Vientiane, Laos

Getting In


By Train

The railway link between Thailand and Laos (across the Mekong River) finally opened in March 2009. There are now four shuttle services daily between Nong Khai in Thailand and Tha Naleng in Laos, some 13 km away from Vientiane. The shuttle trains are timed to connect with the overnight trains travelling between Bangkok and Nong Khai - the journey takes 10-12 hours.

Save on your hotel -

The Bangkok-Nong Khai trains have first and second class air-conditioned sleepers, which cost around 1200 and 800 baht respectively. The journey is pleasant if basic but the food is expensive and beyond awful! You have around 90 minutes on the Thai side before boarding the shuttle trains to Tha Naleng. A Lao visa on arrival is now available at Tha Naleng Station though you need to arrange your own onward transport to get to Vientiane - shuttle buses are available.

Thailand-Laos shuttle train by saka-san

The other option is to get off the train at Nong Khai and cross the border (across the Mekong River) by bus via the Friendship Bridge - the Nong Khai station is just 1.5 km from the bridge. If you take a tuk-tuk from Nong Khai Station, it should cost no more than 30-40 baht for all to get to the bridge, after bargaining of course. Outside the station there's an information board listing the official prices to the nearby destinations. Most tuk-tuk drivers will stop at a travel agent just outside the station and try to coerce you to buy both a Lao visa and shuttle bus ticket to Vientiane. Don't listen to them since you can get a visa and shuttle easily at the Lao border checkpoint.

Tuk-tuks in Nong Khai by Ilya Plekhanov

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