Hiya fellow travellers.
Early next year, as part of my travels, I'm flying into Vietnam, where I look to see the sights, heading to Thialand, via Cambodia overland. So I can plan a little bit more, could anyone give me some advice on where, if anywhere, is best for border crossings etc. Which is the best way to travel? Would it be bus or is there a train service. For those who have done this trip, could you please let me know on the routes you took which would help me. What are the hostels like in Vietnam/Cambodia, or would hotels be just as cheap. Is there a backpacking route that is popular for travellers, that runs through these Countries?
The most common route we found was;
Halong Bay boat trip 2/3 days; from Hanoi
Up to Sapa for Hilltribe Treks;from Hanoi
Hoi An;Tailor Town, Nice Beaches, My Son(mini Angkhor)
Nha Thrang; Vietnamese Blackpool but pretty cool to catch the atmosphere, Nice beach
Da Lat; Easy Riders tour of Area, nice scenery
Ho Chi Minh City
Mekong Delta boat trip
These seem to be the main stops, we ended up having to skip Sapa, Mui Ne, Mekong Delta and Hue, couldn't get everywhere in, even with 3 wks.
We got buses and had no major problems. Accommodation in Vietnam wasn't as cheap as the rest of Asia and it seems to be mainly hotels, book ahead if possible for the better value options.
We got a bus from Vietnam to Phnom Penh the bus company organised everything at the crossing, bused it to Battembang and got a fantastic slow boat from here to Siem Reap.
Hope thats some help
Enjoy your planning
The route given by zimszimer is the most used.
In Vietnam, you can buy an Open Bus ticket which allows you to travel this route from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City (or reverse) and stop at each place. It's very good value for money and you get to see the landscape.
There's also a train but it's more expensive.
Crossing the Vietnam-Cambodia border is very easy, even if you don't book a ticket with a company that organize the crossing.
In Cambodia, there's a train between Phnom Penh and Battambang but it's very slow although the trip is supposed to be a good experience, from what I heard. Bus between these 2 places takes only 5 hours and run several times a day.
I'm in Battambang now and we still haven't decided whether we'll travel to Siem Reap by bus or by boat...
As for the hotels, there were more expensive in Vietnam (around 10 USD in average), whereas in Cambodia you can find an OK room around 5 USD (low season). If you travel during the peak season, you'd better book ahead indeed.
I spent a month in VN and never paid more than $10/night for accommodation. Most cities were between $5-8/night. You don't need reservations in VN if you use the open tour buses. They stop at a designated hotels in each city and will have a room available or find one for you. In HCMC or HaNoi, it is almost inconcievable that you would not be able to find a room your budget range. Perhaps between Christmas and New Year, but even then I could find something.
I have done this exact route several times and have many photos in my gallery of VN, Cambodia & Thailand. Send me a PM if you have specific questions.