You can fly from Bangkok to the capital of Laos (Vientiane) in about an hour. We decided to make a real adventure of it by taking a sleeper train ( approx 12 hours) to the border at Nong Khai then a little train over the river to Laos.
I knew it was adventurous but it turned into even more of an adventure with long lasting memories some good, some bad, some funny, but all making it much more exciting than a short plane trip.
We reserved our tickets directly with Thai railways via email. ( Adult and Child tickets, under 4 travel free yet share a bed) They replied within a fortnight and I picked them up two days before our scheduled trip. We booked adjoining private compartments ( which is a first class 2 berth sleeper) When the kids are older we will travel in a big shared space but I was worried about Woody wandering around, this way we had a door we could lock.
The train leaves Hua Lampong station around 8pm. We got on and organised at 730pm. The entry and corridor are really narrow. With Coopers wheelchair we took the wheels off and it was doable but a folding chair would have been much easier. ( Coop just got a new manual chair which is super light but a fixed frame) Access is hard but there is always someone willing to help.
It has been close on 20 years that I was last at this train station. I travelled 3rd class hard seat at the time and still tell the kids how I slept on the floor on a newspaper just incase they try and complain about having an actual bed on the train!
Hua Lampong station 7pm.
Nong Khai is where we are headed. Easy to locate trains and always someone there to help.
Top bunk. An attendant comes in to change the couch into two beds. Fresh sheets, pillow and a blanket.
Waking up in Northern Thailand.
Playing rock, paper, scissors.
Noughts and crosses.
Due to a derailment from a previous train, our train took an extra 4 hours to arrive at Nong Khai. We arrived around midday. We left Thailand with our passports stamped and a train ticket (20 baht) in hand to head over the border to Thalenang station.
Because our train was delayed the immigration window for a visa was closed so we had to head back to the friendship bridge crossing and organise a Visa.(visa on arrival) we were already in Laos but wanted to be there legally!
This took close on 2 hours as it was super busy. 2 forms to fill out. As Australians we pay $30 US per passport with an extra $1 being that it was Saturday and an extra $1 for a photo. There are exchange places there at the border and best to pay USD.
We then met our driver that we had preorganised through our next accomodation and got on the road. We had a 4 hour car trip to our next destination, Vang Vieng. ( lots of snack/food/drink options available at the border to take for your trip)
So we arrived safely to this and it was all worth it……..I think.
I will share the outtakes in another post but be warned they contain stories of first aid kits, vomitting and squat toilets……I like to kept it real and honest but for now just enjoy the beauty of our adventure!