Nong Khai

Located on the Mekong River, just a stone’s throw away from the Thai-Lao border, pretty Nong Khai is a city of just under 50,000 people in northeast Thailand. The city is just 25kms from Vientiane, linked to Laos by the Friendship Bridge over the Mekong River, and many travellers pass through it en route to the Laos capital. Nong Khai bus station is located fairly centrally, on Prajak Sillapakhom Road, and there are frequent departures to nearby Udon Thani (about an hour’s drive away) at a cost of 40 baht or 20 baht in second and third class respectively. There are a number of buses each day to Bangkok, around nine hours away, and several to the Isaan town of Khon Kaen. Travellers flying out of Thailand can get a bus from the city direct to Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport. It is also possible to travel direct to Vientiane, across the Friendship Bridge. Nong Khai is also where the northeastern railway line comes to its end. Travel to or from Bangkok takes between 10 and 12 hours, with stops at Khon Kaen and Udon Thani. Services leave from Hua Lumphong station in Bangkok. The nearest airport to Nong Khai is in Udon Thani, 56km away; the airport has mini-bus connections to Nong Khai. Nong Khai is a nice place to spend a bit of time en route to or from Laos. There are several interesting markets with a vast array of goods on offer, including a daily one and a Saturday walking street, located near the Mekong River. The town also boasts a selection of banks and ATMs and a Tesco-Lotus supermarket to the south of the centre. Travellers will find a wide variety of places to eat and sleep, with some guesthouses located close to the Mekong River. Many guesthouses offer bikes for rent and local tours by minibus are also available.