Laos, the country without Corona


This is part 2 of the trilogy about our flight from the coronavirus and its effects in Southeast Asia. In the 1st Part leads our journey from China to Vietnam, from where we are in the 2nd part to Laos and finally it in the 3rd Part just to Thailand.

Second part of the trilogy: Corona always a chain length ahead

According to the motto ‘new country, new luck’, we enter Laos without much expectation. Thanks to the friendly border guard and his additional 4 USD overtime fee, we are even allowed to change our passports. As a result, our Laos visa is glued to our China-free passport and we are no longer branded.

Much to our cycling luck, Laos, as hoped, was more relaxed about the Corona crisis. Officially, the country has not had a single case for many weeks. The population seems to be really immune to the coronavirus. We can cycle carefree through the land, which is quite surprisingly beautiful, if sometimes very mountainous. No one is interested in our itinerary, our origin, skin color or the shape of our eye areas.

In the following days we plan our further route. After Laos through Thailand first, then out again, shortly to Cambodia and back again for another and longer Thailand round. Our attempt to apply for an extra long visa at the Thai embassy in Laos for the second entry in advance, gets unfortunately denied.
– Well, then we just take the free visa on arrival. –

Are we too late?

Thus, 3 weeks pass without corona stress. – Until we camped a few kilometers in front of the old royal city of Luang Prabang at a beautiful waterfall. We like it so much that we plan to stay there for a few days. Afterwards we want to take a lot of time for Luang Prabang, before we go on a boat trip 2 days upstream the Mekong directly to the Thai border. But with so much peace and relaxation, Gnubbi reads the news and Coronanews again after a long break.

We are now writing Friday, the 13th. March
… – Of course, Corona has now also arrived in Europe  –
– Ah yes, Italy is particularly affected.  –
– Germany is only a few days behind.  –
– People who have been in China for the last 2 weeks must be quarantined. We are 6 weeks out of the country now. So no more problems.  –
Hmmm, what is this?  –
… “Thai Interior Minister Gen Anupong has announced that visas on arrival will be cancelled for all countries from today.”  –
… – Uhh what, please, no… wait  –

We do not yet have a visa. We wanted to get a free one at the border.  –
Fuck Fuck Fuck ☠💩🤬  –

Laos has no access to the sea, it is on average 35 °C in the shade and we have almost travelled through it. We do not want to be stuck here. We prefer to go to Thailand, the land of 1000 beaches, many islands, millions of coconuts and magnificent curries.

– Okay Plan B, 300 km back to the capital Vientiane and again at the Thai embassy to apply for a long visa for the first and probably only entry for Thailand. –
… – Oh no, online the dates for the embassy are suddenly fully booked for the next 3 weeks. –
… On the last visit to the embassy, however, everything was free. –
… What now? –
… – Keep your head cool. –
… There are worse things. –

Thailand’s confusing visa laws

When researching various sources, it turns out that Thailand’s visa policy is much more diverse than thought. Fortunately, the new Thai Corona Visa restrictions do not apply to Germany for the time being. It belongs to the so-called ‘Visa Exemption’ category and not to the paid ‘Visa on Arrival’ category, which includes only 18 countries. But the entry ban without a pre-applied visa was also issued for all high-risk countries in addition to the 18 countries. In addition to China, Korea and Japan, Italy is already one of them. And Germany is only a few days behind with its Corona case numbers. In 3 days, the Thai cabinet will meet next time to decide on further Corona measures.

– How unfair that entry bans are decided by nationality and not by itinerary. We haven’t been to Germany for 20 months. –
– What’s the point, we still have at least 3 days before a ban could be issued for Germany. –
– Three days, that should be enough when we leave tomorrow morning and sail with the next best river ferry to the Thai border to Huay Xai. –

Unfortunately, we have to take down our camp at the very idyllic Kuang Si waterfalls prematurely and skip the picturesque Luang Prabang almost completely. We hope all the time, everything can be done in Thailand in peace then.

So we leave Lao People’s Democratic Republic on the evening of the 16th March, 20 minutes before the border was closed, 5 days earlier than planned. Overjoyed to have made the entry to Thailand, we roll under the clear dark night sky through the empty streets. Just one day later, the Thai Cabinet met to discuss the further course of the Corona. However, the closure of the border for Germany and almost all the rest of the world will not be decided until a few days later.  – Well, better safe, than sorry. –

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