Westerners need visas. Currently you can get visas upon arrival in most main entry points into Laos (the airports and the Friendship Bridge). You can obtain also your visa before you leave home, or do so en route (at an Asian gateway such as Hong Kong, Tokyo, or Bangkok).
If you plan to come in by any method other than by plane, you need to check with a Laotian Embassy or Consulate at least one week, but less than one month, before you plan to enter the country. Without a visa you will be turned away. Payment is almost always required in US dollars, although the Luang Prabang airport accepts Thai Baht.
There are currently at least eight land or ferry crossing points for entry to Laos, in addition to the airports at Vientiane and Luang Prabang. Entry points come and go, so you should always verify that your chosen entry point is still open.
These entry points are:
From China : Mengla to Boten (advance visa required – land crossing)
From Thailand :
- Chiang Kong to Huay Xai (advance visa required – ferry crossing)
- Nong Khai to Vientiane (Friendship Bridge – visa upon entry)
- Mukdahan to Savannakhet (advance visa required – ferry crossing)
- Chong Mek to Ban Mai Sing Amphon (advance visa required – land crossing)
From Vietnam :
- Vinh to Kaew Neua (advance visa required – land crossing)
- Danang to Lao Bao (advance visa required – land crossing)
From Cambodia : TBS (advance visa required – ferry crossing)
Luang Prabang Airport : Visa upon arrival
Vientiane Airport : Visa upon arrival
Keep in mind visa issuance rules are constantly changing. Please visit the links (incl. Lao embassies and consulates abroad) hereunder and check the current requirements and prices.
Laos travel guide homepage