The next leg of the journey was getting from Vientiane to Bangkok via the sleeper train, which turned out to be one of the best overnight journeys in the entire trip.
The journey started at Thanaleng station, which is about 20km away from the Vientiane centre. After completing the emigration formalities at Thanaleng, we waited around for a while for a shuttle train to take us across the Friendship Bridge to Thailand. Conveniently, Vientiane is literally 1km away from Thailand so the border crossing was pretty pleasant. This short train ride brought us to Nong Khai, Thailand. Some more paperwork later, we were officially in the Land of Smiles!
Thanaleng station in Vientiane, Laos
3-carriage shuttle train to take us across the Friendship Bridge to Thailand
Inside of the shuttle train; there was no air-conditioning so seats near the fans were ‘prime’ location as we had to wait around sweltering in the heat for a while.
Last glimpses of Vientiane
In the middle of Laos and Thailand; ah, the thrill of being stateless for just a few minutes!
Welcome to Thailand!!
The onward journey to Bangkok was effortless. On most other trains we’d been on, you go to the restaurant car. But on Thai trains, the restaurant car comes to you! Soon after setting off, we were given a menu to order dinner or breakfast (for the morning of arrival) from. Once you select your meal and when you want it, you just sit back and wait for the food to come to you. Really convenient if you’re travelling alone and don’t want to leave your luggage unattended while you’re at the restaurant car.
We were on the first-class cabin and it was really comfy. Wide beds, a sink area, and a power socket IN THE CABIN! A sleep later, we pulled into Bangkok around 7am.
Purple train, purple traaain
First-class lounge at the Nong Khai station; There was a tea/coffee station and ice water in the fridge.
More lounging at the station
Our compartment; The beds were much wider than the European/Russian trains. We didn’t know about the in-room dining before getting on the train so we’d packed dinner from Vientiane (pictured here).
The sink area
Outside the compartments
Arriving into Hua Lamphong station in Bangkok
Kinda reminded us of London’s Paddington station
Also spotted the Eastern & Oriental Express, which is an ultra-luxury train from Singapore to Bangkok. Fine dining, daily cocktails, 24-hr butler, unnecessary furniture in the cabins like sofas, en-suite bathrooms, etc.
This fancy train also has an ‘observation deck’ from where you can view the sights (and presumably smell them too since the rest of the train probably has an airtight seal to keep it luxuriously smelling like lemongrass or something). On the trains we took, these were just called windows.
Some people come to Bangkok for the temples. Others come to understand the history of the capital. But most people, like us, come to Bangkok to eat and shop. You could literally go from mall to mall without ever going outdoors! Malls also tend to have cinemas and arcades. So basically, we contributed quite a bit to the Thai economy.
Hours of endless, multi-storey fun!!
Oh fresh coconuts, haven’t seen you in a while!
Tuk-tuk. We didn’t actually go anywhere in this one. Price negotiations broke down about 10metres into the ride. But we managed to sneak a picture. Ha!
Taxis in Bangkok are really colourful. Also, this guy in charge of the taxi queue at one of the malls had a mic that he used to announce his matchmaking between taxi and passenger.
Gram: A pretty cool (but hard-to-locate) brunch place in Sukhumvit, but quite expensive for Bangkok.
Sala Rattanakosin Eatery and Bar. Met some LBS friends here for some cocktails and the AMAZING view of Chao Phraya river and Wat Arun (temple of the dawn).
Said view of Wat Arun
Checked out a live music place close to our hotel called Soul Bar; Cheap beer, great music, and very munchable banana chips in lieu of bar nuts. Thanks for the recommendation, P!
Really good musicians; the drummer was outstanding!
Cumulative cost of travel so far
GBP: 3,077 plus EUR: 1,308 plus RUB: 43,765 plus USD: 508 plus SGD: 990
First class sleeper train, Vientiane to Bangkok – 3100 bhat (for 2 pax; approx 122 SGD)
Booked via our hotel, day before travel
One night, Bangkok – 30 SGD
Spending: 200 SGD