Train Travel from Laos to Thailand

A few years ago, travel from Laos to Thailand required a flight from Vientiane to Bangkok, a route made extremely expensive by scant competition. Thankfully, an international rail link has accompanied the “Friendship Bridge” recently built between the two countries.

Although the journey last nearly 11 hours, taking the train from Vientiane to Bangkok (or vice-versa) is the cheapest and, indeed, the most relaxing way to bridge the gap between the capital cities of Laos and Thailand.

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Thanaleng Railway Station

The first step of traveling from Laos to Thailand by train is getting to the Vientiane Railway station. In fact, the international railway station serving Vientiane is not within city limits.

Rather, you must take a tuk-tuk, public bus or taxi to Thanaleng, located approximately 13 miles south of Vientiane’s city center. The journey should cost you around 100,000 Lao kip, 400 Thai baht or 13 U.S. dollars and take about 30 minutes.

There is no need to purchase your Vientiane-Bangkok train ticket in advance, although several travel agents in Vientiane offer them. Rather, turn up at the ticket window in Thanaleng at least 30 mintes in advance of your scheduled departure time.

Classes of Service from Vientiane to Bangkok

The train from Vientiane to Bangkok takes between 11-12 hours, so I recommend booking a bed in a first- or second-class cabin. Only one of the two overnight trains that serves the Vientiane-Bangkok route is equipped with lie-flat beds; It departs Thanaleng at 5 p.m.

Opting for a bed from Vientiane-Bangkok is not only a great comfort choice, but the cost premium is also negligible. A second-class bed costs 778 Thai baht ($23) as of May 2012, while second- and third-class seats cost 388 ($11) and 258 ($8) baht, respectively.

For the first few hours of the journey, the beds are put away and you sit in seats, with the option to order a hot meal (Tom Yum soup, anyone?) or snack, such as potato chips or a candy bar. At about 9 p.m., the train crew comes through and converts the cabin.

Lao-Thai Immigration and Border Clearance

You should note that you actually take two trains from Vientiane to Bangkok: A “shuttle” train from Thanaleng to the frontier, where you exit Laos and enter Thailand. After you clear the border, you board the train that will take you all the way, which leaves at 6:20 p.m.

You should note that while Thai officials grant nationals of most countries visas on arrival, land entries only receive a 14-day stamp, as oppose to the 30-day stamp you get at Thai airports. The express service makes its first stop just after 4 a.m., in Ayutthaya.

The Bangkok-Vientiane train also stops near Don Muang, Bangkok’s domestic airport, and arrives at the Hua Lamphong railway station around 6:25 a.m. From here, it’s just a quick and cheap (~50 baht) taxi ride to Bangkok’s Khao San Road backpacker district.

Train from Bangkok to Vientiane

Train services are also available in the reverse direction, from Bangkok up to Vientiane. An overnight train equipped with beds departs Hua Lamphong at 8 p.m. every night and arrives at the Lao frontier just after 8 a.m. the next morning.

You should note that Laos requires foreigners to purchase a visa, which you can obtain either at the Lao embassy in Bangkok before your journey, or at the border. As is the case traveling from Vientiane to Bangkok, you take a “shuttle” train from the frontier to Thanaleng.

Need more information about what do in either country? Read my Laos travel guide or my Thailand travel guide for tips on where to visit and what to see.

About The Author

is the author of 845 posts on Leave Your Daily Hell. Robert founded Leave Your Daily Hell in 2010 so that other travelers would have an entertaining, reliable source of information, advice and inspiration at their fingertips. Want to travel more often? Subscribe to email updates today!


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{ 36 comments… read them below or add one }

Khouan March 7, 2013 at 12:43 am

THAT A GOOD INFORMATION! I would like to ask you what’s the price for train ticket from Vientiane to Ayuthaya province Thailand? Could you please give me some infor?

Robert Schrader March 7, 2013 at 8:35 am

Hi Khouan:

A ticket from Bangkok to Ayuthaya isn’t very much – under 100B, certainly – so I don’t imaging it would be very much more than the ticket prices I mentioned in this article.

Hulubalang April 9, 2013 at 12:24 am

we can buy a train ticket from vientiane to bangkok at thanaleng station?? it sells in bhat or kip?

Robert Schrader April 9, 2013 at 9:37 am

You can buy the ticket, but I recommend arriving a little time in advance. You can pay in Thai Baht.

Anjali dasi August 6, 2014 at 7:41 am

Thanks for the good info. Would you also suggest buying your ticket for the Bangkok to Vientiane journey at the station (Hua Lamphong) just before the journey or is it better to book in advance?

Robert Schrader August 6, 2014 at 9:08 am

Generally speaking, you can buy the ticket just before the journey, but if you would like peace of mind, you might head to Hua Lamphong the day before. The station is easily accessible via MRT, so it wouldn’t be that big of a deal.

Anjali dasi August 6, 2014 at 11:20 am

Thanks Robert. I have not been to Hua Lamphong yet but now I recall last time I was in Bangkok seeing the map that shows MRT stops there. Thanks for reminding me it’s not a big deal. It’s one heck of a huge city so sometimes I get put off too much traveling but the MRT and BTS are so easy to travel on.

Divya October 1, 2014 at 10:56 am

Hi Robert. Amazing website and so informative for a photographer and an adventurous traveller that I am. I accidentally stumbled upon this website while searching for ways to get to Laos from Myanmar overland.

I have been googling for days and I am really unable to get any information on this. Basically my friend and I are planning to cross from Tachileik (Myanmar border) to Laos. Would you by any chance have any information on this at all? We wish to spend 6 days in Laos and then cross overland to Thailand for which I can find a lot of information on.

Looking forward to your reply.

Robert Schrader October 6, 2014 at 6:08 am

I have never crossed at that border (it was closed when I visited!), but I am sure you will have no problem.

Celi January 12, 2015 at 10:10 pm

Thanks so much for your advice! Great tips that we’ll definitely use for our upcoming trip!

Robert Schrader January 13, 2015 at 8:27 am


Jan Frantz January 22, 2015 at 5:29 pm

Hello Robert. I found this post very useful for my upcoming trip to Laos, thanks! Do you have any idea how much the Thai Visa costs please? Thanks Again!

Robert Schrader January 26, 2015 at 9:54 am

What is your nationality? 14-day visa is free for most visitors.

Andra Iliescu February 23, 2015 at 8:08 am

Hi Robert, thanks for the info!! I will be leaving from Bangkok to Vientiane. As I arrive at the airport in Bangkok at 7:35pm I guess I will not be able to catch the night train anymore?
Furthermore, is there only a night train going from Bangkok to laos? Thank you in advance!

Robert Schrader February 25, 2015 at 9:31 am

Do you arrive to Don Muang or Suvarnabhumi? If you arrive to Don Muang, you could probably catch the train at 20:50. Otherwise, you might just spend a night in Bangkok.

There are multiple night trains, but only one has 1st and 2nd class sleeper compartments.

Andra Iliescu February 26, 2015 at 9:14 pm

Hi, thank you for your answer. I arrive in Suvarnabhumi. Would it be dangerous to take about any train available that night, that gets me as up north as possible? Btw. Were you ever in Bahrain?

Robert Schrader February 27, 2015 at 6:11 am

It wouldn’t be dangerous, but it might not be comfortable. It is worth it to spend the extra money on a sleeper compartment.

Andra Iliescu March 1, 2015 at 3:00 pm

Got to Saraburi , will see what one can do here and try to take the train to Laos tomorrow night. From the airport to the train station in Bangkok I needed all in all 1h and 10min. Question: How do I cheaply get from Vientiane station to the city center please?

Robert Schrader March 2, 2015 at 7:03 am

Tuk tuk is the cheapest way!

Jose de la Cruz June 9, 2015 at 2:10 pm

Thanks for the info. Great!

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