Border Crossing and Visa Requirements in Laos – Vietnam via Nam Kan Border

By Two Monkeys Travel - Contributor April 19th, 2016 Posted in Asia, Destination, Travel Blog, Travel Guides 50 Comments

Navigating from one country to another will cost you time and effort as well as a lot of interest. After spending a few weeks in one place and getting used to its currency, food, and people. At some point, you have to bid your sad goodbyes and move forward with your travels. What is the cheapest way to reach your next neighboring destination? Cross the border! For young backpackers and travelers who are moving slow, the crossing border is the best way to get to your next stop. Keep reading for the complete and step by step Visa and Border Crossing Laos – Vietnam (and vice versa)

Buffalo Run 8
Vietnam: Trang An

Flying into Laos from Vietnam or vice versa is expensive while crossing the border should save you at least half of the price of the flight ticket. However the drive takes 27 hours – so prepare yourself with a book or books, crisps, biscuits, and heaps of patience for this trip!

This article is a complete guide of How to get your visa for Vietnam and Laos and How to Border Crossing Laos to Vietnam or Vietnam to Laos.

NOTE: If you’re looking for Vietnam to Laos, scroll down to that part.

12go Asia

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 Laos (Luang Prabang) to Vietnam (Hanoi)

NOTE: If you don’t need a visa (depends on how long you will stay and your nationality), you may skip this part and proceed to the Border Crossing section below.

Being a Filipino passport holder, I can stay in Vietnam up to 21 days with a free visa. However, I intended to stay longer than that hence I have to apply for a visa in a consulate or an embassy.

When I was about to cross the border to Vietnam, I first planned to go to Vientiane where the Vietnam Embassy is located. Then I found out that there is a Vietnam Consulate in Luang Prabang.

The consulate is less than a kilometer away from the city center of Luang Prabang. The best time to go is on Monday morning. If you go there in the middle of the week and hope to leave as soon as possible, there are plenty of options for your visa to be fast-tracked.

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Yes, I highly recommend availing the services of iVisa, if you feel more comfortable having your application submitted by a professional organisation. They have been providing expedited processing and guidance services for any e-visa applications since 2013 so they have a lot of experience. Here are some advantages of getting your visa from them:

  1. They have 24/7 support in many languages.
  2. Application forms are all available on one page;
  3. You can get your Tourist eVisa, Medical eVisa, and Business eVisa within 24 hours if you apply for the Rush Service; and
  4. They provide a full refund under their approval guarantee in case your visa gets rejected!

Go to the iVisa website to discover how they can help you with your visa application.

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Address and Office hours of the Vietnam Consulate:

Address: 417 -418 That Boset Village, Luang Prabang

Mondays to Fridays: 8.30 – 11.30 / 13.30 – 17.00

Visa cost and processing time:

Processing Time 1 Month (Single Entry) 3 Months (Single Entry) 1 Month (Multiple Entries) 3 Months (Multiple Entry
Same Day 55 65 58 *
3 Day 40 75 * *

Note:  On the next grid, I have found that these prices are possible however it is not marked up anywhere. Be prepared to pay more. You can pay in USD or Laos  Kip.

The consulate is not busy at all, but arriving early in the morning is the best time. Remember to bring your Passport and Passport Photo.

Steps to get your visa:

1. Fill out the form for Visa (located at the right corner of the counter).

2. Attach your photo in the shape (the glue is available there) then hand the form and your passport to the person-in-charge on the other side of the glass window.

3. Pay for the Visa and come back to pick up your Passport with your Vietnam Visa.

Visa and Border Crossing Laos-Vietnam 4
Vietnam Visa

Book a sleeper bus from Luang Prabang to Hanoi:

Take a stroll to the city center where the travel agencies are nesting. The drive takes 27 hours and should cost between 370,000 – 390,000 Kip (45-47USD). Unfortunately, there is no bathroom on the bus. Even though most agencies will tell you that there is, it is a lie! The bus company will pick you up from your hostel/guest house.

The bus will depart at 18.00, and the next stop will be around 2.00 in the morning. Remember to have an early dinner and bring some snacks for the long journey. If you need to take a loo break, let the driver know, and they will stop somewhere convenient. Also, remember that the bus will stop plenty of times because they will pick up local passengers and goods.

Border Crossing Laos: Luang Prabang to Hanoi:

The bus will arrive at the boundary around 6.00 in the morning. However, the border opens around 7.00. While waiting, get off the bus and change your remaining Laos Kip to Vietnam Dong at the money exchange.

At 7.00, take your passport with you and your departure form (you can ask the person on the other side of the window for it if you don’t have one). After you received your passport with the stamp of exit from Laos, take a walk to the friendship bridge of Laos-Vietnam to reach the Vietnam border.

Visa and Border Crossing Laos-Vietnam 3
Border Control Desk

Entering Vietnam

Pick up your luggage from your bus for security scanning. Then hand your passport to the person-in-charge at the window. They collect the foreigner’s passport altogether. Wait for few minutes until they call you and give your passport back with the stamp. Now, you’re free to exit the border office, hop back to your bus and prepare for the second leg of the trip. A lunch break will be around 12.00 to 13.00.

The bus will drop you off at a bus station. WARNING: DO NOT take a taxi with the running meter, most taxi drivers are tapping their meters. You will pay way more with that. Negotiate with the driver and pay not more than 150.000 Vietnam Dong. The driver will be more likely to insist that you should use the meter, do not agree and walk away.

Related Article: Looking for affordable accommodation? Check out our Ultimate List of Best Hostels in Laos.

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Transportation Tip: If you’re looking for the cheapest way to book the Trains, Buses, Ferries, Transfers on this route, we use 12Go.Asia to compare the prices!

Powered by 12Go Asia system

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Vietnam (Hanoi) to Laos (Luang Prabang)

There’s no need to arrange your visa in advance. You can easily obtain one when you enter the border.

As a Philippine passport holder, I can receive 30 days free visa. I can’t help but love that part, as most Europeans and other nationalities have to pay $40 USD for the same number of days.

Awesome things to do in Vang Vieng Laos
Vang Vieng

Bus to Laos (Luang Prabang)

Book your bus through a travel agency. It should cost around 990.000 Vietnam Dong (45-47USD). They will pick you up from your hostel and take you to the bus station. The drive takes 27 hours hence remember to bring snacks and water for the journey. A dinner break will be around 21.00 where you can grab some warm food, take a toilet break and brush your teeth. If you need to take a loo break, just let the driver know, and they will stop somewhere convenient.

Take note that the bus will stop plenty of times to pick up local passengers and goods.

Visa and Border Crossing Laos-Vietnam 5
Sleeper Bus

Border Crossing Laos, Luang Prabang FROM Hanoi, Vietnam-Laos

The bus will arrive at the border at around 5.00 in the morning. You have plenty of time to sleep or have a coffee (available in the store nearby) while waiting for the border to open which is around 7.00.

At 7.00, take your passport with you and hand it to the officer-in-charge. Wait for few minutes until they call out your name. In this part, they will not ask you to take your big backpacks out for the security check.

After receiving your passport, walk through the friendship bridge to Laos border. Again, hand your passport to the officer-in-charge, fill up the arrival form.

Visa and Border Crossing Laos-Vietnam 5 (2)
Laos Visa

1. For Non-Asean passport holder, you will be asked to go at the back of the building to pay for the visa ($40USD) and come back to the front (where you received the arrival form). Hand your passport and all the documents. They will give you back your passport with the stamp on.

2. Change the rest of your Vietnam Dong to Laos Kip through the money exchange window. The exchange rate is decent.  Then, walk back to your bus and enjoy the rest of the journey. A stop for lunch break will be around 12.00 or 13.00.

You will be dropped at the bus station. From here, take a tuk-tuk to your hostel or the city center. Share the tuk-tuk with other travelers. Do not pay more than $2USD.

Related Article: Looking for affordable accommodation? Check out our Ultimate List of Best Hostels in Vietnam.

Border Crossing Laos to Vietnam or Vietnam to Laos is pretty much one of the easiest I have experienced. It’s just the long journey that will challenge your patience and your eagerness to save money from flying into the country.


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About the Writer

Mary Charie Profile PicHello! I am Mary Charie Ramos Ylagan I’m a bookworm, ice cream hyped (only chocolate flavor or something with chocolate on it, ah, I don’t even know why I’m babbling about this), writer and a traveler. I am a private person, like very. One of my friends even said that maybe I was a hooker before. But if you are highly curious about my personality (which I profoundly doubt), we should travel together. I’m sarcastic in an annoying way, but my very close friends love it, though! Pulling some jokes is like a hobby to me, although this gives me a hard time to open up my feelings. That’s why I love my blog. It lets me express myself in a different angle.
Join me on my adventures here

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50 thoughts on “Border Crossing and Visa Requirements in Laos – Vietnam via Nam Kan Border

  1. I have enjoyed travelling but never been to Asia before. This article has given me some information about Vietnam. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Thanks.. This is an interesting post because it looks like you really did a ton of research here. I love Vietnam especially its food. I also love Laos. Just the other day, we had somebody from work who had a mission trip in Laos. He said people were nice and the surrounding/environment was too.

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