You probably did not expect that you’ll love Vietnam this much and want to stay a little bit longer but you’re already in the Central Vietnam. Usually, backpackers and/or expats go back to Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh to apply for visa extension, which is actually good but costly, around $200 – $350 depending on how long you will be staying and if it’s single or multiple entry with the exception of government fees which either $25 for one month and $50 for three months. Some fly out of Vietnam and go to Bangkok, Thailand which is usually has promo fare. This may cost almost the same with extending visa within Vietnam but allows them to visit another country for a couple of days. But nonetheless, people are willing to spend that much to stay longer in this country.
As I have stayed in Vietnam for nearly 7 months, I have a couple of visas already. One tourist visa when I first arrived as I was only planning to travel within the country for 3 months. But later part of my travel and after volunteering to teach English, I was offered a job and needed a business visa to stay and work. Realizing the costs of extending my tourists visa compared to flying out of Vietnam, I have chosen to go to Bangkok like the others and spent a couple of days there and came back with a business visa. The process was easy. Just get a letter of visa application from a travel agency; this may cost you $20-150 depending on the type,duration and if it’s single or multiple entry visa. Plane ticket would be around $100 depending on promotion during your travel. Plus the government fee of either $25 or $50.
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Flying out is good for people who will be staying for another couple of months in Vietnam. But for travelers who will spend only for a couple weeks more and already in the Central Vietnam, there one option, which in my opinion is actually the best one. Get a letter of visa application from a travel agency, in the Central Vietnam, everything is relatively cheaper even with visa application. You can get a month tourist visa application for $20 and if you have partner or people traveling with you and needs visa application too, they can give you more discounts. The waiting time for the letter is still 48-72 hours.
And since Central Vietnam is close to Laos border, the bus fare is also cheaper. It will be just 500,000 VND back and forth, if you are coming from Hue. It is just a 3 hour and 30 minutes bus ride to Lao Bao. It is better to take the early bus for there are less people on the border by lunch. Bus companies usually give around 1 hour to an hour and a half to process everything. You have to be really careful with the time for not all Vietnamese drivers are patient when it comes to waiting for foreigners.
The whole process of exiting Vietnam and entering Laos will be done on Laos’ immigration building and will only last for like 5-10 minutes depending on the queue. The walking will take a couple of minutes for Vietnam – Laos Border is around 400-500 meters away from each other. You can the electric car which cost you around 5000 kip or 10000 VND, it’s expensive but will save you a lot of time. And exiting Laos and entering Vietnam will be done in Vietnam immigration building. This will take a little longer for they have to check the authenticity of the visa application letter, fill up the visa application form, pay the $25 or $50 government fee, the officer will process your application and provide receipt. The receipt is hand written in 3 pages. So be patient on this part of the process.
Vietnamese Immigration officers are nice so you can have a small talk while he processes everything for you. Once everything is done, you’ll be out of the border area in a jiffy. All in all, it will take around 30-45 minutes. You will still have time to walk around and buy some stuff at Duty Free. The bus ride back to Hue would be a little longer; it takes around 4-5 hours depending on the number of passengers. Usually the bus will take locals who will go to Hue city as well, so the bus will be a little bit crowded, you can take this as another chance to get to more about the Vietnamese culture.
|Tourist Visa||Single Entry||Multiple Entry||Government Fee|
|Business Visa||Single Entry||Multiple Entry||Government Fee|
Hue – Lao Bao – Hue = 500,000 VND
Electric car = 5,000 Kip or 10,000 VND