[pinterest-pro type=”pinit” pin_url=”http://siam-longings.com/1travel/udon-thani-airport-to-vientiane.htm” pin_image_url=”” pin_counter=”horizontal” pin_desc=”An attempt to provide the latest information on traveling to Vientiane from Udon Thani City. “]
udon thani airport to vientiane
I suspect that just about everything I could post about was already entered into my January 4 (2012) post travel from udon thani to nong khai, so please refer to that — I don’t wish to repeat myself in a post that is less than two weeks later.
A visa on arrival is available at Wattay Airport, the Friendship Bridge and Tha Naleng train station. Bring US$25-42 plus a US$1 bill (Washington) in cash (depending on your nationality) and a passport photo; see Laos#Get in for details. You can also get a visa in advance at the Lao Embassy in Bangkok; the only real advantages of doing this are that you need to spend less time queuing when you get to Laos and if you are traveling by through-bus from Udon Thani in Thailand to Vientiane the bus may not wait for visas on arrival to be processed.
Please refer to that article if you are reading this long after the post date, for things change, and information can be outdated. For one thing, that section detailed about flying to Vientiane, which one can do from Bangkok and Chiang Mai (via Luang Prabang). Perhaps one day a short flight from Udon Thani will be available. Concerning flying from Bangkok to Udon Thani:
From Bangkok many visitors choose to fly into Udon Thani in Thailand, and cross the border by bus, as this domestic flight is considerably cheaper than a direct international flight to Vientiane. There is a direct shuttle from Udon Thani airport to the Thai/Lao border at Nong Khai (about 50 km away) for 200 baht, and there are also direct cross-border bus services from Udon Thani (the city, not the airport!) to Vientiane. This option (flight plus bus transfers and immigration clearance at 2 points) takes at least 2 hours longer than a direct Bangkok to Vientiane flight. Be aware that you may have difficulty getting an international bus to Laos if you do not already hold a visa. Ticket officers for the buses sometimes check for this as the buses do not wait at the border long enough for the painfully slow visa on arrival process. If you are flying to Udon Thani you should also make sure you go to the correct departure airport. Nok Air flies from Don Muang, the old Bangkok airport, Thai Airways and Thai Air Asia from Suvarnabhumi , the new Bangkok airport.
From that article’s description about going to Vientiane via train, it can be done — just ensure you already have your Lao Visa:
The railway link across the Mekong finally opened in March 2009, and there are now four shuttle services daily from Nong Khai to Tha Naleng, some 13 km away from Vientiane and reachable by shuttle bus from the Morning Market. The shuttle trains are timed to connect with overnight trains to and from Bangkok, with around 90 minutes buffer time at the Thai side of the border for buying tickets and Immigration. It’s thus possible to hop aboard express #69 at 8 PM in Bangkok, arrive at Nong Khai at 9:30 AM and reach Tha Naleng around 10:30 AM. The train has first and second class air-con sleepers, which cost around 1200/800 baht respectively. Check State Railway of Thailand  for the the up-to-date time tables and fares, as well as online ticket booking. A Lao visa on arrival is now available at Tha Naleng station, though you need to arrange your own onward transport to get into the city. This is a major drawback, as the station (unlike Friendship bridge) is located in the middle of nowhere, and songthaew drivers asked as much as 100 baht/person (even from Thai/Lao people) for a shared ride to Vientiane.
The other option is to get off the train at Nong Khai and cross the border by bus via the Friendship Bridge. The Nong Khai station is just 1.5 km from the bridge, so if you take a tuk-tuk it should cost no more than 30-40 baht for all, 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 to Vientiane. Don’t listen to them: you can get a visa and shuttle easily at the Lao border.
For those, who already have a Lao visa, or do not need one for a short visit (citizens of ASEAN countries, Russia and a few others), getting off the train in Udon Thani then taking direct cross-border bus to Vientiane bus is a good option. See below for details.
The train trip either way is pleasant if basic, if you have a sleeper. (Less than 800 baht.) You usually don’t need air-con as the train isn’t hot, though non-air-con often isn’t available. (A few cold-blooded travellers do say the air-con is too cold.) Pack your own meals, beer, etc. The food on the train is expensive – and beyond awful. There is a ‘change racket’ operating among the catering staff: being seriously short-changed is the rule, not the exception. You need to note the prices on the menu, have baht (USD or kip will result in a big loss on the change) & have small denominations (a 1,000 baht note can serve an excuse for a 9-hour delay in bringing change; even then you will have to go looking for it).
As would be expected, the Vientiane article also discussing achieving Vientiane by bus — again, refer to the article if you are reading this too long after the date of this post, for things change:
The Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge (Saphan Mittaphap) from Nong Khai, Thailand is the most common means of entry. The bridge cannot be crossed on foot or by bicycle (theoretically; however people have been seen strolling the bridge), but there are frequent 20 baht shuttle buses just past Thai immigration. (The price changes depending on the time of day and day of week. You will get a receipt.) Bicycles can be carried on buses in the cargo compartment.
Direct buses to/from Nong Khai (55 baht), Khon Kaen(180 baht) and Udon Thani (80 baht) arrive and depart from the Talat Sao bus terminal. These are cheap, comfortable, hassle-free and popular, so book ahead or arrive early. Schedules change often, currently the buses start at 8AM and leave every 2 hours or so, until 6PM. Note: these buses are not an option if you plan to obtain a Lao visa on arrival at the bridge – the bus will not wait long enough. To get from the Udon airport to the Friendship Bridge, a 200 baht minibus fare can be purchased in the airport and will drop you off on the Thai side of the bridge.
Visas on arrival are available at the bridge. If you forgot your passport photo, they’ll photocopy your passport for an extra US$1/40 baht (or do it on the Thai side for just 2 baht). When you get a visa on arrival, you get the entry stamp at the same time, so you don’t have to wait in line afterwards. A 40 baht (or 9000 Kip) “entry fee” is sometimes charged once through. Just walk past the entry fee booth. If no-one stops you, you haven’t done anything wrong.
Once through immigration, you can take a jumbo (posted price 250 baht, easy to bargain down to 100 baht or less for immediate departure with only one passenger) or taxi (300 baht) to any destination in the city. Shared jumbos are cheaper. You should be able to negotiate to a good deal less than 50 baht/person if you’re prepared to share (and possibly wait).
The local bus (usually #14) to Talat Sao (the Morning Market) is the cheapest of all, 5,000 kip or 20 baht, but signage is nonexistent and you may be in for a wait (up to 20 minutes). The bus runs until at least 6:45PM or so.
It’s about 25km from the bridge to Vientiane; allow at least 30 minutes.
When arriving via the Friendship Bridge, you might like to visit the Buddha Park sculpture garden before going on to Vientiane, and save yourself a return trip back past the border crossing later. The same local bus (usually #14) that connects Talat Sao (the Morning Market) and the Friendship Bridge checkpoint also continues on to Buddha Park. Ask the driver which way it’s going, just in case.
The bridge immigration shuts quite late, around 10PM. (Ambulances can go through at any hour, in an emergency.) But check with the locals if you are unsure. Although note that the Thai clock is very different to the western one, so using 24 hour time may be a better way to ask.
Khon Kaen – Vientiane direct bus, 185 THB per way, departs twice daily from Khon Kaen Aircon Bus Terminal (Prab-argat) at 07:45 (usually delayed till 08:00) and arrives Vientiane Talat Sao Bus Station around noon. Second bus departs at 15:15.
A final note — concerning busing out of Vientiane back to Udon Thani:
Tickets from Vientiane to Udon Thani can only be bought from the Talat Sao bus station on the day itself for 22,000 kip.
This woman’s February 6, 2010, post at TravBuddy about her bus trip suggests little has changed since that time: Travel from Udon Thani Airport to Vientiane.
I cannot vouch for the information offered at Lonely Planet‘s Thorn Tree travel forum in response to this September 5, 2010, query, but you might profit from reading it: Udon Thani to Vientiane. The same state of affairs is in play for an August 24 post that same year (2010): udon thani to laos -travel advise needed.
As well, there is an undated article at GoNOMAD titled Across the Friendship Bridge: An Alternative Way to get from Thailand to Laos. It talks about the leg from Udon Thani. However, with no date on the article, one cannot know how precise all details currently are for a traveler.
Retire-Asia.com tries to keep current. Although the page linked to is headed with “Fly direct to Laos,” the information on the page deals with far more than doing that. There is a lot of information on Visas and getting to Vientiane from Udon Thani and Nong Khai.
The Udon Thani International Airport Udon Thani Airport Guide speaks of busing from there to the Friendship Bridge.
If the purpose of your trip is to renew your Visa, and total convenience — as opposed to cost savings — is what matters to you more than trying to figure out the transit for yourself, you could always take advantage of several escorted “Visa run” services I have read about. One such offer is by UD Car Rent in Udon Thani. There’s a little more about their service here.
Here are some added (possibly related) references that I am adding in a May 11 (2012) post edit:
Nok Air will offer passengers traveling to Udon Thani, the nearest airport town to Nong Khai on the border with Laos, a bus service to the immigration checkpoint. It hopes to capture some of the visa-run traffic and attract …
Publish Date: 02/28/2012 18:21
BANGKOK, 28 February 2012: Nok Air will team up with bus companies to provide an overland connection from Udon Thani to Vientiane starting 14. … to provide an overland connection from Udon Thani to Vientiane starting 14 March. Restricted to just domestic services in Thailand, Nok Air will offer passengers travelling to Udon Thani, the nearest airport town to Nong Khai on the border with Laos, a bus service to the immigration checkpoint. It hopes to capture some …
Publish Date: 02/28/2012 1:17
… i went to vientiane, laos. it was one of those spur of the moment trips, as i thought at that time, i’ve seen much of bangkok already. so i booked an orient thai flight from bangkok to udon thani. from the airport, i boarded a taxi …
Publish Date: 05/08/2012 6:57
VIP bus from Vientiane to Udon Thani. Hi. Has anyone used this service ? I am more concerned about the ability to cater for 2 adults who will both have 1 large and 1 small suitcase each. Will the luggage compartment be able …
Publish Date: 04/16/2012 0:11
Udon Thani. at least we got a tour of the city! We needed to get from southern Thailand to Laos quickly. The best option we found was to fly from Phuket to Udon Thani, and then cross the border by land into Vientiane. Because Udon Thani is not a big tourist draw (the highlight is dancing … The taxis at the airport insisted on charging an exorbitant price for the 5km ride so we found a tuk tuk down the street instead. He gave us a good price… but… well, finding the resort …
Publish Date: 04/29/2012 0:32
UDON THANI March 9-11th March. Udon Thani is a fast expanding and developing city with many businesses opening branches there or even moving there in entirety. … VIENTIANE March 11-13th March ….. I took a taxi from Pattaya to Bangkok airport and caught the Thai Airways flight to Khon Kaen where I was met by Mr Jasper and Mr Phong and I then discovered that I needn’t have come back today after all because the first date teachers are required for is May …
Publish Date: 05/10/2012 0:41
udon thani airport to vientiane
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