Continued from Thailand – Laos: Day 11 – Part 5 – Ayutthaya Mosque & Travel to Nong Khai. For pre-travel, please refer here.
Travel Date: January 8, 2017
Location: Nong Khai & Vientiane (Laos)
Welcome to Nong Khai! This is our first time here and our first time in northern Thailand. We arrived safely at 6.50 am.
Nong Khai City is the capital of Nong Khai province (state) and is located 630 km from Bangkok. However, the distance is unbeatable compared to the journey from Hat Yai to Prachuap Khiri Khan for 658 km or Hat Yai directly to Bangkok for 938 km!
In comparison with Malaysia, the distance from the middle of the Johor Causeway to the Wang Kelian Immigration Post (Perlis) is 867 km.
InsyaAllah, our next ambition is to travel by train without transit in Vietnam from Ho Chi Minh to Hanoi for 1722 km (34 hours).
Before leaving Nong Khai train station, I bought a train ticket to go back to Bangkok. In answer to the question of how much is the price of a Bangkok train ticket to Nong Khai or vice versa, it is THB838 (~ MYR90). Only MYR3 difference if departing from Ayutthaya to Nong Khai or vice versa.
Luckily sleeper berth tickets here are easy to get and always available plus have got side-by-side seats as before. Three times lucky like this, so I assume that the business of buying train tickets in Thailand is very easy and according to what is desired.
The atmosphere and temperature here are very comfortable probably because the day is still early at 7.24 am. So, we hung out for a while and wandered around the station while taking a shower in the morning. Before moving out, I first surveyed the outside to see the outdoor atmosphere and the tuktuk that can be ridden later.
Around the outer area of the train station. This is the path we will take later.
In other parts of the station exterior. How happy I am to see the view of the rising sun in this part that will bring new life to all human beings with the message of the sun which reads:
“Do not remember yesterday, start a new day today. Right here, right now.”
Eh, the sun also knows the concept of mindfulness.
Aqif leaned on the pillar of the building while being watched by the tuktuk riders here. Maybe he remembered his own grandson.
At this station, there is also a shuttle train that departs from here to Laos directly at the Thanaleng Immigration Post after crossing the Mekong River. Shuttle train schedule (twice a day):
- Nong Khai to Thanaleng: 7.30 am and 2.45 pm. THB30 ticket (MYR3.50)
- Thanaleng to Nong Khai: 7.45 am and 3.00 pm. THB30 ticket (MYR3.50)
Travel time 15 minutes. But since this Nong Khai is the 10th city, so we intend to at least set foot or take a short walk here by taking a tuktuk and canceling the intention of taking the shuttle train. And I actually really wanted to cross the border gate on the Thai land (refer to the picture below), then take a bus over the Friendship Bridge along the Mekong River and then arrive at the Thanaleng immigration post.
The second reason is to take a shower first at this station because the toilet is very clean. The time is very short and why do we have to scramble with other shuttle train passengers which is the time from arriving here and then waiting for the shuttle train to arrive which is only takes half an hour, including passport stamping.
While watching the station workers clean the tracks, we also cleaned ourselves. We take turns to shower here. The toilet’s entrance fees are not costly and were quite large, comfortable and clean. All the food we ate on the train last night as well as all the garbage in the bag we all took out and tidied up properly.
The feeling of tidying up the interior of a backpack is like tidying up the house on a weekend getaway. The satisfaction is there …
Ohh how beautiful the morning sky is with the sunlight that is not too hot and a bit soft. Not sure if this is the train we boarded yesterday or another because the track has changed compared to before.
Directly ahead there is to head back to Bangkok.
After taking a shower, we left the station at about 8.30 am. Tuktuk was still outside, probably because not many people boarded it and preferred the shuttle train.
I asked the tuktuk rider to take us to the Thai border gate but first asked him to take us to the small town of Nong Khai. The fare per adult and child is THB20. But since we asked the riders to take us to Nong Khai town, so I added a little fare.
In fact, I had the intention of going to the famous Nong Khai Aquarium as the place was built quite world-class. This is because I was impressed with Kembara Backpackers Bersama Moji on TV. But because the direction is far to the south, which is 10 km and I was thinking about how to store this loaded backpack, so we canceled the destination.
This is the entrance of Nong Khai Border Post. It’s ‘wow’ and I didn’t expect the gate to be wide from end to end. Previously, I saw tourists feel very proud when posing here on social media. Now, the time has come for us to be proud to be able to set foot here.
To me, the immigration entrance with the word Nong Khai is priceless.
Due to the boundary factor, the maximum distance that can be reached by the tuktuk is only up to here and is prohibited from entering.
Then we set foot on the Nong Khai Immigration Post. From a distance, many people were seen there but the process was quite fast.
I’m not sure why they took the photo service here. But if you need it, you can get the service here. Toilets are also available and do what you need there before proceeding for border crossing.
At first, I thought that here there were counters we had to face because so many people gathered here, but apparently, there weren’t. Only foyer.
That is the main entrance to get out of the border.
First, we took a photo here which is a landmark that shows how far we are from other major cities.
When photographed here, then comes the feeling of being a traveler. See how far (in km) Luang Prabang (Laos) and Kunming (China) are by road.
And I was photographed in the signpost section featuring Savannakhet (Laos) and Hanoi (Vietnam).
Alhamdulillah, the passport process to leave Thailand has been completed. At this point, I was a bit hesitant because I didn’t want to be scammed by the shuttle bus conductor heading to Thanaleng. I just ignored him. He then advised me and said that the distance to Thannaleng is very far if walking with a big backpack and small children.
I want to walk across the Mekong River on foot!
As soon as I walked out of the immigration post, I suddenly had to cancel my intention. What is not, from the immigration post to the end of Friendship Bridge (on the Thailand side), the distance is 1.3 km. The length of the bridge is 550 meters. And after crossing the bridge, the distance to Thanaleng immigration post is 1 km.
The total distance is 2.85 km!
Indeed, I already know that it is a crazy act because I just want to take a picture on the Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge with the Mekong River in the background.
Psst … I have heard that no one can cross the river bridge on foot because the law here does not allow it. Not sure if it’s true or not. Please do further research.
With a slightly embarrassed face, I stepped back into the immigration post office and bought a shuttle bus ticket worth THB20/adult.
Here is an example of the shuttle bus. The journey takes only 4-6 minutes. If you want to see the beautiful scenery and take pictures with the Mekong River, wait for the shuttle bus whose windows can be lowered.
As usual, we sat in the front to enjoy the view.
Blend in with the people of Thailand and Laos. There are not many passengers just like from Malaysia to Singapore via the Johor causeway. Probably nothing in Laos and all the time, only Laotians take buses and work in Thailand.
We’re almost there.
Probably a baby who is a Laotian citizen.
A very exciting start before crossing the Mekong River.
Just entered the upper part of the river.
Wow, we’re already on the river!
Wow, we’re still on the river!
Wow, the river is on top of this woman’s hair…
So finished the excitement of seeing for yourself the Mekong River which is the 12th longest river in the world, with a length of 4,350 kilometers originating from the cold region of China near Tibet, across 6 countries namely China, Myanmar, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam, and carry all the memories of the river swimmers as well as the washers on the banks of the river until their memories stop here and will end in the Mekong Delta in Can Tho, Vietnam. Then end all memories into the South China Sea.
The long-awaited signboard. Welcome to Lao PDR !! (Lao People’s Democratic Republic).
Here is an excitement for me that is to see it my own self of how the lane with the road on the left (right-hand drive) turns to the right (left-hand drive). But the situation and the atmosphere and how it was a bit less clear because the bus we rode passed through bushes that were tall and difficult for me to see.
Nah. See for yourself where the bus will interchange its lanes. We will not find such an experience on the Malaysia-Thailand, Malaysia-Indonesia and Malaysia-Brunei borders. The closest is only at the Thailand-Myanmar, Thailand-Cambodia, Thailand-Laos and Myanmar-India borders.
The Philippines is not counted because it is an archipelago that has no road connection with other countries.
The shuttle bus we boarded earlier.
For the blog post below, I will start writing as a guide dealing with the Thanaleng, Laos immigration post.
This is the Thanaleng immigration post office (border control). Ignore the counter that says “Pay Pass” and step to the left.
This is the area by the counter, look to the right ……
……… and will see a table and many arrival cards provided free of charge.
Usually, when it comes to writing a form like this, I leave it to Tatie. Not because I’m lazy, but her handwriting is prettier than mine. After all, the job of taking care of backpacks and other belongings should be left to men like me. Keep in mind that these are national borders and various illegal items that people can stuff into our bags. Let us be skeptical and a little more negative-minded than overly positive-minded ostensibly for the sake of the Law of Attraction. There is a reason why God endowed the intellect with the ability to think positively and negatively.
Coming here without booking a hotel? Don’t worry, the same technique we used while at the Padang Besar border on the first day. Before arriving here, open the Agoda or Booking app and search for interesting hotels. No need to book anything. Copy the hotel name and address and write on the arrival card. Just put any hotel name, they don’t even check (hotel address doesn’t need to be complete).
However, in 2019, I’m not sure whether immigration has started using the method of having to open the app and show it to the officer to see the booking confirmation or not. If so, just pre-book a hotel that does not need to be paid online but is paid offline upon arrival at the hotel lobby reception and can be canceled at any time if you change your mind. Or, if the immigration officer really wants to see a booking that confirms payment, just go ahead and book the hotel and pay there as well and show it to the officer.
No need to worry. They also understand. Just because we didn’t book any hotel, would they deny our entry? Laos is not a developing country and is very much expecting revenue from tourists who come.
For the reader’s information, the time in southern Laos including Vientiane is the same as the time in Thailand. Both are an hour late from Malaysia.
Remember the counter that I mention “Pay Pass” earlier? Ok return back to that counter and pay customs fees of THB55/person. Children also have to pay. I’m not sure what this payment is for. Is it simply because to use his RFID system, we have to pay it anyway? I don’t know.
After payment, the counter officer will hand you an RFID card. Save it carefully because after going through the counter to stamp the passport later, it will be re-inserted into the electronic gated entrance.
The entrance and exit in Thanaleng are open from 6 am to 10 pm daily.
Here is the RFID card. Young children do not need this card.
Now, head back to the lane to the left of the “Pay Pass” counter and you will see a counter that says “Immigration Check-In” and please line up to stamp your passport. While at the booth, the immigration officer did not ask anything after seeing our passport from Malaysia and continued to be stamped. It should be noted, there is no need to insert money in the passport slot as when entering the Thai immigration post.
After the passport is stamped, make sure the RFID card is still in hand as it is necessary to go through the bar for this electronic gate. Touch a card here and the gate will swallow the card. When you want to leave Laos, you also need to get a new RFID card but you don’t have to pay anything.
Alhamdulillah, we have just entered Laos! As usual husband and wife will jump high and our hands are clapping ‘high five’ together.
From a distance, we saw a row of public buses and continued to go there.
In fact, the road we crossed was very busy because it was the gateway to and from the border in Thanaleng.
You can also see the uniqueness of the food, namely roasted bananas. It does not exist in Malaysia. The bananas are baked just like that without any flour coating like fried bananas in my country.
More food is sold and some are not suitable for Muslims like us.
Tatie was very happy because this was the first time my family, including myself, had been to Laos. Plus, he was excited to see the road being driven on the left and the bus stairs having to be climbed from the right side of the bus.
Stairs to the right of the bus. I’m used to it because I used to take buses in Mecca and Medina some time ago.
We took bus number 157 to Buddha Park which is located nearby.