Written by David Allan

Following Thailand and more recently Myanmar, Laos plans to make its visa application process easier with a brand new eVisa service is a welcome move for tourists planning a trip to landlocked Laos. According to a report published in the Vientiane Times, eVisa will start in June. You will be able to apply for a visa-on-arrival at airport checkpoints and at major land border checkpoints such as the one at Nong Khai in Northeast Thailand.

All international visitors to Laos will be eligible to apply online for a single entry visa with a planned maximum stay of 30 days and travellers who want to stay longer, or make multiple trips to neighbouring countries and return to Laos to extend their holiday will still need to apply for a multiple entry visa at the nearest Lao PDR embassy or consulate. It would make travellers lives easier if they could enjoy multiple reentries to Laos within the period of their 30-day visa-on-arrival but there are no plans to do this.

Queues to get the Visa on Arrival can be long and it can be slow so skipping this line would make for a more pleasant arrival into Laos.

The 30-day visa-on-arrival is the standard option for most travellers. Fees vary according to the nationality with most paying around USD $30. The new eVisa is expected to add another USD $5 to the cost of a visa.

For the few nationalities not on the VoA list they need to apply for a 30-day tourist visas at the nearest Lao PDR embassy, which takes around three working days.

Laos needs to make visiting the country more convenient especially at land checkpoints where travellers often encounter “overtime fees” at all hours of the day. If Laos follows the lead of neighbours Myanmar, credited with having the most efficient and user-friendly eVisa, and Thailand, it will outsource the process to an eVisa supplier that has a strong track record.

Laos welcomed 4.1 million visitors in 2018 shot of the 5 million target but an increase of 8.2% after two disappointing years and is now hoping to pass the target of 5 million in 2019. The average stay in Laos is 8 days and there is a lot to see and do. Laos is often an add on destination so making the visa process easier will hopefully attract more visitors.

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