Rex and Rex's Excellent Adventure . . . Not!
Tue 7 Apr 09, 6:34 am
Good morning all.
Can confirm that the Thai-Lao bus from KKC is a very good option to go to Nong Khai (obviously, also to Vientiane which is its purpose). However, as there are few direct KKC-Nong Khai buses, and the only other alternative is to change buses in Udon, this is a much better option. The switching in Udon scenario can work out really well if you start out on a comfortable bus to Udon, and if you don't have a long wait for the Nong Khai connection, but that is "ify" and has gone either way when I have done it in the past. Once when I did it, they "forgot" to put my luggage on the NK bus. Fortunately, got my bag, but had to cool my heels 90 minutes waiting for it to arrive!
The fare to Vientiane (or just to the border) is 180 THB
Departures : 07:45 a.m., and 15:15 p.m.
Equipment : Big, clean, comfortable coach with soft seats.
Booking : You cannot book or buy in advance. Arrive 30-60 min before departure.
Visa : If your destination is Vientiane, visit the Laos Consulate in KKC (or any other Laos Consulate) to buy your visa. If you don't have it, the bus WILL NOT wait for you to get a visa at the border, and will leave you stranded at the border, maybe drive off with your bags.
Unfortunately, my little scheme didn't work out so well. The coach, a big, nice, comfortable one made good time to to Udon, didn't even stop at the Udon station, and then about 10 minutes out of Udon, broke down at the side of the road. They futzed around with it for 10 or 15 minutes and got it started again . . . then broke down again 10 minutes later!
Never did get it fixed (or a replacement sent out), at least not in the 30-40 minutes I waited trying to get a tuk-tuk or another bus or something. Pretty slim pickins! Finally, a tuk-tuk stopped, and fortunately for me, the driver lived nearby where we fetched his car and I was able to complete my chores, with his help.
First of all, I did something I always advise others not to do. I planed a sudden trip to Immigration without bother to check for holidays. I guess it didn't occur to me that a major holiday would occur so close to Songkran. Anyway, my bad! Everything was shut down! However, the gawds were smiling on me because while most gov facilities were closed on Monday, for some unaccountable reason, Imm. had a lonely person staffing the desk that day! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! Unfortunately, due to the time lost, arrived at 12:15 when the office was closed for lunch. If the bus had not broken down, would have gotten there in plenty of time to be in and out before lunch. Anyway, when we returned, I was the only customer; in-and-out in 10 minutes; but 3,800 THB poorer for my multiple re-entry permit. If the the office had been closed, there would have only been bad, expensive and unhappy options left.
I don't know why the damned things are so expensive, especially for me, traveling out of the country as little as I do, it is mostly just a very expensive "insurance policy" to save future possible trips to NK like this one. I wish we could still get entry permits at the airport! I should have done this when I extended back in November, or when I filed my 90 day report in NK, just a few weeks ago!!!! Agrrrrrr! Oh, well, hindsight is always 20-20!
But that's the thing, if you don't have plans to travel, it is painful to part with that money!
Got a direct bus back from NK at 14:20 p.m., which didn't leave until 14:30, futzed around in Udon for 15 min., and then make several stops along the way. Not all the bus companies operate that way, I have taken runs which didn't seem as "poky", and got to KKC 30-60 min. sooner. About 3 hr., 15 minutes on the road.
But at least I accomplished my mission.
Lao, Laos, Thai-Lao bus, Thailand-Vientiane bus, Khon Kaen - Vientiane Bus, bus to Vientiane, bus to Laos, bus to Nong Khai, Khon Kaen-Nong Khai, Khon Kaen-Vientiane, Khon Kaen-Laos, Khon Kaen-Lao