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Train from Bangkok to Vientiane July 27, 2006

Posted by Guido in travelling.

Taking the train to Laos is a good option, not only to save money, but also to see some more places on the way to Luang Prabang. It’s also a relaxed way of traveling. You board in Bangkok in the evening, sleep through the night and when you wake up, you enjoy the views of the rural parts of Northwestern Thailand in the soft morning light.

You can find everything you need to know about travelling by train in Thailand on this website. Below I use some of their information:

Which station in Bangkok?
In the past trains have always left from Hua Lamphong station in the center of Bangkok. As it stands this is still the case, but the plan is to move all the departing long distance trains to a new station called Bang Sue junction station. I’ll keep an eye on it and let you know if it does.

First and second class
They’re both good. The 1st class is more private with two 2-berth compartments and wash basin. Clean bedding, soap and towels are provided. The toilet at the end of the car even has a shower. Most western travelers are quite happy using 2nd class sleepers, which are comfortable, safe, and quite fun. Berths are not in compartments, but are arranged along the wall on either side of a central aisle. I like it more than the European style compartments with six beds per compartment. The attendant will make up your bunk with a proper mattress and fresh clean bedding, and will hook up curtains to give you privacy.

How to buy tickets
You can buy your tickets at the station, but I’d advice you to reserve them in advance. In December the trains fill up and you’re not likely to get a ticket for the same day. You can do this by email with the State Railways of Thailand or via a travel agency.

To book with the State Railways of Thailand, email them at least 15 days before your date of travel on passenger-ser@railway.co.th or fax + 66 2 225 6068. Your fax or e-mail must include the journey, date, train number, departure time, class, seat or sleeper (upper or lower berth), number of passengers, your name and e-mail address, and whether you want to collect your tickets at Bangkok Airport station (Don Muang) or Bangkok Hualamphong station in the city centre. You will receive an e-mail confirmation, and you then collect and pay for your tickets at the station booking office at least 1 hour before departure. Bookings open 30 days before departure, but email bookings are only accepted more than 15 days before departure to give them time to respond.

You can also book Thai train tickets through several reputable Thai travel agencies:

These agencies will book trains for you and have the tickets waiting for you at your hotel in Bangkok, or they can send them to you by courier. Naturally, they charge a small fee for this.

The first class cabin is about $25 per person.The Second class sleepers are about $15 per person.

The train doesn’t run all the way to Vientiane. You will have to get off at Nong Kai on the Thai side of the border. This is the timetable:

Bangkok ► Nong Khai
Train number: 137 133 77 69
Classes: 2,3 s,2,3 2 1,S
Bangkok (Hualamphong) depart: 05:50 18:30 20:00 20:45
Bangkok Airport (Don Muang) depart: 06:42 19:25 20:45 21:32
Nong Khai arrive: 17:30 07:20 06:00 08:55

Nong Khai ► Bangkok
Train number: 76 138 134 70
Classes: 2 2,3 s,2,3 1,S
Nong Khai depart: 07:30 09:05 18:20 19:05
Bangkok Airport (Don Muang) arrive: 16:54 20:33 06:19 06:29
Bangkok (Hualamphong) arrive: 17:55 21:02b 06:52b 07:35

Classes: 1 = 1st class sleeper. S = 2nd class sleeper (air-con). s = 2nd class sleeper (non-air-con). 2 = 2nd class seats (air con). 3 = 3rd class seats. b = arrives in Bang Sue station


Crossing the border to Vientiane
Getting out of the train in Nong Kai you have to make your way to the border at the Friendship Bridge. At the train station you take a tuk-tuk (the small kind or Jumbo as they are called around there) to the bus station where the border shuttle bus leaves. This bus’ only purpose is to drive people across the bridge, stopping at the Thai immigration and Lao immigration. The bus leaves every 20 minutes.

The shuttle bus takes about five minutes to get from the bus station to Thai immigration and customs at the west end of the bridge. Bags are kept in the hold of the bus, while a Thai immigration official stamps your passport for 10 baht. There is no customs inspection. Get back on the bus and ride for about ten minutes as you cross the Mekong.

Just past the Lao side of Friendship Bridge, you come to the Lao immigration and customs posts. Here you take the luggage from the bus, fill out the paper work, get some nice new stamps in your passport and go through customs. You are now in Laos and your first sight is a kind of parking lot with tuk-tuks (the bigger kind). Take one that will bring you to your hotel.

You will need to bargain with the taxi drivers, but my experience is that you won’t be able to bargin down a whole lot, because the drivers seem to have fixed the rates among them.



1. Diane Rogers - March 15, 2008

Thank you for the travel information. As a rule of thumb what is considered to be a reasonable rate for a taxi and a tuk tuk? Are Jumbo Tuk Tuks more expensive and by how much? We have known of tourist being shown a white card with the fares on it for standard Tuk Tuks. This shows double the normal rate. Bater in Kip and check the amount covers ALL the passengers travelling as a group.The driver may try and claim EACH person was the expected total amount at journeys end!

2. Diane Rogers - March 15, 2008

That enquiry was for travelling around and about in the city. Not to the bridge – Sorry

3. Guido - March 15, 2008

There are no fixed rates for tuk tuks and jumbo’s. In my experience there not much difference in rates between tuk tuk’s and jumbo’s. I would say a ride in the city center of Vientiane would be somewhere between 5000 kip and 10000 kip. From the edge of the city to the center would be more. 2000-3000 kip depending on the distance. Rates do change over time as gas prices go up or down (mostly up these days). The is rate is for the whole group of passengers.

I have never seen or heard of card with rates on them. In any case, you cannot expect these “published rates” to be on par with what the locals pay or tourists pay who don’t mind haggling a bit. You do see more fixed prices in stores in Vientinane these days, but certainly not yet for tuk tuk’s. If I would see a card with published rate, I would regard it as their opening offer and tell them what I am willing to pay. Unless you are a local, don’t expect to pay local rates without bargaining.

In Laos it’s normal to discuss and agree on a price. It is usually done with a smile and it is supposed to be a pleasant social activity where both people part ways happy with the transaction. Granted, some tuk tuk drivers can be a bit more difficult to haggle with than other people. Having said that, the first Lao person I ever met was a very gentle old tuk tuk driver that drove me and a friend from the border to my hotel in Vientiane. Having arrived the man helped us with the luggage and then just stood there. I didn’t agree on a price with him before hand, so I asked what I owed him. He shyly looked down and just said “Whatever you want to give me”.

4. Hali Munkayilar - July 10, 2008

Myself and a friend wish to receive some information regarding travel from Bangkok to Vientiane, traveling on or about the 25/08/08. I need to know if you are able to send out paid tickets via email or post to Australia before we arrive in Bangkok on the 18th of August.

5. Ivan - August 30, 2008

Hi, thanks for the info but I have a few questions. Is this info up to date? because I would like to take the 9.05 train from non khai to bangkok but I am not sure if the times stated above are right and secondly I would like to know how much is the 3rd class train ticket at 9:05 from nong khai to bangkok. Kind regards.

6. Guido - August 31, 2008

Ivan, the train schedules on this page may be outdated. For current info, check this page: http://www.seat61.com/Thailand.htm. Or contact the thai railways or one of the travel agents mentioned above.

7. migz - September 11, 2008

hello, is it safe to travel by bus on route 13 going to luang prabhang? ive been reading some sites and they caution travelers from taking that route since rebels were known to flag down buses. do u know of the current situation on that route? thanks =)

8. Guido - September 11, 2008

@migz – I know there where some instances several years ago, but I haven’t heard about it for a long time. Personally, I don’t think there is any problem taking route 13. Many tourist and Lao people take it every day as I have several times.

9. tharash - November 21, 2008

hi, i just want to know how long the train ride takes from bangkok to vientiane?

10. bugebaby@yahoo.com - April 6, 2009


How safe is this train ride from Bangkok to Vientianne? I am concerned because it is at night and I have heard of some robberies of buses at night along this route. Thanks.


11. Jack - September 17, 2009

I’m ready for my adventure! Dec. 1 – Dec. 22

12. click here - June 7, 2012

Is it alright to put part of this in my webpage if perhaps I publish a reference to this web site?

Guido - June 7, 2012

That’s ok. Please note that the info on this page is already quite old. Things may have changed.

13. "peckham lodge" - September 7, 2013

When I initially left a comment I seem to have clicked the -Notify me
when new comments are added- checkbox and now whenever a comment is added I get 4 emails with the exact same comment.
Perhaps there is a way you are able to remove me from that service?
Thanks a lot!

14. places to go in bangkok - June 25, 2014

places to go in bangkok

Train from Bangkok to Vientiane | Sticky Rice

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