udon thani to laos
udon thani to laos
Refer to Wikitravel‘s entry for Udon Thani — the following information taken from it may have changed by the time you are reading this:
There are six express buses a day direct to the Morning Market in Vientiane (80 baht, 2 hours, air-con 1st class departures at 08:00, 10:30, 11:30, 14:00, 16:00, and 18:00). These cross-border buses will carry passengers who have not obtained their Lao visas in advance, but may NOT wait long enough at the border for a visa on arrival to be applied for and issued. This isn’t a problem when the queues are short, but at busy times passengers who don’t already have their visas may be left behind and have to continue by local bus or tuk-tuk.
And quoting from Wikitravel‘s entry for Vientiane:
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.
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 and Thai Air Asia (effective since 1st October 2012) flies from Don Muang, the old Bangkok airport, Thai Airways flies from Suvarnabhumi , the new Bangkok airport.
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).
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 18:45 or so.
It’s about 25 km 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 baht 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.
As I said earlier, please refer to Wikitravel for more current information if you are reading this too long after my post edit date of November 16, 2012.
A website called GoNOMAD.com has a page titled Across the Friendship Bridge: An Alternative Way to get from Thailand to Laos that discusses the modes of transport from Udon Thani that were cited by Wikitravel, but unfortunately the article is undated, nor did I notice any claim that the content is kept current.
The following question was posed at TripAdvisor on October 13, 2011, and received some very good responses:
Wondering if we fly into Udon Thani how we would connect with a bus or train to Vientiane?
I understand the Friendship Bridge border crossing does Visas on Arrival.
From the Nok Air website:
Nok Air invites you to visit Vientiane, the charming capital city of Laos, with its new and convenient Fly’n’Ride service
Use Nok Air’s new Fly’n’Ride service to easily travel between Bangkok and Vientiane. A convenient journey with no hassle.
Fly’n’Ride means that you fly with Nok Air from Bangkok to Udon Thani with a convenient connection by coach to the Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge at Nong Khai. You will clear Thai and Lao immigration process and on the other side, another coach is waiting to take you to downtown Vientiane.
This new service is available every day from Bangkok to Vientiane and from Vientiane to Bangkok. Book now and explore beautiful Laos with Nok Air!
Upon arriving at the Thai-Lao border checkpoint until crossing the Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge to the provided transportation service on Laos transit terminal is solely at the passengers own risk and without any liability or responsibility of any kind for Nok Air.
Passengers traveling across the border should ascertain information on documents needed to across the border from the relevant Thai and Lao government agencies.
The transportation service from Udon Thani Airport to the Thai-Lao border checkpoint in Thailand is provided by Udon Keaw Tour partnership registered under Thai Law. The transportation service between the Thai-Lao border checkpoint in Laos to Vientiane is operated by Trans Express Co., Ltd. a company registered under Lao Law.
Transportation provided by motor coach operators is subject exclusively to the terms and conditions maintained by those other motor carriers. Nok Air shall assumes no responsibility or liability of any kind for their services. Nok Air is not responsible for delays or cancellations caused by traffic or road conditions, weather or other causes over which it has no control.
Luggage is subject to inspection when crossing international borders. Passengers must carry themselves a baggage from Thai-Lao border checkpoint crossing the Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge to the provided bus on Lao transit terminal. Passengers will be asked to declare any items subject to duty upon crossing the border. Nok Air is not responsible for any luggage crossing international borders or denied entry.
A blog called The Ninja Travels… has a January 17, 2012, post titled Bangkok to Udon Thani to Vientiane, Laos. It gives a brief description of the blogger’s experience.
Udonthani FC VS Laos (Friendly Match)
Uploaded by LaosFootball on Jun 22, 2011