The closest airport is in Udon Thani, about a one-hour drive south of Nong Khai. From Bangkok, it's serviced by several daily flights with Thai Airways, Nok Air and Air Asia, as well as one daily flight from Chiang Mai with Nok Air. Convenient minibuses depart from the airport for Nong Khai after every arrival, costing 200 baht and terminating at either the bus station or Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge.
The train station is located on a side road to the southwest of town, not far from the provincial stadium and Route 2, which is the highway that leads to the Friendship Bridge. A tuk tuk from near the river will cost around 50 baht.
To Bangkok (Hualamphong station)
Daytime express train departs at 6:00 and arrives at 17:30, costing 498 baht for a cushioned seat in an air-conditioned car or 253 baht for a not-so-comfortable seat in a fan car.
Express overnight train departs at 18:20 and arrives at 6:25 the next morning, costing 1,817 baht for a private cabin, 1,117 baht for first class sleeper, 658 baht for 2nd class sleeper, 497 baht for 1st class regular seat and 238 baht for 2nd class seat.
Rapid overnight train departs at 19:15 and arrives at 08:00 the next morning, costing 618 baht for sleeper, 348 baht for cushioned seat and 213 baht for hard seat.
Note: all of these trains also service Udon Thani, Khon Kaen, Saraburi, Ayutthaya and Don Mueang, but only the 18:20 train services Nakhon Ratchasima.
Express overnight train departs at 18:30 and arrives at 5:30 the next morning, costing 498 baht or 253 baht depending on class.
Express overnight train departs at 20:00 and arrives at 8:00 the next morning, costing 1,117 baht for 1st class sleeper, 688 baht for 2nd class sleeper, 497 baht for 1st class regular seat and 238 for 2nd class seat.
Rapid overnight train departs at 20:45 and arrives at 9:45 the next day, costing 618 for sleeper, 348 for cushioned seat or 213 for hard seat.
Note: A day train departs Bangkok at 08:20 and terminates at Udon Thani, from where it's a one-hour bus ride to Nong Khai.
Vientiane (Thanaleng station)
A train bridge across the Mekong opened in 2009, though it's not as convenient as taking a bus to enter Laos and hasn't seen much use by foreign travellers. If you want to give it a shot, trains depart from Nong Khai at 10:00 and 16:00, stopping for passengers to pass through immigration. Note that Thanaleng station is located some 13 km from Vientiane; so expect to pay around 300 baht for a tuk tuk into town. At Thanaleng, the train returns to Nong Khai at 10:45 and 17:00.
The provincial bus terminal is located near the centre of town between Prajak Road and Route 212, just west of Wat Pho Chai. It's a manageable walk or 40 baht tuk tuk ride from most guesthouses. Several different companies offer services to and from Bangkok's Morchit (northern) terminal throughout the day, mostly on relatively comfortable buses with toilets. Nong Khai can also be reached directly from many destinations in northeastern, northern and central Thailand. International buses to/from Laos also depart frequently. Available fares include:
Vientiane: Departs at 7:30, 9:30, 12:40, 14:30, 15:30 and 18:00, costs 55 baht and takes around 1.5 hours. The bus stops at immigration checkpoints on the Thai and Lao sides of the bridge, where everyone gets off to be stamped out of one country and into the other. We've found that drivers usually do a good job of keeping track of who is on their bus, but if you want to be safe, keep all of your luggage in hand while going through immigration.
From Vientiane's central bus station, buses depart for Nong Khai at the exact same hours for the same price.
Vang Vieng: Departs Nong Khai at 10:00, costs 270 baht and takes around eight hours.
Bangkok (Morchit): VIP buses depart at 9:00, 20:00 and 20:30, costing 760 baht and taking around nine hours. First class air-con buses depart at 5:50, 7:00, 7:45, 8:30, 10:15, 11:30, 13:30, 14:30, 16:30, 17:30, 19:00 and 20:00, costing 380 baht. Most of these buses also service Udon Thani, Khon Kaen, Nakhon Ratchasima and Saraburi.
Bangkok (Suvarnabhumi Airport) Departs at 20:00 and costs 490 baht.
Udon Thani: Minibuses depart hourly from 6:00 to 19:00, costing 50 baht and taking around one hour. Note that the minibuses from Nong Khai bus station will also drop passengers at the airport, but they charge 200 baht for this and there isn't much room for luggage. If heading to the airport, you're better off arranging a Friendship Bridge to Udon Thani Airport minibus through your guesthouse as these also cost 200 baht but have space for luggage and will pick you up at your guesthouse. If you're not keen on minibuses, virtually all Bangkok and Khon Kaen bound buses can drop passengers at Udon Thani bus station for 50 baht.
Sri Chiang Mai and Sangkhom: Local buses depart at 7:30, 11:00 and 15:00, costing 40 baht to Sri Chiang Mai and 60 baht to Sangkhom.
Loei: The same 7:30 and 11:00 buses to Sri Chiang Mai and Sangkhom go onwards to Loei, but the 15:00 bus only goes as far as Pak Chom. The fare to Loei is 130 baht and the journey through the mountains takes six hours or more.
Chiang Mai: An overnight VIP bus departs at 19:00, costs 949 baht and takes around 12 hours. If you want to leave earlier, head to Udon Thani and change buses there.
Ubon Ratchathani: 1st class buses depart at 9:00, 10:00 and 11:00, cost 420 baht and take seven hours. These buses also service Khon Kaen, Mahasarakham, Roi Et and Yasothon.
Kanchanaburi: VIP buses depart at 8:00 and 18:00, cost 855 baht and takes 12 hours. These buses also service Udon Thani (50 baht), Khon Kaen (230 baht), Nakhon Ratchasima (455 baht), Saraburi (630 baht) and Suphanburi (755 baht).
Rayong: 1st class buses depart at 7:00, 10:30, 15:30, 17:00, 18:30 and 19:00, cost 400 baht and take 14 hours. These buses also service Udon Thani, Khon Kaen, Nakhon Ratchasima, Chachoengsao and Pattaya.
Phuket: VIP buses depart at 12:00 and 14:00, cost 2,000 baht and take 22 hours. Have fun on that one!
Nong Khai is a fairly small town with minimal traffic. You can cover a good deal of it on foot, but it's most conducive to bicycling. Bicycles can be rented at many guesthouses for around 60 baht per day, but the best quality bikes we saw were from the stand behind the hospital at the far eastern side of Kaew Woravut Road, adjacent to the soi that leads to Mut Mee Guesthouse.
The same stand rents out a few Honda Click motorbikes for 200 baht per day. Should these all be taken, a motorbike dealer on Mee Chai Road, a short walk east of the German Bakery, also rents motorbikes. In either case, you'll need to leave a passport as deposit.
Otherwise, one of Nong Khai's countless tuk tuks will be happy to wheel you around town. Surprisingly, fares are written in English on the back of all tuk tuk drivers' seats, with most trips fetching a reasonable 30 to 70 baht.