The First Thai-Laos Friendship Bridge spans the Mekong River and connects Thailand to Laos. It is probably one of the main ways though which people initially discover Nong Khai as hundreds of thousands of people come to Nong Khai to cross the bridge each year. In fact, Nong Khai is also the busiest border crossing point to Laos due to the “First Thai-Laos Friendship Bridge” which was opened on April 8, 1994. It had been constructed at a cost of around US$30million, funded by the Australian government as development aid to Laos. The official name of the bridge was changed with the addition of “First” after the “Second Laos-Thai Friendship Bridge” was opened further south in January 2007, linking Thailand’s Mukdahan province with Lao’s Savannakhet Province. Since opening, the First Thai-Laos Friendship Bridge had just been a road link between Laos and Thailand. That changed on March 5th 2009, however, with the formal inauguration of the Nong Khai to Vientiane Rail link by Her Majesty Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, second daughter of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej of Thailand. It means that there is now a twice daily rail service from Nong Khai to Vientiane, making the journey from Nong Khai to the Laotian Capital all the more effortless. This rail link is also the first major operational railway anywhere in Laos, although a short portage line once existed. As well as providing a link to Laos, the bridge is also an excellent vantage point from which to take in magnificent views of the Mekong river, Nong Khai, and Laos. Indeed, at the weekend the bridge is opened up to pedestrians from both the Thai and Laotian side to stroll on the bridge and admire the views.