Living in Thailand is great. The weather is almost always perfect; the people are super nice to you. Most people are respectful, serene, the food is amazing, and there is always something very interesting going on somewhere.

However, there is one annoying thing that the majority of foreigners living in Thailand have to do every two or three months. That is to leave Thailand….

Most do not leave because they want to. They leave because they have to. It is one of these silly laws by the Thai government that stipulates that unless you are hired by a Thai company and are paid over an “X “ amount of money, are married to Thai person or are just independently rich or own a business, you must leave the country to re-new your visa outside the country. Actually, the law makes perfect sense but it is still annoying to do.

Having freshly arrived back into Thailand after being gone over a month I had to leave Thailand again for the sake of my wife and kid’s visa renewal, which was almost due. They had been in Thailand for just about two months on a tourist visa and now came the time to renew the visa or change it to a “Non-Immigration” visa now that my wife is now employed (this would give her three months in the country).

The country we chose to have our visa renewed was Laos. It is the cheapest and closest country to Bangkok to do this. A trip into the unknown for a wife and three small children can be very stressful so it was decided that I would accompany them there and help with this ordeal even though I did not need to have my visa renewed then. Actually, the whole experience was great! It proved to be a bit of a family holiday and we all loved the capital Vientiane.

We took an overnight train ride to the North Eastern border town of Nong Kai where we went through the border crossing procedures. After applying for a Lao entry visa at the border, paying (US$42 per person…ouch!) and crossing, we all got unto a tuk-tuk and headed to Vientiane.

Not having any idea where to stay the night or where accommodations were located, we ask some locals some good places to stay. One very nice woman who spoke a few words of English was able to direct the tuk-tuk driver to bring us to a general area on the shores of the Mekong River where many guesthouses congregated. Once we go there, we had a place to stay within a few minutes…very convenient!

Vientiane is a wonderful city, a very relaxed, easy going and easy to get around. After submitting passports at the Thai Embassy in Vientiane, we visited a large Buddha park, the morning markets, the Laos equivalent of the “L’Arc de Triumph” and a few of the old French colony neibourhoods.

We met up with John and Libby, our old friends from Tonghua who have moved to Vientiane the previous summer, had a great French dinner, drank wine (it is very cheap in Laos) and learned about Laos’s culture.

by:Dominic Rivard

The fact that you can buy fresh French baguettes, croissant and excellent coffee on mornings anywhere in Vientiane for just a few pennies was a great plus for us. Therefore, after picking up our passports with new Thai visas the next day, we headed back into Thailand and home to Bangkok and we vowed to come back to Laos’s semi regularly. If not for a holiday, certainly for another Thai imposed “Visa Run”…