Photo: Street food Phetchaburi Soi 10, Bangkok.

Southeast Asia forum

Route advise needed: from Hanoi to Bangkok

Posted by Leonie1991 on 5/6/2011 at 23:11

Hi there,

I've been planning my trip around the world but I'm not sure what the best route is from Hanoi to Bangkok.

I'm going to travell south from Beijing and the most logical is to cross the border at Hanoi.
Adventually I have to end up in Bangkok to take a train that will take me through Malysia but I need some route advise about getting from Hanoi to Bangkok and still actually see some of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodja. I have about a month.

Can anybody give me some tips?


#1 Leonie1991 has been a member since 5/6/2011. Posts: 4

Posted by paulanen on 6/6/2011 at 17:05


I'm aso planning a trip through Russia to Beijing, then to Hanoi. I'd like to head to Thailand and looking for some tips how to get to Bangkok from Hanoi. Best option would be cheap, quite fast but probably also something that would include some sightseeing :).

#2 paulanen has been a member since 6/6/2011. Posts: 1

Posted by travellingsarah on 6/6/2011 at 17:20 TF writer

Posted from within Vietnam.

It depends how fast you want to travel and what your priorities are in terms of sightseeing. When we travelled from Hanoi to Bangkok we travelled down through Vietnam to HCMC then into the Mekong, up to Phnom Penh , onto Siem Reap and from there to Bangkok. By there are two problems with this route for you:

(1) Time - we took around 7 weeks for this part of the trip
(2) Laos - clearly this skips Laos and if you incorporate Laos it puts more pressure on time

So it's a difficult one to make a recommendation on - of course it's absolutely possible to do it and have time for sightseeing too but what are you prepared to miss?

If I had the same dilemma and had to cover off all 3 countries I'd perhaps do something like this:

Few days in Hanoi
Halong Bay trip
Overnight train to Hue or Hoi An
Fly to HCMC
Direct to Phnom Penh by bus
Bus to Siem Reap and visit Angkor
Bus to 4,000 islands (I think you have to go back via PP but not sure)
Overnight bus to Vientiene
Vientiene to Bangkok by bus / train

Some add-on options being:

A beach stop somewhere in Vietnam
Travel from HCMC to PP via the Mekong
3 days in Sapa
Bolaven Plateau

But there are plenty more too!

#3 travellingsarah has been a member since 23/3/2010. Location: Vietnam. Posts: 681
 Where has travellingsarah been?   Website 

Posted by Rasheeed on 6/6/2011 at 19:55

Any direct-ish route cuts out the more interesting, less touristy places...

#4 Rasheeed has been a member since 4/11/2010. Location: Cambodia. Posts: 311
 Website   Twitter 

Posted by MADMAC on 6/6/2011 at 22:06

OK, here you go - I would do this unless you paid me well - but you did ask:

Hanoi for enough time to see Halong Bay, which everyone raves about.

Head to Hue by train. It will suck. Pay for the best available seat.

Stay in Hue a few days to recuperate and check out what I hear is a beautiful old city.

Take the bus to Savanakhet. It will suck.

Take another couple of days to recover. If you have the energy, go to Tha Khek and check out the caves there (you can read more about there here on travelfish).

Head to Pakse on the bus. It will suck again.

Stay there a couple of days to recover and chill.

Meander south and cross the border into Cambodia. Then meander to Siem Reap. Check out Angkor Wat for about three days. Maybe take about ten days for this leg total.

Head to Thailand by bus. Then head to Bangkok by bus. Take two days for this leg. It will suck, but not as much as the previous bus rides have.

Get to Bangkok and get drunk and get laid. By this point in the trip, you'll need it.

#5 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957

Posted by Leonie1991 on 7/6/2011 at 00:44

Why travell if you think that actually going somewhere sucks?
Travelling by train is a beautifull way to explore a country.

There are good air-conditioned sleeper trains with catering and if you take a train you will meet local people who are travelling too. If you mostly travell at night you'll sleep through most of the journey and it saves you costs for a hotel or hostel.

A true backpacker wouldn't be so negative and would enjoy it.
Vistit: for more info.
You'll figure it out.

#6 Leonie1991 has been a member since 5/6/2011. Posts: 4

Posted by MADMAC on 7/6/2011 at 01:36

It is not the destination that sucks, but the bus rides to get to them (and from what I've heard about Vietnamese trains, those too. Don't think they have "good, air conditioned, sleeper trains" but if they do - by all means take one). Long, often hot, very often overcrowded. Laos and Vietnamese buses are notoriously horrible (I've only experience the Laos version). From Hue to Savanakhet takes about ten hours, there are always more people than seats - not to mention crap of all sorts... I saw someone once post here that the bus rides were "part of the experience". They are - the horrible part. I've taken the bus here so often that just the thought of getting on it gives me a headache.

As for sleeper buses, I can't sleep on them. They always stop somewhere just as I am finally about to doze, and the friendly attendant is sure to turn on the lights and inform me I now have 20 minutes to get off and stretch, use the restroom, whatever... Then it's another hour or more before I really get to sleep. Usually right before we reach the destination. I despise them.

"A true backpacker wouldn't be so negative and would enjoy it."

I'm not a backpacker. I live here. I've taken the bus to Bangkok more times than I can count. But even a "true backpacker" is human. Like the plane ride to get here - that sucks too. My wife is Thai, and nobody hates Thai buses more than she does. You think I'm negative, ought to hear her.

#7 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957

Posted by MADMAC on 7/6/2011 at 01:49

Oh, I forgot to mention, but there are no trains in Laos, and for the rest of your trip no realistic train options either until you get to Bangkok. So while you might prefer the train (I do because they are safer than the buses here with their psychotic drivers often high on Yaba), from Hanoi to Saigon that's an option. And if you travel from Vietnam to Vientiane, you'll have the worst of the worst for bus rides, but can then take the train from Nong Khai to Bangkok. But otherwise, train options are limited.

#8 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957

Posted by travellingsarah on 7/6/2011 at 13:18 TF writer

Posted from within Vietnam.

Agree that bus journey's generally suck (I don't mind trains) but I tend to forget how bad they were once I get to the end. That said, travelling from Hanoi to Bangkok isn't too bad on the bus front if you just go through Vietnam and Cambodia (quite a few bus trips but short enough) and skip Laos. In only a month I'd suggest that's a better option anyway.

Also, I would definitely avoid the Central Vietnam to Laos bus if possible. We went from 4,000 islands to Hue (then straight to Hanoi) and it was the worst trip in 7 months of travelling. Still, I've got some stories.

#9 travellingsarah has been a member since 23/3/2010. Location: Vietnam. Posts: 681
 Where has travellingsarah been?   Website 

Posted by Leonie1991 on 7/6/2011 at 13:36

I know what my options are and I hear the bus from Ho Chi Minh City to Phnom Penh and Bangkok is not so bad. Maybe even a welcome change after all te train travelling. Thousands of packpackers take that bus every year.

I understand that if you're not used to backpacking that you would hate it. I'm actually going to be in the Trans Mongolian Express for 6 days and in China I will have to put my shoes in plastic bags because people spit on the ground but I don't care. All part of the experience. Sure it's going to be a sweaty ride (I can even sleep standing up so that won't be a problem) but when I look out the window and I see a beautifull scenery I will get over it and laugh about it when I'm on a white beach in Thailand after a few weeks.

#10 Leonie1991 has been a member since 5/6/2011. Posts: 4

Posted by MADMAC on 7/6/2011 at 14:49

All I can say is better you than me hombre. If you works for you, great. But I always warn people that the bus rides suck. Obviously it makes sense to suck it up and make the best of it, if that's all you can do. But forwarned is forarmed. I've had some miserable trips both here and with the US Army traveling by air (mid-air refueling makes the flight seem like it will never end) and if I have the option I always take my motorcycle. But obviously transients often don't have that option, and are stuck with public transportation (as I generally am going to Bangkok). I hate it, but it is what it is. Six days? I'd be ready to blow my brains out. Way too tedious.

As for "roughing it" - well, I was a professional soldier with about four years in deployed zones, some of which were austere indeed. I can do it, but it wouldn't be my choice for vacation time. Different strokes for different folks.

#11 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957

Posted by eastwest on 7/6/2011 at 16:23

Well, judging by the name I would guess that the hombre is a woman MAC.

Anyways, I would also go for the Vietnam- Cambodia combination an leave out Laos. That way you have more time to "do" things besides sitting in a dubious bus.
Buses (and main roads) are not that bad in Cambodia and HCMC to Phnom Penh can easily be done by bus as well as onwards to BKK. From PP you can take the scenic route (via Koh Kong - Trat) along the coast which will take you a few more days if you have the time.

And sleeper/1st class trains in Vietnam are excellent and a great way to travel in Vietnam while saving time & money

Have a good trip

#12 eastwest has been a member since 17/12/2009. Posts: 778

Posted by Leonie1991 on 7/6/2011 at 16:52

Thanks for the tips!
I really don't mind travelling by trains and buses as long as I can see alot of beautifull things.
I might try the route via Koh Kong along the coast.

#13 Leonie1991 has been a member since 5/6/2011. Posts: 4

Posted by MADMAC on 7/6/2011 at 23:12

I didn't think about that - you could be right. Always bad to make assumptions.

At any rate, have a good time.

#14 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957

Please login to add a reply

You need to be a Travelfish member to be able to add a reply to this post. Please use the button below to log in. After logging in you'll be returned to this page automatically to add your post. Not a member? Join up here.