Saturday, September 18, 2021

How To Travel To Vietnam

AsiaVietnamHow To Travel To Vietnam

By plane

Vietnam’s main international airports are located in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. Both airports are served by numerous flights from major cities in East and Southeast Asia, with some intercontinental connections to Australia, Europe and the United States.

Other international airports are located in Da Nang, Vinh, Nha Trang and Phu Quoc, but flights are limited to those from neighbouring Asian countries. Since Da Nang is closer to the historical sites of central Vietnam than the two main airports, it can be a convenient entry point for those wishing to visit these sites specifically.

The national carrier is Vietnam Airlines, which flies to Vietnam from various cities in Australia, Asia and Europe.

By train

Direct international trains connect Nanning and Beijing in China with Hanoi. Most require a train change at the border in Pingxiang/Dong Dang, but the daily Chinese Nanning Express train (T871/MR2) passes through there, although it still spends about four hours at the border for entry.

The Kunming-Hanoi line was closed by landslides in 2002 and has remained closed since 2011. There are no rail connections to Laos or Cambodia.

By road

Fraud alert
Several bus companies from Ho Chi Minh City to Phnom Penh, such as Kumho Samco, cheat foreign tourists by charging a $5 surcharge for the Cambodian visa on arrival. If you do not accept this surcharge and try to get the visa on your own, you will be stuck at the border without your personal belongings. Mekong Express and Mai Linh Bus are the most reliable and reputable companies operating on this route.

The main crossing is the Moc Bai/Bavet intersection on the Ho Chi Minh City – Phnom Penh road. Buses between the two cities cost between US$8 and US$12 and take about 6 hours. Passengers disembark at checkpoints in both countries. Only a passport photo is required for a Cambodian visa on arrival. Excursions to the Mekong Delta (USD 25-35, 2-3 days) can offer a more informative journey between the two cities.

Direct tickets to Siem Reap are also available (USD 18), but it is cheaper to buy a ticket to Phnom Penh and then arrange transport on one of the many connecting buses.

Near the coast is the border between Xa Xia and Prek Chak. Visas for Cambodia are available on arrival. Buses run between Ha Tien in Vietnam and Sihanoukville and Phnom Penh in Cambodia. The Vietnamese Consulate in Sihanoukville issues 30-day tourist visas daily.

The coastal areas are also served via the Tinh Bien/Phnom Den border at Chau Doc in Vietnam.

The Xa Mat/Trapeang Phlong passage on the Ho Chi Minh City – Kampong Cham road is not well served by public transport, but can be useful to reach Kampong Cham and eastern Cambodia.

Banlung, in north-eastern Cambodia, is connected to Pleiku, Vietnam, by a passage at Le Tanh/O Yadaw. Visas are available on arrival, a photo is required. Bus change at Le Tanh.

From China

There are three border crossings between China and Vietnam that can be used by foreigners:

  • Dongxing – Mong Cai (by road; continue journey from Mong Cai to Ha Long by sea or road).
  • Hekou – Lao Cai (by road and/or rail, but not international passenger train services)
  • Youyi Guan – Huu Nghi Quan (Passage of Friendship – by road and/or rail)

From Laos

There are six border posts between Laos and Vietnam that can be used by foreigners (from north to south):

  • Tay Trang (Dien Bien Province, Vietnam) – Sobboun (Phongsali Province, Laos)
  • Na Mao (Thanh Hoa Province, Vietnam) – Namsoi (Houaphanh Province, Laos)
  • Nam Can (Vietnam) – Namkan (Xiangkhouang Province, Laos)
  • Kaew Neua – Cau Treo (Keo Nua Pass)
  • Lao Bao (Vietnam) – Dansavan (Laos)
  • Ngoc Hoi (Kon Tum Province, Vietnam) – Bo Y (Attapeu Province, Laos)

Beware of the local buses connecting Laos with Vietnam. Not only are they often overcrowded with goods (coal and live chickens), but many buses leave in the middle of the night and stop for several hours waiting for the border to open at 7am. While you wait, you will be taken off the bus (for several hours) where you will be approached by persistent locals who will help you get an exit stamp from Laos in exchange for money (usually $5 or more). If you bargain hard (which is exhausting, at 4 o’clock), you can get it down to about $2 USD. The men take your passports, which can be disconcerting, but they provide the service they promise. It is not certain that you can wait for the customs officers to do this. There is also a VIP bus from Savannakhet.