Mastering the Chiang Mai to Vientiane Visa Run (2023 Edition)

Visa runs are an essential part of living and working in Thailand for many foreigners. Vientiane, the capital of Laos, is a popular destination for obtaining a Thai visa for people based in Chiang Mai. We don’t offer this service currently but we have prepared

Required Documents for a Thai Visa

Before embarking on your visa run, ensure you have the following documents:

    • A valid passport with at least six months remaining
    • Passport-sized photos (4×6 cm)
    • Completed visa application form
    • Proof of financial means
    • Any additional documents based on your visa type

Booking an Appointment with the Thai Consulate

Make sure your visa application process a success. Start by booking an appointment through the Visa Application Appointment System at Appointments can be made up to one month in advance. Remember to cancel your appointment at least 24 hours before the scheduled time if you cannot make it, as no-shows may prevent you from scheduling another appointment for one month.

Getting to Vientiane

There are two primary ways to reach Vientiane from Chiang Mai:

a. The budget-friendly option (by bus):

    1. Chiang Mai to Udon Thani by bus or train: Traveling by bus takes approximately 10-12 hours, while the train takes about 12-14 hours. Prices range from 500 to 1,000 baht.

    2. Udon Thani to Nong Khai by bus: A bus from Udon Thani to Nong Khai takes around 1 hour and costs around 50 baht.

    3. Nong Khai to Vientiane by train or bus: Choose between a train or bus to cross the border into Laos. Both options cost around 20 baht and take about 15 minutes.

b. The speedy alternative (by plane):

Fly from Chiang Mai to Udon Thani: Direct flights take roughly 1 hour and 20 minutes. From Udon Thani, follow the steps outlined in the budget-friendly option to reach Vientiane.

Accommodation in Vientiane

Stay close to the Thai Consulate to minimize travel time. Three highly-rated options include:

    • Ibis Vientiane Nam Phu: A well-known international chain offering modern amenities and comfortable rooms, within walking distance of the consulate.
    • Vayakorn Inn: A cozy boutique hotel with a convenient location and warm, attentive service.
    • S Park Design Hotel: A stylish hotel with spacious rooms and a wide range of amenities, including a swimming pool and fitness center.

Navigating the Visa Application Process

On your appointment day, head to the Consular Section 30 minutes before your appointment time with your documents and appointment confirmation. You can show either a printed confirmation or a screenshot of the confirmation on your smartphone for verification. Submit your application and pay the visa fee in cash (Thai baht only). Visa processing takes three working/business days, so plan your trip accordingly.

Exploring Vientiane’s Attractions

While waiting for your visa, discover Vientiane’s unique attractions:

    • Pha That Luang: A stunning golden stupa, national symbol, and important religious monument.
    • Patuxai Victory Monument: An iconic landmark blending Lao and French architectural styles, offering panoramic city views from the top.
    • Wat Si Saket: A serene temple complex housing thousands of Buddha images and a beautiful cloister with intricate murals.
    • Buddha Park (Xieng Khuan): An intriguing sculpture park filled with over 200 Hindu and Buddhist statues, just a short drive from Vientiane.
    • COPE Visitor Centre: A thought-provoking center providing insight into the ongoing issue of unexploded ordnance in Laos and the efforts to help those affected by it.
    • Lao National Museum: A museum showcasing Laos’ history, culture, and heritage, with exhibits spanning prehistoric times to the present day.

Visa Collection and Return to Chiang Mai

Collect your visa two days after submitting your application at the Consular Section between 1:30 p.m. and 4:00 p.m. With your new visa in hand, retrace your steps to return to Chiang Mai via your chosen mode of transportation.

Final Tips and Advice

    • Always double-check visa requirements and appointment details on the Thai Consulate’s official website.
    • Bring all necessary documents and appointment confirmations for a smooth application process.
    • Plan your trip to include buffer time in case of unforeseen delays.
    • Explore Vientiane’s attractions while waiting for your visa.
    • Keep a record of your travel itinerary and accommodation details for reference and emergencies.

Following this comprehensive guide, you’ll be well-prepared for a successful and enjoyable visa run to Vientiane from Chiang Mai. Se you back in Chiang Mai when you return!

Ready, Set, Visa Run! Your Essential Checklist for Chiang Mai to Vientiane​

Check Passport Validity

  • Valid for at least 6 months
  • At least two blank visa pages

Book an Appointment

  • Schedule your appointment at
  • Book at least one month in advance
  • Note the cancellation policy: cancel no less than 24 hours prior to the appointment

Prepare Visa Application Form

Gather Supporting Documents (if applicable)

  • Proof of employment or financial means
  • Proof of address in Thailand
  • Flight itinerary or travel plans
  • Marriage or birth certificates (for family visa applications)
  • Any other required documents for specific visa types

Prepare Passport-sized Photos

  • Two recent photos (3.5 x 4.5 cm)
  • White background and neutral facial expression

Arrange Transportation

  • Book flight, bus, or minivan to Vientiane
  • Confirm departure and return dates
  • Check visa and passport requirements for transit countries (if applicable)

Book Accommodation

  • Book a hotel or guesthouse in Vientiane
  • Confirm check-in and check-out dates
  • Keep hotel contact information handy

Prepare for Appointment Day

  • Organize visa fee in cash (Thai Baht) only
  • Bring appointment confirmation (printed or screenshot on smartphone)
  • Plan to arrive 30 minutes prior to appointment time

Know the Consular Section’s Schedule

  • Submission of applications: 9.00 a.m. – 12.00 a.m.
  • Payment and collection: 13.30 p.m. – 16.00 p.m.
  • Business hours: Monday – Friday, closed on Saturday, Sunday, and Public Holidays

Familiarize Yourself with Visa Processing Time

  • 3 working/business days for processing
  • Collection 2 days after submission (approved or not approved)

Additional Preparations

  • Research local customs and etiquette
  • Familiarize yourself with the location of the Thai Embassy in Vientiane
  • Plan leisure activities or sightseeing during your stay
  • Keep emergency contact information handy