Friday, January 27, 2006

Nong Khai/Udon Thani, Thailand <--> Vientiane, Laos Bus

I mentioned in a previous post about the new Ubon Ratchathani, Thailand <--> Pakse, Laos bus service, to commence in February, 2006. Previously the Tourism Authority of Thailand had announced service between both Nong Khai and Udon Thani, Thailand to Vientiane, Laos.

Here's an excerpt from the announcement:

The routes will operate from the Thai province of Nong Khai to the Lao PDR capital of Vientiane, and from the Thai province of Udon Thani to Vientiane. Both will go across the Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge, the first to be opened across the Mekong River in 1994.

The Nong Khai - Vientiane route is about 30 kms and will be covered in 30 minutes. The Udon Thani - Vientiane route is about 80 kms and will be covered in a little more than an hour, excluding the time that will be spent at the border crossing.

One-way fares for the two routes are 30 baht and 80 baht respectively.

The state-owned transport companies of Thailand and Lao PDR will each operate two round-trip services a day on both routes. Thailand's Transport Company Limited will operate 45-seat air-conditioned buses.

A timetable was also included.

The contact information given is:
TAT Northeastern Office: Region 5
Tel: +66 4232 5406 – 7
Fax: +66 4232 5408

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Thursday, January 26, 2006

Ubon Ratchathani, Thailand <--> Pakse, Laos Bus Service

The Bangkok Post News reports on a bus service starting February, 2006 between Ubon Ratchathani, Thailand and Pakse, Laos with four daily trips on 40-seat air-conditioned buses on the 138-km route. The one-way fare will be 200 baht. No mention of duration or how the border crossing will be handled.

The backpacker level alternative is to take a pickup from Warin Chamrab, bus stop #7, the town a couple of km South of the river from Ubon Ratchathani, to Phibun Mangsahan on route 217 (1 hour, 15 baht (?)). This connects to another pickup to the border at Chong Mek, about 1.5 hours. The last connection from the border to Pakse is a pickup that takes about 1 hour. Current prices unknown for these last two segments.
Edited to add: So, after the preceding was written, I took the B200 bus from Thailand to Lao in March, 2006 and returning from Lao to Thailand in April,. 2006.

The bus takes about 3 hours, including border formalities. The bus stops at the border, all the passengers get out, and pass through exit immigration. Then they reboard the bus, cross the border, and get off the bus again. If anyone needs a visa for Lao, they can get it on arrival with one photo and US$30. Each person them passes through immigration. If entering Lao, there's a fee of THB50.

The bus then continues on to the bus terminal in either Pakse or Ubon. It's hard to imagine that the backpacker alternative that I outline above would be the best way to go for anyone needed to go between Ubon and Pakse. I did see some backpackers at the border, but they may not have known about the bus or had other destinations in mind,