30-day long visa can be obtained at the airports and almost all land border crossings. It costs 30$.
Thailand – Laos (Chiang Khong – Xuay Xai): To get the visa you need to fill two forms, have one passport photo and pay the visa fee in dollars. One of the forms is made of two pieces: one is handed back to the border officials, the other should be kept for the departure control. There are two exchanges and an ATM on the Lao side. You cross the border on the Friendship Bridge number 4 but it’s not allowed to cross it on foot or on the bike. You have to take a bus. The ticket is 20 baht and you pay another 100 baht for the bike.
Laos – Cambodia (Veun Kham – Dom Kralor): Border official asked for 2$ to put the exit stamp in my passport. I handed in the departure form as well but it seems it’s not very important as mine wasn’t filled.
It’s possible to extend your visa in the Immigration Office in Vientian (and other capitals of provinces as they say). You need to pay the fee of 30000 kip, fill one form and pay for each extra day (20000 kip per day). You don’t need to have a photo. You get your passport back the next day and there will be a stamp confirming the extension. The whole procedure is very straightforward (English is spoken in the office) but it’s only cost-effective if you need a couple of days. If you want to stay for an extra month, it’s cheaper to enter Thailand, get another Lao visa and come back.
– Roads are not the greatest. Side roads are often just dirt roads.
– There’s not much traffic in the country. However, when it becomes more dense, don’t expect to be given the same rights on the road as, let’s say, a truck driver. Better to give way.
– People are friendly but it’s difficult to find someone who speaks English.
– ATMs are available in every city and town.
– Laotian kip can be bought only after entering the country and it has to be exchanged before leaving, otherwise it’s just waste paper. The currency is not convertible.
– The Internet generally works, in the mountains a little less.
– There are some dogs.
– The most popular food in roadside restaurants is noodle soup. I liked them even in the heat.
– Vientian is rather small (for a capital) and peaceful therefore it’s no problem to cycle in and out of the city.
– Mountain roads can be very steep.
– While wild camping, you should remember that Laos was heavily bombed during the Vientam war and there’s a lot of unexploded ordnance to this day. I would suggest not putting up a tent on a bomb.