I'm going from BKK to Siam Reap via Aranyaprathet which I plan doing mid-january 2011. When I'm done in SR, I was considering going back to Aranyaprathet and then, if such a thing exists, taking a bus from there into Nong Khai , just before the Laos border at Vientiane. My objective is to avoid going back to BKK just in order to catch the train that exists to Nong Khai and on through the Laos leg of my trip.
Any thoughts? Is this a silly way to do it?
You can. Take the bus from Aranyaprathet to Nakhon Ratchasima (Khorat). From there you can take a bus or the train to Nong Khai. This trip will probably take 14 hours or more, so if you go this route ensure you catch an early morning bus from Siem Reap. Also, you will probably arrive too late to cross the border, although from Khorat you might be able to catch a bus running all the way into Laos. Otherwise, plan on staying the night in Nong Khai and then crossing the next morning. It is 20km from the border to Vientiane.
You can also arrange to travel to Laos from Siem Reap to the border crossing at Stung Treng and on to Pakse in southern Laos. However, it is still another 10 hours to Vientaine from Pakse. If you're traveling to Siem Reap, you can book a trip from there but you will need to go through Phnom Penh first and usually will spend the night there. You'll go through Kampong Cham and Kratie. Kratie is also a nice place if you want to take a few days getting to Laos. You can also arrange from great trekking and other things around Kratie and Stung Treng, and southern Laos is really something, too. almost 10 years ago