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Laos: a complete breakdown on E-Visa vs. VOA vs. Visa from an embassy

visa evisa voa arrival visa travel laos vientiane luang prabang pakse

Planning your Laos adventure? Don’t get tripped up by visas!

This post is your one-stop guide to navigating the different visa options for entering Laos. We’ll break down E-Visas, Visas on Arrival (VOAs), and traditional embassy visas, so you can choose the method that best suits your travel plans. From application steps to entry points and validity periods, we’ve got you covered!

So, before you pack your bags, be sure to check this guide to ensure a smooth entry into Laos!

This guide was originally posted on Reddit by throughcracker. A big thank you to him for allowing us to repost it!

E-Visa (preferred method)


  • Convenient
  • Extremely quick processing times at border
  • Doesn’t take up much space in your passport (just a small sticker and a stamp)
  • Flat fee (will always be the price it says on the tin, no extra charges)


  • Most expensive method ($50)
  • Only useable at eight ports of entry (Friendship bridges I, II, and IV, Wattay Airport, Luang Prabang Airport, Pakse Airport, Boten car crossing, and Boten station)
  • Website can be a little fiddly
  • NOT useable for direct buses to Laos (ie Udon Thani – Vientiane). I learned this the hard way. Also will (probably) not be usable on the Lao-Thai rail connection when it opens in the future.

Visa On Arrival (VOA)


  • Available at most ports of entry (not including most small crossings or Boten station, but you can get an overpriced van to the car crossing if you run into trouble there, AFAIK)
  • Cheap(ish) at $40 (in crisp $20s) or ฿1500 (around $45, if arriving from Thailand). Wattay airport will accept kip and some European currencies. Boten (car crossing) will accept yuan. No other currencies (ie đong) are accepted.
  • No prep required.


  • Takes a lot of time at the border.
  • Uses a full page in your passport.
  • Arriving after 6 PM or needing pictures will result in some additional fees.

Visa in advance (at embassy or consulate)


  • Useable at any border crossing, including those without VOA or e-Visa facilities. Useful for those planning motorcycle trips to unusual places (ie Bueng Kan – Paksan) or wanting to take a direct bus (ie Bangkok – Vientiane)
  • Fastest border crossing of all three.


  • Requires the most planning, as you would need to actually visit a Lao embassy or consulate.
  • Uses a full page in your passport.
  • Pricing will be in the local currency and may vary.

So, visa secured? Now pack your bags!

With a clear understanding of E-Visas, VOAs, and embassy visas, you can now choose the method that best suits your travel style and itinerary. Remember, this guide equips you for a smooth visa process, so you can focus on the real adventure: exploring the wonders of Laos!

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