We decided to cross the border to Laos ourselves rather than getting a combined transfer ticket from Bangkok. It worked out much cheaper and meant that we then weren’t stuck on a bus the whole journey which would be more comfortable. We arrived at Bangkok’s main train station at 7.30pm and purchased our tickets for the overnight train to Ubon Ratchathani. The train was on time and when we boarded we knew we had made the right decision. The train was immaculately clean and unlike buses quite spacious. The journey was great, someone comes round and makes your bed with fresh, clean sheets and then you can just close your curtain and go to sleep. The ride was much smoother than a bus so we both managed to get a decent amount of sleep.
Once at the station we got a tuk tuk to the main bus stop in Ubon Ratchathani and purchesed our international bus ticket to Pakse and even had time for one last Thai meal. The bus was much less comfortable but not too bad as we both caught up on some more sleep. We arrived at the border and were given no instructions on what we were to do. We went into a building where we were stamped out of Thailand and then had to walk 2 kilometres in what we liked to call ‘no mans land’ before we reached the Laos immigration building. Here we had a little bit of trouble as the guy behind the desk didn’t think our American $100 note was nice enough, he said it was dirty and we couldn’t use it. Frustrated as it was only slightly off coloured we were told to get money out of the ATM and pay in Laos Kip. The ATM wasn’t working and he wasn’t going to accept our money so we walked to the two currency exchanges at the border and luckily the second one took our money. When we arrived back at the desk to pay in Kip the man then gave us the worst exchange rate possible and we are pretty sure he just made it up. We had no choice but to accept it though as we were already stamped out of Thailand and wouldn’t be allowed in Laos without agreeing. We ended up paying an extra $8 each for the visa. Our bus had told us we only had 20 minutes to complete to exit and entry process but luckily they were still waiting for us almost 40 minutes later.
Our bus continued to Pakse at a snails pace and we arrived much later than expected. We had originally planned to head straight to Don Det in the 4000 islands that day but had missed all transport options. We found ourselves a nice room where we could rest and watch some Game of Thrones on the laptop. We booked our bus to Don Det for the next morning and had an early night.
A very long and most of the time pain free journey across the border. Excited for the next 16 days in Laos.