As the major land route between Thailand and Laos, Nong Khai is a Mekong River town that is well serviced from both sides of the Friendship Bridge. The town still does not boast its own airport but nearby Udon Thai and Vientiane across the river do, while overland connections here from Bangkok are regular with both direct buses and trains.
Air Transportation to Nong Khai
Udon Thani’s domestic airport, just over 50kms from Nong Khai, features regular services from both of Bangkok’s airports; Don Muang on Nok Air and Suvarnabhumi International courtesy of Thai Airways and Air Asia (eight flights daily).
There are no international flights to Udon Thani; however, those doing the reverse journey from Laos can fly into Vientiane Airport on a host of carriers including Laos Airlines or Thai Airways from Chiang Mai before making the short trip to the border crossing and then to Nong Khai.
Shuttle buses make the hour-long journey at least four times a day from Udon Thani to Nong Khai and there are regular bus services between Udon Thai and Nong Khai leaving almost every hour.
Taxis and minibuses can also be arranged for a higher fee from both Udon Thani and Vientiane Airport to Nong Khai.
Car transportation Nong Khai
Almost all visitors, whether directly or indirectly, will arrive in Nong Khai along Highway 2 which connects to Udon Thani around 55kms to the south. This takes less than one hour in a private vehicle given that the road is good and fast.
From Bangkok, where most travellers to here are likely to pick up a vehicle, there are highways all the way meaning that the journey should take from five hours depending on traffic out of the capital.
Warning! When driving in Thailand, exercise extreme caution and be alert for reckless drivers.
Rail Transportation to Nong Khai
Trains from Bangkok to Nong Khai on the northeastern line take 10-12 hours and usually do the journey overnight, meaning that first and second class sleeper tickets are available (form 1,200 and 750 baht respectively).
Tickets can be purchased from Hualamphong Railway Station in Bangkok. The train passes through Udon Thani and terminates at Nong Khai. Sleepers leave Bangkok at 18:30, 20:00 and 20:45, arriving in Nong Khai at 05:05, 09:45 and 08:25. Trains are comfortable with decent dining facilities and beds in four-person shared compartments.
Tuk-tuk taxis congregate around the Nong Khai train station to ferry passengers into town or straight to the Friendship Bridge for the crossing to Laos. Expect to haggle for a reasonably priced fare.
Transportation around Nong Khai
Getting around little Nong Khai means either doing things on foot, a pleasant enough experience if you take the road along the river, or by tuk-tuk. No metered taxis are available in the town and buses only run point-to-point and therefore not within Nong Khai itself. Tuk-tuk drivers will seldom speak English but will understand the major destinations within the town, namely the train and bus stations, Friendship Bridge and well known guesthouses like Mutmee.
Prices are usually reasonable after negotiation but expect to get a raw deal if traveling individually as most tuk-tuks will charge per journey and will therefore play up the fact you are alone. Many guesthouses, especially those that flank the river, will hire out push bikes at very reasonable rates, usually per half or full day. This makes an excellent and inexpensive way to see the best of Nong Khai.