Multi Entry Non Imm ‘O’ Visa Renewal @ Savannakhet

I recently made a trip to Savannakhet Laos for a Multi Entry Non Imm ‘O’ visa.

Getting there and back

I took the Nakhonchai Tour bus (044 257 887) from Korat to Mukdahan, travelling up at 8.30am on a Sunday and returning on the 4:00pm bus on a Tuesday.

Please click for the Nakhonchai Tour timetable

There are no VIP buses but all are aircon. The 14.00 and 16.00 do not have a toilet. The buses although by no means new were in good nick and comfortable enough. They even gave out blankets for the return trip as it does get a bit chilly after dark. The journey time is approximately 6 hours 15 minutes and costs 313 Baht. Despite the numerous stops, both scheduled and unscheduled, the outbound and return journeys arrived more or less on time.

The Bridge leaving Thailand and entering Laos

The bus to Laos leaves Mukdahan bus station every hour from 7.30am to 7.30pm. The fare is 50 Baht.

On arrival at the Thai border Immigration they will stamp you out then you wait for the bus to take you to the Laos border. When you alight at Laos Immigration there is a Visa on Arrival window on your left, before the Immigration booths, where you need to buy your visa. The fee is 35 USD or 1500 Baht and you need 1 photo.
 
After getting your visa you need to fill out an Arrival and Departure card for Laos and then go to the Immigration booth where they will stamp you into Laos for 30 days.

Be warned the bus did not wait for all the passengers, me included, even though the driver was told there were half a dozen people waiting to clear Immigration. This left me the choice of waiting an hour for the next bus or taking a Tuk Tuk to town for 200 Baht which is the option I chose.

Savannakhet

After chasing the bus to the bus station to retrieve my bag I asked the Tuk Tuk driver to take me to a Guest House near the river and within walking distance of the Thai Consulate. He took me to the Mekong Guest House which fitted my criteria. The place has seen better days but it had a certain Hithcockesque charm and was very clean. The room had aircon, fridge and TV for 360 Baht per night. There are plenty of Guest Houses and Hotels along the river and the roads that run parallel to it check on Agoda so finding a nice room shouldn't be a problem.

Most of the eating places, minimarts etc. are located on the 4th street down that runs parallel to the river.  There are a few places that sell excellent filled baguettes and Laos coffee filtered through an old sock along this street, but get there early as they all seem to sell out before 8:00am. There are banks and exchange booths on this street too. You can pay for everything in Laos using USD or Baht but you will get change in Kip. At the time of writing there are 250 Kip to the Thai Baht.

A must for any visitor is to sit in a bar on the banks of the Mekong sipping an ice cold Beer Lao and watch the sunset. Beer Lao on the river is 40 Baht for a large bottle which is a real bargain.

The Thai Consulate

I walked along the river and arrived at 8.30am and filled in an application form at one of the many stalls opposite the Consul. There was no charge for this. The Consul opened at 9:00am and a queue of sorts formed. When it was my turn I handed in:-

Application form with 2 photos attached.

- Original marriage certificate

- 1 copy of marriage certificate

- 1 copy of my passport photo page signed by me

- 1 copy of my wife’s ID card, signed and dated by my wife

- 1 copy of my wife’s Blue Book (Tabian Ban) signed and dated by my wife

- 5000 Baht visa fee

The officer looked through the documents and asked for the 5,000 Baht fee. He gave me a ticket and told me to return at 2:00pm the next day to collect my passport.

Fast forward to 2:00pm next day and I return to collect my passport which is duly returned with my new visa. I had a tuk tuk waiting to take me to the bridge. 3 of us shared it for a total cost of 300 Baht. 

The Bridge leaving Laos and entering Thailand

The main reason for taking the Tuk Tuk and not waiting for the bus is to beat the crowd and the subsequent queues when the bus arrives. So I was stamped out of Laos and asked for 40 Baht for what I know not but I paid anyway. It became apparent that the cunning plan to beat the crowd had backfired as there were already 40+ people waiting for the next bus which I was told was not due for at least 30 minutes. 

By now the time is 2.45pm and I am a long way from catching the last bus to Korat which left at 4:00pm. I had noticed that there was a coach from a large local enterprise parked up nearby with the driver sat snoozing by the door so I ventured over to try and hijack it to take me and 2 others across the bridge to Thai Immigration. The hijack failed but a 200 Baht bribe saw the 3 of us delivered across the river to Thailand.

Thai Immigration was manned by a lovely young lady who searched my very full British passport for a place to stamp without using a new page. She then stamped me in for 90 days. There are plenty of Tuk Tuks and taxis once you clear Thai Immigration so I got to my bus with 30 minutes to spare and was home for around 11:00pm.

Addendum

Please note that the Royal Thai Consulate has moved to a new location near the bridge. So it is too far out of town to walk. Local Tuk Tuks are charging 200 Baht for trips to the new Consul from downtown Savannakhet.  
 
The other change since my trip is that the Consul now offers a same day service. Now you can hand in your application before 11am and collect your passport with your new visa at 3:00pm. DB


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Yaki Tori Don @ Sap Shabu
Good Bread @ St Étoile
Sushi & Ramen @ Umai
Flaming Skewers @ Chez Andy
The Grill Room @ Kantary Hotel

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