With a border stretching 2,000km and plenty ways to cross it, a side trip to Vietnam makes perfect sense. Getting a Vietnam visa in Vientiane is quick and easy. The turnaround time is one day – there is no one day service contrary to online reports. Book your trip accordingly and be mindful of holidays when the embassy may be closed.
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- A visa for Vietnam costs US $70
- Payment is in cash only
- There is no same day service contrary to online reports
Getting to the Embassy
Visas are issued by the Consular Section of the Vietnamese Embassy at 23 Singha Rd. The Embassy is just north of Patuxay Monument on the road to Pha That Luang, within easy walking or cycling distance of the main bus station. The entrance for visa applications is at the side of the building closet to Patuxay. Right next door is a Toyota dealership, which tuk-tuk drivers know as Patuxay Toyota.
You will need to fill out a simple one page application form at the embassy. Bring one passport size photo to attach. When filling out the form you will need to write the name of a city in Vietnam you intend to visit. The visa officer won’t ask for confirmation of your travel details.
The visa section’s operating hours are: Monday 9:30 to 12:00 and 13:30 to 17:00, and Tuesday to Friday: 8:30 to 12:00 and 13:30 to 17:00. You drop off your passport in the morning and pick it up in the afternoon the next business day. The embassy will keep your passport until the visa is ready. Pick up time is 17:00-17:30 Monday to Friday. There is no express service. Contrary to other reports you can not get same day service by paying more.
Avoid going too early in the morning as the visa section does not always open on time. You can show up at 10:00 or 11:00 and complete paperwork in a few minutes. It’s not a crowded visa section with long lines. The whole process usually takes 10-15 minutes.
A visa for Vietnam costs US $70. You can pay in U.S. dollars or Lao Kip. If paying in dollars the embassy only accepts undamaged bills. They should be new and crisp.
The embassy does not accept credit cards or debit cards. There are some ATMs nearby that accept foreign cards.
A Vietnamese visa is a sticker that takes up one full page of your passport. Make sure you have enough pages for stamps and at least six months of validity left on your passport. The visa is valid for any border crossing into Vietnam and valid for 30 days from the time you enter the country. The visa must be used within six months of getting the sticker.
Getting to Vietnam
Depending on your destination you can get to Vietnam from Vientiane by bus, plane or motorbike (if you own a bike with the right papers). Buses from Vientiane to Hanoi take about 24 hours. There are also direct flights between the two capitals. Flying to Ho Chi Minh City requires a stop in Phnom Penh.
Vietnam Embassy Contact
Address: 23 Singha Rd, Vientiane, Laos
Phone: +856 21 413 400
Applying for a Vietnam visa in Vientiane doesn’t take long. Being a heavily touristed part of town is perfect, since you have to go to the embassy twice. 23 Singha Rd is the regular walking or cycling route between Patuxay and Pha That Luang. Consider seeing both on the same day, they are Vientiane’s most iconic sites. Nearby restaurants include Joma Cafe and a Scandinavian Bakery. The embassy is within walking distance of Lane Xang Avenue and Morning Market.
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Photo: Scenes from Floating Market by Paul Hackett