Thailand shares land borders with Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia and Myanmar. Land travel between all of these countries can be done at sanctioned border crossings. With improved highways and new bridges, it is also easier to travel from Thailand to China via Laos.
No special permits are needed for bringing a bicycle into Thailand. It’s advisable to bring a well-stocked repair kit.
Road connections exist to all of Thailand’s neighbours, and these routes can be travelled by bus, shared taxi and private car. In some cases you’ll take a bus to the border point, pass through immigration and then pick up another bus or shared taxi on the other side. In other cases, especially when crossing the Malaysian border, the bus will stop for immigration formalities and then continue to its destination across the border.
Taking a private vehicle across an international border requires some paperwork; it's generally not allowed to take a hired vehicle abroad.
Thailand’s and Malaysia’s state railways meet at Butterworth (93km south of the Thailand–Malaysia border), which is a transfer point to Penang (by boat), or to Kuala Lumpur and Singapore (by Malaysian train).
There are several border crossings for which you can take a train to the border and then switch to car transport on the other side. The Thai–Cambodian border crossing of Aranya Prathet to Poipet and the Thai–Lao crossing of Nong Khai to Vientiane are two examples.
Another rail line travels to the Malaysian east-coast border town of Sungai Kolok, but because of ongoing violence in Thailand’s Deep South we don’t recommend this route for travellers.
Malaysia, especially the west coast, is easy to reach by bus, train and even boat.
Hat Yai to Butterworth The western spur of the train line originating in Bangkok terminates at Butterworth, the mainland transfer point to Penang.
Hat Yai to Padang Besar Buses and trains originate out of the southern transit town of Hat Yai en route to a variety of Malaysian destinations. Border formalities are handled at Padang Besar.
Sungai Kolok to Rantau Panjang While this border crossing is a possibility, the continued violence in Thailand’s Deep South means that we do not recommend it.
Ko Lipe to Langkawi Boats provide a convenient high-season link between these two Andaman islands. There is also boat service to/from the mainland port of Satun (Thailand) to the Malaysian island of Langkawi and the mainland town of Kuala Perlis.
There are a few other minor crossings along this border, but a private vehicle is a necessity.
There are now four border crossings between Thailand and Myanmar.
Mae Sai to Tachileik This is a popular border-run crossing. It also hosts a popular border market that can be visited on a day trip from Thailand without a pre-arranged visa. For further travel, a pre-arranged visa is required. You can only travel as far as Kyaing Tong in Myanmar by land; onward land travel requires a permit or you can fly to Mandalay or Yangon.
Ranong to Kawthoung This is a popular visa-renewal point in the southern part of Thailand and can be used to enter/exit southern Myanmar.
Mae Sot to Myawaddy One of the most accessible land borders for points within Myanmar.
Phu Nam Ron to Htee Khee This crossing is remote and little used. You cannot enter Myanmar at this point with an e-visa but you can exit. The Thai government intends to develop this route as a link between Bangkok and Myanmar's Dawei port in the Andaman Sea.
Cambodian tourist visas (US$30) are available at the border. Bring a passport photo and ignore the runner boys who want to issue a health certificate or other paperwork for additional fees.
Aranya Prathet to Poipet The most direct land route between Bangkok and Siem Reap (for Angkor Wat), connected by direct government bus.
Hat Lek to Krong Koh Kong The coastal crossing for travellers heading to/from Ko Chang/Sihanoukville.
Ban Pakard to Psar Pruhm A back-door route from Ko Chang (via Chanthaburi) to Battambang and Angkor Wat.
Remote crossings include O Smach to Chong Chom (periodically closed due to fighting at Khao Phra Wihan) and Choam to Chong Sa-Ngam; these aren’t as convenient as you’ll have to hire private transport on the Cambodian side of the border.
It is fairly hassle-free to cross into Laos from northern and northeastern Thailand. Lao tourist visas (US$30 to US$42) can be obtained on arrival; applications require a passport photo and it's a good idea to have crisp, clean bills to pay with. Direct buses that link major towns on both sides of the border make the border towns just a formality stop. Occasionally Lao officials will ask for an overtime fee.
Nong Khai to Vientiane The first Thai–Lao Friendship Bridge to span the Mekong River is one of the main gateways to/from Laos. Nong Khai is easily reached by train or bus from Bangkok, or air, via Udon Thani.
Chiang Khong to Huay Xai The fourth Thai–Lao Friendship Bridge has increased the popularity of this crossing that links northern Thailand with Luang Prabang via boat. Direct buses from Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai to Laos use this crossing.
Mukdahan to Savannakhet The second Thai–Lao Friendship Bridge provides a trilateral link between Thailand, Laos and Vietnam.
Nakhon Phanom to Tha Khaek The third Thai–Lao Friendship Bridge connects northeastern Thailand to southern Laos.
Chong Mek to Vangtao The border is best accessed via direct bus from Ubon Ratchathani (Thailand) and is a good option for transiting to Pakse (Laos).
In northeastern Thailand, remote crossings include Bueng Kan to Paksan (Lao visas must be arranged in advance) and Tha Li to Kaen Thao (requires chartered transport). In northern Thailand, a remote crossing links Ban Huay Kon, in Nan, and Muang Ngeun.