Getting A Thai Visa in Vientiane

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In the morning I decide to walk over to the Thai Embassy.  Big mistake.  It was way farther away than I thought and the heat was already coming on strong by 9:30.  It takes me about 25 minutes to walk there and by the end I was really regretting not taking a tuk-tuk.

I head inside the gate and to say it was busy is a major understatement.  I estimated there was already 200 people in line.  I knew from my research that getting a Thai visa in Vientiane was a popular choice because it was low hassle and required the minimum paper work, but I didn’t expect to see a line like that.  They don’t allow photos inside the embassy otherwise I would have taken a photo of the huge line.

There aren’t any instructions on what to do, so you just have to kind of figure it out.  I got into line and started chatting to the guy in front of me.  He pointed me inside where I could get a form to fill out. 

Inside there are a couple of tables with women helping people fill out their application.  There is no queue, you just have to jump into an open seat at the table whenever one opens up.  I get a form and fill it in before handing it back to the woman.  She looks it over points out a spot I missed and then asks for my passport and photos.  She glued the photos to the form, made a copy of my passport and sent me back out to wait in line.  The service cost $2 but was worth it to make sure I had things done right.

It took a good two hours waiting in line.  It was a friendly and jovial atmosphere and there were several people to chat with that made things go a little quicker.  But half the line was uncovered and standing in the sweltering heat wasn’t much fun.

By the time I got to the front I handed in my documents, they gave me a receipt with my number on it and told me to come back tomorrow afternoon.  That was it.  I’m not sure why the line took so long except maybe there were a lot of people who hadn’t filled out their documents correctly.

I head to the pizza place across the street for a little lunch.

Afterwards I look for a tuk-tuk to take me back to the hotel and a guy tells me he has taxi.  It’s a gypsy cab, but the idea of riding back in air conditioning after the mornings walk really appealed to me.  We haggle on a price and soon I’m heading back to the hotel in climate-controlled bliss.

The next day I take a tuk-tuk back to the embassy to pick up my visa.  There is no line this time as they call the number that was on your receipt the previous day.  I stood around in the shade chatting with a British guy while we waited for our numbers to be called.

He was in his twenties and had come to Thailand 6 months ago to learn skydiving.  He’d started dating a Thai girl and was now trying to stay in country as long as possible.  He was a nice guy and fun to talk to while we passed the time.

The wait was about 45 minutes and I was called to the counter to pay my fee and pick up my visa.  Easy peasy as the Brits say.  I now had 60 days to spend in Thailand.

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