantage and withdraw money from one of the "Maybank" cash machines, which do not charge additional fees for the transaction. It is recommended that you always carry cash if you are going to rural areas and isolated villages.

When is the best time to travel to Laos?

Like the rest of Southeast Asia, Laos has two seasons:

  • The wet season, which runs from May to October.
  • The dry season, which runs from November to April. The best time is always the dry season, and the best months are from November to February. During this time, it generally rains very little and the temperatures are milder. Besides the fact that the weather is at its best, the landscape is lush and green and the waterfalls and rivers have a great flow of water after the rainy season.

dragon statue in Laos

Is it safe to travel to Laos?

Although it is one of the least developed countries in the world, Laos is a very safe country. Like anywhere in the world that you travel, it is best to be careful of petty theft, although it is rare.

Be careful, in the cities of Vang Vieng and Don Dhet where it is surprisingly easy to buy drugs. You must remember that buying drugs in Laos is illegal, and can result in a hefty time in a Laotian prison.

Important tips for travelling to Laos

  • Having an adequate travel insurance is essential, especially if you are going to do outdoor activities or adventure sports. It is not compulsory to enter the country, but it is highly recommended.
  • Bear in mind that your shoulders must be covered if you are going to enter a temple. You can cover yourself with a sarong.
  • You should enter houses or temples barefoot and always wear trousers below your knees.
  • Although there are five-star hotels in Laos, most of the country's tourism is focused on backpacking. You will find many budget travellers enjoying the country’s friendly people and hospitable nature.