Saturday, March 28, 2009

Laos 1 : Overland to Laos

The train pulled away from the Bangkok Hualampong station sharp at 8pm sharp as scheduled. I’m on board train #69, north bound for Nong Khai at the border of Thailand and Laos. Wheeee!!! It’s been a long time since I took a train ride and my first on an overnight sleeper. I was excited to be on my way to Laos.
The Thai trains are very comfortable, for 758THB (USD21.70), you get a seat on the air-conditioned second class carriage. The train has a washbasin and a toilet for use in every carriage. The train stewards transform the seats into beds at night with clean bed-sheet and blanket. I fell asleep that night lulled by the rocking of the train while it chugs on, bearing me 615 kilometers across the country to Nong Khai.
Dawn could not come soon enough. I was eager to be up and about as the enclosed top bunk has no window and left me feeling slightly claustrophobic.The scheduled arrival at Nong Khai was 8.25am, but the train, delayed for 3 hours eventually arrived at Nong Khai at 11.30am.

Stepping out from the Nong Khai train station, a phalanx of tuk tuks with their drivers were waiting for fresh meat. After much haggling, we secured a tuk tuk for 50THB (USD1.50) to take us to the Thai immigration at the Friendship Bridge. The official price we found out much later was 40THB per tuk tuk. From the Thai immigration, we caught the local bus for 30THB each to take us across the Friendship Bridge to the Laos immigration. My travel buddy and I breezed through the immigration because most of the foreigners were delayed applying for their entry visa.

From the Lao immigration, it is another 22 km into the city of Vientiane. Tuk tuk from the immigration cost 200THB for the trip into town.

Such convoluted travel arrangements will be a thing of the past from March 2009 onwards. The Bangkok-NongKhai railway has been extended across the Friendship Bridge into the new railway station at Tha Naleng, Laos and is due to open on 5th March 2009.


  • Seat61 is an excellent site for information on travel by rail. Check Thai Railway train schedule and online reservation.
  • Do not use services of agents to get a Laos Visa. You can apply for a 30day visa on arrival at the Laotian immigration. If you are a passport holder from any ASEAN country, no visa is required for a 15 day entry into Laos. The site provides information on Lao visa application.