This is my quick and easy guide to crossing the border between Nong Khai in Thailand and Vientiane in Laos including getting your stamps, transport, onward travel and hotels to crash at on your journey.
I’ve crossed many land borders in my time as a traveller and I can confirm that the Nong Khai to Vientiane border crossing is a nice one to do, and I recommend it for going from Thailand to Laos or vice versa.
If you’re coming from Thailand, I really recommend staying at Nong Khai which is a backpacker border town or Udon Thani if you prefer a city. Nong Khai has a weird sculpture park near town and an excellent night market as well as boat trips along the river.
It costs 50 baht ($1.50) to get a tuk-tuk from Nong Khai centre to the Thai border and the journey takes 15 minutes. The cab drops you off at the border and you go into the immigration office on the bridge with your filled out departure form that should be stapled in your passport.
Once you’ve been stamped out, as soon as you exit the office there is a booth where you buy a 20 baht ticket that drops you off on the other side of the bridge and takes 10 minutes with very frequent departures.
If you’re coming the other way, Thai immigration is pretty easy, most nationalities can get in for free and get a one-month visa on arrival. All you need to do is fill in a form and join the foreigner queue.
You can’t get an Laos e-visa yet, but it’s set to launch in June 2019, so you’ll have to get a visa on arrival so check your requirements here, but this is straightforward. Make your to bring one passport photo, but if you don’t, there are booths where you can get them done.
Then you need to get your forms from window 1, fill them out and return with them, your photo and your fee.
It’s easy to pay in dollars, but they have to be pristine bills with no staple holes or rips and they’re very strict on this. If you don’t have pristine bills, you’ll have to pay in baht. Visa prices vary, it’s $35 for Brits (1,500 baht) and there’s also a $1 ‘border tax’ to pay. Most visas are about $30.
Once your visa has been issued at the next window, you don’t need to go through immigration, you just show your stamp at the exit.
There are money changers, but baht is a much stronger currency than kip (most currencies are and the amount of zeros confuses everyone) so you don’t need to get money here.
Collective taxis and buses run from the Laos border to the Vientiane bus station which is about a 45-minute drive away and it costs 50 baht ($1.50).
You can get buses to Vang Vieng at 2pm which takes 4 hours, but Vientiane is a nice place to spend a couple of days. If you go early, you could catch a bus to Luang Prabang but the roads are so windy that I don’t recommend it.
From Nong Khai, you can get to Udon Thani which takes 45 minutes and has better connections so you can get to Bangkok easily.
If you need a place to stay in Udon Thani then I recommend Charoen Hotel which has a pool as well as being close to the bus station. For Nong Khai, Mut Mee Garden Guesthouse is a good budget place for backpackers. Sex workers do knock on the windows in the night though, as it’s next to the river.
In Vientiane, Laos Silk Hotel is well located and budget, with access to a pool. For Vang Vieng, Magic Monkey Garden is a fun place to stay, also with a pool plus free BBQs on a Friday night!
To find the latest deals as well as reading reviews from other people, I recommend looking and booking on Tripadvisor:
What are your favourite border crossings in Southeast Asia? Any questions or wisdom to share then let me know in the comments below!
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