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Nong Khai Travel Guide

Across The Friendship Bridge to Laos

This is the first international bridge spanning the Mekong River. The Friendship Bridge; Saphan Mittaphap Thai-Lao in Thai language; was built with the cooperation of the government of Thailand, Laos and Australia and was opened in April 8, 1994. The total cost was about USD $30 million. The official name of the bridge was altered by the addition of “First”, after the Second Thai-Lao Friendship Bridge in the south of the kingdom was opened on January 2007.

The First Friendship Bridge connects Nong Khai with Vientiane in Laos, spanning a length of 1.2 kilometers, the bridge has two 3.5 meter-wide lanes for vehicle traffic, two 1.5 meter-wide footpaths and a single railway line in the middle.

The building of the Friendship Bridge across the Mekong River has made Nong Khai an important centre for the exchange of Lao and Thai goods. The bridge allows for visitors, Thai and Lao people to travel to either country. Foreigners wishing to visit Laos are required to have a passport and visa and take the trip with a certified travel agency, traveling on one’s own is not permitted in Laos.

At Nong Khai, a bridge-bus leaves the bus station every twenty minutes. The bridge is open from 8:00 am to 5:30 pm, expect to be charged “overtime” is crossing between 2:00 pm and 4:00 pm. The bus takes about five minutes to get from the bus terminal to Thai immigration office at the west end of the bridge where a Thai immigration official stamps your passport, there is no customs inspection, just past the Lao side of Friendship Bridge, you come to the Lao immigration office.

You can get a fifteen-visa upon arrival. The price ranges from USD $35 to USD $50, you need two passport-size photographs for the visa.

In Thailand, cars drive on the left following a British road system, and cars in Laos drive on the right following a French based road system. The changeover at the Lao end is controlled by traffic lights.

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