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Is it possible to do the Southeast Asian mainland on a bus?

Travel Forums Asia Is it possible to do the Southeast Asian mainland on a bus?

1. Posted by Anil_traveller (Budding Member 5 posts) 1y

I intend to take a 5 month break from work and I was wondering if it was possible to do the Southeast Asian mainland only through buses? Has anyone done it?

2. Posted by bex76 (Moderator 3713 posts) 1y

It would be possible for most of the region, but you'd probably have to put up with some long and arduous journeys. For example it's possible to get from Vientiane in Laos to Hanoi by bus but it's an 18 hour journey with frequent breakdowns on that route. I flew for around $100 and it took an hour. If you want to go to Myanmar you'll have to fly though, because (as far as I'm aware) it's not possible to enter the country by land unless you're just doing a quick visa run. I spent 3 months travelling on the SE Asian mainland and did do lots of it by bus but also took a few internal flights which tend to be pretty cheap especially now that Air Asia are so prolific in the region.

If you want to give more details about your planned route I can give you more specific advice.

3. Posted by Anil_traveller (Budding Member 5 posts) 1y

Thanks a ton for the info! :)

My current plans include Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Malaysia and possibly Myanmar. Travelling in early 2016. Any specific routes you know of that I should watch out for and absolutely not take the bus on?

4. Posted by bex76 (Moderator 3713 posts) 1y

You might want to consider flying from Danang to Nha Trang in Vietnam, as there's little to see on that stretch and the journey by bus is around 10 hours. I flew with Vietnam airlines and it was pretty cheap. I also flew from Siem Reap to Bangkok but I believe the road is now much better on that route. To get into Myanmar (which I'd highly recommend as it's an amazing country) you'd have to fly to Yangon; I flew with Bangkok Airways but I believe Air Asia now do the Bangkok - Yangon route too. I used buses throughout Thailand - you can get overnight ones which will save your accommodation costs too. The buses tended to be in good condition in Thailand. In Myanmar I took a bus from Yangon up to Mandalay which was a nightmare journey, taking 15 hours on a poorly maintained bus, so flying might be a better option there.

Travelfish has some excellent info on travel in SE Asia.

Hope this helps!

5. Posted by Anil_traveller (Budding Member 5 posts) 1y

Super! thanks so much again. :)

6. Posted by berner256 (Travel Guru 497 posts) 1y

Thai Air Asia flies from Bangkok's Don Mueang airport to both Mandalay and Yangon, so it's possible to enter Myanmar from either city, and exit from the other. There are land routes to Myanmar, particularly from Thailand, but it's probably better to fly, as tourist visas to Myanmar are limited to 28 days and you'll probably want to maximize your time in the country. I traveled with a Swiss couple last November in Bhutan and they had arranged with an "agent" to obtain a permit to cross into Myanmar from Manipur, India. Personally I wouldn't do it, as I learned years ago that crossing at remote border entry points can be dangerous (I was robbed). The Swiss couple were determined to do an "all land" journey from India to Singapore. We exited Bhutan by land to India, where I continued traveling in Assam.

As of last November, Myanmar tourist visas also were available online for a fee of US$50.

Things are changing rapidly in Myanmar, so check the latest information available.

Train travel also is an option in some parts of Southeast Asia, such as Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam. I've taken trains in all of those countries.

[ Edit: Edited on 02-Aug-2015, at 11:15 by berner256 ]