Wattay International Airport is located just 3km from the country’s capital city Vientiane. A single terminal building houses arrivals and departures for domestic flights and a new terminal building services international flights. At one end of the terminal is a military installation which is off-limits to everyday passengers. The terminals have been upgraded in recent years to provide more comfortable facilities and more services for travellers. Wattay International Airport services regular scheduled flights for Lao Airlines, Thai Airways International, Air Asia, China Southern Airlines, China Eastern Airlines, and Vietnam Airlines.
When you land in Vientiane you should head straight for the passport control desks inside the terminal building. If you need to apply for a visa-on-arrival head to the signed desk, submit your application form (which you can download prior to travel), your passport, two passport photos and US$20-45 depending on your nationality. US, UK and European nationals are charged US$35.00 while people from Canada are charged US$42.00. Swedes pay US$31.00 and Australians can purchase the visa for US$30.00. This must be paid in US dollars or Thai baht. The visa is good for 30 days. The application will only take a few minutes then you should go through passport control before claiming your baggage and heading out into the arrivals hall. Here you will find an ATM and a currency exchange booth which may or may not be open depending on the time of your arrival.
A US$10.00 departure tax is now included in the ticket price so after checking in to your flight proceed to the security checkpoint at the entrance to the departures lounge. Passport control is the next step after which you will enter the small but comfortable departures lounge.
Jumbos do one way airport transfers for around $10USD; you can also purchase a taxi coupon from inside the terminal building for an alternative and economical route into the city. Tuk-tuks will also take you to and from the airport if you are happy to pay an overinflated price. The local bus is the cheapest option but you will need to walk about 500 metres at the other end. Most hotels will also be able to pick you up from the airport by advance arrangement. For transportation back from your hotel to the airport you may need to negotiate a fee with a taxi or tuk-tuk driver.
Eating & Drinking
The airport’s new international terminal is a significant upgrade from the old hall where the domestic terminal is still housed. The Carona Airport Café-Restaurant located on the third floor of the terminal building serves a good range of light meals and snacks plus coffee, tea and varieties of fruit juices. Another eatery is the Buffet International also located on the third floor which offers a nice buffet of international and local food for those who are really hungry. The restaurant also serves beer and wine as well as coffee, tea and soft drinks.
Inside the departures lounge you will find an information booth to help you find the airport facilities. There is an internet café however beware of airport prices here. There is also a post office in the departures area. There is little or no entertainment available except for a few televisions scattered throughout the lounge which air news and local TV channels.
Shopping and duty free
Laos Duty Free operates the duty free shops in Wattay International Airport. The shop presents a good range of cosmetics, perfumes, alcohol, tobacco and confectionary as is the usual duty free fare. There are also a few souvenir shops worth browsing to pick up some last minute mementoes of your trip to the country.