Overland from Nanning to Vietnam,Laos,Cambodia,Thailand and back to Guilin
Replies: 23 - Last Post: Oct 23, 2012 5:52 PM Last Post By: stonebridgevilla
Oct 19, 2012 2:59 PM
This year we want to visit Vietnam,Laos,Cambodia and into Thailand and then return to guangxi china. We want to make our way overland all the way and would love to hear from people who have experience in this route. Can visas be obtained on arrival at most borders or must one have all the paperwork in order prior to arriving at border crossings?
Any issues we should consider?
ahLong & Jessy
Oct 19, 2012 5:06 PM
1You really should post this on the SE Asia branch, not NE Asia (China). You also fail to mention what Passports you hold, which can determine your Visa requirements. Also, I assume you have a Multi Exit/Entry Chinese Visa.
But here is my suggestions.
You need a Visa to visit Vietnam. You can enter Vietnam via train from two different borders. From Nanning to Hanoi via Lang Son, and from Kumning via Lao Cai. Lao Cai is popular for visiting Sapa, the roof top of Vietnam, though from Jan to Mar will be cold, it does have great hiking and also a lot of ethnic tribes/villages to visit.
For Laos most popular borders you can get a VOA (Visa on Arrival), I think you can take bus service to/from Luang Namtha in the north of Laos. Thailand you can not access from China, and pretty much the same for Burma (Myanmar). You can fly from Kumning to Mandalay, but foreigners crossing Burmas borders requires permits/permissions and escorts that are more costly and a pain in the arse, then just flying into Burma, most people go via Bangkok to Yangon on Air Asia.
As for getting around SE Asia's Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam and Burma, there are a lot of ways to attack this region, with all sorts of transport options, from trains and to boats, busses to shuttles, flights to moto rentals.
Thailand offers something for everyone, with the popular beaches, islands and nightlife, culture and great food, you can spend a month there and have a great time, and not break the bank either. Laos is usually tied into Northern Thailand via the the Mekong and a fast or slow boat from the border near Chaing Rai and then to Laung Prabang, a UNESCO WHS. This area of northern Laos, like northern Thailand, is known for its treks, hikes, waterfalls, kayaking, ethnic villages, temples and wats. You could spend 3 weeks in the north easily, people usually go from here, and work way south to Vang Vieng (River tubing and partying) to the Capital over a few days, then to Pakse, and explore the Bolevan area of Paksong/Salavan/Attapue (lot of waterfalls) then 4000 Islands and the largest waterfalls in SEAsia, then to Cambodia border and shuttle/bus to Siem Reap and the Angkor Wat Temples, another UNESCO WHS, from here to PP the capitol, then a boat to Saigon.
Cambodia for most is 7-10 days for land travel, but has far more to offer, but most people are in a rush/time issues.
Vietnam is huge country and easy to move from place to place like China, the rail network and bus system, though not modern as China is very good overall. 3 weeks is a rush to get from Saigon/Mekong Delta to Hanoi, with highlights being the Highlands, Hoi An, Hue (The cultural bedrock of all things Viet Nam) and also Danang, Ninh Binh and the Red River Valley, as well as Hanoi's culture and history, Ha Long Bay Junk boats a few nights, and Sapa trekking and minority villages.
Burma is a can of its own worms, to me the focus should always be Burma and Thailand for what the old Siam and Burmese life holds, but also as the mecca of all things Buddha, its the birth place. But the recent positive foreign policy successes has lifted the sanctions and isolation, now its the new "Place to go", resulting in lodging tripling from Backpacker budgets to just get me a room, and suffering from not enough transport to handle the influx, its main infrastructure is is from the 60's, and so are the roads, so what was off the beaten path and rural and rustic is now a pain in the arse. Go there after Jan for sure, March would be ideal IMO. You need a Visa for Burma, easy to get in any capital in SE Asia $25.
A typical backpacker budget for SE Asia is about $25 day easy, more in big cities and prime beaches, but still easy to adhere too, $50 day would be really good for 80% of the region.
A typical response for a post on SEA branch for how much time for each country would be as follows.
Thailand 3 weeks
Laos 2-4 weeks
Cambodia 1-2 weeks
Vietnam 3-5 weeks
Burma 3-5 weeks.
So depending on your interest, you can do the minimum or maximum per country easily.
MOON, LP, Rough Guide all have SE Asia shoestring guides.
Thailand, Laos and Cambodia are VOA at borders and airports for most Nationalities. Vietnam no visa required for Swedes and a few other EU countries. See VN Embassy website.
Going into Vietnam from the north, you would just reverse this above. Hanoi>Saigon>PP>Siem Reap>Laos Border>4000 Islands>Bolevan>Pakse>Vientaine>Vang Vieng>Laung Prabang>Chaing Rai>Chang Mai>Bangkok>Islands>BKK>Burma>BKK>fly to home, or fly to Hanoi>Train to China.
Holiday hang Outs that are nice beside Thailand is Laung Prabang Laos for Xmas or NYE, and Saigon for NYE is a good time. You also have lunar New Years, and TET in Vietnam is a major travel week, as well as the Chinese NY is a big deal in many places too. Burma you have festivals from Hot Air Balloons to water festivals.
Oct 19, 2012 5:34 PM
2gr8 reply. thanks.
sorry about posting here, i am grateful for your advise.
Both my wife an I hold Australian passports. My wife is chinese and has a retern permit and lives in yangshuo, I have a resident permit and have multi entrys with it, so returning to china is fine. I was in Jinhong Xishuangbanna last year and visited Burma. A visit may be obtained at the crossing. This year we wont go to Burma.
We plan to make our way by train/bus from Nanning to Vietnam, then to Laos, on to Cambodia and into Thailand. From the south of Thailand we will head north to Chiang Mai and return to Guilin.
On aussie passports, can we follow that route and do you feel 3 months will be a relaxed pace?
Oct 19, 2012 6:28 PM
Oct 19, 2012 7:10 PM
4vietnam embassies in nanning or kunming for your visas. train/bus from
nanning to hanoi. bus only from kunming to hekou, then train to hanoi.
from the other direction, get visas in phnom penh (au no problem, but
check the rules for viet visas. you request a specific start date, so if
you arrive early, oops.
also check length of visas. flying into thailand, you (au, chinese i dunno)
get 30 days visa exemption. overland you get 15 days. extension for
au shouldn't be a problem. for chinese though?
Oct 19, 2012 7:13 PM
5I'm going to be doing much the same in Jan/Feb on an NZ passport (Although I'll be heading for KL before returning to Beijing) and will, probably, head to Sapa via Kunming. I've done the Nanning to Hanoi train on a couple of occasions and had no problem (Except for the God-awful border-crossing times and the highly inconvenient arrival time at Gai Lam station; in the middle of nowhere). Yes, you will have to sort out your visa in advance but there is a consulate in Nanning where this can be done (I've got the embassy here). Be aware, however, Hanoi will be fairly wet in January. I was there for a week this Jan and it hardly stopped raining.
Thailand has a visa waver (There is a difference, I'm told). You get a stamp on entry that allows you to stay for 15 days (Or something). I'm not sure what you'd do if you wanted to stay longer (I've never wanted to).
I've also done the Thai/Lao border crossing (At Nong Kai) which is easy as well (Well... Eventually it was. Just don't change your passport).
I know that it is possible to cross into Cambodia from both Vietnam and Thailand but haven't done so myself yet.
Oct 20, 2012 3:01 AM
6If ypou wanted to stay in Thailand for longer than the 30 or 15 day visa exemptions (depends how you enter) then you'd get a 60 day tourist visa. This can be extended for another 30 or the visa exemption for another 7 days. Both extensions cost 1900THB.
Oct 20, 2012 9:59 AM
Oct 20, 2012 10:15 AM
Oct 20, 2012 11:34 AM
Oct 20, 2012 3:59 PM
Oct 20, 2012 6:37 PM
Oct 20, 2012 6:50 PM
Oct 20, 2012 7:12 PM
Oct 20, 2012 7:53 PM
Ho Chi Minh CityBook now
(3 star Hotel)
From US$42.42 per night
(4 star Hotel)
From US$169.26 per night
Ban LungBook now
(0 star Hotel)
From US$7.00 per night