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Train Travel - Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos?

Travel Forums Asia Train Travel - Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos?

1. Posted by davecahill (Budding Member 7 posts) 7y

Hi Guys,

I am planning a trip - hopefully when I have saved some money!! - over the next year or so! The plan is to get the Transiberian Railway all the way to Beijing, pay a visit to Japan and then on down to Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos (not necessarily in that order!!) I am just wondering whether anyone has ever done a train trip around these three countries before and how easy it is to travel aorund? I have been to Thailand and Malaysia and found both very easy to travel around but I have heard different reports about Vietnam and Cambodia and havent really heard anything about state of play in Laos - any info on this would be great?


2. Posted by Daawgon (Travel Guru 2001 posts) 7y

Of the 3 countries, only Vietnam has trains. They're quite slow and not up to the standards one finds in Malaysia and Thailand. There are some private carriages that attach to state-run trains that are quite nice, but only on certain runs. The train is certainly much better than taking the bus, but in Laos and Cambodia that's the only way (besides air). You can also travel from China to N. Vietnam by train - see

I like domestic air in Vietnam - Vietnam Airlines is excellent and inexpensive.

[ Edit: Edited on 16-Apr-2009, at 10:43 by Daawgon ]

3. Posted by vegasmike6 (Travel Guru 3562 posts) 7y

Cambodia does have a train: Phnom Penh to Battambang. Not practical, slow, uncomfortable, few riders. The train in VN is more expensive than bus or van travel. You may want to use the train between Sapa and HAN. For the rest of the country, it is cheaper and more convenient to use the open tour bus system. If you have any questions on bus travel, send me a PM.
Good luck with your planning.

4. Posted by davecahill (Budding Member 7 posts) 7y

This is great guys thanks for your help - this trip is very much in its early stages so back to the drawing board for me!

5. Posted by s96024 (Full Member 106 posts) 7y

According to seat61 the train in Cambodia has not been running for atleast a year.

6. Posted by vegasmike6 (Travel Guru 3562 posts) 7y

Quoting s96024

According to seat61 the train in Cambodia has not been running for atleast a year.

Just went to 'seat61' for Cambodia and they do still print the schedule for Phnom Penh-Battambang. It does state that as of Feb. 09 the train was not running. It was not practical anyway, no loss for visitors.

[ Edit: Edited on 28-Apr-2009, at 10:57 by vegasmike6 ]

7. Posted by rubic (Inactive 6 posts) 7y

In Indochina, there is only train in Vietnam and you can done it easily from north to south with express train. the first route is Hanoi - Lao Cai -Sapa, the second route is Hanoi - Halong Bay and the last route is Hanoi - Saigon with many stop on the way.

I think travel by train in Cambodia is not a smart idea because the train is old and uncomfortable with full of locals and goods. I have tried a kind of transport named "bamboo train" in Battambang. It was funny but it not a real trip, just an interesting activity to do there.

Travel to the south of Vietnam and then transfer to waterways to reach Cambodia is my suggestion. And for Laos. the most convenient solution is to fly.

8. Posted by NomadicMe (Budding Member 10 posts) 7y

Now wait a minute.... fly? what does one get to see and experience on a plane? Boring!!

I wandered Thailand, 3 weeks ~ Laos and Vietnam the remainder of my 8 week trip in 2007. Buses, I am telling you buses, it's easy peasy. And boats!

I did this as a single female traveler. There is nothing to worry about.

Granted if you have specific places you NEED to see which are some distance apart, by all means fly. Me? I don't plan much of anything, though I do research on many possibilities.

9. Posted by bex76 (Moderator 3742 posts) 7y

I caught the sleeper train in Vietnam between Hanoi and Hue and it was really good - in my opinion it's the best way of doing the Hanoi - Hue stretch as there's not much to see between those places anyway.

10. Posted by cherly (Budding Member 9 posts) 7y

in Vietnam, many way to move. Train is always good from Hanoi to Sapa (located in the south)
if you want to discovery more, drive motorbike yourself in Da lat or Sapa. it's so fun. Otherwise, I can take flights, not expensive, you can save time and travel more.