Doing a Vietnam visa extension without leaving the country in many cases is very convenient but the cost of doing so may be high and a visa can be extended that way once only. As such, many expats in Vietnam prefer doing a visa run with low cost and no limit in number of times of doing so.
While those in Saigon often choose Moc Bai as a favorite destination, those in Hanoi, Da Nang and other provinces in Northern and Central part of Vietnam choose visa run to Laos via Lao Bao and Cau Treo for convenient travel.
In this post, we will guide you how to properly do a visa run at Lao Bao and Cau Treo checkpoint.
What to Prepare Before Departure
To do a visa run from Vietnam to Laos, you should not miss any of the following documents:
- Your original passport (valid for at least 6 months beyond your date of arrival);
- An original visa approval letter (see its sample below. Just leave a message at Support@Vietnam-visa.com to request the approval letter for Vietnam visa run);
- US$30 and US$42 for Laos visa on arrival if available for your nationality, otherwise, obtained it at Laos embassy in Vietnam at 40 QuangTrung, Tran Hung Dao, HoanKiem, Hanoi (just ignore this fee if you are exempted from the visa to Laos)
- US $25 for stamping fee for a Vietnamese single entry visa or US $50 as stamping fee for a multiple entry visa valid for up to 3 months.
- 03 passport photos (one for Laos visa on arrival and 02 for Vietnam visa run) (see the photo requirements here).
How to Do a Vietnam Border Visa Run to Laos
As mentioned above, there are 02 ways to do the Vietnam land border visa run to Laos, via:
- Cau Treo, and
- Lao Bao.
How to do Cau Treo visa run
To do a visa run to Cau Treo, the foreigners need to follow the steps guided below:
Step 1: Prepare the documents mentioned above
One of the most important paper that one doing the Vietnam visa run should prepare before start the visa run journey is the visa approval letter. It must be the original one, got from a local Vietnam visa service provider.
Vietnam-visa can assist you to get such letter. Just leave us a message at Support@Vietnam-visa.com or +84.946.583.583.
Step 2: Reach the Cau Treo landport
It will depend on the place you are residing in. Here we will guide you how to get there from Hanoi to do a Hanoi to Laos visa run.
The visa runners may decide to rent or use their private vehicle to reach Cau Treo. Meanwhile, majority of expats choose to take a bus due to its availability, safety and cheap cost.
For the bus option, one can easily take a bus at the Nuoc Ngam Bus Station at No. 1, Ngoc Hoi, Van Dien, Thanh Tri, Hanoi. And to reserve a seat, you can easily buy ticket at one of three following ticket offices: 35B Nguyen Huy Tuong and Nuoc Ngam Bus Station and 3A Nguyen Gia Thieu.
For the bus option, the Vietnam visa running expats may choose among several realiable bus agencies such as Camel, Trekking and No. 14 Bus Company. Their buses often start in Hanoi at around 6:30 pm – 7:30 pm, and then the bus takers will have an overnight on board and reach laos in the afternoon of the following day.
The cost of a bus trip is around VND 250,000 (~ US $12) – VND 500,000 (~US $22). This fee may subject to change from time to time depending on travel season and the bus service providers as well.
Step 3: Exit Vietnam to Laos
When you arrive at the Cau Treo Border, you will walk ahead to the Vietnam Immigration Counter, show your passport to get the exit stamp.
After that, you will take a minibus and reach the Laos border checkpoint where you will complete the visa and entry procedures into Laos.
- If you are exempted from Laos visa or get a visa at the Lao embassy beforehand, just show your passport (and the visa as well if required) to the Immigration Officer there and get through the check-in counter.
- In case you get the visa on arrival for Laos, fill out the form right there, submit 01 passport-sized photo, original passport and visa fee.
Now, you can choose to stay in Laos for a few days trip or come back Vietnam right away. And to enter Vietnam, remember to do the check-out procedure at the Laos border checkpoint to get the Laos exit stamp.
Step 4: Return to Vietnam and get new visa
You will take the mini-bus back to the Cau Treo Border checkpoint of Vietnam. There, you reach the Immigration Counter to do the visa on arrival procedure first. Make sure that you have the exit stamp by the Laos Immigration as without it, you cannot take the visa for Vietnam.
Now, you need to complete the form, submit your original passport, original visa approval letter, 02 passport photos and pay for stamping fee to get your actual visa stamped on passport.
Congratulation, you complete the visa run to Laos from Hanoi at Cau Treo checkpoint. Welcome you back to Vietnam.
How to do Lao Bao visa run
Lao Bao is the best place for a Vietnam visa run if you are in Da Nang or Hoi An.
Step 1: Prepare the documents
Do the same as above.
Step 2: Reach Lao Bao checkpoint
It’s easy to reach the Lao Bao border gate from Da Nang.
By public bus
Taking the public bus is the cheapest option but takes your time. You should go to the Da Nang Bus station and find Lao Bao counter to buy your ticket. Be sure that you’re getting a direct ticket to Lao Bao as there won’t be any stops until Dong Da.
This trip by public bus may take you 6 hours.
Hiring a private car
This way of traveling for a visa run is fast but expensive. Many visa runner choose this way for convenience.
Driving a motorbike
If you want to enjoy the landscape along your way, driving a motorbike to Lao Bao is not a bad option. The trip is close to 540 kilometers round trip, and is a minimum 8 hours of driving. Before departure, make sure your bike is in working condition.
Leave early (6:00 AM) and keep a good pace moving through the day.
Step 3: Exit Vietnam and enter Laos
You need to follow this procedure to exit Vietnam and enter Laos
- Park your car or motorbike in a coffee shop
- Walk past the Vietnamese border buildings to the Laos side first. You will see a small house with an immigration officer in DARK GREEN uniform. Reach him/her toyou’re your VIETNAM EXIT STAMP.
- Go to the next house just a few steps lefts from the first one and do the visa procedure (if required). And then move some steps to the check-in counter to get Laos entry stamp.
Step 4: Exit Laos and return Vietnam
Now, follow these next steps to complete your Vietnam to Laos visa run:
- Go again to the Vietnam side and reach the LAOS EXIT STAMP counter. Then you need to give your passport and original visa approval letter to the officer. He will check them and then seal the Laos exit stamp.
- Move to the next office to get the Vietnamese visa application form, complete it and give it back to the officer and pay the visa stamping fee to get the visa sticker on your passport.
- Move to the VIETNAM ENTRY STAMP counter, next to the officer who gives you Laos exit stamp, and give the officer your passport. The officer will give you all the stamps and you’re ready to go! Remember to check all the stamped you got to ensure every information is correct.
- Then you leave to the counter for outside where you will need to show your passport again to another immigration officer. After checking, he will let you go.
- Congratulation, your visa run to Laos has been done, you’ve got your new Vietnamese visa. Welcome back to our Vietnam.
You can see the map for all above steps here:
Wow, that’s all details for a Vietnam visa runs to Laos, via Lao Bao or Cau Treo Checkpoint. As mentioned above, the very important paper to do a visa run from Vietnam is the original visa approval letter. Vietnam-visa.com, with over 12 years of service and offices in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh can assist you to get such letter. Feel free to contact us at +84.946.583.583 or Support@Vietnam-visa.com.