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Getting There in Vietnam

By Air

Vietnam has international airports at Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, and Da Nang. Non-stop flights are available from Australia, Cambodia, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, Laos, Malaysia, Philippines, Poland, Russia, Singapore, Brunei, South Korea, Thailand, Taiwan, Indonesia, Macau, Qatar, Turkey and the US. However, most direct flights are served by flag carrier Vietnam Airlines while plenty of other long-haul flights are available with transits via Bangkok, Hong Kong, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and Taipei.

By Rail

There are direct international train services from Nanning and Beijing in China to Hanoi. Most require a change of trains at the border at Pingxiang/Dong Dang, but the Chinese-operated daily Nanning express (T871/MR2) runs through, although it still spends about four hours at the border for immigration.

The Kunming-Hanoi line was shut down by landslides in 2002 and, as of 2011, remains closed. There are no train links to Laos or Cambodia.

By Road

From Cambodia

The main crossing point is the Moc Bai/Bavet crossing on the Ho Chi Minh City-Phnom Penh road. Buses between the two cities cost $8-12 and take around 6 hours. Passengers vacate the vehicle at both countries' checkpoints. Only one passport photo is required for a Cambodian visa on arrival. Tours of the Mekong Delta ($25-35) can provide a more insightful journey between the two cities.

Close to the coast is the Xa Xia/Prek Chak border. Cambodian visas are available on arrival. Buses run between Ha Tien in Vietnam to Sihanoukville and Phnom Penh in Cambodia. The Vietnamese consulate in Sihanoukville issues 30-day tourist visas on a same-day basis.

Coastal areas are also served by the Tinh Bien/Phnom Den border near Chau Doc in Vietnam.

The Xa Mat/Trapeang Phlong crossing on the Ho Chi Minh City-Kampong Cham road is not well served by public transport but may be useful for accessing Kampong Cham and Eastern Cambodia.

Banlung in North Eastern Cambodia is connect to Pleiku in Vietnam by a crossing at Le Tanh/O Yadaw. Visas are available on arrival, one photo required. Change buses 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; onward travel Mong Cai to Ha Long by sea or by road);
• Hekou-Lao Cai (by road and/or rail, but no international passenger train services);
• Youyi Guan-Huu Nghi Quan (Friendship Pass – by road and/or rail).

From Laos

There are at least six border crossings between Laos and Vietnam that can be used by foreigners. Be wary of catching local buses from Laos to Vietnam. Not only are they often crammed with cargo (coal and live chickens, often underfoot) but many buses run in the middle of the night, stopping for several hours in order to wait for the border to open at 7 am. Whilst waiting, you will be herded off the bus (for several hours) where you will be approached by pushy locals offering assistance in getting a Laos exit stamp in exchange for money (usually $5). If you bargain hard you can get the figure down to about $2. The men will take your passports, which can be incredibly disconcerting, but will actually provide the service they promise. It is unclear whether you can just wait for the border officials to do this. There is also a VIP bus from Savannakhet.





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