You are probably not familiar with the term “Vietnam visa run” if you are just a regular tourist to Vietnam, getting into our country and staying there for just a few days, 1 month or even 3 months and then leave for your home.
But as an expat in Vietnam, you should have heard about this term at least once as it is the way used by a lot of expats in Vietnam to avoid overstaying a visa, extend their stay less expensively as Vietnam visa extension is currently quite costly.
Important note: In the outbreak of Covid-19, the Vietnam borders are not fully opened, you should not do the visa run as you cannot get visa stamped at at entry point of Vietnam. Instead, extend visa is the best choice.
And now, it comes to a detailed guide on what it is, where to do the visa run for Vietnam and how to properly do a Vietnam visa run.
What is Vietnam visa run?
A visa run for Vietnam is a trip that you need to take to remain in Vietnam as your Vietnam visa is soon to expire, and you cannot extend it, or its extension is costly. So, it means that you have to leave Vietnam, get to a neighboring country (Laos, Cambodia, Thailand or China), and then turn back around and re-enter Vietnam with a new visa.
Pros and Cons of Visa Border Run
- Cheap price: Extend your visa by border run is cheaper than the other ways.
- Variety options: The visa getting under the visa run has no relation with the old one, and you can apply to get a one-month single entry, one-month multiple entry, three months single entry or three-month multiple entry visa, depending on your demand.
- Check out and check in Vietnam: You cannot stay in Vietnam to do the visa run, you need to exit at the border and re-enter this border to get the new visa. This process takes time and effort.
Where to do a visa run from Vietnam?
There are two ways to do your visa run in Vietnam, namely:
- Do the visa run via Vietnam international airports; and
- Do the visa run via land borders.
Here is the list of 24 ports of entries that you are allowed to do a visa run from Vietnam:
|Noi Bai International Airport – Hanoi||Bo Y Landport|
|Tan Son Nhat International Airport – HCMC||Cha Lo Landport|
|Da Nang International Airport – Da Nang||Cau Treo Landport|
|Cat Bi International Airport – Hai Phong||Huu Nghi Landport|
|Cam Ranh International Airport – Khanh Hoa||Ha Tien Landport|
|Phu Quoc International Airport – Phu Quoc||Lao Bao Landport|
|Lien Khuong International Airport – Da Lat||Lao Cai Landport|
|Can Tho International Airport – Can Tho||La Lay Landport|
|Moc Bai Landport|
|Mong Cai Landport|
|Nam Can Landport|
|Na Meo Landport|
|Song Tien Landport|
|Tinh Bien Landport|
|Trang Tay Trang Landport|
|Xa Mat Landport|
What to bring on a Vietnamese visa run?
To successfully the visa run from Vietnam, you need to prepare the following:
- Original passport (valid for at least 06 months following your re-entry date);
- Visa approval letter (original if you do the visa run via land border, or print if doing it via international airports of Vietnam);
- Vietnamese visa application form (also known as entry and exit form);
- Stamping fee;
- 02 passport-sized photos;
- Air ticket/bus ticket;
- A black or blue pen to complete the form.
- You cannot do the visa run without a visa approval letter. This letter is issued to you via a local travel agency, allowing you to get into Vietnam and get visa stamped at the border gate. Be sure that the dates and the passport number are matching!
- If you do the visa border run, you are required to show the original visa approval letter with the red stamp and signature, a copy, scan or photo is not accepted.
- There is also regulation concerning the photos. Spend some minutes to read Vietnam visa photo requirements and sizes. Don’t forget your photos as you may be subject to a penalty of $2 or have to take it at the airport at around US $2/one. You can get photos everywhere in Vietnam and it won’t usually cost you more than 50 – 100k VND.
- The visa stamping fee at Vietnam airport is US $25 for a single entry visa, US $50 for a multiple entry visa valid for up to 3 months.
- The Vietnamese visa application form can be taken on your flight in case you do the visa run via the airport, in the front desk of the visa counter at the border gates or downloaded here.
How to do a visa run for Vietnam?
There are two ways to do your visa run that are doing via the airports and doing via the land borders. Now, we will go one by one.
1. Vietnam visa run via international airports
And here are the steps that you need to follow:
- Get a visa approval letter via email, print it out, prepare 02 photos and stamping fee;
- Reach the Vietnam airport for a flight leaving Vietnam;
- Complete the customs procedure such country, and then stay there for some days or come back immediately for a flight back to Vietnam;
- Show the printed visa approval letter at your departing airport to get on board, and then show it again at VOA/Landing visa counter at Vietnam airport to get visa stamped and your visa run is completed.
The way to get the visa approval letter, and get the visa run done at Vietnam airport is exactly the same as that to get a visa on arrival for Vietnam.
If you are good at hunting cheap flight tickets, or your budget permits, this option seems to be the best for a visa run as it will save you a lot of energy for travel. The best countries that you can consider for an airport visa run from Vietnam are Thailand, Singapore, Indonesia, and the Philippines.
2. Visa run to land borders
This way of doing a visa run from Vietnam is preferred by various expats in Vietnam as it’s cheap. And to do so, you need to follow the following steps:
- Get the visa approval letter. (the original one is required);
- Book a visa van or a bus or simply drive on your own to the border. If you want to drive on your own and has no motorbike or car, just rent one in a store near your residence as it is very easy.
- Show your passport once you are at the Vietnamese border, get the Vietnam exit stamp. After that, you’re officially not able to stay in Vietnam anymore.
- At the border, you pass one more passport control and then you will head to Laos/Cambodia immigration office.
- Once you reach Laos/Cambodia immigration office, you need to show your original passport and Cambodia visa (if required) or get the visa on arrival (if available) and fill out the required forms. You will get the entry stamp of such a country on your passport.
- After that, you can get into the country for a few days’ trip or go back to the immigration counter to do the exit procedure to get the exit stamp. You’re done and successfully outside Laos/Cambodia and ready for a new Vietnamese visa!
- Once you reach the Vietnam border, the immigration will recheck your passport and visa approval letter. After that, you will get the visa sticker.
- Congratulations. Your visa run is completed.
Is visa approval letter for airport visa run the same as that for land border run?
No. Although they are both issued by the Vietnam Immigration Department via a local travel agency as permission to allow its holders to get visa stamped at Vietnam border, they are different in the following aspects:
- Your port of entry for airport visa run is stated on the ending part of the letter, while that for the land border run is on its body;
- Your port of entry for airport visa run is not fixed, and you can switch among the above 8 international airports to get the visa stamped, but that in the letter for a land border visa run is fixed and cannot be changed;
- The letter you show to get visa stamped at Vietnam airport is a print while it must be original for the land border run. As such, you can get the letter for an airport visa while you are in Vietnam or in a foreign country, but you are required to get the letter for border visa run when you are in Vietnam, before leaving the country.
Here is a sample letter for airport visa run:
Here is a sample letter for visa land border run:
How to get a visa for doing a visa run at Vietnam airport?
You will find it easier than ever. You just need to:
- Complete the Vietnam visa form online
- Make payment of letter fee;
- Get visa approval letter via email within 2-3 working days normally, or within 2-4 working hours in case you need it urgently.
How to get an approval letter for a border visa run from Vietnam?
It’s also quite simple to get a visa letter for border run in Vietnam. Just follow the steps below:
- Step 1: Contact a local travel agent, like us, to ask for the visa approval letter.
- Step 2: Make payment of letter fee,
- Step 2: Receive the visa approval letter in person or by post;
How much is the visa run in Vietnam?
To do a visa run, you need to pay the following items:
- Visa approval letter (ranging from US $21 for 1 month to US $34 for 3 months);
- Bus ticket/Air tickets
- Visa stamping fee (US $25 – for single entry visa)
- Visa fee to Cambodia, Laos, etc. (if required).
* Important tip: You also should prepare some cash (around US $10) for immigration officer if you do the visa run at the land border.
The most common used borders that expats in Vietnam often choose for the cheapest visa run are Moc Bai (to Cambodia), Lao Bao and Cau Treo (to Laos). To define the best place for your cheapest visa run and how to to it properly, refer to: