Thailand is not only a great country for epic backpacking trips, but also popular for working or just staying longer.
However, one thing that I found to be a hassle though is getting a long-term visa. If you fly in you get a 30 day tourist visa on arrival and if you cross the border overland (i.e. from Malaysia or Cambodia) it will only be 15 days – for many nationalities including mine: German. The VOA is free so we can’t complain too much, however if you really plan on staying in Thailand for more than one month, you need to go out of the country and apply for a new visa unless you are just out for another 15 day “overland” VOA.
Bus Trip from Bangkok to Vientiane
During my stay in Bangkok I went on a visa trip to Vientiane in Laos by bus – all organized by myself. It’s not difficult, but you might find this post useful as I will tell you the cheapest way to do this tourist / business visa trip.
From Bangkok, go to Mo Chit Northern Bus Terminal. To get there, take the MRT to Kamphaeng Phet Station and from there a motorbike taxi (30 Baht) to Mo Chit Bus Terminal. Here you buy your bus ticket to Nong Khai, the border town to Laos. There are buses going up there very frequently, I recommend the night bus at 8:30pm (about 10 hours, 400 Baht 2nd class aircon, 750 Baht VIP aircon) as you save time and money for accommodation in Vientiane.
It is also possible to take a night train from Bangkok’s Hua Lamphong railway station, there are several services from around 7pm to 10pm. The ticket costs around 400 Baht for a seat and 800 Baht for a sleeper. The trip takes much longer though than if you take the bus (more slowly, more stops), about 15 hours from Bangkok to Nongkhai.
Once you arrive in Nong Khai in the early morning, take a tuk tuk to the Thai border (15 minutes, 50 Baht). Get stamped out of Thailand and take a bus to the Lao border (5 minutes, 20 Baht).
Here you get your Lao Visa on Arrival. It costs 30 USD or 1,400 Baht for most western countries (e.g. Germany, France or United Kingdom) A bit more or less for other regions. You can save money by simply changing Baht for USD at the exchange office located right next to the VOA counter. You will also need to hand in two passport sized photos. After receiving back your passport with the Lao visa (it takes about 10 minutes for them to process it) walk through the boarder into Laos and hop on another tuk tuk to Vientiane (25-30 min, 50 Baht).
Tell the driver to drop you at the Consular Section of the Thai Embassy (just telling them “Thai Visa” will be enough). Note that the consular section is not located within the premise of the embassy chancery but at No. 15 Ban Ponesinuan, Bourichane Road (see the map below). The Visa application can be submitted Mo-Fr between 8:30am and 12pm. The visa fee is 1,000 Baht for a single entry two-month tourist visa with the option of one month extension in Thailand (1,900 Baht). The fee for a three-month Non-Immigrant Business visa is 2,000 Baht. Make sure you bring all the required documents. Come back the following (working) day to collect your passport between 1 am and 3 am.
Rooms in basic guesthouses in Vientiane are located near the Mekong river and cost between 80,000-100,000 Kip for single rooms or 130,000-150,000 Kip for double rooms per night, breakfast and WiFi are usually included.
Travel back to Bangkok using the same means of transport: Tuk Tuks to Nong Khai (50 + 20 + 50 Baht) and from there back to Mo Chit, Bangkok.
Hope that helps organizing your Thai visa trip. It may sound a bit complicated but seriously, it’s not. That’s basically all you need to know and if you should be unsure during some part of your trip, you will meet a lot of other foreigners along the way that do the same thing that you can always ask for help.