We had to get out of Thailand, we loved Kanchanaburi and were very happy just chilling there, but our visa was running out and we needed to move. We decided on Laos, to the north.
Getting from Thailand to Laos
There are quite a few routes into Laos these days. From Kanchanaburi we needed to get back to Bangkok and then take a sleeper train, either to Chiang Mai or Nong Khai, we picked Nong Khai, we’ll come back into Thailand later, on a longer visa and do the Chiang Mai area ( one of our old-favourite parts of Thailand).
27 Hours of Travel with 2 Children Went Surprisingly Well!
Minibus from Kanchanaburi to Bangkok, 130 Baht each, 3 hours of hair-raising driving. Overtaking on the inside, on the mud, was a particular highlight!
Taxi from Khao San Rd. Bangkok, to Hua Lamphong Train Station, 51 Baht ( he used his meter, yay!)
Train from Bangkok to Non Khai, 8pm departure Hua Lamphong station, 9.30 am arrival at Non Khai, 2 hours delayed. We went 2nd class A/C. 2nd class non A/C is cheaper, but we didn’t like the idea of all the open windows with the current Dengue fever mosquito problem here. Both are perfectly comfortable and great fun. Washrooms were clean. You can buy food and beer on the train, we bought breakfast for the children. I love trains, generally, everything from The Trans Siberian Express to the little train to Kanchanaburi, it’s a great way to see a country and relax as you go.
Weird motorbike tuk tuk from Non Khai station to Laos Border 200 Baht. Because the train was delayed, which it often is, we’d missed the train to the border, there are plenty of tuk tuks waiting for the train to arrive.
Shuttle bus over the bridge into Laos 60 Baht ( Boo was free)
Tuk Tuk into Vientiane 200 Baht. We’ve been to Vientiane before, we know there’s not that much to do there and the traffic fumes were terrible, so we shot through ASAP. We’ll have to go there anyway on the way back to get the 60 day Thai visa. The main Dengue fever outbreak seems to be around Vientiane.
Mini bus to Vang Vieng 770 Baht for 3 seats. 3.5 hours ( about $29 AU). There is a regular bus that would have been cheaper, but it takes 5 hours and wasn’t due to leave for over an hour, we wanted to be in Vang Vieng before dark. The mini bus guys hang around the bus station looking for customers, we had to negotiate a price and they let the 2 boys count as 1 person. The scenery was absolutely stunning, watching rural life in the villages was fabulous, the children loved seeing the rice fields where people were busy working by hand and dodging all the livestock on the road.
Getting The Laos Visas was the Worst Bit
The children are great when we’re actually moving, they look out of the window, chat, read and sleep, it’s waiting and standing around that doesn’t go too well. Particularly standing in barely moving queues wearing heavy packs. There is a lot of paperwork involved, I stood in the queue while The Chef filled in the forms. Do the same, you’ll save a lot of time.
Pay for the Laos visa in US dollars, not Baht, we saved about $100 for the 4 of us, it’s much cheaper. There is a place to exchange money on the Laos side of the border. We have a 30 day Laos visa, which we can extend if we want to stay longer.
We’re in Vang Vieng, We Won’t be Tubing.
Once famous for riotous drunken river tubing, now cleaned up by the Laos government after a number of tragic deaths, Vang Vieng is still beautiful A sleepy riverside town, it’s full of guest houses and eateries now.
The chef and I went tubing in Vang Vieng 12 years ago, the drunken part hadn’t really started then, it was just about drifting down the river on an inflatable tube, the riverside bars catering to bikini clad tubers came later. I’m glad it’s stopped, rivers and drinking don’t mix, but I wonder if all the businesses that have sprung up on the back of the tubing crowd will survive, everywhere is very quiet here.
The river is really fast flowing at the moment, I don’t think we’ll take the children tubing, kayaking is probably a safer bet.
It’s pretty, it’s quiet, accommodation is cheap and good ($16 for 3 beds, TV, air-con, en suit and WiFi), so I think we’ll stay in Vang Vieng a while.