Vientiane and Bangkok are connected by direct flights which are the fastest way to travel between the two capitals. There is also direct bus service between the two, but travelling via Nong Khai or Udon Thani in Thailand gives you a much wider choice of departures by bus, by train or by plane any time of the day and is often less expensive and even less time consuming compared to direct options. The road distance from Vientiane to Bangkok is 650 km, and it will take you from 12 hours to 14 hours to cover it by any combination of overland transport; flights from Vientiane to Bangkok last one hour 20 minutes. You can also combine flying with overland transport to compromise between the cost and travel time.
Flights from Vientiane to Bangkok
Wattay International Airport in Vientiane sits 3 km northwest of the centre of the city. Some hotels provide their own transfer to the airport for about USD7. From the city you can easily get to the airport by tuk-tuk. The ride should not cost over USD3, though the drivers tend to ask double – negotiate the price before the ride. If you do not mind some walking, you can also get to the airport by public bus #30 which plies the main road some 500 m from the airport entrance.
AirAsia flies from Vientiane to *Don Mueang Airport in Bangkok. With some flexibility in dates it is often possible to get tickets under USD60 one way (checked luggage is to be paid extra). Don Mueang is ok if you are going to make a stop in Bangkok or catch a local AirAsia or Nok Air flight from the same airport after arrival; if you wish to continue your journey to any of the destinations of the Thai South or the Eastern Seaboard, arriving to Suvarnabhumi Airport is preferable as there is direct transfer from Suvarnabhumi to some of the most popular sea resorts including Hua Hin, Pattaya or Koh Chang. Lao Airlines, THAI and Bangkok Airways all fly from Vientiane to Suvarnabhumi airport in Bangkok, though tickets are more expensive than those offered by AirAsia.
From Vientiane to Bangkok by bus
Naga Travel offers daily service from Vientiane to Morchit bus terminal in Bangkok. In Vientiane the pick-up point is located two blocks inland from the night market on the Mekong riverfront, at the corner of Rue Haiphong and Rue Hengbaun. The bus departs at 5pm and gets to Bangkok by 7am the next morning. Tickets are offered at THB1400. To save on the ticket price, opt for separate bus journeys from Vientiane to Nong Khai and from Nong Khai to Bangkok: you may save half the money you would spend on the direct service.
From Vientiane to Bangkok by train or bus via Nong Khai
The majority of travellers heading to Bangkok from Vientiane overland choose to make their journey via Nong Khai. There is international bus service from Vientiane to Nong Khai six times a day departing from the Morning market bus station in Vientiane. Tickets cost THB60 and are bought at the spot. The trip takes around one hour but is dependent on the time you spend at the border crossing.
In Nong Khai buses bring you to Nong Khai bus station from where you can continue your journey to Bangkok. The staff at the bus station is always happy to show you the platform you need. Buses to Nong Khai leave at 7.30am, 9.30am, 12.40pm, 2.30pm, 3.30pm and 6pm).
From Nong Khai take a direct bus to Bangkok – there are convenient VIP night options which allow you to save a couple of bucks on your accommodation.
Note If you want to get from Nong Khai to Bangkok by train, after entering Thailand do not board the same bus heading to Nong Khai bus station, but instead walk to the train station (about 1 km; 15 minutes). Turn left to Thanon Mittraphap and then right in 500 m after crossing the railway. The most convenient train from Nong Khai to Bangkok is arguably night train #70, leaving at 7.10pm and reaching Hua Lamphong train station in Bangkok by 7am in the morning. It has first (THB1500) and second class (THB1000) sleeping cars which sell out fast. A cheaper alternative is train #78 at 6.15pm or #76 at 7am, both offering AC seats only at THB700. Remember that you will have to spend 11 hours on the train so think twice before buying a seat.
From Vientiane to Bangkok via Udon Thani
Instead of taking an international bus from Vientiane to Nong Khai, you can head to Udon Thani. There are seven buses a day (8am, 9am, 10.30am, 11.30am, 2pm, 4.30pm, 6pm), all leaving from the same Morning market bus station in Vientiane. Tickets cost THB80; travel time is three hours.
In Udon Thani you can hop onto a bus or a train to Bangkok – both cost slightly cheaper compared to options offered from Nong Khai; but the main reason of travelling via Udon Thani is to take a flight from Udon Thani to Bangkok which is always cheaper than direct flights from Vientiane to Bangkok. With both AirAsia and Thai Lion Air you normally can buy tickets for under THB1000; sometimes for as low as THB700 with checked luggage included (Lion Air).
In Bangkok both companies fly to Don Mueang Airport. It is connected to the city by airport shuttle buses (routes A1 and A2). A1 terminates at Morchit bus terminal calling en route to Morchit BTS. A2 heads to Morchit BTS first and then proceeds to Saphan Kwai BTS, Ari BTS, Sanam Pao BTS and finally reaches the Victory Monument (THB30). Travel time depends on traffic and is from 60 to 80 minutes. There are commuter trains between Don Mueang airport and Hua Lamphong train station, too. Trains take about 50 minutes to get from the railway station to the airport and are always a secure bet. Operating time is from 3.10am till 10.15pm.
Why go to Bangkok
Is there another Asian capital where the latest progress and traditional lifestyle blend in such a harmony as in Bangkok? Bold skyscrapers pierce the skies, golden temples adorn the city; chic shopping malls host top world brands while the vibrant street markets tempt with delicious flavours of the yummiest and spiciest local dishes. State-of-the-art skytrain cuts through the city, flying high above the street bustle, clumsy ferries ply the muddy waters of the Chao Phraya River and it seems that real magic helps speeding cheerful pink, yellow and green taxis find their way through the labyrinths of incredible Bangkok spaghetti junctions.
As centuries ago, the stately prangs of Wat Arun catch the first rays of sun dawning over the capital and the dazzling chedis of Wat Phra Kaew shine bright. Austere giant Yaks guard the capital while the Bangkokians and the guests of the Land of Smile alike dine and wine in the vertigo rooftop restaurants, work, party and picnic. Steel and concrete have not yet taken control over leafy parks and squares, and quaint khlongs embraced by wide modern thoroughfares are reminiscent of the times when the Bangkok of today was only a newborn.
Where to stay in Bangkok
It is easy to get lost in the sprawling neighbourhoods of Bangkok and become totally confused by the endless accommodation options on offer. First thing to do is to define the budget you are going to spend on accommodation and take into consideration the activities you are planning to be engaged in while in Bangkok.
A perennial backpackers’ favourite, Khao San Road and a couple of adjacent streets, including Soi Rambuttri, Soi Phra Atit and Soi Samsen, is the realm of budget accommodation in the capital with all the traveller-oriented services readily available. Chinatown, known as Yaowarat, possesses infinite charm for any city explorer and boasts very decent budget guesthouses. Silom and lower parts of Sukhumvit Road both have solid mad-range hotels normally located within a walking distance from BTS stations. For a shopaholic paradise head to the centrally located Siam but be prepared to pay no less than THB2000 for a simple room. The atmospheric Riverside is famous for its luxury hotels but for budget digs Thanon Charoen Krung is worth browsing.
Things to do in Bangkok
Time spent in Bangkok is never enough as the city offers virtually endless opportunities for exploring, sightseeing, dining and wining. While everyone will surely find an activity and a destination within Bangkok to their tasting, no visit to the Thai capital is complete without:
- Checking-in at the Grand Palace and Wat Phra Kaew where the most revered image of Buddha in the whole country is hosted.
- A heavenly massage session at Wat Pho, the national headquarters of preservation of Thai medicine.
- A drink in one of the glamorous rooftop bars with an outstanding city view in a company of beautiful crowd.
- A river boat ride along Chao Phraya elbow to elbow with other commuters and unexpected water splashes into your face.
- Browsing the narrow twisted aisles of the crazy Chatuchak weekend market selling a wealth of souvenirs, cheap closes, local designer creations and exotic animals.
- A relaxed afternoon at Jim Thompson House, a leafy little oasis of peace and tranquillity by the side of a khlong.
- A strenuous ascend to the main prang of Wat Arun or to the top of the Golden Mountain.
- A ride on a skytrain for a bird’s eye view of the city.
Have a pleasant stay in Bangkok. Relax and enjoy – we know, you will!