How do I get around Thailand and Laos?
September 3, 2008 11:14 AM   Subscribe

I am wondering if I could get some advice with specific transportation and itinerary information for a first-time trip to Thailand and Laos this December.

My girlfriend and I are going for about 2 weeks over Xmas and New Years. We are flying in and out of Bangkok. I would like to visit my friend in Vientiane and would also like to spend a few days somewhere on an Island relaxing. Regarding the island, I would prefer something at least a little authentic rather than a place that feels super-touristy.

Currently, we are thinking a day or two to start in Bangkok, 4 days or so in Koh Chang (the one closer to Cambodia, as I believe there are two) and a few days in Vientiane and back to Bangkok. Any ideas and specifics for how to get between them as well as any suggestions for changes to the plan and/or the order of travel would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
posted by slopepheasant to Travel & Transportation around Thailand (2 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
You can probably fly. I was being cheap when I did similar things, so here's the story using buses:

The bus system in Thailand is wonderful. You can get buses directly from the Ekamai terminal in Bangkok (near Ekamai BTS stop) to Trat (the mainland town near Ko Chang). Second-class aircon government bus works fine and is dirt-cheap--5 hours. Try to make it into Trat before nightfall, because the ferry to Ko Chang stops--if you don't make it, though, don't fear. Trat is a little sleepy but much cheaper than Ko Chang. There are plenty of cheap guesthouses, and you can get a ferry when the sun comes up. The "Cool Corner" had good enough food and music that I might go back through Trat even knowing about the ferry schedule.

The Thai border crossing for Vientiane is Nong Khai. There are various forms of direct and less direct buses, songtaws, tuk-tuks, etc., depending on your visa situation, but everyone will know how to direct you toward Lao / Vientiane. You can probably get buses from Trat to Nong Khai if you connect in Khorat / Nakhon Ratchasima (I was able to make it with one connection there from Aranyaprathet, on the border with Cambodia).
posted by deeaytch at 1:46 PM on September 3, 2008

There is a train between Vientiane and Bangkok now. Bus for everything else - unless you want to fly.

Try and be in Bangkok on a weekend - the weekend market is worth seeing. Otherwise it wasn't my favourite city in southeast Asia. Vientiane didn't interest me too much either, but if you have a friend there it could be alright.

Koh Chang is probably your best bet since you're up in that area. I liked Koh Lanta, but it's down near Krabi.

Ayutthuya isn't too far from Bangkok, and I enjoyed it. Old ruined temples. Not Angkor Wat, but pretty nice. You can get there by train and bus from Bangkok. It may even be part of the Bangkok to Vientiane route, but I am not too sure.
posted by backwards guitar at 10:44 PM on September 3, 2008

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