I just had a coworker that wanted a 30 day visa only get a 15 day visa...but I'm not sure on the details
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And if you'd like to find out how much YOU are worth, to your school, imply that if you must do this you will expect it to be paid for or you will be taking a hike. And watch how quick they boot you, even if you were a good teacher -- nobody gives a flying fuck here about anything.
Just got back from Laos. Took the Sawasdee van, and that cost a little over 6000 Baht, which included the Thai B visa (2000 Baht), the Lao visa, all transportation and meals. All we paid for was snacks at 7-11.
taking a bus to Laos is a unique form of torture. take the train. as an added bonus, the train doesn't make that 4 am stop at the gas station/minimart the bus operator's taking kickbacks from. the train is so much more pleasant if things like sleep and leg room matter. in fact i'd go so far as to say the train's more comfy even if you don't get a sleeper bunk. i've ridden soft-seat before (i think it was 300 baht each way from Bangers) and we slept just fine (staying drunk helped, buy your beer or sangsom at seven before you get on the train, the markup on beer is ridiculous).
in my experience any of the overnight trains will get you there in time to drop off your passport, but you'll be cutting it close. if you make it you'd only have to spend one night in Vientiane (although i quite liked it and tended to spend longer, staying in a 200 baht a room guesthouse and getting some work done).
take a tuk tuk from the train station in Nong Khai. i believe it was 40 baht to the border. DO NOT let them take you to a visa service place, they're ripoffs. you'll share the tuk tuk at 40 baht if you go directly from the train to the border but that's just how it is there.
bring DOLLARS ONLY for the Laos visa. i think it's $35. the price in baht is much steeper, i believe 2,000 baht (almost double at current exchange rates).
if you take a bus, crossing the border is torture. if you travel alone or with (competent) friends, then you can have all your paperwork ready quickly, but if you travel with a bus, you'll have to wait for every idiot who can't figure out how to open his or her passport to somehow wind their way through immigration.
after you get through immigration, get a taxi to the Thai consulate, not a tuk tuk. if you're traveling alone buddy up with other people traveling alone, the taxi will charge a flat rate and you'll pay only part of it (it was 200 baht split 3 ways last time i went).
i'm not sure how much the visa is, but i'm fairly sure the 3,800 baht visa run doesn't include a non-B. 2,000 is probably right. fill out your paperwork in advance and make sure you have the copies and photos you need (the Thai Immigration site has the forms and tells the details). if you do you'll likely get out of there fast. you drop your passport off in the morning and pick it up the next afternoon.
i don't know if there are still cheap guest houses in Vientiane; the one i preferred, a ramshackle backpacker joint with one private room for 200 baht (the presidential suite) was torn down quite a while ago. on my last visa run we shared a 700 baht room with 2 beds. we chose the place because it had wifi, and wifi was relatively scarce at the time.
cheap food is readily available as well as very expensive food. there's some pretty decent foreign food (former French colony) and wine's pretty cheap due to no import duty. if you (rightly) think Beer Lao is overhyped based on your experience of it in Thailand, try the fresh Beer Lao on tap in Vientiane and see what all the fuss is about.
transportation there and back can be very cheap (as low as 900 baht including everything except your MRT ride home); the price of the actual visas is almost certainly inflexible, and depends on your country of origin. as for food, alcohol, and a place to stay, "up to you." the room is probably the only aspect wherein the visa run operators are likely to get you a worthwhile discount on what you could easily do for yourself. Jack's Golf in particular offered the shittiest lunches possible, at least on the Cambodia border runs.
i haven't done a visa run in 3 1/2 years, but before that i did visa runs for 4 years in my previous career as an International Man of Mystery. so this is old information, but based on several visa runs, and well-tested (at least relative to that time).
oh, and one more thing: minibuses are an unspeakable form of torture for long trips. if you are over 6' tall, have a distaste for being violently shaken, or have legs, avoid them at all costs.
Imodium can't stop me.
Thank you, Zeusbheld. Where do you get the dollars to pay for the Lao visa?
there's allegedly a place in Bangers across from Central World (between Big C and Gaysorn somewhere) that offers really good exchange rates according to someone who travels back and forth a lot, but i've never been there myself and can't even remember exactly where it's supposed to be.
Follow that and others advice, and cross your fingers Best bet is though plan ahead, don't try to get them at the last second, very easy to fail that way. I have also had luck in aranya pratet, but then ive had no luck there too, so point is any branch, wherever you go, you never know. But some are obviously more reliable for dollars than others.