One of our WoWasis correspondents decided to take the train, rather than fly from Bangkok, Thailand to Ventiane, Laos. Here’s his brief report on the experience:
Train from Bangkok was actually really good. It was great to be traveling old school again without the stress, pain and endless queueing at airports. First Class sleeper is the way to go [2 berths to cabin], although I had a peep at 2nd Class sleeper and they seem fine too. Not sure whether it was train or Ambien I got but slept solid for 6 hours on train, a near record for me. I woke up to see the last hour out as the train reached Nong Khai. Thai immigration located at the train station was swift and easy. The Lao train takes a mere 15-20 minutes without any hardship at Lao immigration at the Lao station. Then a quick barter for a Mini Bus to Vientiane which took about 30 minutes.
Vientiane is absolutely freezing at the moment , the temperature is 10-14 C with a lot of drizzling rain. A day of touring the city with my GF and her sister left me struck with how empty Vientiane is compared with the heaving masses of Bangkok. The French influence is everywhere with many French restaurants and street names etc derived from French. Laos is sadly a much poorer place than Thailand and the vast majority of beautiful buildings are those housing government agencies. An evening stroll along the Mekong was good but as this is the dry season, the Mekong is a small river right now. Many Locals play on the immense sand beach which will fill up as rainy
The most notable thing about the farangs here is the backpacker theme. It’s surprising the amount of farangs soaking in the local culture together without a local in sight. Vientiane is like a large Khao San Road with regards to Farangs.