The overnight train leaves from Hualamphong station central Bangkok at 20:00 hours and is scheduled to arrive in Nong Khai at 08:25 the next morning. From here you can choose to (1). make your own way to the Friendship bridge and Lao/Thai Border or (2) take a connecting train into Laos.
The connecting train leaves over half an hour later at 09:00 and goes to the only train station in Laos – Thanaleng. Thanaleng is located not far from the Friendship bridge and there are limited options for transport into the city. There are more options from the Friendship Bridge.
Bangkok Train Station
The train station is on the end of the BTS underground line at stop Hualamphong Station – it is one of the easiest ways to get there. However taxis and tuk-tuks are easy alternatives
Train may leave from platform 3, this is what the board says. However it often leaves from other platforms but there will be a big sign in front of the platform in English saying this.
Board either the 1st or 2nd class carriage that you are booked on and find your place. You don’t need to show you ticket at this point as the conductor will come around later and do this. The 1st class carriage is on the end and there is only one of them.
It is best to have a meal before getting on the train. Staff will come around after boarding an offer an evening meal or a breakfast, but meals are of variable quality. For breakfast you are better bringing something to keep you going until you reach Vientiane.
The journey is quite smooth, but there are some bits where the carriages do rock about a bit.
About an hour out of Nong Khai the train stops in Udon Thani, so you know you are about an hour away
Don’t have any illusions of grandeur…1st class really means not 2nd class. The carriages are 1960’s era clean and function but not luxurious and not large. Each cabin has it’s own hand basin. When you get on the cabin will have a long seat to sit on. This folds out to become the upper and lower bunks.
Each cabin has 2 bottles of water provided.
Once on the journey a staff member will come along and put the bunks into place and make up the beds with linen. In some ways it is good to keep your curtain open so they make up the bed sooner rather than later – if you are closed off they may do the ‘easy’ people first. Either way it will happen eventually.
The cabin is air-conditioned so it can be quite cool. If you turn the vents in the ceiling down it can become quite hot and it is quite hard to get a good balance. The blanket provided is not that warm so it is good to have some clothes including socks to sleep in.
About 10 minutes before arriving in Nong Khai the conductor will come and knock on the doors
There are 2 toilets – 1 western and one Asian. Usually clean, if not luxurious.
See friendship-bridge-into-vientiane for some more information about transport costs.