Way back in January, as our time in Laos came to an end, we found ourselves in the beautiful Vientiane for a little over a week as we waited for our visas to be approved to enter Vietnam. It was by no means the worst place to stay: this charming and quiet capital city was – much like the rest of Laos – a perfect place to relax.
For many ex-pats, the need to go on a visa run is a simple fact of life. Yes, it can be frustrating and the bus journeys can be a nightmare, but they can be a fun chance to explore a new town for a little while. In Luang Prabang there are loads of ex-pats choosing the best way to renew their visa – often booking a flight into Vietnam or Thailand, or taking the bus down to the the capital, Vientiane, and then hopping over the Friendship Bridge into Thailand, stocking up at the closest 7-11, and then doing the journey in reverse, back over the mountains to Luang Prabang. A less popular route is to take the bus west from Luang Prabang to Chiang Rai, via Huay Xai, which is what we decided to do.