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Border Crossings in Asia

"Visa and Border Crossings in Southeast Asia and India"

Last updated on Jan 30, 2013
All prices mentioned below are subject to change

First, some general tips on border crossings:

  • Try to get at the crossing as early as possible to avoid the big tourist groups.

  • If possible, you should apply for a tourist visa at the overland crossings/embassies and avoid those travel agents.

    This way, you'll save money because the travel agents will charge you a commission to do the visa run for you.

  • To save time and money, check the stamp/visa before you leave the border.

    Does it really say that you can stay in the country for, like 30 days?

    If the border officials have given you the wrong date (intentionally or not) and you've already left the border, there's no way back.

    That means that you have to apply for another 30 days at the embassy and pay another $ 30.

Visa on the Run

Here are the border crossings. I will first start with Thailand, Laos and Cambodia because they share the same borders.

Note: The information mentioned on this page is based on my experiences, research and what I've heard from other travelers.

If you notice that I have to make corrections and/or piece of information which is not updated, let me know. I'd really appreciate it! Use the form in Contact Me Page.

Thailand - Laos, Laos - Thailand

Northern Thailand to Laos:

Border: Chiang Khong/ Huay Xai

If you're coming from Pai, Chiang Mai or Chiang Rai and heading for Luang Prabang, Luang Namtha or Muang Sing, this is the border you should cross. This border is practical as well if you're coming from Luang Prabang in Laos.

Here you will get a Laos visa -

  • Period of stay in Laos: 30 days

  • Price: $20-42 depends on your nationality
The border crossing is open from 8.30 am - 5 pm.

Note: Before the river crossing, you should fill out the visa application and have one passport-sized photo and $-bills ready.

river border crossing to huay xai in laos
Back in Nov 2007 I paid 50 B for the river crossing: The river crossing itself cost 40 B and I had to pay 10 B extra for my backpack.

When you've crossed the river, you're probably not the only one getting a visa.

This border crossing was (and is) very popular, but there was no queue system when I arrived in Huay Xai. It was literally packed with tourists and backpackers. All you can do is be patient!

And everything must be ready when you finally arrive at the desk: Passport, photo, filled out visa application and US money!

Don't be surprised if...

... the border officials want to charge an additional fee ($1) for doing their job. Like, in the weekends they have a "weekend fee," and if you arrive in the middle of the week after 04.00 pm they will charge you a "after 04.00 pm" fee.

Update 2011: This border crossing is still chaotic! - Gino, Australia

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Heading for Vientiane

Crossing the border from North-eastern Thailand to Laos?

The nearest town is Vientiane.

Border: Nong Khai (the Friendship Bridge)/Vientiane

Your Laos Visa will last for 30 days.

Price: $20-42 depends on nationality

The border crossing is open from 6 am - 10 pm.

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Heading for Savannakhet

Crossing the border from Eastern Thailand to Laos? Nearest town is Savannakhet.

Border: Mukdahan/Savannakhet (the 2nd Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge)

Your Laos Visa will last for 30 days.

Price: $20-42 depends on nationality

A minibus from Mukdahan will take you across the bridge itself. And once you've crossed the bridge, you'll find drivers ready to take you to Savannakhet.

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Heading for Pakse

There's another crossing from east Thailand to Laos. Nearest town is Pakse

Border: Chong Mek/Vang Tao

Your Laos Visa will last for 30 days.

Price: $20-42 depends on nationality

The border crossing is open from 6 am - 6 pm (Thai side).
The Lao side is open from Monday - Friday: 8am - 6 pm. Weekends and holidays: 8.30 am - 6 pm

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Thailand - Cambodia, Cambodia - Thailand

at the aranyaprathet border crossing between thailand and cambodia
Crossing the border from east Thailand to Cambodia? You should cross this border if you're on your way to Siem Reap or Battambang.

Border: Aranyaprathet/Poipet

Beware that this crossing is the the busiest crossing between Thailand and Cambodia. Scams have occurred on both sides.

Your Cambodia visa will last for 30 days.

Price: $20

The border is open from 7 am - 8 pm.

My primary goal was to cross the border by Pailin since I was in Battambang. But I was told that the roads by Pailin were inaccessible at that time (Dec 2007). So I was redirected to Poipet.

When you finally arrive in Poipet, you'll find a bustling market on both sides. Some will find the border crossing as slow and chaotic, while others will just slide through. You may be asked if you have a International Vaccination Certificate - don't bother. It's only an attempt to make money! Some travelers have been charged anything from $5-25 for this.

We were asked about this when we arrived at the counter. I just told them that I already possessed one. Then the man behind the counter just said: "Ok, ok" and didn't nag about it.

Logo cartoon   PSSSST...

Do you need more tips and information on border crossings, scams and pitfalls in Asia?

Check out Ticket to safe backpacking

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Heading for Sihanoukville

There's another crossing from east Thailand to Cambodia. If you're coming from Ko Chang island and heading for Sihanoukville in Southern Cambodia, you should cross this border because it's the closest.

Border: Hat Lek/Koh Kong (Koh Kong is also called Cham Yeam)

Your Cambodia Visa will last for 30 days.

Price: $20

The border is open from 7 am - 8 pm.

Be aware of the fact that Cambodian border officials here will try to charge you up to $40 for a Cambodian tourist visa! To avoid this, refuse or you might try getting a visa in advance.

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Thailand - Malaysia, Malaysia - Thailand

Ticket to safe backpacking guide eBook
Crossing the border from Southern Thailand to Northern Malay peninsula?

IMPORTANT! In this section I will focus on the crossings via Satun and Koh Lipe. There are of course other border crossings in Southern Thailand, like in the province of Yala.

Nowadays there's an ongoing violent conflict between Muslim insurgency groups and the Thai government. So, it's not recommended to cross the border to Malaysia via Songkhla, Yala, Narathiwat and Pattani.

Jan 16, 2013: Bloody conflict threatens Thailand's security

Satun - Langkawi, Langkawi - Satun

Take a boat from Thammalang pier (10 km south of Satun) to Pulau Langkawi.

To get to Thammalang pier, take a songthaew (20 B) which leave from the 7-11 on Buniwat Road in Satun. Before you board the boat, you have to pass immigration to get an exit stamp in your passport.

Boats leave the landing three times a day: 09.30 am, 13.30 am and the last one leaves at 04.00 pm.

Price for boat: 300 B

Duration: 50 minutes

Satun - Kuala Perlis, Kuala Perlis to Satun

If you want a cheaper journey, take a long-tail boat from Thammalang pier to Kuala Perlis which takes 45 minutes.

The long-tail boat will leave when it's full, so have in mind that you might have to wait. You might try to arrive in the morning when there are more passengers.

To get your Malay stamp, you'll find an immigraton office at the boat landing in Kuala Perlis.

Price for boat: 120 B

Another option for border crossing
between Thailand and Malaysia

Route: Koh Lipe/Pulau Langkawi

Take the ferry from Koh Lipe to Pulau Langkawi, or vice versa. If you want to enter Thailand from Malaysia, you can get a Thai stamp/visa on Koh Lipe.

Contact the island's travel agents to get a hold of the immigration officer living on Koh Lipe. Otherwise, you'll find the immigration hut on Pattaya Beach (south coast of Koh Lipe).

Most nationalities don't need a tourist visa to enter Malaysia. When arriving in Langkawi, visitors must pass a small immigration point for their visa entry stamp.

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Laos - Cambodia, Cambodia - Laos

at the dom kralor-voen kham border crossing between Laos and Cambodia

Heading for Phnom Penh? Are you crossing the border to get to 4000 islands?

At the Aranyaprathet border crossing
On the way to the Cambodian immigration - you have to walk about 1 km to get there
Cross the border from Southern Laos to North-eastern Cambodia.

Border: Voen Kham/Dom Kralor

Your Cambodian tourist visa will last for 30 days.

Price: $20

Updated on Aug 8, 2010: You can now get a Lao visa on arrival at Voen Kham/Dom Kralor border crossing. This wasn't possible before.

Read this: Mark got his Lao visa at this border

Beware of the fact that the officials on both sides will ask for a $1-3 fee for doing their job (stamp your passport).

I was charged $1, and the Canadians behind me were charged $2.

Trust me, it's difficult to avoid these fees.

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Border Crossings in India

IMPORTANT! Remember that the crossings between India and its neighbouring countries are affected by the political relations between them. So you should always check how the political situation is before you decide to cross the border.

To enter India at all by land, you have to obtain a tourist visa in advance.

India - Bangladesh, Bangladesh - India

Map Your adventure itinerary guide eBook
Crossing the border from Eastern India to Western Bangladesh.

From Calcutta to Dhaka

Border: Bangaon/Benapol

It is said that the Bangaon-Benapol is the most reliable border crossing. But you have to obtain a visa for Bangladesh in advance before crossing the border. You can apply for a tourist visa in Calcutta or in New Delhi.

Your Bangladesh visa will usually last for 1-2 months. The period of stay seems to vary from embassy to embassy.

Price: $50

When you get to Dhaka, apply for an Indian visa at the embassy.

Address: House no. 2, Road No. 142, Gulshan -1, Dhaka.

Open: Sun-Thursday 09.00 am - 05.30 pm.

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India - Nepal, Nepal - India

Crossing the border from Northern India to Nepal

Border: Sonauli/Bhairawa

At Sonauli border crossing between India and Nepal
Sonauli/Bhairawa border crossing Image credit:
If you're in Varanasi, continue to Gorakhpur. On the Indian side of the border, there's a town called Sonuali.

To get there, take a government bus from Gorakhpur (98 km). Then take the bus from Sonuali to the border (2,5 hours).

Go to the Indian immigration office; located 100 meters from the border. Then cross the Nepalese border to Kathmandu. The Nepalese immigration is on your right side after you've crossed the border.

This is one of the popular border crossings in India/Nepal.

Beware though:

IndiaMike forum: Sunauli Border Scam

Price: $25 for 15 days, $40 for 30 days, $100 for 90 days.

To get an Indian visa, go to the Indian embassy in Kathmandu.

Address: PO Box No. 292, 336 Kapurdhara Marg, Kathmandu.

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If you're in Delhi, you can cross the Nepalese border via Banbassa (Western Nepal).

Border: Banbassa/Mahendranagar

Price: $25 for 15 days, $40 for 30 days, $100 for 90 days.

Take a cycle rickshaw from Banbassa to Mahakali River (4 km), then you have to cross the 1 km bridge. As far as I know you don't have to pay anything to cross the bridge. So beware of the locals who will try to charge you a fee.

When you've finally reached the Indian immigration, there's another 1 km walk to the Nepalese immigration.

Open: The gate to the bridge is open from 12.00 to 02.00 pm.

Logo cartoon   PSSSST...

Do you need more tips and information on border crossings, scams and pitfalls in Asia?

Check out Ticket to safe backpacking

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