how to go from bangkok to pakse

How to Go from Bangkok to Pakse, Laos

The route from Bangkok to Pakse is quite simple, although long and to travel to Pakse from Bangkok involves a combination of transport options.   Bangkok is, of course, the capital of Thailand and Pakse is in Laos, across the border from the Thai city of Ubon Ratchathani.  Most people visit Pakse only to head onto Laos’ 4000 Islands, or en route to the Bolaven Plateau.  We’ve taken this route from Thailand to Laos to end our trip in Laos with a visit to the Gibbon Experience, near Huay Xai – and so researched all the options on how to go from Bangkok to Pakse.



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Take the VIP Bus from Bangkok to Pakse

The easiest way to go from Bangkok to Pakse is to take the VIP bus. Catch the bus at Khao San, and you won’t need to worry about missing connections or changing.

How to Go from Bangkok to Pakse

There are several ways to go from Bangkok to Pakse – combining overnight trains, songthaews and buses, plus a tuk-tuk or the simplest way – a through bus, and of course, if you’re in a hurry, there’s always a flight for part of the way!

The Easiest Way to Go from Bangkok to Pakse

The easiest way to go from Bangkok to Pakse is to take an overnight bus that leaves Bangkok at 18:00 and arrives in Pakse the following morning.  This bus service means you stay on the same bus, go through immigration at the Laos border, and get back on the same bus.  The bus is NOT a sleeper bus but does have decent legroom.  This is also the cheapest way to go from Bangkok to Pakse.  You can book the bus from Bangkok to Pakse online here.   

If you don’t like overnight buses, then you can take a 3-part journey, but this does involve an overnight train (which we love!)

The SLOW COMFORTABLE WAY to go from Bangkok to Pakse

This is the route that we took – as we love overnight trains (and when we were traveling there was no overnight bus running (not that we particularly like overnight buses either!)

We’ll split the journey to Pakse into 3 parts.

  • Bangkok to Ubon Ratchathani
  • Ubon Ratchathani to Chong Mek – Vangtao (the border crossing)
  • Vangtao to Pakse

All are simple in themselves, it’s just putting together and working out the times to meet corresponding transport that is a bit of a pain!

How to go from Bangkok to Ubon Ratchathani

The first part of the journey involves getting from Bangkok to Ubon Ratchathani.   This is simple enough.  You can take either a bus from Bangkok to Ubon Ratchathani or you can take a train from Bangkok to Ubon Ratchathani.  If you’re feeling a little flush you can also fly from Bangkok to Ubon Ratchathani.

Both the bus and the train are overnight options and there are several buses and several trains to choose from.    Here are the options for going to Ubon Ratchathani from Bangkok

Ubon Ratchathani Train Station to the Ubon Ratchathani Bus Station

Ubon Ratchathani is about 100 kilometers from the Thai-Laos border.  The train station is a short distance from the bus station that links to Pakse in Ubon Ratchathani, so you’ll need to take a Songthaew taxi to get there.

Take Songthaew number 2 to the bus station. The songthaews here in Ubon are all numbered and color-coded. The number 2 is the only one that services the train station and it’s waiting for us as we exit the train.  It’s really easy to spot.  You’ll need to tell the driver that you’re going to the bus station for the Bus to Laos.  Cost 10 Thai Baht per person.

Songthaew in Ubon Ratchathani

There are two bus stations on Google Maps, the web page tells us that we want the bus station by the Big C shopping center, so I tell the driver, the Bus to Laos.  35 minutes later we pull up at the Big C. There are no signs of buses.  There is, however, a tourist office information officer who used to work in Watford, North London (Thailand is so easy!) and she guides us to the VIP bus to Laos.

VIP Bus to Pakse from Ubon

Ubon Ratchathani to Pakse Bus

It leaves twice a day, 09:30 and 3:30 for a three-hour, 200 THB trip.  You can book the Ubon Ratchathani to Pakse bus online here.

We have tickets on the 09:30, but first have breakfast in one of the two cafes at the end of the bus station, a good Pad Thai for 40 THB.  Fuelled on a bowl of noodles, coffee, and juice we load our bags into the now waiting bus, and join our fellow passengers, all Thai and Lao apart from one Korean man.

Pakse to Ubon bus

It’s a comfortable bus.  Plenty of legroom.  The seats are NOT broken.

bus to pakse

There are a few stops for the police as we get closer to the border, we’re ignored, in fact, most people are. Then we arrive at the Thai border by 11:15. Checking out of Thailand is easy, the only line is the one created by the people on our bus.

Border Crossing Thailand to Laos –  Chong Mek to Vangtao

The way to Laos is via an underpass to what looks like a building site, the only obvious signpost is for duty-free, but as we walk further on, over a makeshift plank bridge through the dust we spot the visa on arrival sign to the right, and on the other side of the “road” from Duty-Free.

Thai Laos border crossing

So clutching our US$35 visa fee and a passport photo each we head to window 5, where we’re given two forms to complete – all the usual, where we’ve been, where we’re going, where we’re staying, passport details, and a departure form, which will be clipped into our passport.

Visa on Arrival in Laos

The fee is handed over and we’re told to wait at window 6 around the corner.

It seems that for US$35 you get more rigorous checking of your visa application than the locals who we see handing over 100 Thai baht.

Visa on arrival Laos border

And so there’s no time to change any money at the Western Union building opposite the visa place, we’re back on the bus (which displays a “we allow 20 minutes for passport and visa” sign) and after a cursory check of numbers of passengers and their passports by someone wearing a uniform, we’re on our way. There are ATMs once you arrive in Pakse, but you’ll want to read our guide to Laos ATMs before you get there.

Thai Border to Pakse

30 minutes later we’re driving across the Friendship Bridge into Pakse, the Laos border town.

Sensibly the bus would stop here – i.e. in the center, but it turns right and heads 8 kilometers out of town to the Southern Bus Station, which is also called the 8-kilometer bus station.  Because it is 8 kilometers from Pakse. And it’s here where we have no choice but to get into a songthaew pick up (although, it’s called a tuk-tuk here) to take us back the 8 km back to Pakse center.

Our driver speaks no English. Luckily the Korean from the bus speaks Laos and English and tells us that yes we can pay in Thai baht as we have no Laotian Kip yet. The fee is 20,000 kip or 80 baht each (US$ 2.47) and the driver will drop us at our hotel.

Map of Bus Stations and Border Crossings for Bangkok to Pakse

You can also see the map online here.

map of how to go from bangkok to pakse

Where to Stay in Pakse

There are loads of places to stay in Pakse – here’s our pick of the luxury places to stay in Pakse, mid-range places to stay in Pakse, and budget accommodations in Pakse.

Le Jardin Hotel, Pakse: The Le Jardin Hotel is well located in Pakse, putting you close to plenty of attractions to visit and dining options to try. The Le Jardin Hotel offers rooms with a terrace, a private bathroom and free toiletries, a desk and seating area along with a flat-screen TV, air conditioning, and a fridge. The hotel also boasts an outdoor pool and free WiFi access throughout the entire accommodation. Visitors can also enjoy an a la carte or american breakfast and amazing view of their gardens. The Le Jardin Hotel is a fantastic place to stay in Pakse. Check room rates here.

Intouch Riverside Hotel, Pakse: The Intouch Riverside Hotel is located in a central location in Pakse. Rooms at the Intouch Riverside Hotel are air-conditioned, have a wardrobe, a private bathroom with a shower and complimentary toiletries, a flat-screen TV, and some selected rooms have a private balcony. This three-star rated accommodation also has an outdoor pool and offers a buffet breakfast and free WiFi access for guests. The Intouch Riverside Hotel is definitely a hotel you should consider when traveling to Pakse. Read more reviews and check the room prices of Intouch Riverside Hotel here.

Xuanmai Garden Resort, Pakse: The Xuanmai Garden Resort is located on the outskirts of Pakse. The Xuanmai Resort’s rooms provide air-conditioning, a cable TV, a fridge, and a private bathroom with a shower. This three-star hotel also offers complimentary breakfast, free WiFi access, and shuttle services. This simple hotel also provides visitors with a spectacular view of their garden and its mini-pond and bridge, allowing guests to enjoy an extremely peaceful stay while in Pakse. Check prices of rooms at Xuanmai Garden Resort here.

Popular Routes in Thailand

Want to know more about different forms of transport in Thailand? Our guide to Thailand transport is here. And here’s how to travel some of the popular routes around Thailand, your options, and how we did it.

Popular transport routes in Laos

Our guide on how to get around Laos and Laos Transportation is here and here are some of the most popular routes around Laos

Travel Tips for Exploring Thailand

Final Words on how to go from Bangkok to Pakse

It’s a much easier trip today – just book the overnight bus here  – it’s much less hassle.  But we hope that by including the details of the train it gives you a different and more comfortable option to travel to Pakse from Bangkok.  We’re here in Pakse because we’re heading to the Bolaven Plateau (awesome), down to Laos’ 4000 Islands (chilled out), and then eventually up to the Gibbon Experience at Huay Xai. If you’re looking for more places to visit before you leave Bangkok, then check out Bangkok’s hidden gems – all about offbeat Bangkok here.

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