To get from Vientiane, Laos to Udon Thani, Thailand there are a couple of options – the direct bus to Udon city centre and secondly a public bus to the bridge then a mini-van to Udon Thani airport.
The Direct Bus
This is a service that will take you into Udon City centre bus station, near the Central World Mall. You can get a tuk-tuk from here to the airport – there is plenty of people offering to take you.
The bus departs Vientiane from the central bus station, near Talat Sao Morning Market. You can not buy tickets in advance, rather you need to do it on the day you want to travel. Check the booth at the station for current departures but there were recent departures every 2-3 hours through the day starting from about 8:00am. Alternatively talk to your guest house to book in advance. This means they will take your money and send someone down to buy the ticket at the appropriate time – but it will save you having to go to Khua Din bus station in advance.
Buy your ticket and go to the appropriate platform. The bus most likely will come in from Udon, disgorge it’s passengers and then you will board. On-board you will be given the immigration forms to fill-in in advance. At the Laos immigration you will be dropped to go through the booths and you board at the other other end. The bus will take you across the bridge to the Thai immigration booths. Here you need to take you luggage with you and go through the process. You then re-board your bus for the drive through to Udon Thani city- about an hour’s drive. Sometimes getting into the city there are major traffic delays – so allow some time just in case.
Public Bus to the Friendship bridge:
Bus 14 goes from the Bus station, along the roads near the river all the way out to the Friendship Bridge. Allow an 3/4 hour for the journey but it is traffic dependent. It usually only takes 30 minutes.
The bus departs every 10 –15 minutes and costs 6,000 kip (but prices change so watch what others are handing over just in case)
You pay the driver when you get off the bus
Proceed through Lao Immigration and buy a ticket to take the bus over the bridge(4,000 kip for the bus over the bridge). There are a number of people offering to take you over, but just wait near the plastic seats and a bus will come along – it will not be fancy! You are not allowed to walk the route over the bridge.
You then go through Thai immigration and exit into Nong Khai, Thailand. Now there will be multiple offers of tuk-tuks.
Getting the “Limousine” Taxi to Udon Thani Airport
The offices of the taxi company are on a major street, Pranangcholpratan Road, sort of near Tesco Lotus – if you are familiar with Nong Khai.
It is possible to walk to the office – but it is hot work. If you want to do so: Continue straight after exiting immigration past a few shops 7eleven etc., and turn left at the 1st major road. Cross to the opposite side of the street. Walk straight for about 20 minutes, along the way you will pass through 2 sets of lights. The office is just past 2nd set of lights.
A tuk-tuk will take you there if you say “limousine Taxi” and something vague like – just down there, pointing away from the bridge in a left hand direction. They generally know what you are talking about! Do not pay more than 50 baht for the trip.
from the business card of the tour office.
If you time it nicely you may see the limousine van dropping passengers off just before the Thai immigration departure booths – you can pick up a ride there to the office. However this relies on lucky timing, knowing what the van looks like, and knowing where to look – so do not depend on this method!!!
Scheduled departures are 6:30am, 9:15am, 10:30 am 12:00 13:00 14:00 16:00 17:30 and tickets are 150 baht per person
The van is a modern Toyota, well appointed and a comfortable ride. The van takes about 10 or 12 passengers.
From Hobo Maps – excellent maps of the area and Vientiane Grid reference start LT304 going to grid reference LN328
Limousine from Udon Thani Airport to Friendship bridge
At the airport counter as you come out of arrivals you can purchase a ticket for the limousine van service from Udon to Nong Khai (200 baht). Most foreigners get off at the immigration point at the friendship bridge.