Getting from Bangkok to Laos over land is a really easy and quite enjoyable journey. Wanting to save money I decided against flying and took the night train instead. There’s no train going directly to Vientiane or Laos, so you have to get the train to Nong Khai on the Thai side of the border.
I got to the railway station in Bangkok (Hualamphong) in the late afternoon and bought a ticket for the night train that departures at 8 pm. I paid somewhere between 500-600 baht for a top bunk.
The train was at the station early, so I got on maybe 30-40 minutes before it was scheduled to leave. And the train left on time by the way. A man working on the train came and made all the beds about an hour into the trip and it became a quite early evening for me.
The night was rather cold (damn AirCon) so remember to pack a jumper and socks so that it’s easy to reach. We arrived in Nong Khai in time, somewhere around 7.30 in the morning. At the train station in Nong Khai I bought ticket to the shuttle train that would take me over the friendship bridge and into Laos. It costs 20 baht and the train leaves at 9 am. Before entering the train you go through immigration and get the departures stamp in your passport.
On the Laos side of the friendship bridge you get to fill out yet another arrival and departure card and go through immigration. The cost for a visa is different depending on which country you’re from, but it costs somewhere between $30-45 (apparently it’s free for people from Switzerland), I paid in baht since I didn’t have any dollars on me.
After going through immigration I met an American solo traveler so we decided to share a taxi into Vientiane to make it cheaper. But apparently you pay per person so we paid 300 baht each to get the 30 minutes into town. The van dropped us off at a well known hostel. It was okay to pay in baht (even expected). I didn’t exchange any money into Laos Kip but waited until I could withdraw from an ATM (that were everywhere).
Overall it was a nice trip and definitively worth the money I saved on not flying (and it’s better for the environment as well!).