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Is Laos as bad as everyone says?

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I have about enough for 18 months living expenses saved up, but I know I'll need to do lots of tourist visa runs in that time.


Is Vientiane and Sakhannet really as hard as everyone says, with flight bookings and carrying 20K in cash? (I have Thai bank account so statements would be fine)


I'm so pissed off the gyms and crap and wifi so bad in Cambodia I can't watch movies lol


But I'm put off by all the hassle it sounds like.


I'm I just reading all the bad reports and taking them into consideration too much, or is it really beginning to get impossible to stay in Thailand for more than a few months.


I'd be happy with 2x single entry tourist visa from each Laos embassy if the process is smooth and bank statement is enough.



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Bad as in getting rejected at border of V without 20k cash or having visa declined at S without onward flight and itinerary.


lots of stories on here recently.


im already in Asia.

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Since 2015 I have had two single entry tourist visas from Laos and another two from Penang.

So yes it is possible.


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2 hours ago, JackThompson said:

Over a year ago I stayed at the La Ong Dao - no issues for me, other than the WiFi was (typically) poor.  Granted, it's a boring area - but dealing with Lao tuk-tuks on my previous visit, staying further away, was a nightmare.  Next time in Vientiane, I will be staying by the river and renting a bicycle so I can get to the embassy without the rude, dishonest, overpriced tuk-tuks - best of both worlds.

Last trip to Savanahket, the tuk-tuk driver from the consulate to my guesthouse literally berated me the entire journey for going to the "wrong guesthouse" - because it was not where he had a commission-deal.  Each time I said, "Thank you, but please take me to X guesthouse," he became more angry.  Price to this (close) guesthouse was agreed in advance - after his lying "Oh, that is a long way" story was shot-down with the map on my phone.   Don't let them touch your bags until you have a firm-price agreed on to you destination.

The only other problem with Laos is that the food is terribly overpriced - even local food.  Straight off the menu - 2x+ the Thai (Bangkok / Pattaya) price for Lao/Issan dishes.  


Those are 2 different consulates with separate rules.  Savanahket requires the Bank-Statement, flight out, plus hotel-booking or rental-contract.  Vientiane does not require these (for now), but is quick to put the "This person frequently travels to Thailand on Tourist Visas" stamp in your passport - usually on your 3rd or 4th Tourist Visa from Laos - even if some visas in their "count" are years ago.  For this reason, I save Vientiane until the end, when I am about to get a new passport for lack of available pages, anyway. 

Penang, Phnom Penh, Hong Kong, and Vietnam are other good options for Thai Visas - and your goal should be to spread them out.  Each consulate has its own requirements.  If you don't have a long visa-history in Thailand, I would suggest starting with Myanmar - an easy place to get a Visa, but requires returning via-air to Thailand (absent a hairy road-trip) - which is somewhat perilous due to the consequences of rejection at Thai Airports for longer-stayers.

It sounds like you are in Cambodia now - so you could get your first Tourist-Visa from an agent like the one in the LuckyLucky Moto shop.  They accepted my Thai bank-book in lieu of flights, twice; a $1000 USD equivalent balance was recommended.


The one caveat - things could change at any time on staying in Thailand on Tourist Visas.  Your 18-mo plan is no problem, if things remain as they are.  But have a bug-out plan, be prepared to lose a rental-deposit, carry any essentials with you on your visa-run trips, and watch this forum - being careful not to be taken-in with false alarms (by trolls and/or those pushing expensive visas).


My experience with WiFi in any country at guesthouses is that quality is highly variable - usually poor.   One jerk doing bittorrent wide-open, with a zillion simultaneous connections - or several with YouTube "HD" steams - and it's useless.  No guesthouse I've heard of runs a good QoS (quality of service) router-system to limit the # of connections AND total-bandwidth per connected-client - much less something smart enough to re-write all YouTube requests to pull in the smaller, 360p stream.  Many are essentially "sharing" a single residential-bandwidth connection.


To fully-solve the Internet issue in Cambodia requires getting a land-line installed - which requires a year contact.  You can also buy 4G data-plans for a fraction of the Thai cost / Gigabyte.  I have found Cambodian Internet service to be good, in general, due to competition.  If one 4g company is getting flaky, switch to one of the others until the 1st buys more upstream bandwidth - which they will (due to the competition).


If coming to Thailand, I would suggest renting a condo with a hard-line (ethernet) coming in for 600 -> 700 Baht/mo - hooked to your wifi router.  Even this lower-priced package tends to be good-quality - about 29 days/mo - with 4G used only as backup when something goes wrong.  A condo may also save ~50% on the electricity-rate vs guesthouses.  Assuming you like air-con, these two features more than cover the difference in a guesthouse's seemingly lower "rent" per/mo rate.

Regarding wifi, in the most remote places in Vietnam it was perfect, Thailand, Malaysia and Laos ok too.

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Thanks for your reply Jack Thompson. I agree, the tuk tuk drivers in Vientiane are the most unpleasant I have come across. My last experience, last week, I payed one 150 baht to take me to a destination about 2 or 3 K's distance. We'd only travelled about 1 K, and he started complaining like hell that it was too far, and then driving erratically in his childish and petulant frustration, we just about got there. I threw the money at him and called him a buffalo.

In fact, I often walk from the embassy down to the river, or back. It takes 30 mins. Take an umbrella to keep the sun off.

The many reasons the La Ong Dao is nightmare can be read on trip advisor. I would add to the many complaints there: the general noise and tiredness of the place, depressing windowless rooms, loud Chinese tour groups and their huge buses coming and going at all hours, and the rancid brothel at the back of car park, with 3 or 4 nasty looking pimps loitering around outside. Really, not a nice place.

Edited by Jeremy50
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