Am on crutches in a leg brace at the moment, but really want to visit a friend briefly in Vientiane before moving away from Thailand. How difficult is it to get from Udon Thani to the Nong Khai border crossing on the various minibuses/limousines or even a taxi, for someone on crutches? Sounds crazy I know, but flights to Vientiane are pretty expensive at last minute purchase, Udon Thani on Air Asia just SO much cheaper from Bangkok....thanks for advice!
#1 rasmoo has been a member since 31/10/2010. Posts: 2
The easiest mode of transport to hop/step in and out of is probably songthaew. I chartered one from Udon directly to the bridge for 600 baht, which saves you dealing with yet another bus station and more transfers. The tough bit might be eeking your way through the queues waiting to get stamped out of Thailand and Laos visa/entry, and also I think there's only the 20 baht bus option going over the bridge itself. Anyway just literally hop on/off that then there are always tuk tuks/songthaews going the 20km to Talat Sao in Vientiane for about 50 baht/person (or private car for 300-400b takes you directly to your friend's place).
during my visit to Nong Khai early this year, i noticed the International Bus that was running from various northeastern Thai towns such as Nong Khai, Udon Thani, and even Khon Kaen up and across the Friendship Bridge to Vientiane . i've taken that bus from Vientiane to Nong Khai before and similar ones from Mukdahan to Savannakhet and Pakse to Ubon. they are reasonably priced, plenty comfy, and stop for you at both the Thai and Lao border crossings for you to clear immigration and customs. the problem is that those buses run from the bus station, not necessarily the airport, so you'd need to get to the bus station in Udon and i'm afraid i don't know how often they depart either.
there used to be minivans that met incoming flights at the Udon airport for the trek up to the Friendship Bridge. those might still be available too.
like Bob says, you'll have a bit of hobbling to do going through the immigration and customs checks, but if i remember correctly the lanes are reasonably wide and you should be able to manage well enough. good luck and have a safe trip.
The tough bit might be eeking your way through the queues waiting to get stamped out of Thailand and Laos visa/entry
agree. the queues can be long - best if you can avoid weekends & public holidays. even though the lanes are reasonably wide, people just fill the space in between queues during busy hours.
for the Thai-Lao International buses that #3 mentioned:
you'll have to go to the bus station closest to Charoensri Mall (not sure if the name has changed) in Udon Thani (the city has at least 3 bus stations). just outside of the UTH airport arrival hall you can buy a fixed fare coupon for a shared van that will drop you wherever you want within Udon Thani city.
going in the Thailand>Laos direction, they usually allow only foreigners who already have a pre-arranged visa for Laos or come from countries that enjoy visa exemption to buy tickets. at Udon Thani bus station they can be quite strict, insisting on checking your passport before they will sell you a ticket. no such problem when taking these buses in the Laos>Thailand direction. you'll still have to alight at both the Thai immigration & Lao immigration but the advantage of this bus is that you can leave all your bags on board (of course don't leave any valuables in them). timetables for these buses are near the bottom of this page:
more up to date timetables for the Vientiane>Thailand direction are here:
again, these buses can be packed on weekends so you might have to wait for a later departure to get a proper seat.
btw in 2007 & 2008, when arriving at the Lao immigration on weekends, one had to squeeze to the front on the queue in order to get a copy of the immigration arrival form from the immigration officer, & then squeeze to the back to fill out the form & join the queue proper...this was because some guys would take all available forms to sell them. when hunting for the forms, the immigration officers directed me to those forms-for-sale guys...on another visit i was pointed to those guys again, but when i asked nicely in English an immigration officer grabbed a form from those guys & gave it to me for free :P to those who've been there recently, what is the situation like now?
Wow, thanks for your quick replies! Turns out I actually had enough Star Alliance frequent flyer awards that needed to be used or lost anyway, so I booked a flight direct to Vientiane on Thai. Still not clear on the full extent of the injury of my knee, so I figured no sense hobbling about risking further damage if it's not necessary! But I'm sure these tips will be useful for other people with disabilities, temporary or otherwise, who might want to do the land crossing. So thanks again for your help!
#5 rasmoo has been a member since 31/10/2010. Posts: 2
Flying is indeed a good option. was travelling for 5 months on crutches as well, after a while you get used to it and just do the same as everybody else does.
though have to agree that you need to be careful with your knee (had to learn how to walk again after the surgery, took me a month).
as for captain_bob, 600 baht to take you from Udon to de bridge for Laos is way too expensive.
I always took the local bus in the center of Udon (not even at the bus station) for 35 baht and You can get off at Tesco Lotus in Nong Khai and take a tuk tuk there to the border for about 40 baht. so that saves you about 525 baht :).
The queues at the border can be a hassle, just try to go at 8 in the morning during a weekday and you'll be fine.
Good luck with the injury man, I know it can be hard but don't let that waste your trip, still keep enjoying it!