“How did you come here? By yourselves?”
“Yeah, we took a taxi from the airport!”
“But our driver is waiting for you…”
I still remember how my brain paused for 5 seconds and tried to remember what does that mean. After learning that I forgot the pick up service from the hotel which I made a deal in advance (2 weeks earlier).
“Oh sh… I’m so sorry I completely forgot it!”
Knock knock, anybody home?!
Our flight was also delayed, plus after arrived and passed through immigration, we went to buy a SIM card, and la la la, and took an airport taxi service to the hotel.
Really, I felt guilty for kept the driver waiting for (nothing)us. How could I forget this? We usually do everything by ourselves, arrive to the new country, buying a SIM card if it available and looking for the taxi or other transports by ourselves. But there in Wattay International Airport, Vientaine, Laos, which was very laid-back and there was nothing to worry about, it’s safe and it’s not difficult to find taxi or Tuk Tuk. So I was wondering why I booked the pick up service in advance. I looked back from my email and found out that I booked our stay in Vientiane at Central Boutique Hotel along with pick up service…
Back to the day Alex and I decided to stay in Thailand through new year but Alex’s Thai Visa will be expired before Christmas (Just a reminder: I’m Thai so I don’t need a Visa). So we decided to come to renew his Visa in Vientiane, Laos (Thailand’s neighbor country), then right after that I managed to get mostly every booking thing done (Which isn’t my nature) because I will be busy with a job for a while and didn’t want to spend another time doing it before leaving again. So right after I made a hotel reservation, I got an email form the hotel offering the pick up service. I thought “yeah, why not” so I said “YES”. That’s that!
But then I completely forgot about it.
Funny not funny!
We booked Central Boutique Hotel for 2 nights as we planed that we will travel to Luang Prabang in northern Laos after we got a Visa, if nothing wrong. I chose this hotel which is located a bit out of tourist center, well we love to stay out of crowd, and I thought it was very close to Thai Embassy according to the location on google map, only 10-minute walk but then, again, it was my mistake that I didn’t check that in Vientiane, we need to go to apply for a Thai Visa at Thailand Consular Section on Rue Bourichane Road which is another 20-minute walk from Thai Embassy. However, our stay ended up not bad. A big clean room with huge bed and hot shower, good room for a value price if comparing in Laos standard, but, no offense, considering a bit more expensive than same standard in Thailand, breakfast was delicious and various: Laos, Thai, Chinese and Western.
Applying for a Thai Visa at Thailand Consular Section in Vientiane, Laos
The following day in Vientiane, we woke up early, finished breakfast and walked to Thai Embassy just to find out that it wasn’t the right place to get a Visa. So, we kept walking another 20 minutes and arrived at Thailand Consular Section on Rue Bourichane Road.
We were a bit shocked to see up to two hundred people waiting in the line to apply for Visas. There were mostly foreigners, very few Laotians. I’ve been followed Alex to many Thai Embassies in many countries but I had never seen this spectacle until there in Vientiane. Perhaps, Vientiane is very close to Thailand and there are tour services bringing a big group of foreigners from Thailand to renew their Thai Tourist Visa and re-enter Thailand again.
Nevertheless, I will skip talking about the rules of a Thai Tourist Visa like in-out rule or re-enter or not over than 90 days in 180 days and dot dot blah blah… Dizzy right? Dear fellow travelers, check all the rules and keep travel on (Same me!).
Anyway, get back to Alex’s Thai Visa story. We prepared to get Alex a Non-Immigrant Visa for single entry for 3 months as we intend to stay and travel around Thailand for a while. I had mostly prepared all the documents for my husband followed the VISA section details of Thai Embassy in Vientiane, which is simple both Tourist and and Non-O Visas. All the forms are available to download online. We had prepared everything before we got there, so that we didn’t have to waste our time preparing it again there.
We went to wait in the line behind two hundred something people and the line seemed like freezing for almost 20 minutes for some reasons, which made me nervous at first, but then the line started to flow faster and faster. All the officers managed to get everything done in time. So yeah, don’t worry they’re professional!
I believe there are an enormous tourists coming for a Visa every day, so they have already trained hard for this job, not joking! And more than that, no matter what type of Visa you apply, if you prepare everything right, you can collect your passport the next day. AWESOME!
After finished applying for a Visa, we hired a Tuk Tuk to go to a couple of places we wished to see in Vientiane.
“Sabaidee, how much if we want you to bring us to Wat Si Saket and Pha That Luang?” I asked a Tuk Tuk guy who own a small Tuk Tuk to carry up to 4 people only, there were also many Tuk Tuks carry up to 8 people there.
Actually, we wished to walk around by ourselves, as Vientiane seemed small for us. But Alex didn’t want me to walk that much that day as I’ve got a problem with my feet recently (Plantar Fasciitis), sadly!
“Wat Si Saket and Pha That Luang only? And what next?”
“Just bring us to Wat Si Saket and then drop us at Pha That Luang, that’s it!”
“100,000 kib” He replied in Thai after he figured out that I’m Thai. Mostly Laotians understand and speak Thai pretty good as same as many Thais speak Lao as well, specifically in North East (Isaan). However, I can’t speak Lao, SHAME! As I’m a Southern girl but I know some, although, it’s broken and funny, it’s a travel’s savor.
Alex and I jumped on the Tuk Tuk and moving along the road, there wasn’t much traffic. Vientiane’s scenes were rather simple, no tollway, no skyscraper.
We arrived at our first stop, Wat Si Saket.
“Take your time as much as you want, I’ll will be waiting here.” The Tuk Tuk driver said.
Believe me, mostly Laotians are very kind and laid-back.
Wat Si Saket is a Buddhist temple and is one of the oldest temples still standing in Vientiane, Laos. It was built in the Siamese style of Buddhist architecture, with a surrounding terrace and an ornate five-tiered roof. The temple is famous for its cloister wall housing thousands of tiny Buddha images and rows with hundreds of seated Buddhas. These images mainly date from the 16th and 19th centuries and are made from wood, stone and bronze.
After spent a while at Wat Si Saket, the Tuk Tuk driver brought us to Pha That Luang or Great Stupa which well known as a national symbol and the most important national monument in Laos. The architecture of Pha That Luang includes many references to Lao culture and identity. The stupa today consists of three levels, each conveying a reflection of part of the Buddhist doctrine. The first level is 67 metres by 68 metres, the second is 47 metres along each side and the third level is 29 metres along each side. From ground to pinnacle, the Pha That Luang is 144 metres high.
We also visited That Luang Nuea (Northern That Luang Temple) and That Luang Tai Temple (Southern That Luang Tai Temple) which are situated on the north and the south of Pha That Luang. They are all beautiful.
As our hotel was not far from Pha That Luang, something like two and half kilometers. Wait, is two and half km far for Plantar Fasciitis? Not much. We walked along the road, stopped by at a local food and supermarket and then return to the hotel. It’d been already long day and didn’t want to put an extra activity.
On the following day, we checked out form the hotel around 10 am and walked to Patuxay with our backpacks (Don’t worry, it’s very light as it’s a short trip and we also didn’t even bring any lap top). Planning that after visiting Patuxay then we will go for lunch, and then go to pick Alex’s passport up at Thailand Consular, and then heading to the bus station to buy the tickets to go to Luang Prabang in northern Laos.
Patuxay or Victory Gate is a war monument and is dedicated memory of the Laotian soldiers who died during World War II and the independence war from France in 1949.
The gate was built in 1957 in traditional Laotian style, decorated with mythological creatures such as the kinnari (half-female, half-bird), ancient serpent (King of Nagas) and Trimurti in Hinduism. It has five towers that represent the five principles of coexistence among nations of the world. They are also representative of the five Buddhist principles of thoughtful amiability, flexibility, honesty, honor and prosperity.
We purchased the tickets to climb the seven floors of the monument which contain administrative offices as well as a gift shop, a museum and the upper viewing galleries.
Long time no climb and with 7 kg backpack… Did I just say the backpack was light? Now it’s pretty heavy!
Anyway, after a sweating at Patuxay, we stopped by for lunch nearby the Thai Consulate and then went to collect Alex’s passport on time. Remember about the ultra long queue? Just keep on the same queue as same as our applying number. So everything will be under control. The crowd there won’t make you lose your head.
- Lao sim card 4g 1.5 Gb : 20,000 kib ($2.5 USD)
- Airport Taxi to Central Boutique Hotel : 66,000 kib ($8 USD)
- Tuk Tuk to Wat Si Saket and Pha That Luang : 100,000 kib ($12 USD)
- Wat Si Saket Entrance Fee: 10,000 kib/person ($1.2 USD)
- Pha That Luang Entrance Fee: 10,000/person ($1.2 USD)
- Patuxay Entrance Fee : 3,000 kib/person ($0.35 USD)