Confusion Ensues as Thailand Opens Land Borders But Laos Remains Closed

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Thai immigration official speaks with Lao citizens entering Thailand
Thai immigration official speaks with Lao citizens entering Thailand (from video by MakKhaeng Media).

Confusion has ensued at border checkpoints between Laos and Thailand this morning following regulations reopening Thailand but leaving Laos closed.

Thailand announced the reopening of 31 land border checkpoints as of yesterday, including borders with Laos, which has yet to reciprocate.

The resumption of cross-border bus services saw a flurry of Lao citizens entering Thailand by bus from Nong Khai and Mukdahan today.  Lao citizens carrying a border pass may enter the Kingdom without utilizing the Thailand Pass system.

After doing away with tests on arrival, Thailand has standardized entry rules for walk-in tourists, with procedures for arrivals by land now in line with arrivals by air.

But many failed to read the new regulations carefully, expecting that Thailand’s reopening of borders meant Laos would follow suit.

Cross border bus trips restart today between Mukdahan and Savannakhet.
Cross-border bus trips restart today between Mukdahan and Savannakhet.

Reports from Thailand reveal hundreds of requests from disappointed Thais expecting to be able to travel to Laos today.

The Nong Khai Provincial Tourism Information Center even made a frustrated post on its Facebook page in response:

“Please wait! We know that everyone wants to know the details of how to enter Laos but this will come later in an official announcement from the Lao government.”

Addressing comments, the page continued, “As soon as we receive official information [from Laos] we will post on our page immediately!”

Meanwhile, Laos’ National Taskforce for Covid-19 Prevention and Control issued a new proposal for reopening the country on Friday, suggesting fully vaccinated tourists enter the country with only a pre-arrival ATK test, while non-vaccinated tourists would require a pre-arrival PCR test.

Under the plan, tests on arrival and quarantine would be scrapped, while a USD 10,000 Covid insurance would be required by foreigners. No mention was made of the Green Pass system, nor when the new regulations, if approved, would enter into force.

In a first for Laos, the government actively called upon the public for comment, including foreign nationals, who are encouraged to send their comments by email at info@mict.gov.la or cabinet@mict.gov.la or visit www.laogov.gov.la.