How to Travel by Land from Thailand to Laos (A Backpacker’s Guide)

March 6, 2021


Thailand and Laos are Southeast Asian neighbors that are separated by the Mekong River. To date, there are 9 land borders in which many nationals can get a Visa on Arrival. There are also daily flights from both of these countries. However, in this article, we will tell you how to travel by land from Thailand to Laos as it is common for backpackers.

How to Travel by Land from Thailand to Laos
Photo by nakhon100 CC BY 2.0

There are many cities in Thailand, but we will discuss popular cities or spots like Bangkok and Chiang Mai. There are many options if you like your ride to be faster or cheaper. I hope this will be helpful in your future travel to both of these countries.

Other articles you can read:

The Land Borders

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Here are the land borders on which you can cross from Thailand to Laos. You can also get a Visa on Arrival on the following borders:

  • Friendship Bridge I – Vientiane
  • Friendship Bridge II – Savannakhet
  • Friendship Bridge III – Khammouane
  • Friendship Bridge IV – Bokeo
  • Nam Ngeun – Xayabouly
  • Namheuang – Xayabouly
  • Samliemkham – Bokeo
  • Tanalaeng – Vientiane
  • Vang Tao – Champasak

Bangkok to Vientiane

How to Travel by Land from Thailand to Laos
Photo by Clay Gilliland CC BY-SA 2.0

Let’s learn here how you can travel from Thailand’s capital to Laos’ capital.

 

Direct Bus from Bangkok to Vientiane

  • If you want fewer stops and hassles, you can ride on a bus from Bangkok to Vientiane
  • Costs are from THB 1,000 – 1,200 usually departing from the afternoon or evening and arriving in the morning in Laos

By Train up to Nong Khai

  • From Bangkok Railway Station or Hua Lamphong, take a sleeper train to Nong Khai, the last city in Thailand, before you cross the border to Laos.
  • Prices are from THB 250 – 500 Baht during the day trip, and THB 700 – 1,250 for sleeper trains
  • Go to Mo Chit Bus Terminal in Chatuchak District in Bangkok

By Bus up to Nong Khai

  • There are buses through the day; however, you may prefer the night buses of Budsarakan Tour and Sawadee Esan
  • Travel time up to Nong Khai is about 9 – 11 hours long
  • Bus prices range from THB 400 – 700 depending on the class of bus (ordinary to luxury)

Nong Khai to Thanaleng to Vientiane

  • Buy a ticket in Nong Khai station for a Train to Thanaleng and a Minivan (THB 300), earliest departure of shuttle train is 7:30 AM
  • However, you can get to Thanaleng Station and pass by Thai-Lao Friendship bridge for THB 20 – 30, there are minivans to Vientiane that costs THB 150
  • There are also direct buses from Nong Khai station to Vientiane for THB 60
  • Travel time is about 1 – 2 hours as you need to stop for Immigration stamps

Chiang Mai to Luang Prabang

How to Travel by Land from Thailand to Laos (A Backpacker’s Guide) 10
Photo by 王大陆 清迈 on Unsplash

Another great route from Bangkok to Laos is from Chiang Mai to Luang Prabang. Check out how you can travel from these beloved spots by land. You will most likely use the Samliemkham – Bokeo or the Bokeo Friendship Bridge borders that issues Visa on Arrival.

 

Direct Buses from Chiang Mai to Luang Prabang

  • From Chiang Mai Bus Terminal, you can ride a bus to Naluang Bus Station in Luang Prabang
  • Travel time is 19 – 22 hours, from 9:00 AM, you may arrive at 4/5 in the morning of the next day
  • Sleeper trains are also available
  • Costs are from THB 1,000 – 1,500

To Chiang Khong

  • Go to the bus station and ride a minibus, green bus, or public bus to Chiang Khong
  • Travel time may be 4-5 hours
  • Prices are from THB 150 – 250
  • If you want to sightsee, you can spend some time and ride to Chiang Rai to see the White and Black Temple, from there take a red bus to Chiang Khong (THB 65)

To  Huay Xai

  • Ride a tuk-tuk from Chiang Khong the border crossing; this costs THB 100 – 150
  • From the Thai Immigration, buy a bus ticket to cross the Thai-Laos Friendship Bridge, prices are THB 20 – 30
  • Get your Laos visa
  • From there go to the city center to catch a bus or boat to Luang Prabang, this may cost THB 50 – 200

To  Luang Prabang

  • Ride a bus from Huay Xai bus terminal to Luang Prabang
  • There are local buses, VIP, minibusses, and overnight buses
  • Travel time is between 12 – 16 hours, depending on stops and traffic
  • You could pay THB 400 – 700
  • If you want another route, you could take a River Cruise from Huay Xai to Luang Prabang; it will usually take 2 days for this scenic route costing THB 800 – 1000

Travel Tips

How to Travel by Land from Thailand to Laos
Photo by Man Bartlett CC BY 2.0

 

  • For these long hour rides, it’s better to choose a more comfortable option like buses with comfort rooms and spacious legroom
  • Traveling during the night can save you a lot of time, check out the sleeper trains
  • Bring snacks and buy enough water during your travel, you may have limited time during your travel, or you might get hungry
  • You can book in advance via 12Go.Asia
  • Bring cash, and you might need to exchange your money before crossing borders or at the immigration area
  • Wear comfortable clothes during travel; some say air-condition is high on the buses or trains in Thailand/Laos, but the weather outside is quite hot
  • Plan your route and double-check the timetables, you might spend an overnight if you missed a trip
  • Before crossing, check if you need a visa or not, Filipinos are usually visa-free for Thailand and Laos

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Transportation Tip: If you’re looking for the cheapest way to book the Trains, Buses, Ferries, Transfers on this route, we use 12Go.Asia to compare the prices!

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After reading this, I hope you’ll know how to travel by land from Thailand to Laos. It’s pretty exciting crossing borders. If you don’t have much time and in a budget, sleeper trains are a good choice. It’ll save you costs on spending a night at a hotel and get you from one point to the other. Good luck with your travels, and keep safe!​

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About the Writer

Lyza Paloma

Hey, I’m Lyza! I once was a person who just imagined going to places “one day” but decided to pursue my dreams. My first travel abroad was in Japan, solo, last 2018, and fell in love with the journey since. I’m aiming to visit 10 countries before turning 30 and 2 new places in the Philippines every year. Besides traveling, I love organizing trips, photography, reading, and making new friends. Follow my adventures through my Instagram.





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