Having found out I had to go to Vientiane for a meeting my first reaction was #@!* — what a trip, or words to that effect, until my wife pointed out there was a Chiang Mai to Udon Thani flight (CNX-UTH). This is extremely convenient, with Nok Air running a twice-daily flight for a little over 3,000 baht. (Prices vary depending on the day of the week, flight time and so on but my morning one was 3,300 baht.)
When we booked they had a morning flight at 11:20 and an afternoon flight — but we’ve since checked times again online and just come up with gibberish, so best to check with a travel agent. Flight was 80 mins on a 36-seater prop plane (known technically as a small one.) At Udon Thani a shuttle minibus service runs to the bus station for 80 baht, and from there Issan’s your oyster! An international bus service direct to Vientiane from Udon Thani airport also operates for 80 baht per person, taking about two hours including visa formalities. It runs throughout the day every couple of hours or so.
Only slight problem was that it is supposed to be an express service, so they don’t like waiting around at the border and I was counting on a visa-on-arrival at the Friendship Bridge. If there’s not many people in the queue you should be okay, but otherwise the bus won’t wait. If the worst comes to the worst there are plenty of taxis and tuk tuks waiting on the Lao side to whisk you into Vientiane. Just don’t forget to take your bag off the bus when you arrive at immigration!
Since we don’t have any pix of the not very photogenic Udon bus station to hand we’ll stick a couple of pretty photos of Vientiane instead:
Although if you do like a soundtrack with your blog post you might want to check out this awesome version of Somewhere Over the Rainbow instead. One more for good luck then …
It was less than four hours from Chiang Mai to Vientiane, so we easily made it for sun-downers at the excellent Sengtawan Riverside. Cheers!
By Mark Ord
Last updated on 16th June, 2011.