Saturday, January 12, 2013

From Chiang Mai to Vientiane

From Chiang Mai to Vientiane is quite a trek. First we took an overnight bus from Chiang Mai to Udon Thani, a city in Thailand near the Friendship Bridge, which leads to Laos over the Mekong River. We didn't have a bed on this overnight bus and it seemed like none of the overnight buses on this route did. We paid 666 Baht per person.

Once we got to Udon Thani, we took another bus to Nong Khai, which is the tiny boarder town right next to Laos. We were worried at first because none of the buses said Nong Khai on them. Thankfully, there was a Thai lady who spoke English and lives in Vientiane at the bus station. She helped us and told us what to do. On the side of the bus we took it said it was going to Sakon Nakhon, but it stops first at Nong Khai.

From the Nong Khai bus station, we took a tuk tuk to the Friendship Bridge. This is the official boarder crossing over the Mekong River. There, we gave the Thai immigration officers our departure cards, and boarded a bus to take across the river and into Laos. There is only one bus and it costs 15 Baht. It's a simple process.

As we crossed the bridge, I saw the flags along the bridge change from Thailand's white, blue, and red stripes to Laos' national flag.

At Laos immigration, first we went up to window number 2 to get the paperwork to fill out in line. As Americans, we got two forms. Then we waited in line for window 1 and filled out our forms. At window 1, we gave them our forms, passports, photos (1 each), and money. We paid 1500 Baht each. After that, we stepped to the right to wait at window three to get our passports back with our Laos visa stuck inside it.

Next, we actually entered Laos. That first part was just to get our visas. We gave our passports to the immigration officer and got entry stamps.

From the Friendship Bridge, we took a bus into Vientiane that took about 45 minutes. It was green and white and only 25 Baht each (yes, you can pay with Baht).

Soon, we were strolling through the Vientiane's small city center and sipping on coffee in a lovely French style cafe.

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