A new online, Lao E-Visa system is now in place and valid for entry at the following immigration points: Wattay International Airport Vientiane, Luang Prabang International Airport, Pakse International Airport and land crossings at the Lao-Thai Friendship Bridge Vientiane and the Lao-Thai Friendship Bridge II Savannakhet. (Note it is not available at the Friendship Bridge IV which connects Thailand’s Chiang Khong with Huay Xai in Laos or at the Chong Mek/Vang Pao crossing between Ubon Ratchathani and Champassak.)
Official processing time is 3 days and with a fee of $50 for UK or US passport holders, you are paying extra for this Lao e-visa service. (Note also fees do vary somewhat for other nationalities.) You can check details and prices and indeed make an application at this official Lao Immigration Department link.
We haven’t tried it ourselves yet and are yet to be completely convinced of its value. Yes, it could on occasions save time but is more expensive and reading the small print you are actually applying for a visa approval letter which still needs to be taken to a visa desk at immigration and exchanged for the actual visa itself. In this respect, it isn’t as efficient as the Cambodian system for example where you actually receive the visa by e-mail which you print out and hand directly to an immigration officer for an entry stamp. Also a shame it’s not valid for Chiang Khong/Huay Xai where there can be queues in high season.
It may save a few minutes on a busy day at Luang Prabang but anyway, it’s another available option and perhaps worth bearing in mind to help reduce the all too frequent waiting around in queues that are part of any international travel these days.
You can find details of all our Lao tours at this link.