9. Getting a Vietnam Visa in Luang Prabang

While travelling in Laos I met quite a few people who try to get a Vietnam Visa while in LP. This is understandable if you don’t live in a city that has a Vietnamese embassy or consulate, and do not want to send your passport by mail.

So using the opportunity to get it while in LP is a good solution. The most important thing – it is dead easy. The ‘negative’ side – you have to stay a few days in LP (which is not a bad thing in my opinion).

Before heading to the embassy make sure you have the following with you: Passport (obviously), US$ and a passport picture. If you have none of the latter two, no worries. You can get US$ at the money exchange places (please be aware not to pay any fees – just exchange Kips to US$). If you don’t have a photo (or you lost yours like I did), please note that the consulate has no facility to take a picture (even though my guesthouse advised me they do). I only learned this is not the case when I arrived at the consulate. So it is better to get some pictures taken in one of the photo shops (there is one on the way to the consulate.


So how to get to the consulate. First option you can take a Tuk Tuk (price should be 10,000 Kip – they will ask for 30,000 – 50,000 Kip first). Well, don’t. It is a 5 minute drive from the tourist information.

Or you can walk – it takes between 10-15 minutes. If you stand at the tourist information, follow Kitsalat Road (away from the Mekong – keeping the square with the baguette stalls on your left) until the road ends (you pass tow larger crossings), and turn left at the end of the road into That Bosot. The consulat will be on the right hand side after 3 minute walk.

If you need a passport picture, at the second big crossing you will see a travel agent on the left hand side. Two doors further on that road is a shop that does provide passport pictures. It takes around 10-15 minutes and you pay 25,000 Kip for 8 photos.

The consulate is open Monday – Friday between 08:00 – 11:30 and 13:30 – 17:00.

You can choose between 1 day, 2 day and 3 day service for the Visa. Please note that you can only pick up your passport after 16:30. So if you choose a 1 day service, it will be ready after 16:30 the next day. So you need to stay at least for two days in LP.

I applied for a 3 Month Visa. The price was $80 for 3 day service, $85 for 2 day service, and $90 for 1 day service. I think the prices for 1 month Visa were $60, $65 and $70.

The form is self-explaining, and it takes only around 5-10 minute for filling in the form. You hand in the form, passport and the picture to the reception, then get the receip and pay the fee on the other side of the room.

You will get another receipt, which you require to collect the passport.

Just return to the embassy and pick up your passport. I would recommend to check the Visa stamp to make sure the correct dates are entered.

And that’s it. It is very straightforward, and hassle free.

BTW, if you don’t have US$, you can pay with Kip. However, the exchange rate is quite bad – 8,500 Kip per $1. At the exchange places the rate is 8,000 Kip for $1. So it is better to have US$ when getting to the embassy.

UPDATE

Please note that since June 2015 citizens from several countries like Germany & the UK can enter Vietnam for 15 days without a Visa. However, this one cannot extended and you can not use the free Visa for 30 days after leaving Vietnam.
Also, if flying into Vietnam the VOA process is cheaper and easier than using any embassy. Use sites like http://www.vietnamvisapro.org and pay a $10 fee and you will receive the required paper by email. You will receive the stamp into your passport when arriving at the airport – though you have to pay $25 (for 30 day Visa) or $50 (for 90 day visa). This process is not available when entering Vietnam overland

 

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