Buses depart a few times day from various Bangkok locations and travel to Vientiane, crossing the Thai-Lao border, in about 12 hours. This is a well-trodded route with many cabin class options to chose from. Buses are always equipped with air conditioning and bathrooms on board, but the seat-comfort-levels may be quite simple.
There is 1 operator that run from Bangkok to Vientiane, with 0 departures per day. If you decide to take a Minivan, you can take the VIP option.
When traveling from Bangkok to Vientiane you can choose to go from A to B using the train service. This is a second class train, meaning the cabins are completely open and shared. The berths are upright seats during the day, which convert into beds by night. The cabin is well air conditioned. What more might you need for such a long journey? Since this is a journey which crosses a border, there will be a stop in between, in Nong Khai, in order to exit Thailand. After the border, you will continue to the Thanaleng Train station, and from there take a minivan to Vientiane.
There are 4 operators that run from Bangkok to Vientiane, with 2 departures per day. If you decide to take a Flight, you can take the Economy option.
What better way to become one with Thailand than a few nights in Bangkok? However, once you've made the most of bartering on the Khao San Road or taking in a royal residence or two in the Pathum Wan District, then a change of scenery could well be in order. Vientiane, the capital of Laos, is one such option that's guaranteed to add a little ‘ooh la la’ to your travels in Southeast Asia. From French colonial style and cuisine to beautiful monuments, such as the Pha That Luang golden pagoda, visiting Vientiane from Bangkok is as easy going as early morning coffee and freshly-made croissants.
When traveling the 795 kilometer (494 mile) distance from Bangkok to Vientiane, you have three choices: you can take a Tourist, Economy or Express Sleeper Bus, which takes about 14 hours; you can take a train which takes about 13 hours, or you can take a 9-person chauffeur-driven minivan which takes about 10 hours.
Given the length of time you're going to be traveling from Bangkok to Vientiane – including the border crossing – a sleeper bus is going to be your best bet. Although comfort levels differ between buses, and trains, you'll still be able to make use of the onboard bathroom, selection of snacks, air conditioning and complimentary blanket.
Also, if you're traveling by sleeper bus you'll also be saving money on accommodation – what's not to like? Whichever way you choose to travel, a French-style black coffee on arrival is always going to work wonders and wake you up ready for the day ahead.
Keeping an eye out of your bus, minivan or train window is going to achieve varying levels of visual enjoyment depending on which time you leave. Obviously, overnight sleeper buses – that leave between 4pm and 8pm – will let you look out on street scenes as you leave Bangkok and then near darkness as you head north to the border with Laos. The same with trains leaving Bangkok for Vientiane – these depart at 8pm each day.
However, one of the best things to see when traveling from Thailand to Laos is the sunrise. There's nothing that beats being the only one watching out of the window as the first rays start to hit the earth. Often you'll be treated to a much more rural landscape than the one you witnessed the evening before. It's a great way to prepare yourself for a new country as well as making sure you're awake for the border check, just two hours out of Vientiane.
The fastest way to get to Vientiane from Bangkok is with a 9-person VIP Minivan by Glassflower. You can organize your own departure time, and the ride itself takes around 10 hours.
The cheapest way to get to Vientiane from Bangkok is with an Express Bus run by The Transport Co. Ltd. This costs $35 and takes around 14 hours to arrive.
The most popular way to get to Vientiane from Bangkok is with an Economy Bus run by Khao San Tara Tour. This costs $43 and takes around 14 hours to arrive.
Overnight sleeper buses from Bangkok to Vientiane are a rite of passage for travelers in Southeast Asia. Depending on which class of bus you take: Tourist, Economy or Express, you'll be treated to an air-conditioned experience (blankets provided) that will also include rest stops, mid-journey meal and a small selection of onboard snacks. Hey, it's not necessarily going to be the most comfortable ride – some chairs recline more than others – but it's going to get you over the border and is also going to save on the cost of overnight accommodation. The best advice is to arrive at the bus terminal at least 30 mins before departure and pack snacks, eye mask, ear plugs and neck support for the 14 hour journey.
It's really easy to take a second class train from Bangkok to Vientiane, especially if you've booked in advance. First class seating and sleeping arrangements are also available. Sleeping berths transform from upright seats to beds within seconds and as all compartments are open and shared you'll have ample opportunity to mingle with local people making their way north from the Thai capital. As you'll be crossing the border from Thailand to Laos there will be a stop in Nong Khai before continuing by rail to Thanaleng Train station. This is where you'll switch from train to minivan before continuing the rest of the way by road to Vientiane. Trains leave at 8pm each day from Bangkok Train Station and, again, you're advised to arrive early so as to find the right platform and exchange your e-ticket for a printed alternative.
Minivans might be more expensive than bus or train options but they are a lot quicker and can depart whenever, and from wherever, you wish. Also, as there's enough space for 9 passengers, you can split the travel costs which actually works out to be quite affordable in the long run. This is definitely the best option if you need to be in Vientiane as soon as possible. It also suits travelers who prefer a touch of chauffeur-driven luxury as well as a more flexible approach to when and where you leave from and arrive.
Minivan pickups in Bangkok:
Minivan drop-offs in Vientiane:
There are around 5 total buses, minivans and trains leaving from Bangkok to Vientiane each day, in addition to private transfers.
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