Vietnam to Thailand: Travel from Thailand to Vietnam by Flight, Bus, Boat or Train?
Thailand and Vietnam are vibrant and popular countries in Southeast Asia. Both of them have much to offer to travelers all over the world. Premium attractions, entertainment, rich heritage and delicious food are some of their many assets.
Bangkok and Chiang Mai are among the most visited cities in Thailand. Also, they are among the main transport hubs in the country. Whatever your reasons for visiting Bangkok, rest assured that your list of priorities will expand once you arrive. Striking landmarks and attractions, such as the Grand Palace and the Wat Arun, won't leave you indifferent. Chiang Mai, a laid-back capital of the namesake province, is the antithesis of Bangkok. In a way, it is a spiritual capital of Thailand, abounding with places of worship. (Check here for top highlights of a Thailand tour.)
Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi are top tourist destinations in Vietnam. These cities used to be on the opposing sides during the Vietnam War (1954-75). Besides many tourist points of interest, these Vietnamese cities offer easy access to some marvels of nature. From Ho Chi Minh City, you can explore the Mekong Delta. Worldwide famous Ha Long Bay is within a short drive from Hanoi. (Check here for top highlights of a Vietnam tour.)
How to Get from Thailand to Vietnam
There are four effective ways of getting from Thailand to Vietnam by public transport. These are on offer by airlines, train stations, bus companies and boat companies. And each mode of transport has pros and cons over the other. It is just a matter of what you rank higher when making a decision - price or time. In general, flights save you a lot of time, buses and trains cut costs, while boats can offer you more scenery.
Yet, there is much more about getting between Thailand and Vietnam than the general perspective reveals. Traveling by bus, for example, adds an opportunity to visit some Cambodian cities and fascinating localities. Plus, you'd traverse amazing scenery along the way. So, which way is better to travel from Thailand to Vietnam? Let's see.
Flying from Thailand to Vietnam
Traveling from Thailand to Vietnam by airplane will save you time, but add to the total bill. Yet, the total price of the one-way ticket doesn't have to be much bigger compared to traveling by bus. Seasonal variations play the biggest part in this.
Direct flights from Bangkok, Thailand, to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, last around 1:30 hours. Connecting flights last a few hours longer because of the layover times. Unless you have a big reason for visiting the intermediate destination, choose a direct flight. It will save you both time and money in most cases. In general, there are several flights a day between the most visited cities in Thailand and Vietnam.
The cheapest months for flying between these destinations are October and November. The average price is $80 for a one-way flight on this route during these autumn months (instead of $130). Yet, booking at the right time can grant you a significant discount regardless of the season. The statistics reveal that purchasing a ticket between 2 and 3 months in advance provides the biggest savings. So, booking a flight that much in advance for November may lower your fare to $40. Furthermore, Tuesday and Friday are statistically the most affordable days for a flight between Bangkok and Ho Chi Minh.
Traveling by plane from Chiang Mai, Thailand, to Hanoi, Vietnam, is also most affordable from October to November. On average, the price of the flight is $190. However, the lowest price of the one-way ticket during the autumn months is under $150. For the biggest extra savings, book a flight around 2 months before the departure. With this in mind, you may fly to Hanoi from Chiang Mai in November for around $60.
Sometimes, direct flights may be cheaper than the connecting flights on this route. Yet, it is often the other way around. Wednesday stands as the least expensive day in week for flying from Chiang Mai to Hanoi.
Budget conscious travelers should pay attention to flights from Bangkok to Hanoi, too. The average fare for flights between these destinations in Thailand and Vietnam are $135. Yet, the average cost for journeys between September and November is around $90. Bookings between 2 and 3 months in advance usually come with extra savings. By combining these benefits, you may enjoy a price of around $50.
Flying from Chiang Mai to Ho Chi Minh is the most expensive option. The average flight fare on this route is $250. What's more, the vast majority of flights are connecting. Yet, if you are persistent to fly on this route, choose October. This month is by far the most affordable to travel by plane between these destinations. And try to buy the ticket anywhere between a month and two in advance. That way, you may fly for the price of around $100 on this route. (Check for the best time to visit Thailand and best time to visit Cambodia.)
Traveling from Thailand to Vietnam by bus
Before you book a bus ticket to Vietnam from Thailand, make sure to get tourist visas if you need them. The journey will take you via Cambodia or Laos depending on the outbound and inbound destinations. Some travelers are eligible for the visa on arrival, but you should check that out in advance. To cross the Vietnamese border, you need to have a visa since visas on arrival aren't available.
Bangkok, the Thai capital, and Ho Chi Minh are the most visited cities in Thailand and Vietnam. Thus, most tourists travel between the two countries on this route.Many travelers choose this route to benefit of visiting at least one of top Cambodian destinations. And these are Siem Reap and Phnom Penh. The former is popular because of the nearness of the Angkor Archaeological Park. The latter is the historic town with several noteworthy attractions and museums.
Thailand to Vietnam by bus
Buses traveling from Bangkok to Phnom Penh and Siem Reap typically leave from two stations. And these are Morchit Bus Station, in the northern part of Bangkok, and Khao San Bus Stop. You may wish to make a stop or proceed to Ho Chi Minh immediately. Either way, you'll have to change buses in any of the Cambodian cities. If your way leads via Siem Reap, plan up to $40 USD for the entire journey. The price of the journey via Phnom Penh may cost you anywhere from $20 to $50.
Traveling times from the Thai capital to Phnom Penh are approx. 14 hours (665 km/414 mi). To Siem Reap, buses usually travel around 8 hours (408 km/253 mi). From Phnom Penh, you are around 7 hours away from Ho Chi Minh City (280 km/174 mi). To get to the same city from Siem Reap (460 km/285 mi), you'll need to travel half a day at least.
Chiang Mai, located in the north of Thailand, and Hanoi, in the northern part of Vietnam, are also popular among travelers. And you can get between them by bus, too. The distance between these cities, depending on the route, varies from 1200 km/745 mi to 1400 km/870 mi. To get between the cities, you'll need to make a stopover in Vientiane. The capital city of Laos is roughly halfway between Hanoi and Chiang Mai. Before you board the connecting bus, consider spending a day or two in this interesting city.
A journey from Chiang Mai to Vientiane usually lasts around 12 hours. To reach Hanoi from the Laotian capital city by bus, you'll have to travel twice as long - 24 hours. As for the cost, the price of the entire journey should be around $60. Expect to pay $30 for a journey to Vientiane, and about the same amount to Hanoi from there. If you don't mind traveling during the night, take a sleeper bus for the last leg of the journey.
Train tour from Thailand to Vietnam
At present, no railway connections have been made between Thailand and Cambodia. If you want a train tour from Thailand to Vietnam, you can take a train from the capital of Thailand, Bangkok, to Aranya Prathet, most frequented port in Thailand near Cambodia, and then head to Vietnam. In Hualamphong Train Station in Bangkok, there are two trains departing from Bangkok to Aranyaprathet every day and you don’t have to book the ticket in advance. The one leaves at 5:55 am and arrives at Aranyaprathet in 11:35 with price of $1.6 while the other departs at 13:05 and arrives at 17:35. It’s advisable for you take the morning train to Aranyaprathet since in this way you can get to Siem Reap on the same day without hiring a taxi.
When you arrives at Aranyaprathet and finishes cross-border procedures, you can take a free bus to the Poipet Tourist Passenger International Terminal 10 minutes down the road from where all the shared taxis and buses leave for Siem Reap or Phnom Penh. It takes around 3 hours by bus to Siem Reap and 6.5 hours to Phnom Penh with ticket prices respectively set at $9 and $14.
Thailand to Vietnam by train
To leave from Phnom Penh to Vietnam, you can debus at Ho Chi Minh, one of the toptourist destinations in Vietnam. Since there is no railway between Ho Chi Minh & Phnom Penh, either, you can take a bus to head toward your destination. There are regular buses that run daily from Phnom Penh to Ho Chi Minh City, and they are fast and cheap. The average crossing time is normally around six hours, including the stopping time at the border for passport checks, and the ticket price is generally $9-$10.
If you want to enter Vietnam via Laos, train plus bus tour is available, although can be time-consuming. Since behindhand in railway system, tourists can only take trains from Bangkok to Laos and arrives at Vientiane, the capital city of Laos. Compared with flight tour to Laos, it is significantly cheaper with ticket price differs from sleeper train and daytime train. Sleeper train costs $23 in a second class while daytime train costs $11 in the same class. Running for about 11 hours, tourists need to spend overnight on trains. To continue your journey from Vientiane to Vietnam, you can take a bus from Vientiane to the capital of Vietnam, Hanoi, which will spend 20 hours and $41 if bought locally and $32 if bought online. Different in bus types, modern sleeper bus runs in Mon, Tues, Thurs, Sat and older sleeper bus runs in Wed, Fri, and Sun.
Traveling from Thailand to Vietnam by Boat
Owing to the development of road transportation system, parts of the waterway in Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam have been out of service. To make it clear, it’s not possible to cruise along the way from Thailand to Vietnam. But for tourists longing for a Mekong River boat tour, you have two options: to cruise from Phnom Penh to Chau Doc, a port of Vietnam; or to ship from northern Thailand to Luang Prabang. Traveling by boat can be relatively expensive than bus and train, sometimes even be risky, but it allows you more time to enjoy the scenery along the way.
The first waterway connect Laos is from Thailand: Chiang Khong, a county inChiang Rai on the Thai Saide, and Huay Xai on the Laos side. From Laos, you can get on a slow boat tour from Huay Xai to Luang Prabang, one of famous tourists city in Laos combing profound history and romantic French style together. And then take a bus from Luang Prabang to Hanoi or taking a flight from Vientiane to Hanoi.
If you enter Vietnam from Cambodia, you can firstly take the speed boat from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh. Every day 6:30 am, there will be a speed boat departing from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh. You will board at the dock at the Chong Kneas floating village, some 11 km (6.8 miles) south of Siem Reap itself. Ticket price is $35, a bit higher than bus, and spends 6.5 hours on the way, a little longer as well. But it can be canceled if water levels are too low.
Thailand to Vietnam by boat
When you arrives at Phnom Penh, you can continue to cruise from Phnom Penh to Chau Doc. Regular ferry services run between the two cities, which takes around 6-7 hours of luxurious river cruising. There are also speedboat trips along the river between Ho Chi Minh City and Phnom Penh, which only takes 4 hours to travel the length of the river section. After berthing at the dock, you can land to sightseeing in Ho Chi Minh City.
Recommended Transportation for Different Groups
As we can see above, which is the best way to travel from Thailand to Vietnam depends on your plan for trip. If you have a tight schedule or plenty budget, taking a flight from Thailand to Vietnam is the most straight-forward and convenient way. More importantly, it’s most time-saving to deal with border-crossing formalities than road tour, but you may need flight transfer to some major cities in the first place. Air tickets can be booked online in advance.
For those travelers who want to experience local road transportation or have plenty time, bus and train tour will be more suitable. While comparatively, taking buses allows tourists more choices than trains. For the long journey lasting more than ten hours, especially those crossing the whole night, taking a sleeper train will definitely be more comfortable than spending a night on a bus. When traveling by bus, or taking the train from Bangkok, getting your visa at the border is not complicated but can take for a while. If possible, try to apply for an e-visa online before your trip because in this way you can already have it and save yourself more time and hassle at the border.
Compared with the other three methods, boat tour is least chosen for its not as flexible as bus tour nor as fast as flight tour. But cruising along Mekong River to indulge oneself in the fascinating Southeast Asian landscape is a rare chance that none other transportation methods can offer except boat tour. Although can be a bit more expensive and time-consuming than road tour, it perfectly meets the demand of those tourists wishing an adventurous river tour. But on the other hand, it’s easily to be affected by natural conditions, like weather. So please make sure it can set out on time on the day before your departure.
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