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Indo China Loop

Posted by roncharlwood on 28/3/2006 at 08:51

Title Indo China Loop


My wife and I are planning a trip around Indo China in April and May (we may stay longer if necessary). We would like to travel from Thailand through Laos then vietnam leaving Cambodia till last. Our itinery so far is:-Arrive in K.L. on the 29/03/06 spend some time there (maybe sort out some visas and things). Then catch an overnight train to Bangkok and spend a few days there (maybe sort out visas if not already done). We have heard that if you get your visas for Laos at an embassy.They will last for 30 days and that they are valid for 3 months from the date of issue? Could you please confirm this? Also could you tell us if it is the same for a Vietnam visa? or is it like the Cambodia visa which we have read only lasts for 30 days from the date of issue and not the date of entry as in the Lao visa? We would like to travel from Bangkok to Chong Mek and cross the border to Pakse. Could you advise us of the best way to travel from Bangkok to Chong Mek and from there to Pakse, also of any difficulties crossing the border here. From Pakse we would like to make our way up to Vientiane and onto Luang Prabang. From there make our way across Laos to the Vietnam border. Again we would appreciate any information about the best way of doing this. Also about where to cross the border to enable us to easily reach Hanoi. Then from Hanoi we would like to make our way down through Vietnam to Ho Chi Minh City. any info about this journey would also be welcome. From Ho Chi Minh we would want to head for the border crossing for Phnom Penh. We have heard some bad stories about so any help would be appreciated. Also the trip from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap is reported to be particularly difficult and we be glad of any suggestions about the best way of doing this. Finally we would make our way from Siem Reap back to thailand via the Poipet - Aranya Prathet border. Again we have read some horror stories about this trip and border crossing so again we would be glad to hear any info or alternatives. I am sorry to have asked so many Questions but this is our first trip in Indo China and we may want to change our itinery if this one is not possible or would be too difficult. I would also mention that we are not young I am 63 my wife is 59, but we are reasonably fit and have done some travelling before, mostly in Malasia.

Regards. Ron

#1 roncharlwood has been a member since 27/3/2006. Posts: 2

Posted by exacto on 28/3/2006 at 09:21


Wow. That's quite a trip you have planned, and the most questions I've ever seen in one posting. I can't answer all of them, but will do my best with what I can and perhaps others will pitch in too.

On Lao visas. You can definitely get a 30-day visa from a Lao Embassy (as opposed to only 15 days with a visa on arrival at the border). I can't say how long you'll have to use it, but check out the website of the Lao Embassy in Bangkok. It will confirm the info you need.

I'd recommend the overnight train from Bangkok to Ubon, and from there you can take local transport to Chong Mek for the border crossing into Laos. However, if the long train ride from Malaysia makes that too much for you, then you can fly from Bangkok to Ubon for not too much money.

For info on the Siem Reap to Aranyaprathet trip, check out the Tales of Asia website. The latest info there suggests that the overland trip is fairly easy to do now. My wife and I plan to make that overland trip in July. You'll always have the option to fly back to Bangkok from Siem Reap on Bangkok Airways too, as that will be towards the end of your trip and you might want to treat yourself.

Have a great trip. Regards.

#2 exacto has been a member since 12/2/2006. Location: United States. Posts: 2,814

Posted by somtam2000 on 28/3/2006 at 10:02 admin

Hi Ron,

Welcome to Travelfish!

I'll try to answer what I can, though with visa regulations, it can be a good idea to check the relevant embassy website to get the info from the horse's mouth.

1) Vietnam visas start running out from the day they are issued, so you need to get them as close to arrival as possible -- in your case I'd suggest Vientiane.

2) As far as I'm aware, Cambodian visas are valid from the day of entry -- not the day of issue -- I suggest you check with the Cambodian embassy about that one. But in Cambodia's case you can get a visa at the border, so it doesn't need the same degree of pre-planning as visas to Vietnam do.

3) There are direct overnight buses from Bangkok to Chong Mek, or else you can fly or take the train to Ubon Ratchathani, from where it is a two hour bus ride to Chong Mek. From Chong Mek to Pakse is about an hour by pick-up or share-taxi. The border crossing is straight forward.

4) The closest crossing between Laos and Vietnam which is close to Luang Prabang is the NamCan / Nam Khan crossing near Phonsavan. We've never used this crossing, so unfortunately can't give you much more info about it.

5) The crssing from Saigon to Phnom Penh (I'm assuming you're talking about the bus crossing) is easy peasy! very straightforward -- you can buy a through bus ticket from Saigon to Phnom Penh for as little as US$5-6 and the bus waits while you clear customs.

6) Overland from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap is also straightforward - road is sealed and good - the trip can take as little as five hours.

7) The Poipet crossing is a bit of a headache, but if you ignore all the touts it is easy to navigate. I suggest you check out the Tales of Asia website -- check out their Cambodia Overland section - loads of border information for this crossing.

Phew! that was a lot of questions!!!

Have a good trip

#3 somtam2000 has been a member since 21/1/2004. Location: Indonesia. Posts: 8,062

Posted by roncharlwood on 28/3/2006 at 13:36


Thank you Exacto and Somtam 2000 for your quick and helpful replies.
I have checked out the embassy sites and the visa lasts 2 months from date of issue. You can of course only stay in Laos for 30 days during this period. Maybe we are beig a little ambitious in trying to do all this in the time available (3 months restricted to 1 month in each country due to the visa restrictions). Does anyone think this possible without flying.

Regards Ron.

#4 roncharlwood has been a member since 27/3/2006. Posts: 2

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