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Vientiane, #Friendship Bridge, #Nong Khai

City/Country: Advice: Saving:
Nong Khai - Thailand This must count as a bargain: One hour each way train journey from Udon Thani to Nong Khai (border town with Laos) - total cost 16 baht! (11 baht out and 6 baht back). The journey was FREE for Thai people. I think it is subsidised by the government. The train was old but the ticket came with an allocated seat and there was even a VIP carriage for those that want more comfort. Nice view of farmland along the way. The train wasn’t exactly on time but at that price who cares. Virtually free train journey
 Vientiane - Laos A bit grim after being to Thailand, but there are some sites in Vientiane worth a look including the Pha That Luang temple 'complex' and the mock 'Arc de Triomphe'. You can actually climb up inside this and take some good pictures from the roof. Not sure why, but Laos as some really unusual sunsets, the cloudless sky goes an unusual colour. So sunset is a really good time for pictures.
What to do
 Thai-Laos Border Some words of advice if you are arriving in Laos over the 'Friendship Bridge' from Nong Khai in Thailand.
Get a taxi to the Thai side of the border then you pass though 'immigration' (a kiosk) and then get on a bus that drives you over the Mekong to the Laos immigration. The Laos side is Communist queuing at its very best. Lots of pointless forms, a fee, waiting around and then a huge visa that takes up a whole page.
There is no aircon and the border guards do nothing to stop the pushing in by some locals. So be prepared to be patient... That said Laos is cheap compared with Thailand and has some great countryside.
How to get across
 Thai-Laos Border  When you arrive at the Thai/Laos border there are lots of people who will offer to help you get across (for a fee). I don't normally bother with that side of thing, but if you can get the price cheap enough it's worth thinking about as you will get through the form filling and waiting quicker.
They will tell you where to go at each stage and help you fill the forms in. Mine also arranged a taxi to Vientiane and took me to a hotel (I had nothing booked). I think it was about 500 baht in all (from Thai side to Vientiane hotel).
 More money but less hassle
Vientiane - Laos If you are a backpacker or tourist one place to head for in Vientiane is the riverfront, where there are lots of restaurants and hotels aimed at foreigners. You will meet a lot of like-minded people in this area. Where to stay