A ‘visa run’ to Laos’ Capital, Vientiane
I keenly anticipated a trip to Vientiane, Laos to apply for another Thai visa. Fortunately, I am able to work remotely due to the flexibility of teaching online. I’ve wanted to explore certain places in Laos given that I live in neighbouring Thailand. In addition I have learnt that Lao culture is fairly similar to Thai culture. On this occasion I only visited Vientiane but there were plenty of interesting sights.
Route from Chiang Mai
I took the slightly cheaper option of the night bus from Chiang Mai to Nong Khai. Nong Khai is on the Eastern Thai border with Laos. The ‘Friendship Bridge’ over the Mekong River separates the countries. I booked the bus in advance by translating the Green Bus website, I recommend doing this to ensure a seat. Although the journey was 13 hours, the ticket included a snack bag with Thai tea, biscuits, crisps and pastries. I pre-booked a seat which happened to be one of few that reclined into a bed. This might seem a small perk but the comfort was much appreciated.
Crossing the Friendship Bridge was one of the most fascinating experiences I’ve had in South East Asia. Travelling over the vast Mekong River was pretty memorable. Once clearing immigration on the Thai side, a bus takes you over the bridge. I arrived in Laos to a plethora of tuk tuk, taxi and minivan drivers. I took a Taxi with some Czech tourists into Vientiane and got out near the Thai Embassy.
VISA NOTE: At the Embassy there were many others applying for visas so arrive as early as you can.
Experiences in Vientiane
In the afternoon I worked at a cafe as the weather was extremely humid for walking. My initial evening plan was to sample Laotian food along the riverfront. However, at my hostel, I chatted with Joseph who was travelling through South East Asia on a 3 month tour. He asked if I would like to join him for a football match at the National Stadium. Immediately keen, we discussed transport options and decided to take a taxi 15km to the stadium. On arrival there was a cocophony of noise from fans, the majority from opponents Vietnam. Tickets were available from Laotian and Vietnamese fans outside the ground, yet our Lao and Vietnamese language was limited. Luckily, we found a couple of guys that spoke enough English to understand and we purchased two tickets.
The next morning, I visited some stunning temples and walked along riverside before collecting my Visa. At the embassy. a couple asked my advice regarding transport to the Bridge. They were also collecting Thai tourist visas. I offered to travel back to Nong Khai with them as they were taking the night bus to Chiang Mai. Overall, the Laos trip was an amazing experience and I plan to visit Vientiane again in the near future. By then, I hope to speak Thai more fluently, useful in Laos due to the similar dialect of the languages.