We crossed the Thailand border twice by bus, once when travelling from Chiang Rai, Thailand to Huay Xai, Laos, and then back into Bangkok, Thailand from Siem Reap, Cambodia. You do not need to acquire a visa beforehand, and there is no cost to enter or depart Thailand. The tourist visa lasts 60 days. Traversing borders is always something you should read up on when travelling between foreign countries, and here we share our experiences as well as some tips to make your travel go smoothly!
We travelled between Siem Reap and Bangkok by bus. It cost about $28 US and took 2 hours to the border then another 2 hours to Bangkok. The bus ride is pleasant as there are no crazy turns or mountains on the route. The border crossing is a little confusing. When you reach the border you leave the bus and collect your luggage, and get your passport stamped on the Cambodia side. You then have to walk with your luggage for a while through “no mans land” between the two countries. After two minutes or so you’ll see some stairs to your left, and you walk up those to get checked in on the Thailand side. Our bus was around the corner to the left once we made it through this process, but the was a worker who was there to help us find it. The whole process took about 45mins, our best advice is to follow the crowd and you’ll make it across just fine!
Chiang Rai, Thailand – Huay Xai, Laos
We took the local route from Chiang Rai to the Laos border. We jumped on a local bus that runs every hour to Chiang Khong, and asked the bus driver to drop us off at the border. This cost 80 baht each. The bus dropped us off at the crossroad that heads to the border and from there we took a tuk-tuk for 100 baht (probably could’ve bartered that price down a bit, but we weren’t the most experienced hagglers at that time).
Crossing the border was easy and not busy for us at all. Alex had even lost his departure card, but the border crossing guy just kind of laughed and gave us a dirty look, then gave him a new one. We walked through, they took a picture of us, then we waited 5 mins and paid 20 baht for the shuttle bus to take us across the bridge to Laos. Once we were across we had to go over to the windows to the right of the building to fill out some forms for the visa and hand over two passport photos. It’s expensive to travel to Laos as a Canadian, it cost us $43 US, so make sure you bring enough with you! We then found some other travellers (two Dutch guys, an Aussie and another Canadian!) and managed to haggle the tuk-tuk driver down to 100 baht per person for the 20 min drive into Huay Xai.
In total the trip cost us 300 baht each, although we may have been able to haggle that down 10 or 20 baht if we’d tried. Though the local route was fun and a little more adventurous, we don’t think we saved any money doing it this way as we’d hoped to. We have heard of buses direct from Chiang Rai to the Huay Xai bus station (which is a little bit out of town) that waits for you to cross the border, which cost about 300 baht (if you include the tuk-tuk ride from the Huay Xai bus station to the center of town). Either way, the trip isn’t difficult, choose the way that works best for you!
Now that you know how to get in and out, check out our Thailand post on the best places to see!