For those planning on the Thai VISA Run to Savannakhet I would advise to use the night bus leaving Bangkok’s Mo Chit Station. Not the most comfortable of journey’s but it saves an overnight stay at the opposite end. The night bus leaves 20.30pm daily. This is the VIP air-con bus; comfortable enough to sleep and a lot cheaper than flying (800 Baht). The ticket counters (999) are easy to find on the upper floor of Mo Chit directly next to the main entrance (pictured). As it leaves in the evening you will need to get there early. The better seats book up quick and rush hour traffic in the area can hold you back. Best route to arrive is by Mo Chit Skytrain or Chatuchak Subway station. Taxi from there. While I left 17.00pm from the Sukhumvit area (Asoke) I arrive at 19.00. An hour in traffic. Once on the bus I sleep easy. I nod off around 00.00 and wake 05.00am to watch the sunrise on Isan plains. A beautiful time in rural Thailand. Monks collecting offerings on streets (bintabat) and roadside street food setting up. Two more hours and I arrive at Mukdahan station at 07.00am. I easily book my next bus ticket to the border for 7.30am (50 Baht). The alternative here is of a tuk-tuk which costs 150 Baht but I don’t see the benefit. If you arrive at the border earlier you will likely need to wait for a bus to cross the bridge to Laos. Tuk-tuk’s don’t cross the bridge.
Crossing the Border (VISA on Arrival)
The bus from Mukdahan brings you direct to the Thai border. Depart the bus, the bus waits, you stamp out of Thailand then back again on the bus. The bus crosses the bridge (Friendship Bridge 2) to the opposite side of the Mekong River. Here you will need to show your Laos VISA or apply for a VISA on arrival. VISA on Arrival in my opinion the easier option. Securing a VISA beforehand wastes half a day in Bangkok. It takes roughly 30 minutes to secure one at the border and costs $35 or 1,500 Baht for my British Passport (other countries can pay different). The only problem here is the bus will not wait for VISA on Arrival applications. Be sure to take your bags with you when leaving the bus. Once the VISA process is complete fill in the immigration forms and pass through the gates. There is a small fee here of 40 Baht. On the opposite end you will find Tuk-Tuk and taxi touts. I paid 200 Baht. Ripped off as I am sure you can get cheaper. The Tuk-Tuk takes roughly 10 minutes to the Thai Consulate in Savannakhet.
Thai Consulate in Savannakhet
The Tuk-Tuk drops you at the Thai Consulate and if you want it will wait to forward to your hotel etc. I was surprised here; the consulate is found in a fancy house. I walk direct to the window with no-one queue or others in sight. Completely empty. I fill in the form at a metal table and hand all documents over to the window. Applying for the Thai VISA takes less than 10 minutes. If you need help with photocopying etc there is a small shop opposite the front gates. The VISA will be ready the following working day. In my case… Monday. I stupidly turned up on a Friday without realizing the Thai Consulate closes weekends. Now to enjoy three days in Savannakhet. Fun. I started by leaving the Consulate where a 200 meter walk finds the Mekong River. Beer Lao, Laab feeling like a backpacker.