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'Visa run' time came around the other day and I chose to go from Bangkok to Vientiane in Laos. But I made the mistake of going by road.

Whilst Laos was a lovely place and nothing like Bangkok, the trip to get there was a nightmare. We left Bangkok at about 8.30 pm and travelled overnight arriving at the Friendship Bridge border crossing at 5.30am, and for me this is where it all became a pain in the proverbial.

The border wasn't open so we had to wait. Then when it did open at 6.30 we had to wait another 2 - 3 hours on the Thai side, along with dozens of others.

4 or 5 of our group had problems or overstay fines to pay so we had to wait for them as well. All in all it was a real pain.

Having got through Thai immigration we took an overcrowded bus trip across the Friendship Bridge into Laos and then had another 3 hour wait 'for our visa on arrival'.

On arrival in Vientiane we were taken to the Thai embassy where the 'visa run  agents' applied for tourist visas on our behalf. This seemed efficient ! The only sign of efficiency on the whole trip.

To cut a long story short we all stayed overnight at the Nakonesak Hotel in Vientiane and I must say that I had a nice relaxing time. The beer Laos was cheap, and the local hospitality was really good. Even though the hotel was a couple of kilometres from the center it was fine. Vientiane is well worth a visit but next time I will stay in a hotel near to the Mekhong River.

We left the Nakonesak Hotel to return to Bangkok at 1pm the next day and were given back our passports, with the new Thai visa, at the border. I got a double entry 60 day tourist visa. With another border run in December, it will keep me legal for about 116 days.

Getting back through the border was nearly as bad as when we arrived. The border was heaving with people and I suppose it took a total of about 3 1/2 hours to complete all the formalities and start the trip back to Bangkok. We got to BKK at about 1am.

This trip cost me about 4500 baht  ( not including personal expenses ) and I will not be doing it again. I want to return to Vientiane but I will get a visa to enter Laos from their consulate in Bangkok first. Then fly to Udon Thani, then bus to Vientiane. Having the Laos visa already, and flying most of the way, will save a lot of time, and all in all not that more expensive.

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