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Vietnam forum

First time asia travellers

Posted by karljules on 29/3/2009 at 19:29


Myself (karl) and my partner (julie)plan to travel for two months later this year (dec/jan). We are on a budget, but hope to see parts of thailand (north), cambodia, laos and vietnam. our first idea is to fly into bangkok 1st dec from Heathrow, with a return flight from bangkok to Heathrow on the 29th Jan. We have found this option for £950 for us both. Is this a good price? And option?
The plan is, the time in between to use buses, boats and trains to see these four countries. At the end we will look to fly from vietnam to bangkok for the return to london flight? Again, any advice would help.
We are starting to read up on the main items to see and learn about, but any further suggestions would be most appreciated. We are not well travelled so I am sure people will read this and have much better alternatives of which we wait to read and amend are plan accordingly. The main flight will be booked this week!! Thankyou

#1 karljules has been a member since 29/3/2009. Posts: 5

Posted by dageshi on 29/3/2009 at 19:53

If your flying into BKK a potential route might be to head straight to cambodia, to siem reap, onto phnom Penh, Sihanoukville, into vietnam to Saigon up along the coast to hanoi then over into laos before finishing back in thailand and working your way back down to bangkok. In terms of travel, Thailand is probably easiest, Cambodia is easy enough except for the Bangkok->Siem Reap route which ironicaly would be your first, sort of like throwing you in at the deep end, but if you research it well enough it would be o.k. Vietnam is fine as long as you know all the scams and know how to deal with them (vietnamese taxi drivers are arguably the greatest scammers on the planet) not hugely familiar with laos so I'll leave that to someone else.

My one bit of advise here which should come in useful is that your coming during high season, which is cool, I'd recommend you go straight for fan rooms and avoid air conditioning, the sooner you get acclimatised the better. If you do that you'll probably find you'll save $5+ per day on room fees.

In terms of the flight google airasiax, they run a fairly cheap 300 quid round trip from malaysia to london, book your flights well in advance and it might well work out cheaper than the direct route from ldn to bkk. plus you'll get a day or two in KL if you fancy it.

pps if you book well in advance (which your in position to do you can literally get flights for a tenner.

#2 dageshi has been a member since 1/3/2008. Posts: 56

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Posted by hingbat on 30/3/2009 at 02:22

Oh Hewo! vietnam vewy good ya it vewy hot vour twip sounds good ya. We could meet up ya i tell vou ewythink you wan to no ya. Happy twavels ya

#3 hingbat has been a member since 30/3/2009. Posts: 1

Posted by daawgon on 30/3/2009 at 04:28

Many airlines will let you open-jaw your flights (into Bangkok and out of Hanoi for instance) instead of backtracking to return. I always do this - I travel on Asiana Air via Korea - excellent airline, and they give a free hotel for passengers with transit times > 8 hours. Good idea to go to Thailand first because it's the hottest area. Parts of Northern Vietnam will be cool to cold in Dec and Jan.

#4 daawgon has been a member since 17/4/2007. Posts: 1,151
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Posted by karljules on 3/4/2009 at 04:01

thank you for the two proper comments. I am sure we will post again if we can not find something, thanks.

#5 karljules has been a member since 29/3/2009. Posts: 5

Posted by keatherley on 5/4/2009 at 14:01

Posted from within Vietnam.

Hey, I wouldn't recommend coming to Da Nang /Hue/Hoi An for very long during those months. I can only speak for this area (where I am currently living) and the weather was terrible. I also know that in Hanoi, it is really cold. So if you really want to see these places, don't plan on staying for a long time. Most Vietnamese people seem to kind of shut down during the rainy season. (I went to the Ho Chi Minh Museum in Da Nang in December this year and all of the lights were off as we entered each room!!)

On the positive side, Ho Chi Minh City and the southern areas should be just fine during that time of year -from what I am told.

#6 keatherley has been a member since 21/1/2009. Posts: 7

Posted by karljules on 5/7/2009 at 18:32


Well, we have planned a rough outline of the trip. I know the information is out there, but visa's are not easy to understand, do I need to plan 'ahead' for any of the below:-
Land in Bangkok 28th Nov, stay 2-3 nights. I know about the 30 days.
Over to Cambodia (2 weeks)
Then from the south to north vietnam (2 weeks)
Loas for a week, heading to north Thailand. What are the rules when re-entering?
Head down to south Thailand (islands) for 3 weeks
Are Visa's just brought at the relevant border crossing?

Any help is great,

#7 karljules has been a member since 29/3/2009. Posts: 5

Posted by kiwibc on 5/7/2009 at 21:37

Posted from within Vietnam.

Hi Karl,

You can't just rock up to any Vietnam land border without a visa sort one before you leave home (as did) or in bangkok (and maybe Cambodia). If you arrive by air you can get a type of pre approved enter pass (i.e. the online companies that you pay a fee for, get a e-certificate for and pay the rest at the airport arrival and get your visa). Also on the Lao front if you arrive by air at the main airports you're sweet (I got mine at Luang Prabang when I flew from Hanoi - which I'd recommend) but again at the borders some you can some you can't. Cambodia you can get visas at the international borders (I'm getting one tomorrow). One further thing about the vietnam visa you can't enter a single day before you have stated on your visa. You might be ok (and some people have been) but when I came from HK i was told by the Vietnamese embassy in NZ not to attempt it and I'd have to get another visa (and another $200 for a multiple) if I wanted I hung round HK for 10 days instead.

#8 kiwibc has been a member since 21/6/2009. Posts: 18

Posted by kiwibc on 5/7/2009 at 21:40

Posted from within Vietnam.

Oh forgot to add, just go to the relevant country's page on Travel fish and click on the visa section for further border specific info if you need it; hope the above summary of things helps ;-).

#9 kiwibc has been a member since 21/6/2009. Posts: 18

Posted by BruceMoon on 6/7/2009 at 11:02

Karl & Julie

Many countries issue visas without charge (in order to promote tourism). Thailand is one of those countries. Most centralist gov't countries charge a fee to procure a visa (eg. Laos, Cambodia & Vietnam). All countries have limitations on the length of time that applies for a visa.

As you've already noted, Thailand will give you a 30 day visa upon arrival. You plan to depart and re-enter Thailand by overland. This means your entry is limited to 15 days. But, you want to spend about 3 weeks in Thailand (on this second entry).

As you are in the UK, you can get a 3 entry, 60 day visa from the Thai embassy in London. Go to:

Regarding Cambodia, you can get a visa (on arrival) at the Thai/Cambodian border (just pay your money in US$).

As for Vietnam, you MUST have a visa arranged prior to entry. If you choose to enter via land (or river), you need to pre-arrange your visa at a Vietnamese embassy.

As noted above, you can't enter before the nominated date. But, as you are only planning to spend 2 weeks in VN, I suggest you apply before you leave the UK, and nominate a date several days before you plan to enter.

If by air, as elsewhere on Travelfish describes, you can pre-order a visa through a Vietnamese travel agent and have it waiting for you at the airport.

My personal view is that getting it prepared before you leave just takes the hassle out of the journey.

As for Laos, you can procure a visa at any of the borders with Vietnam (if you are travelling that way) or upon entry at the airport.

Hope this helps.


#10 BruceMoon has been a member since 27/12/2008. Location: Australia. Posts: 1,941

Posted by karljules on 17/7/2009 at 17:37

Many thanks brucemoon and kiwi bc, good advice and I hope others find helpful,

#11 karljules has been a member since 29/3/2009. Posts: 5

Posted by karljules on 17/10/2009 at 04:34

Well, 6 weeks today and we are off! Bangkok for 2-3 days then 2 weeks through Cambodia on to Vietnam and travelling upwards with various stops all the way to Hanoi! A flight over to Laos and a week travelling up the country to a Thai border crossing! Down through Thailand before finishing off with 3 weeks in various beach huts on those lovely islands.
Then the dreadful return to normality!!
Thanks for tips and we will reply to any future questions
Karl and Julie

#12 karljules has been a member since 29/3/2009. Posts: 5

Posted by Danyelle on 13/9/2010 at 20:51

Hi Karl and Julie,

I realise that your post was over a year ago but myself and my husband are planning the exact same trip and we are leaving on the 29th November 2010. Just wondered how your trip went and whether you could provide me with a detailed itinery, travel costs etc

Any help would be greatfully received.



#13 Danyelle has been a member since 13/9/2010. Posts: 7

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