We are planning a month in Vietnam and Cambodia in December/January.
We fly into Ho Chi Minh on 11 Dec and out from Singapore on 11 Jan, everything in between is up for grabs.
At this stage the plan is..
Ho Chi Minh - 2-3 days
Meekong Delta - 2-3 days boat to Phnom Phen - 1-2 days
Siem reap 3 days
Battambang 2 days
Back to Phnom Phen then possibly Banlung and the national park for 3-4 days...
Main question here is can we cross into Vietnam from Banlung? And if so, what is the best place to head to. The posts here aren't all that complementary about Pleiku... our plan would be to head up to Hoi Ann, Dalang, Hue, Hanoi , Dalang Bay
Probably flying out from Hanoi to Singapore.
Other thing I wanted to ask was when can the trip be part of the experience... what are the great train trips, when should we try for a private guide, and the best way to locate the good ones. I am not one for joining lengthy tours, preferring doing our own thing, but would really like the homestay thing so small tours are okay.
We are a couple in our late 40s travelling with our 20 year old son. Not adverse to a bit of an adventure. Don't know that my back would stand up to an easy rider for a few days but we could possibly hire motor bikes in Hoi Ann for day trips out.
Also not adverse to flying some legs of the trip.
Thanks in advance for any assistance
#1 KazAussie has been a member since 18/7/2009. Posts: 221
Sorry should have added that after Cambodia, we would probably be up for a few days chill out beach time, preferably somewhere with good snorkeling/diving
#2 KazAussie has been a member since 18/7/2009. Posts: 221
I don't know of any crossings from the far north of Cambodia to VN.
The nearest in Cambodia would be to backtrack to Bavet (C) / Moc Bai (V) on the bus.
There is an alternative that you may consider - the Attapeu (Laos) / Bo Y (V) crossing. There's a bus that runs from Attapeu to Pleiku (in VN) (also see below).
So, you'd get yourself from Ban Lung to the Dom Kralor (C) / Voen Kham (L) border and onto either Ban Thang Beng to go to Attapeu, or to Pakse and 'do' the Bolaven Plateau before heading to Attapeau to go to VN.
After crossing into VN, and once the bus gets to Hwy 14, you may look into going directly north to Hoi An instead of going the extra 35km's south down to Pleiku. But, I don't know how the bus connections work there, so I can't advise here. Alternately, get to Plieku and do an easy-rider to Hoi An, it's not that far, and it'd be a fun trip.
If you can't get a bus & don't want easy-rider, then you'll have to go from Pleiku to the coast at Quy Nhon, and then up to Hoi An / DaNang.
So, as for border crossing, its sort of 6 of 1 and half a dozen of the other. But, at least the Loas approach sees you cover new territory.
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At Hoi An, the beaches are good, and there's an island just out from there called Cham island that you may be interested in (type in Cham Island in the Search TravelFish box up in the grey section above, and follow the links.
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As for tours, etc., ppl do at Siem Reap, but if you get a good book about the place (eg. Lonely Planet or similar) and hire a tuk-tuk, you'll be fine (I overheard some guides who were merely repeating verbatum what I'd read in a book!!!).
Most on Travelfish stumble along on their own, interacting with other travellers for advice, etc., and manage to have great experiences. maybe you can too.
Hope this helps.
Thanks for your very prompt reply.
Are visa's available into Laos at the border crossing you mentioned?
An easy rider would be okay so long as it wasn't hours on the back of a bike. The other thing is that what I have seen on here it is about $50 per day ... I assume that is per person, so with three of us it is not going to be all that economical.
We tend to travel in about the flashpacker class (must admit I love that term). So will take advice on the road from other travelers.
Thanks once again, if anyone else has some advice on northern crossings from Banlung, I would love to hear from them. On the maps it looks like there is a crossing but maybe it isn't open to foreigners.
#4 KazAussie has been a member since 18/7/2009. Posts: 221
Its a crossing for locals, not for foreigners.
No to Laos visa at Laos/Cambodia border, you'll have to get one prior. Assuming you are Australian, the office is in Canberra and they are prompt about providing.
The Easy-Riders are looking for about US$60/day, but with 3, you may be able to bargain. But, if your trip is flashpacker, but you don't want to spend on exciting adventures (when the option is there), well...
Sometimes it's not about the cost (tho it is) rather, its the lifetime memory that follows. On easyriders, go see this post.
Thanks once again... okay looks like it will be via Laos... and you are right it is about the experience... happy to spend the money for an easy rider for the experience.
The only reason I was initially avoiding Laos is because of the whole "do less see more scenario".
#6 KazAussie has been a member since 18/7/2009. Posts: 221
Apols for the late note.
There is a crossing near Ban Lung between Cambodia and Vietnam -- it is detailed in both the Visa and border crossing FAQ (see the section on the Le Thanh / O Yadao crossing) and also in the Ban Lung section on Travelfish. I'd post more info now but just rushing out the door -- those two sections should answer your questions.
Yeah, just to confirm the above. As detailed elsewhere, the crossing is definitely open, as I just crossed there in the other direction about two weeks ago. In the Ban Lung -> Pleiku direction, it should be no problem. Ask around in Ban Lung for transport to the border, on the Vietnamese side you can get a moto to Duc Co and bus from there to Pleiku.
Apologies Kaz, I've learnt another thing since my last experience there.
That's what is so good about contributing to this site, you actually engage, and at the same time learn. The alternative is to merely flick through, and miss so much.
Boy I love this site. No doubt I will be back here many times before and during my trip. Thanks very much to all who responded.
I think I have a rough route mapped out.
Also grateful for any advice about great trips, when is bus the way to go, when to use the train, and I take it from earlier posts that the best bet in the central highlands is the "easy rider" option.
I know from previous travel in the Middle East that sometimes it is the journey more than the sites that stick in your mind. Like the crazy taxi driver who took us 200klm out of our way in Egypt so he could show us his village ... he was a crook, but a very entertaining one, and his village was great and off the beaten track. Or the kids that "double dunked" us on their dragstars in Israel.
Look forward to any comments or advice.
#10 KazAussie has been a member since 18/7/2009. Posts: 221
Wow thanks for that, maybe nine hours on a bus is looking good :-)
#13 KazAussie has been a member since 18/7/2009. Posts: 221