During my visit to Udon Thani, Thailand, I had a few spare days and decided to seize the opportunity to explore Laos. Without any prior planning, I wanted to embark on an adventurous journey. With the Thai-Lao border in Nong Khai just 60 kilometers away, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to venture into the relatively unexplored country of Laos in Southeast Asia. After conducting some quick research, I solidified my plan. My itinerary consisted of a road trip to the capital city of Vientiane, followed by a bus ride to the captivating caves of Vang Vieng, and concluding with another scenic road trip to the enchanting town of Luang Prabang.

Border Crossing between Laos and Thailand

I booked a flight with Lao Airlines from Luang Prabang to Bangkok for my return journey. The anticipation and excitement of crossing the international border and stepping foot into a completely new country were already coursing through my veins. As a traveler, there is a distinct thrill in venturing into unfamiliar territories by land, offering a unique experience that differs greatly from air travel.

  • A flight to Udon Thani Airport from Don Muang Bangkok Airport (about 60 minutes)
  • From the airport to the Thai border Nong Khai by road (about 60km)
  • Shuttle bus to cross the Friendship Bridge over the mighty Mekong river ( about 1km)
  • Lao Visa on Arrival at Lao side of the border
  • From the border to Vientiane by road (only a 20km journey)

Flight From Bangkok to Udon Thani

There are daily flights from Bangkok to Udon Thani, the northeastern part of Thailand (Isaan region). I took an Air Asia flight from Bangkok Don Muang airport, and you could get a real bargain if you bought the ticket in advance. Flight time is only about 60 minutes. I paid US$ 55 one way.

My Trip from Don Muang to Udon Thani (Isaan) by Air Asia.
My Trip from Don Muang to Udon Thani (Isaan) by Air Asia.

From Udon Thani to Nong Khai, Thai Border

Nong Khai Thai side of the international border is about 60 km from the airport. There are many options to get there from the airport. I bought a Limousine Service bus ticket from the ticket counter for 200 baths (Udon Thani – Nong Khai). The bus journey was comfortable, and in about an hour, we were in a terminal close to the Thai border. Purchase a bus ticket to transfer to another shuttle bus to cross the Friendship Bridge. This ticket was only 20 Bath.

Crossing The Border

The shuttle bus takes about five minutes from the bus station to the Thai immigration and customs at the west end of the bridge. All passengers needed to get off the shuttle bus for immigration passport control. Once the passport is stamped, get on the shuttle and cross the 1.17 km friendship Bridge over the famous Mekong River (it is forbidden to cross the friendship bridge on foot or by bicycle). Once the shuttle crosses the bridge in about 5 – 10 minutes, you will be dropped off at the Lao side of the Friendship Bridge at the Lao Immigration and customs office.

Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge on the famous Mekong between Thailand and Laos
Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge on the famous Mekong between Thailand and Laos

Lao Visa On Arrival

Visa on arrival was smooth; fill up the application and submit it; then, depending on the number of applicants lined up for the visa, you will be called from another window once the visa is ready. For US citizens visa fee was US$ 35. In case you need to change currency, there are few counters at the crossing; note that you can use US$ and Thai Bath in addition to Lao currency ‘kip’ (US$ 1 = 8000 kip or 1 Thai Bath = 230 kips), but don’t expect they can change your 100/50 $ bills or even 500 Bath note.

Getting Lao visa on arrival for $35.00
Getting Lao visa on arrival for $35.00

Getting to Vientiane From the Border

Once your passport is stamped and cleared, you will see many options to get to Vientiane, which is only 20 km away. Some minivans could be shared with other passengers. The cost will vary based on how many passengers are sharing the minivan. I was with a relatively small group, so I had to pay about 200 Bath to my hotel Leuxay.

I am taking one of those vans from the Lao border to Vientiane
I am taking one of those vans from the Lao border to Vientiane

Pictures That Will Tell The Story


Where to stay in Vientiane, Laos

Grand Hotel Vientiane

Featuring 4-star accommodations, Grand Hotel Vientiane is located in Vientiane, 1.2 miles from Wat Sisaket and 1.4 miles from Hor Phra Keo. This 4-star hotel offers a concierge service and luggage storage space, and some rooms are equipped with a kitchen with a microwave. A buffet, continental or Asian breakfast is served at the property. At Grand Hotel Vientiane, you’ll find a restaurant serving Indian, Thai, and Asian cuisine. Laos National Museum is 1.5 miles from the accommodation, while Thatluang Stupa is 1.5 miles away. The nearest airport is Wattay International Airport, 3.7 miles from Grand Hotel Vientiane.

Eastin Hotel Vientiane

Located in Vientiane, 1.8 miles from Laos National Museum, Eastin Hotel Vientiane provides accommodations with an outdoor swimming pool, free private parking, a fitness center, and a garden. Featuring room service, this property also welcomes guests with a restaurant and a terrace. Wat Sisaket is 1.9 miles from Eastin Hotel Vientiane, while Hor Phra Keo is 2 miles away. The nearest airport is Wattay International Airport, 1.2 miles from the hotel.

My Opinion and Last Word

Have you been to Vientiane, Laos? Any cool tips to share?

loved being in Vientiane, Laos, and want to go back again. I hope my story has motivated you to visit Laos.

Please leave a comment below! I’d love to hear from you to improve my knowledge. 

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Hasan Mahmud

Traveler, Blogger, and Travel Photographer!

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