Flag of Thailand

Border crossings to Thailand

Where to get stamped in and out

Types of border crossings

Thailand has two types of border crossings -- international and local. As you may suspect, international crossings are generally open to all foreign nationalities who are in possession of a valid passport and visa, while local crossings are open only to locals (on each side of the border) who are able to cross back and forth using some form of border pass. The international crossings are the only ones covered in this section.

Thailand has over twenty international overland border crossings. These allow overland travel to Malaysia (via seven crossings), Burma (three crossing, daytrips only), Laos (via six crossings) and Cambodia (six crossings). You can also arrive by air at a number of international airports, including Bangkok, Phuket, Ko Samui, Chiang Mai and Hat Yai.

Popular crossings

The most popular overland border crossing to/from Malaysia are the Padang Besar and Sadao crossings. To Cambodia, Aranyprathet Poipet is the most popular. To Laos the most popular crossing is the Nong Khai/Vientiane and Chiang Khong/Huay Xai border crossings.

Technicalities

The main thing to watch out for is Thailand's new regulation regarding the visa on arrival -- unless you're Malaysian, if you're arriving via a land crossing, you will be granted only 15 days -- not 30 days (as was previously the case). Malays still get 30 days.

Thailand/Lao borders

Chong Mek / Vang Tao

For those planning on visiting far southern Laos from Thailand, the Chong Mek / Vang Tao crossing is the most convenient. From Thailand a regular bus runs from Ubon Ratchathani to the border town of Chong Mek taking 1-1.5 hours. Sometimes you may be required to change buses as Phibun Mangsahan depending on the bus caught. Once deposited at Chong Mek it is a five minute walk through each crossing and regular songtheaws run from Vang Tao to Pakse, taking about one hour. Visa on arrival is available.

Mukdahan / Savannakhet

With the construction of the Friendship Bridge II over the Mekong, all foreigners planning on travelling between Thailand and Laos at this crossing are required to use the bridge. Coming from Thailand, a minibus from Mukdahan takes you across the bridge itself, where there always tuk tuk drivers waiting to take you into Savannakhet. Lao visa on arrival is available.

Nakhon Phanom / Tha Khaek

This riverine crossing takes travellers from the riverfront of central Nakhon Phanom to the riverfront of central Tha Khaek. Boats run around a half dozen times a day, seven days a week. There is a small fee for the boat. Lao visas on arrival are available.

Bueng Kan / Paksan

From Laos, follow the sign off the main road, just passed the Manolom Guest House and follow the sign that says Port. A boat across the Mekong River costs 60B when full (seven to ten people). Arrive in the morning to catch the day-tripping Lao crossing to shop in Thailand to be sure of a full boat, otherwise it's 360B per boat to cross. No Lao visa on arrival is available crossing to the Lao side from Thailand, so be sure to get one ahead of time if you plan to use this border.

Nong Khai / Vientiane

Lao visa on arrival is available at this crossing, the most popular means of entering Laos by land. The crossing is actually around 20km from Vientiane and a few km from the centre of Nong Khai, but regular and affordable transport is available in both directions.

Ban Mo / Vientiane

Just about unheard of. Travelfish reader Tilapia reports it is possible for foreigners to cross at the Thai village of Ban Mo to Vientiane. The convenience being the village, just west of Si Chiang Mai, is opposite Vientiane. Less conveniently, the ferry across only goes twice each week, both days at the same time of day (6:00 pm ... so, in the dark!) Sunday and Tuesdays. No Lao visa on arrival is available.

Thai Li / Nam Hueng

This fairly remote crossing would be a handy one to open up fully due to the fairly good road condition north to Pak Lai and onwards to Luang Prabang. Currently there are conflicting reports on its being open, although it appears it is easier to leave Laos this way than to enter it. There is no Lao visa on arrival available here, nor is there much at all in the way of regular pubic transport. See the GT Rider forum for more information.

Chiang Khong / Huay Xai

A 30-day Lao visa on arrival is available for US$30 or 1,500B -- there have been many reports of officials refusing to accept US cash (as they pocket the difference on the exchange rate). Lao officials also charge an additional $1/40B fee for doing their job -- if you arrive at the weekend, it is called a 'weekend fee', if you arrive after 16:00, it is called an 'after hours fee' and if you arrive during a weekday before 16:00, it is called a 'processing fee'. The Chiang Khong/Huay Xai crossing is one of the most popular for independent travellers entering Laos from Thailand. After clearing customs on either side, it is a five-minute boat ride (30B - ticket sellers may try to charge you a 10B fee for each bag on top of the 40B) over to the other side. If you cross the border first thing in the morning, you will have plenty of time to catch the boat to Luang Prabang.

Thailand / Cambodia borders

Aranyaprathet / Poipet

This is, by far the most popular, and the most dysfunctional border crossing between Thailand and Cambodia. Cambodian visas on arrival are available and eVisas are accepted. Crossing times can be in excess of three hours depending on the whims of the border officials, but crossings can also be mercifully fast. Poipet (the Cambodian side of the border) has a major touting problem and it can be difficult to organise onwards transport to Siem Reap at a reasonable price. The Tales of Asia website has an excellent section dedicated to this crossing.

Hat Lek / Ko Kong

A very straightforward crossing, the Hat Lek / Ko Kong crossing is most convenient for those planing on travelling between Thailand's Ko Chang and the Sihanoukville beach area of Cambodia. There are numerous reports of the Cambodian officials here being particularly troublesome and asking ridiculous amounts of money for visa on arrival -- the easiest way around this is to arrive with a visa already in hand. If you need to get to an ATM, there is an ATM in the Thai town of Hat Lek. Expect to pay 80B - 100B for a moto from Ko Kong town to the border -- this should included the bridge toll.

Chong Jom / O Smach

This crossing is convenient to Surin in Thailand and Siem Reap in Cambodia. There are a half dozen buses a day from Surin to the border (and back) with the trip taking a couple of hours. On the Khmer side you can either grab a share taxi to Siem Reap or get to Samraong first from where you can either continue onto Siem Reap by share taxi or head east for Anlong Veng.

Chong Sa Ngam / Anlong Veng

This crossing is very convenient to Anlong Veng but little else. If you are heading to Thailand via this crossing, there is no public transport from the border to any sizeable Thai towns, you will need to hitch a ride from the border for around 20km to a sealed road from where there is then occasional public buses, though you are better off to hitch at least as far as Route 24 along which there are very frequent buses.

Ban Pakard / Phsa Prum

This little utilised border is a thirty minute motorbike ride from Pailin and from the Thai side there are frequent minibuses to Chanthaburi an hour or so away. Cambodian visas on arrival are available.

Ban Laem / Daun Lem

Close to the Ban Pakard, Chantaburi / Phsa Prum, Pailin crossing, this very little utilised border is about 45 minutes from Pailin and on the Thai side there are songtheaw services to Chanthaburi. The Ban Pakard / Phsa Prum crossing is your better bet.

Thailand / Malaysia borders

There are at least seven border crossings between Thailand and Malaysia which are open to foreigners. Running east to west they are: Ban Ta Ba (actually at the border village Ban Ta Ba), Sungai Kolok, Betong, Sadao, Pedang Besar, Wang Prajan and Kuala Perlis. The four most popular crossings are the boat crossing at Kuala Perlis, Pedang Besar, Sadao and Sungai Kolok. The border crossings at Sadao and Pedang Besar and open 24 hours, the others, daylight hours only.

Ban Ta Ba / Pengkalan Kulor

This tiny crossing is a few kilometres south of the Thai town of Tak Bai in the far south of Narathiwat province. From Ban Ta Ba it is easy to arrange onwards transport by songthaew to Tak Bai, Sungai Kolok. Narathiwat and further afield. On the Malay side there are regular buses to Kota Bharu. If you're heading to the Perhentian Islands, this crossing is closer to Kota Bharu than Sungai Kolok.

Sungai Kolok / Rantau Panjang

This popular crossing (though less so due to the strife in southern Thailand) is a straightforward "walk over the bridge" style border crossing. There is loads of transport from the Sungai Kolok side to transport throughout Thailand, including the train station, which is a ten minute walk from the border. On the Malay side, there are taxi and bus services to Kota Bharu -- most likely your next stopping off point.

Betong

The Malay frontier is around 7km and is easily reached by share-taxi from Betong town. We've never crossed here so can't help on the niceties on the Malay side.

Sadao / Changlun

This is one of the most popular crossings used for visa runs in southern Thailand, but for onwards travel it isn't a great choice because of lack of transport on the Malay side. From Sadao, in Thailand, it is straightforward to take a bus or songtheaw onwards to Hat Yai. This crossing is open 24-hours.

Pedang Besar

Better than nearby Sadao, Pedang Besar can be reached by bus, train or taxi from both sides. Like Sadao, this crossing is open 24-hours. If you're crossing on the train, you will need to disembark to clear customs.

Wang Prajan

A pretty obscure crossing, Wang Prajan is near Taleban National Park in Satun province -- in fact the park entrance is walking distance from the border. There are irregular songtheaws from Satun to the border, though as we've not crossed here we can't help on transport on the other side.

Kuala Perlis

This longtail trip takes you south from Thammalang pier (a half dozen km south of Satun) to the Malay town of Kuala Perlis. Boats depart regularly throughout the day and take an hour. Transport to Langkawi is also possible from Thammalang pier.

More information

See the visa and border crossings section of the Travelfish forum for reports from travellers how have used the above crossings.



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