Sleeper Train from Bangkok to Laos
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If someone asks you if there is a train that connects Thailand and Laos you should say YES. The trainride was actually a connecting ride that looks like this: Bangkok-Nongkhai and Nongkhai-Thanaleng(Laos).
How to take it? Piece of cake.
From Bangkok take a taxi to the train station which is a bit further from central bangkok and might cost you a few bahts depending on where you are. The best way to travel I believe is at night as you can just continue your journey without sacrificing beauty sleepy. The train leaves at 8.30pm (though it actually left later than that but wise to come early to make sure you don't miss it). If you feel a little bit apprehensive on how to get around, ask the people in uniform there like the police and show them your ticket.
There are a few classes you can take, we took the 1st class which was bunker with airconditioner. You might want to opt for the cheaper ones without the airconditioner but I say why not spend just a little bit dollar for a comfy ride and a good night sleep. There is a toilet in every car and sinks for people to use. In the last car is where the restaurant is where you can buy and have your breakfast there too. However at night, when you are boarding the train there will be someone who will ask if you want to order anything for breakfast so that they could prepare it and send it to your bunker.
When you reach Nongkhai station, you should get off there.
Thanaleng Train station is where you can get your visa on arrival. However make sure to ask first if your country is listed as a visa waiver. They have the list stuck on their wall. Normally for visa waiver you dont have to get a visa if you are only staying around the country for less than 2 weeks. But you still need to pay 10bahts to the officer (for what I am not really sure but I wouldnt argue if I were you). Visa costs about 30usd for non visa waiver.
From the station to get to Vientaine is just a tuk tuk ride away. However you can get a mini van ride which is a lot cheaper if you take in a group. The minivan drivers at the station already agreed on certain price they want to charge to tourists. So try to find other travellers who are willing to take the same minivan as yours and bargain as you low as you can!