Transit mode bingo in Southeast Asia
January 23, 2012 8:34 PM   Subscribe

We're going to SE Asia in April, and I'm trying to discern the cheapest/simplest/fastest route from Siem Reap, Cambodia, to Hanoi, Vietnam. I've looked into bus, flights that originate from Siem Reap or any other local hub. Your advice? Thanks in advance!

We're planning on leaving Siem Reap on the 24th or 25th, allowing about a day (overnight if needed) for the trip. Another other relevant suggestions would be wonderful!
posted by moonbird to Travel & Transportation around Hanoi, Vietnam (10 answers total)
 
I did this a few years ago and flew directly from Siem Reap to Hanoi. It took a few hours. In contrast, getting from Ho Chi Minh City to Siem Reap took the better part of two days (long-ass bus ride from HCMC to Phnom Penh, then by boat up the Mekong to Siem Reap (although the boat was cool, glad I did it).

My recollection was the cost of the flight compared very favorably to other options making the flight a no-brainer.
posted by MoonOrb at 8:38 PM on January 23, 2012


Moonorb, do you recall which airline you took? Did you book in advance or at the airport? Thanks!
posted by moonbird at 8:46 PM on January 23, 2012


MeMail sent.
posted by MoonOrb at 8:56 PM on January 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


For ease, the flight has a lot going for it. I did bus travel in Cambodia about 5 years back, so perhaps someone can update this info, but the roads were very slow and uncomfortable (the ferry we took was fixed using someone's flip flop, and everyone had to get out of the mini-bus and push it when it got stuck). On the other hand, this was very memorable :)

The thorn tree forum at Lonely Planet is usually excellent for this kind of info, too. Do check the borders that you intend to us, as I have had issues with this previously (some borders are for nationals only, some are very bribe/corruption heavy), although all worked out in the end. Again, memorable. But if simple/cheap/fast is what you are after, take a flight. I'm sorry I can't remember the names of the airlines that do that route.

Have fun-- they are wonderful places to visit.
posted by jojobobo at 9:06 PM on January 23, 2012


FWIW my solution to this problem in the the late 90s was to fly. Overland routes from Siem Reap to Vietnam (or anywhere else) are going to take a lot longer (at the border crossing in particular) - not a great solution unless you expressly want to seem more of the country along the route - and you have the time to do so. At the time of my visit there were a number of local travel agents who could arrange these flights; the volume of tourists using them mean that you have several competing airlines - and so costs are brought down.
posted by rongorongo at 12:17 AM on January 24, 2012


Fly. That flight on Vietnam Airlines is about $200 and takes about an hour and a half.
posted by w0mbat at 12:33 AM on January 24, 2012


I did the opposite trip (hanoi to siam reap) - and the flight was the best deal for me.. about 200 USD or so. There are cheaper ways, but at least for me my time is also work $$ (vacation days are limited), so the flight was by far the simplest for customs, time, and travel comfort. Either way you'll have a blast - enjoy!
posted by aggienfo at 7:26 AM on January 24, 2012


I recommend flying if you can. I've taken buses in and around Cambodia, and they're uncomfortable, the roads are bumpy, it takes forever... and border crossings are sort of terrifying. Flying, by contrast, is a breeze.
posted by toerinishuman at 7:28 AM on January 24, 2012


Thanks everyone for your input- the cheapest direct flight I can find was $225 from REP to HAN. Our original thought was to take Air Asia from REP to Kuala Lumpur- overnight- and take the next Air Asia flight to HAN. Looking at all the total costs, this seemed a wash after figuring in the hotel, which is where I began this quest (trying to save time/money).

While I'm game to bite the bullet and fly, I found a novel approach that will save a lot of money ($120 vs $225) and allow for seeing more of the country in the same amount of travel time. I'm posting this route should future travelers be interested... a ferry/speedboat from REP to Pnomh Penh leaves at 7:30am, arriving at 1pm ($35). A bus leaves Pnomh Penh for Ho Chi Minh City at 3pm, arriving around 9pm- overnight in HCMC for $12. There are several flights from HCMC to HAN via JetStar the next day, tickets are $75. In all, a huge savings and most folks on other travel sites (thanks for the Thorn Tree reminder, totally forgot about 'em!) strongly recommend the boat ride. As for the bus, I'm guessing road conditions have improved such that it's no longer a 2 day ordeal.

It's a lot of travel for a distance that can be covered by 1.5hrs, but I think it might be worth it to see more of the country while saving about $100. Any thoughts? Feel free to beat me senseless into getting a full flight- I'm venturing into a whole new Universe here.

Thanks again everyone, I'll keep checking this!
posted by moonbird at 7:25 AM on January 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


The boat ride was really cool, but Phnom Penh was by far my least favorite part of the trip, and the bussing between HCMC and Phnom Penh seemed to drag on forever and wasn't really that interesting.

BUT, I really did like the boat ride up the Mekong. So given that you seem to be keen to save the money and don't mind taking the time, I'd say your plan sounds really reasonable as you do get to do the boat ride--and there's also the chance that you might enjoy your time in Phnom Penh and the bus ride to HCMC more than I liked that leg of the trip (I did it the opposite direction).

All that being said, it's really nice to wake up in Siem Reap, go to their small airport, and arrive a few hours later in Hanoi.
posted by MoonOrb at 8:49 AM on January 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


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