There are many ways you can go to Vientiane in Laos, what the cheapest and most easy way is, depends on where you are trawling.
If you are not flying directly to Vientiane, you have to cross the border into Laos at Nong Khai border crossing. At the moment you can get a direct flight to Vientiane from Bangkok.
I was traveling from Chiang Mai, also by plane, but as there is no direct flight I had to fly to Udon Thain, and then go by bus, from Udon Thani to Vientiane.
Another opportunity is to take a “Visa run” minibus from Chiang Mai, but it is 12 hours, where you sit on very little space, I a minibus where the driver, drives like he had stolen the bus, and you drive through the mountains so it is not very comfortable.
You can also take the “normal” big bus to Udon Thani bus station, there are buses to Udon Thani from almost all bigger cities in Thailand.
When I came to the arrival area in Udon Thani airport, and after clearing the baggage pick-up, I found Nok Airs transfer service but the counter was closed. Also, I have been told it is not worthwhile to wait for their bus is full.So I went to the airport information counter and asked how to get to Vientiane.
There are several opportunities. You have a limousine/minivan to bring you the friendship bridge as the, as the Nong Khai border crossing is called, it is about 200 Bath. But you still have to get to Vientiane, at the Laos side of the borders there are minivans that can take you to the city.
Or you can take a mini van to Udon Thani bus station for 80 bath, from there yon can take a bus directly to Vientiane also 80 bath. There are a lot of taxi drivers/hustlers in the arriving area, who offer their service, but you do not need them, i recommend you take the bus, it is more easy, it takes you all the way, and it is the cheapest solution.
You buy your ticket to Udon Thani bus station at a counter with a big sign saying limousine service, it is just next to the information counter. Here you get a pink ticket, keep the ticket visible in your hand when you go outside, the the minivan driver will then see you, and make sure you get the right minivan.
The minivan has several stops, so tell the driver you want to go to the bus station, then the driver makes sure you get off at the right stop. At the bus station you go inside and find the ticket counter, it has a big green sign saying “International bus tickets (Thai Laos)
At the bus they say, can also buy the ticket on board the bus, even I did it, I do not think it is official, it is more expensive, 100 bath, and you get no ticket/receive. When you have your ticket, board the bus, find a seat sit down and relax. The bus ride to the border takes about one hour.
When you come to the border crossing the bus stops right in front of the exit from Thailand on the left side. You then go to get your exit stamp from Thailand. You can leave your luggage on the bus. Remember to fill out your departure card before you go the counter.
When you have cleared the Thai passport control, the bus is waiting outside. Also at the border crossing both at the Thai and the Laos side you will find a lot of hustlers offering their help, you do not need it.
I do not have many pictures from the border crossing, photos are not allowed so they did not like my camera.
If you do not come by the bus from Udon Thani, you have to take a special bus there take you over the bridge, but if you are by bus it will take you.
Then the bus takes you to the Laos passport control. First, you go to the counter saying “Visa on arrival”, fill out the forms they give you, here you have to pay around 1500 bath.
Then you have to go to counter #3 and pick up your passport you now have a Visa to Laos. After you get your passport you need to pass a couple of checkpoints where they want to see your passport, but it is no problem, and just ask and the officers will tell you what way to go.
Then Board the bus and it will take you to the morning market in Vientiane, the ride takes about a half hour.
The bus stops at the Vientiane central bus station next to the morning market, from there you have about 2 kilometers or 20 min walk to the Thai consulate, if you take a Tuk Tuk the price should be about 60 bath. You can use Thai bath most places, just make sure you have small bills, you get your change back in Kip. Not always at a good exchange rate.
I had not made a booking beforehand, my idea was just to go to the consulate and then find a hotel close by, I had seen on Google map. there is a lot of hotels and guest houses in the area. So I took a Tuk Tuk to the consulate.
I found a guest house, Larko guest house 300 meters from the consulate, I was lucky they had a vacant room, not luxury, but with private toilet and air-con for only 500 bath a night. So I booked 3 night.
You apply for Visa in the morning from 8:30 am to 12:00 pm, and you pick up your Visa the next day from 13:00 pm to 15:00.