Crossing the border from Vietnam to Thailand

Traveling to Thailand from Vietnam can be done in one of two ways. You can fly from one of three airports in Vietnam to either Bangkok, Chiang Mai, or Phuket, or you can take an overland journey by car, bus, or train, passing through Laos. While traveling by flight is the most popular method, mainly due to the faster travel times, there are a large number of international tourists that opt for the overland journey, though it is not always less costly than flying.

Advantage and Disadvantages

One of the main advantages to traveling overland from Vietnam to Thailand is the scenery. Passing across the border between Vietnam and Laos means you are heading into new lands that you have yet to discover. Crossing any country by road gives you the chance to explore a little of the scenery, landscape, and even culture of that country, and in this region of Southeast Asia, the scenery can often be stunning.

Border crossing to Thailand
Border crossing to Thailand

There is also the cost factor that can sometimes be an advantage to taking the land route rather than flying. Land transport such as bus and train can be cheaper than taking a flight in most cases, and if you are not in any hurry, then taking and overland trip can help to save you money in the long run, specially when the flight fares are more expensive in the peak seasons for Thai and Vietnamese tourism.

There are a few disadvantages to traveling overland, the main one being that you need to get a visa for the country you are crossing, which can increase the cost a little, and the fact that it takes several days to make the long journeys, though this is only a disadvantage if you are in a rush to get to Thailand. The other thing to remember is that there is no direct bus or train from Vietnam to Thailand, so you will need to change several times along the route.

If you are traveling during the low season for tourism in Vietnam and Thailand, you can actually get a flight from Saigon to Bangkok for as little as 42 US dollars, which makes the trip cheaper than traveling by bus, train, or car overland through Laos.

Check for how to have cheaper trip in Thailand and Vietnam.

Visa for Border Crossing

Crossing the border from Vietnam to Laos does require you to apply for a standard tourist visa to get into Laos to cross the country, or apply for the Laotian Transit Visa if you already have the visa to enter Thailand. And unless you are from either Russia or one of the Southeast Asian countries that have a visa-free allowance with Laos, then one visa will need to be obtained. The transit visa gives you seven days to cross Laos to Thailand, although it does cost around 47 US dollars, which is actually more than a standard tourist visa. The Transit Visa can be applied for at the border or at the Laotian Consulate in Hanoi, and processing normally takes the standard three days in the embassy or around 30 minutes at the border. You will need to have your passport, application form, one passport-sized photo, and your visa for Thailand in order to process the Transit Visa.

Thailand visa
Thailand visa

The good thing about crossing Laos to get to Thailand is that almost every country in the world can get a visa on their arrival at the Laotian border, which makes getting into Laos to cross to Thailand a little easier. The visa will cost you around 30-42 US dollars to enter Laos (depending on your nationality), which is valid for 30 days, so you do not have to rush across the country to get to Thailand fast. And processing is fast and efficient, so you will not be waiting around for a long time. And you only need to have a valid passport, the fee, the completed application form, and one passport photo.

You will also need to have the visa to get into Thailand, but since this can be done as a Visa on Arrival for most nationalities as well, it is rarely much of a problem. Thailand has a visa-free agreement of most European countries, Australia, and most of the Americas, and most other countries can get the visa on arrival for as little as 1,900 Thai baht, or about 60 US dollars. Visas for Thailand, if you need one, require you to provide your passport, visa fee, application form, and two passport-sized photos.

How to Cross border from Vietnam to Thailand?

There are three main forms of transport in Southeast Asia, car, bus, and train, and getting from Vietnam to Thailand can be done using any mix of the methods of transport, depending on how you want to travel.


Traveling by bus from Vietnam to Thailand is actually the simplest way to get across Laos to get to Thailand, and while it can take some time to make the journey, in the peak season for tourism in Southeast Asia the low cost really does make it worth it, especially if you are working on a budget and are not in a hurry.

travel by bus
travel by bus

Buses actually run from Hanoi to the Laotian cities of Vientiane and Luang Prabang, and take around 20-23 hours to make the long overland journey. The bus from Hanoi to Vientiane, the best place for crossing into Thailand from Laos, costs around 25 US dollars per person. From Vientiane, you can get a direct bus to Bangkok, which costs around 31 US dollars, and takes around 11 hours to make the 658-kilometer journey. Direct buses also run from Vientiane to Khon Kaen, Udon Thani, and Nong Khai, or you can get the direct bus from Luang Prabang to Chiang Mai or Loei.


There is no direct train from Vietnam to Thailand, though you can get a bus through Laos to Vientiane, the Laotian capital, from where you can get a link to the main train that runs all the way to Bangkok. From Vientiane, there is a local bus for around 30 cents that can take you to the new international railway station at Thanaleng, from where you can get the cross-border train to Nong Khai. The trip across the border takes around 15 minutes, and costs around 60 cents, or you can get a special ticket from a travel agent in Vientiane for around 10 dollars that takes you to the station at Thanaleng via minibus and into Thailand to Nong Khai by train for a total cost of around ten dollars.

travel by train
travel by train

Once across the border at Nong Khai, you can get the train direct to Bangkok, which costs around 37 dollars for the first class sleeper and around 23 US dollars for the second class sleeper. Daytime trains cost 15 dollars for the second-class seats with air-con, 11 dollars for second-class without air-con, and 8 dollars for standard third-class seats. The trains to Bangkok take around 10 hours.


Unless you have a valid International Driving Permit (IDP), then driving in Vietnam, Laos, and Thailand is not possible. And traveling by motorbike from Vietnam to Thailand means that you will need to have your own motorcycle for the trip, as you will not be able to rent bikes to travel from one city to another.

If you are traveling using your own bike, and have the IDP, then you can make it from Vietnam to Thailand for very little, though you may find the documentary requirements a little complex. To drive your bike in Vietnam, you will need to have a valid insurance, and must wear a crash-helmet at all times. Once you reach the border at Laos, then you will need to make sure that your documents are ready.

travel by motorbike
travel by motorbike

Laos requires you to have an IDP to drive in the country, and a valid, local insurance policy that covers motorcycles. Laos requires you to have an IDP to drive in the country, and a valid, local insurance policy that covers motorcycles. You also need to have the ownership documents and a Carnet document, which is the international temporary customs import/export document for taking your vehicle across international borders. You can arrange the vehicle insurance at any local insurer once you have crossed the border into Laos, which costs around ten dollars for a week’s insurance cover.

Exiting Laos into Thailand is relatively simple, and since Thailand does not recognize the Carnet system, nor does it always need you to have an IDP, it is simple to get your bike into the country, All you need is the ownership papers, passport, and driving license. Some countries can use their own driving license in Thailand, but an IDP is always an advantage. It is also useful to note that, while Vietnam and Laos drive on the right, much like America, in Thailand they drive on the left, like the UK and Japan, which was established during the Japanese occupation.

Tips for Border Crossing

If you are planning a trip across the borders into Laos and Thailand, then it is actually best to get the Visa on Arrival, if you can. This is better for travelers than getting all of your visas in advance, and makes it easier to get from one country to another.

Bus travel across border usually means a stop to make visa applications. However, some buses across the international borders have “fixers” that will collect all the passports and make the applications for you in bulk, to save you getting off the bus. While these can be useful, be careful with who you give your passport to. The drivers of the buses will let you know if there is an honest fixer that can handle your visa application. However, this usually means a few dollars fee for the fixer, so if you do not want to pay, you will have to get off and arrange your own visa.

The train from Thanaleng to Nong Khai does not require a visa, but you will have to get the visa when you stop at the station in Nong Khai, which can be done at the immigration terminal there. If you have visa-free travel, then you can just show your passport to allow you to continue into Thailand.

Check for more ways about how to get from Vietnam to Thailand.

Most Popular Thailand and Vietnam Tour Packages

Have a Question? Ask below or email us at

Question Summary:

Details about your question:


Please fill in your contact information, we will send you the answer by email


  • all days
  • 3-8
  • 8-13
  • 13-18
  • 18-24
  • 25-33
  • Above 33
  • Vietnam
  • Cambodia
  • Myanmar
  • Laos
  • Thailand
  • China

Pin It to Pinterest