I've finally worked out the general ins and outs of our route for SE Asia, and have several queries, mainly regarding tourist visas, and any problems we might come across when we're crossing borders. The route and timescale is as follows:
Fly to Thailand - spend 2 weeks
Fly Bangkok to Hanoi -spend a couple of days
Cross China border from Vietnam - 3 weeks in China
Cross Vietnam border - 3 weeks in Vietnam - get visa for Cambodia
Cross Cambodia border, then exit Cambodia to Thailand
My queries are about China and Vietnam Visas, I know you can get a 30 day tourist visa in Thailand for Vietnam, but as we will be entering the country twice, and over more than 30 days, will we need to get 2 visas? Or could we get a transit visa for the first stop off in Hanoi and a tourist visa for the second visit?
Also, is a visa required for travel to China? If so, is this available in Bangkok in the same way as you'd apply for visas to Laos/Cam/Vietnam? And would we be allowed into the country with no return air travel booked? (we could show them tickets leaving from Singapore 3 months later but that's not much use...)
I know I'm probably over-thinking it all, but these are 2 countries I really want to see, and I don't want to end up missing out because I haven't thought ahead enough.
Any help would be much appreciated.
I think you need visa for China and you can apply for it in Bangkok. For the other inquiries, I have no idea. Sorry..
Before you leave, get a handful of those pictures from the machines you find in malls and stations (you never know when you will one when travelling).
You don't say which country you are from, Juliet, but I assume you will have no problem getting into Thailand (a few countries are restricted - but your name doesn't suggest you would be).
Prior to setting off for VietNam, pop over to the VN Embassy:
83/1 Wireless Road
There is an on-line application form here:
< http://www.wompom.ca/vietnam/vnpportvisa01.htm > - at the bottom.
Direct links are < http://www.wompom.ca/vietnam/vnvisa01.htm >
HAVE YOU thought about checking out the Angkor Wat at Siem Reap, in Cambodia on the way to VietNam? Worth at least three days. You can get a visa for Cambodia at the border.
As for China, you can buy your visa in Ha Noi:
46 Hoang Dieu Street
H: 08.00-11.30, 14.00-17.00H
To get to China you should take the bus to Lang Son / Dong Dang then cross the border between 07.30H and 18.00H walk across to the Chinese border post.
Carry small USD$(1,5) for paying buses until you get Yuan/CNY/RMB. Credit cards welcome everywhere BUT change your PIN to 4 digit and tell your credit card issuer where you are travelling to avoid getting cut off.
After that you get a bus, motorcycle or tractor to PingXiang where you catch one of four daily trains to NanNing where you catch the main line express trains. There are also buses running between PingXiang and NanNing - both bus and rail takes 4 hours.
REMEMBER: Always keep money exchange receipts in China - so you can prove where you got the CNY/RMB/Yuan from when you want to cash out of the country.
ALSO: Most every rail station are haunted by some of the sharpest pick-pockets and thieves around. Take something to lock your bags together or to some immoveable object. Do NOT leave footwear on floor - place in plastic bag and sleep with them (theft).
ALSO: In China there is a distinct lack of English language skills (compared to Thailand or VietNam) and therefore you should take a sheet of paper with destination names in characters (with English alongside) and other essential words.
Femine products (tampons) are rare in both China and VietNam - condoms, too. Make sure you take sufficient supplies with you.
ALSO, when travelling in either China or VietNam, always carry a roll of toilet paper.
IN VietNam best travel is by road south of Nha Trang (or Da Lat) then use the rail - overnight sleepers.
HCMC >>bus 6 hours>> Da Lat >>bus 6 hours>> Nha Trang >> rail >> Da Nang. Then 25 kilometre bus ride to Hoi An (shopping) and then either day rail or bus to Hue (4.5 hours).
Overnight sleeper Hue >> Ha Noi. If you are going to Sa Pa you again catch an overnigh sleeper to Lao Cai and a short nus ride to Sa Pa.
All rail travel is RESERVED - book at least a day ahead.
VietNam is safe for females travelling alone; health concerns minimal along the well-travelled tourist trails. Pack a DEET-based mosquito spray for those few occasions where you hear them - especially around dawn and dusk.
If you have a GSM low band hand / cell phone you can buy prepaid SIMM cards in Thailand, VietNam and China. You are now required to produce your passport when purchasing them (anti-remote bomb detonation precautions). AVOID Euro roaming charges!
Voltages are 220 Volt - generally Euro 2-pin round or 2-pin North American flat.
'daklak2' gave you very good advice on all things China/VN. I would only add that you are burning up a $30-50 VN visa for a few days in HaNoi. I would look at flying Air Asia; BKK-Xiamen; do China, get your VN visa in China and take the train to HaNoi. Saves the VN visa fee and backtracking, just a thought.
The open tour buses are much cheaper than the trains for most legs of your HaNoi-HCMC trip. The HaNoi-Hue leg is overnight and you should compare sleeper car on the train versus overnight bus. You will pay as much for that leg on the train as the entire HaNoi-HCMC trip via open tour bus. Send me a PM if you have VN or Cambodia questions.
Duh! I'm such an idiot at the moment, must be lack of sleep and too much work! Thankyou so much all of you for the advice, I'm sure it'll be invaluable, and thanks for the suggestion of flying direct to China, as it solves the visa problem. I don't know why I didn't check, but I thought that AirAsia didn't fly to China. Having checked, they do, and it costs the same as the flight to Hanoi.
Problem solved! Thank god for people smarter than me!
I would look at flying Air Asia; BKK-Xiamen; do China, get your VN visa in China and take the train to HaNoi.
How much does it cost for:
1. a China visa?
2. a Vietnam visa purchased from China?
What's the saving in purchasing a Vietnam visa in China?
On a side note, it's almost pointless to come to China. If you're from Sydney, London, Vancouver, San Francisco, and Los Angeles, all you have to do is to visit the minipolis Chinatown in your city. It seems as if there as many Chinese outside of China as in China itself.
You do need a visa for china, and if your from the UK its quite expensive compared to the others in SE Asia. Think if cost around 40-50 pounds and lasts for 3 months. Got mine in HK in one day which again added to the cost, sure you will have no problem in Bangkok. When you leave Vietham your visa will be stamped and you cannot re-use it.
If you are going from Hanio into china, im pretty sure you will have to stay a night at this town called Lang Son, there is nothing there so only stay to get some kip 9if you have to) !
It sounds like you are trying to do quite alot in three months, china is a massive country, I didnt spend long there and should have ! You will need about a month in Vietham and Cambodia (mybe three weeks).
Its best not to be rushing, as you will wish you didnt and miss alot.