From Thailand to Laos
NORTH: Huay Xai is Lao’s border town on the Mekong River. On the opposite side of the river the border town in Thailand is Chiang Khong, this is on the route north from Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai. So travel with Stray from Bangkok through to Huay Xai, or complete the border crossing independently and jump on the bus at Huay Xai.
NORTH EAST: Vientiane, the capital of Laos, is a half hour tuk-tuk ride from the friendship bridge, the Lao-Thai border. The town on the Thailand side is Nong Khai. Overnight trains run between Bangkok and Nong Khai, and you take a combination of tuk-tuks and buses to get from the station in Nong Khai across the bridge, through immigration and into town. From Vientiane it is possible to buy a train ticket where you exit Laos at the newly built train station, Thanaleng, on the Lao side, and complete entry immigration into Thailand on the platform at Nong Khai, before boarding the overnight train.
EAST: Pakse is in Champasak Province, southern Laos, and can be directly accessed from Thailand via Ubon Ratchatani, the city of the same name as province. Buses, trains and planes link Ubon Ratchatani with Bangkok. It is approximately a 2 hour bus trip depending on time taken at the border crossing.
From Cambodia to Laos
The 4,000 Islands area in Champasak Province, southern Laos, borders the Cambodian province of Stung Treng. Buses from Phnom Penh to Strung Treng run daily and it takes approximately 6 hours. From Stung Treng minibuses run to the border at Dom Kralor, approximately 2 hours. From Voen Kham on the Lao side mini buses and other forms of transport run to Ban Nakasang where there is a boat to Don Det. For this border crossing it is recommended to have your Lao or Cambodia visas in advance, even armed with visas officials may ask for stamp fees. It is best to plan around the border being open between 8am and 5pm. The availability of visas at this border may change so best to double check all arrangements well in advance.
If you are heading south from Laos to Cambodia - you can read more info about visa requirements.
From Vietnam to Laos
The most common entry from Vietnam into Laos is from Hanoi to Luang Prabang or Vientiane by plane, which is an hour or two flight. From Hanoi the overland route is particularly difficult on the Vietnam side but possible if you have the time and patience. The border crossing is between Nam Xoi in Hua Phan Province Laos and Nameo in Thanh Hoa Province in Vietnam. Large tuk-tuks travel between the border and Vieng Xai (2 hours) on the Laos side. On the Vietnam side, rides can be negotiated from Thanh Hoa and/or Ba Thuoc. Visas are advisable to be arranged prior to reaching the border as there is no guarantee visas are available on arrival and information can change.
From China to Laos
The border crossing to China is between Xishuangbanna area of Yunnan and Luang Nam Tha province of Laos. Buses from Kunming, Xishuangbanna, Meng Le in Yunnan connect to Mohan the town on the Chinese border and then through to Boten on the Lao side. From Boten buses go onto Odomxai or Luang Nam Tha and Huay Xai. Lao visas are available on arrival at the border but Chinese visas are not and need to be prearranged. The border is open from 8am to 4pm and it is advisable to reach there early in the day for connecting buses into Laos and China.
Connecting by Air
Lao Airlines connect many cities around South East Asia to the major airports in Laos. From Kunming in China, Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh in Vietnam, Phnom Penh and Siem Reap in Cambodia, and Bangkok there are flights into Vientiane. Flights connect Pakse to Siem Reap and Bangkok, and also connect Luang Prabang to Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Hanoi, and Siem Reap.
Bangkok Airways connect Bangkok to Luang Prabang, Chiang Mai and the islands in Southern Thailand, Siem Reap and Phnom Penh in Cambodia.
Air Asia fly to Vientiane from Kuala Lumpur, allowing you to connect from Australia, New Zealand, Europe, and other Asian cities.
Vietnam Airlines connect Luang Prabang to Hanoi and Siem Reap, and connect Vientiane to Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh and Phnom Pen.
We're here to help!
We are always here to help with expert knowledge on how to get the most of your time in Southeast Asia. If you want to ask us questions about anything (big or small) - then email us at [email protected] - particularly if you’re short on time and have some ‘must-sees’ we can suggest flights, train, local bus journeys to supplement your Stray pass so you can fit everything in.