Savannakhet, Laos, presents a low-key option for getting a Thai visa instead of making a Thai visa run to Vientiane.
Savannakhet, Laos is located just across the Mekong River from Mukdahan, Thailand. If you are heading to Savannakhet to make a Thai visa run, it’s best to first find your way to Mukdahan.
Buses leave from Bangkok’s Mo Chit Northern bus terminal to Mukdahan:
- Non-air con buses leave throughout the day: around 350 THB, about 12 hours
- VIP buses leave around 8 pm to Mukdahan: cost about 800 THB (confirm everything with bus terminal in Bangkok), about 12 hours
From Mukdahan, Thailand there is a bus service that runs about every hour across the border to Savannakhet, Laos.
The Thai Embassy in Savannakhet is actually just a Thai Consulate – General, and they give Visas!
How Much Time Does it Take to Get a Thai Visa in Savannakhet:
At the very least you will need 9 am Day 1 – 2 pm Day 2 (29 hours or so). Yes, you will need to spend the night in Savannakhet, Laos (see below).
I arrived at the Thai consulate (day 1) at about 8:30 am. The consulate is located right in the center of town, with a Mekong River view. It’s possible to walk to the consulate from just about anywhere in town.
View Thai Consulate – Savannakhet, Laos in a larger map
You can get a Thai visa application form right outside the gates of the consulate. There are a number of makeshift stalls that also take visa photos and offer photocopying services.
They charge 20,000 Kip for 9 passport photos and 2000 Kip for a single page photo copy (a bit expensive). The forms they supplied us were free. If you can pre-arrange your photos and your photocopy, you won’t need to worry about this!
This is what you need for your Thai visa:
- Passport (usual valid for 6 months or more)
- Visa application filled out
- 2 Passport photos
- 1 photocopy of main page of passport
- Thai Baht, or USD
The Thai consulate in Savannakhet opens the gates to applicants at 9:00 am (despite the sign saying 8:30 am). Nothing get’s going too early when you’re in Laos! You enter the gate and submit your visa application at the counter.
The Thai visa costs 1000 THB for a 2 month visa and 2000 THB for a 2 month double entry visa. There is no options on the visa form to select double entry, so make sure to tell the clerk that you would like a double entry. He will examine your passport for a few seconds and then write double entry at the top. Note that you must ask him!
You will be handed a small receipt with a number on it, and your visa will be ready the NEXT (day 2) business day at 2 pm.
NOTE: Be sure to look at the schedule of Thai and Laos holidays to avoid having to waste more time than you need to on a Thai visa run to Savannakhet.
Getting From Savannakhet to Mukdahan
Immediately after getting your Thai visa (Day 2), it’s possible to head straight to the Savannakhet bus station and catch the bus back to Mukdahan (if you are on a visa run from Thailand), or continue on you Laos travels. I walked to the bus station and it took about 20 minutes, so you can either walk or take a tuk tuk.
Here is the Savannakhet to Mukdahan bus terminal schedule:
Cheap guest houses in Savannakhet:
- Leena Guest House: Nice location with 40,000 Kip double rooms
- Phone Vilay Guest House: Decent guest house, about a 10 minute walk from city center with rooms ranging from 25,000 to 50,000 Kip per night.
It’s one of the best sandwiches I’ve ever had in my entire life, and it’s located in Savannakhet, Laos. After turning in your passport on Day 1 of the visa process, head over to the main square of Savannakhet and the small breakfast restaurant is located right across the street from Phongsavanh Bank (biggest building in Savannakhet?).