Travelers Notes
South-East Asia 99. 12

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99.12.28: Ted
Weather in SE Asia in Feb/March
We will be in Southern Thailand in late February, 2000. Then, we would like to go south but are concerned about the weather. Would it be better to go to Sumatra or Peninsular Malaysia? We would be travelling in March and would like to go where the weather would be best.
From Editorial
I personally don't know the whether for Sumatra, but For most of SE Asia, February is the best season to travel, relatively cool and dry. In March, it is still dry but it is getting hotter. Indonesia is a big country, so Java, Bali and Sumatra may have a different weather.
Java and Bali may be in rainy season, but I think Sumatra is dry and close to one of mainland Malaysia West coast. East coast is rainy season.So for Feb and March, Myanmar, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand(beaches are great during this season.)W side of mainland Malaysia.

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99.12.26: Ted
Border, Laos & Cambodia
I am travelling to Cambodia in January, 2000 and would like to then go to Laos. Is it possible to cross the border overland? If not, then, what would be the best way to go through Thailand?

From Editorial
The border between Cambodia and Laos is still closed for foreigners. There is a report which you may pass it with money to proper officials. but it costs more than $50 and you may have a risk of your life. I will advice not to try.

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99.12.20: Mel

Vietnam and Laos are safe?
I was looking at going to Vietnam for a month in February but after reading the Lonely Planet site it seems that most people are in agreement that Laos is a much safer and easier country to travel through. I have done a fair bit of traveling before through a few difficult countries (Morocco, Syria, Jordon etc) but they were always with other people. This is my first solo trip and I'm a bit nervous. I know that I will be fine once I get there but it still feels a bit overwhelming at the moment. Which country (Vietnam or Laos) would you recommend would be the safest and easiest for me to travel through?


From Editorial
Laos and Vietnam are very safe. You don't have to worry about it even you go there alone.We are an organization which is sending travel information in internet. For some reason we sent a solo female researcher to Vietnam every year(3 times all together) 2 young Japanese girls and one British matured woman. All loved Vietnam. I personally went to Vietnam 4 years ago. I did not enjoy it so much. I think Vietnam has some charm for girls.

For Laos is also very safe. People are much nicer than Vietnam. I think Laos and Myanmar the last two countries of super good people. Only problem is the transport in Laos. It is not so easy if you go remote area.
Only security problem for both countries is thieves with motor bike which come from behind and snatch bags. Specially in Saigon and could be anywhere.


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99.12.18: Markus & Marie
Myanmar
We are going next january, have you been to Mrauk-U ?? at the Bangladesh border, if yes, how to get there, and is it worth it ? What are your personal highlights ? we have 3 weeks for the country ?
From Editorial
I am very sorry I don't know the place. But it is the place near the border with Bangladesh on the coast, I have seen the place on TV. It was a very muddy port. There was a regular boat between Yangon. I have talked with a staff at the Bangladesh embassy in Japan. He told me there is a boat connection between Myanmar and Bangladesh. But this is not a border point for foreigners. 2 Japanese boys in the Japanese TV program, could not cross the point.
My personal highlight is Bagan, Inle Lake. I don't knew anybody who hate those. The Golden rock temple has the mixed report. If you go there, go without too much expectation. But the view from the temple was reported very good.
There are many many many temples in Myanmar. You will be sick of temples soon. But there is a very unique temples in Monywa. Our site has the photos. If you like temples, this is the one you have to visit.
Day trip from Mandalay is possible.

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99.12.17: Oliver

Need Advice for SE Asia Budget Travel
I99.12.18: Markus & Marie

Wwe are going next january, have you been to Mrauk-U ?? at the Bangladesh border, if yes, how to get there, and is it
worth it ? What are your personal highlights ? we have 3 weeks for the country ?

I am very sorry I don't know the place. But it is the place near the border with Bangladesh on the coast, I have seen the place on TV. It was a very muddy port. There was a regular boat between Yangon. I have talked with a staff at the Bangladesh embassy in Japan. He told me there is a boat connection between Myanmar and Bangladesh. But this is not a border point for foreigners. 2 Japanese boys in the Japanese TV program, could not cross the point.


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99.12.17: from internet
Festival in BKK, Thailand
From Dec 24 to Jan 1, a big festival will be held in the Chao Phraya River at night. It is expected to be very good. If you are in Thailand during this time, you should not miss this. TAT will organize boat tours with 500B and Many hotels also have dinner cruises.

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99.12.17: Oliver
Need Advice for SE Asia Budget Travel
I'm going to be in thailand on jan 17th and vietnam feb 23rd. I want to stay as long as possible (until my $ runs out). do you have any suggestions as to places to visit. I am interested in
ruins (ancient temples), beautiful landscapes, and peacefull beaches. not so interested in hilltribe treking, and being in very touristy locations. do you have any suggestions? while i'm in thailand I wasconcidering going into laos and cambodia. have you been? are they safe? thanks for your help!
From Editorial
The time you are going to travel is the best season for SE Asia. I am sure you can enjoy traveling. Do you have any reason to visit Vietnam? If you want to travel as long as
possible, the Vietnam should be avoided because the country is the most expensive to travel in SE Asia, twice as expensive as others. If you are interested in ruins, Sukothai in Thailand, Angkor Wat in Cambodia and Pagan in Myannmer are my recommendation. And Bali, Indonesia is also very much enjoyable. It is very toursity island, but you can still enjoy the most in SE Asia.Wherever you go, visit Angkor Wat as the last destination. It is the best and it will wipe out all other ruins in the world. So if you visit here first, any other ruins will have no meaning to you any more.
To avoid touristy places, it is very difficult to fine such a place in SE Asia, may be S of India, or some part of China. But you don't have to worry about this aspect so much. You can enjoy and can find somewhere you can stay away from the main crowd. The beaches are in Koh Samui, Koh Pangan, Ao Nan, Railey beach near Krabi and Koh Phi Phi. There are a lot of travelers, but as I said, you can find quiet places.

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99.12.11: Chris<chirse@hotmail.com>

Koh Samui to Singapore
Hi, I am organising a trip for some friends and me, but can not find all the info recquired. Also , I would be very gratefull for any tips and/or advice You might have.
We are leaving for Ko Samui from Singapore. Is it correct that we have to change airliner in BKK as only Bangkok Airways goes to Ko Samui ? What fees or rates apply for that change ? Where is it best to stay in Ko samui on a budget ? Is it neccasary to bokk room before the Millenium ? What is the amount of tourist expected there ? Are there any tour operaters in Thailand that can handle the hole package ? I thank You in advance :)


From Editorial
For the question regarding to the flight, from Koh Samui to BKK, you have to pay the full fare, but from BKK to Singapore, you may be able to get discount a ticket. Buy a ticket at a travel agent in BKK and book it to connect your Koh Samui - BKK flight.
If you are traveling on budget, you may take a overland trip from Koh Samui to Singapore via Malaysia. There is minibus conations or train connections. You can book those at a travel agent in Koh Samui.
We have lists of accommodation for Koh Samui in our site for 3 different beaches. I am sure you can get some idea for accommodation.
http://www.itisnet.com/english/asia/Thai/samui/smi-top.htm
and click "hotel".

For accommodation for the Millenium in BKK. If you want to stay in a proper hotel, you had better to book it now. However if you want to stay a guest house, there are a lot of rooms in BKK. Those budget hotels will not take any reservation unless paid in advance. Unless you get there very late, you will have no problem.
There are many tour agents in Thailand. You will have a big difficulty to avoid seeing them. We know only the area of Kaosan Rd. where is the backpackers biggest center in Asia. you will see probably more than 50 travel agents there.


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99.12.10 : Danelle Rondberg
Visa for Cambodia and Vietnam
One additional questioncwhile I can change the entry day from what is on my visa (for example, arrive 3 days after my visa indicates) does my exit day need to be exact??? I am planning on going to Vietnam sometime between 12/18-12/23?? And then probably returning to Bangkok between 12/26-12/28. Can I do the visa from 12/18-12/28 yet travel some time between those two dates???
Getting a Vietnam Visa in US costs $85. I am not sure if that price is the normal price, or if it is for rush status. It is possible to get the visa immediately, as long as I pay for overnight shipping both ways.
From Editorial
You can enter after the date specified. There is no problem except you lose the days. You can exit before the date specified on the visa. For your case, you can specify the day to enter on Dec 18, which allow you to stay until 18 of January.
$85 is not so bad because the express service in PP is $30 extra which becomes $80 as total. The problem is whether or not you can get the entry/ exit points overland points. You can get the overland visa only in neighboring countries, such as Cambodia, Laos and China. This is the real reason you had better apply in Phnom Penh. If you get the visa in US and the visa allow you to enter/exit only by air, you have to change it in PP before you enter which may cost some charge. The charge seems to depend on the official who handle because we have mixed report.
I hope I could answer for your question clearly.

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99.12.11: Editorial
Internet Cafe in Danang, Vietnam
Christies Restaurant: 112 Tran Phu St
Phone number is +84 511 824040. 10:00-22:00
1000VND /min.(about 7 cents US)

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99.12.10: Jun-ichi
Travel Agent in Taiwan
You can get the information for flights from Taiwan.
Katsumi Travel abitpe@ms11.hinet.net
M-F 09:00|18:00@Sa09:00|12:30(not open 2nd 4th Sa)
URL http://www.katsumi.net

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99.12.10: anelle meyer

When is the peak in BKK?
You said that mid-jan was not peak season, could you tell me when the crush is? I am planning on entering Thailand about Jan 14, staying in Bangkok for a spell and then heading south for a bit of beach life before going north into the hills. I am trying to get a 2 month visa, so as to have some flexibility in my schedule. Could you offer a first timer any advice about where to go and what to see? My total trip time in SEA will be 5 months. I am from the US, have lived in Mexico and Europe and would be happy to share information.


From Editorial
During X-mas and New Year holidays, yes, many people visit. However in the middle of January it will return to normal. The real peak season is the end of February to March when Japanese collage students flood Thailand. The famous street, Kaosan will be occupied by them.
1.5 months are probably best for first timers to travel Thailand. January is dry season, best season.
If you like nature, N of Thailand is good. You can join trekking from Chiang Mai, Mae Hong Son or Pai.
National parks near kanchanaburi are also very popular and reported very beautiful. For beaches there are many beaches/islands I can recommend. For E coast, Koh Samui is one of the most beautiful island. This island has been developed very much. Because of the development many travelers start avoiding. But the island is big and many quiet beaches and the natural beauty has not changed. Koh Pangan is another beautiful island and it's for backpackers. .For the W. coast, many beaches near Krabi are beautiful, picturesque. Ao Nan, Rai Lee beaches are very good. Koh Phi Phi is also excellent island for the beauty and excellent island for divers.

For the first timers, I recommend to travel from Thailand to Singapore via Malaysia. But this trip takes no more than 2 and 1/2 months. Beside those, Bali is excellent, full of Asian culture and certainly the culture is richest in Asia, may be in the world. If Java,, Indonesia is quiet and safe, you may travel from Jakarta to Bali. It will be one of the most interesting trip for you.

If you still have time. You may consider one of Laos(1 month trip), Cambodia(2 weeks) or Vietnam(1 month)


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99.12.10 : Danelle Rondberg
Visa for Cambodia and Vietnam
Wondering if visas are obtainable at the airport during weekend hours? Also, how easy is it to get Vietnam visas in Cambodia? How many days does it take? Would I be safer to just get both visas in California, via the Vietnam embassy in SF or DC before traveling.
From Editorial
Yes, you can get the visa on arrival at PP airport. Also it is not difficult to get the Vietnamese visa in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. But it takes 5 days(Apply on Monday and receive on Friday.) The fast service is available with extra fee We have the detailed information for the visa in Phnom Penh on
http://www.itisnet.com/english/asia/cambodia/pp/e-top-pp.htm then click visa

If you are planning to travel overland from Cambodia to Vietname, I think you cannot get the visa in California.
I think the visa you can get allows you to enter by air and exit by air. Please confirm at the embassy in SF or DC..

For Vietnamese visa, the entry day and entry/exit points are very important. You can enter the country after the entry day but you loose the number of days. If you have wrong entry/exit points on your passport, you have to change the point. A few years ago, it was free to change the entrace point in PP. I don't know the current situation in PP because the Vietnamese embassy in Vientiane, Laos charges a lot of money. All staff in Veitmaese embassy are interested in money very much.
Please conpare the fee in your country and the fee you may have to pay in SE Asia.

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99.12.05: D. A. Devi
Car Hiring in Myanmar
Please give me the inforamtion car hiring in Myanmar.
Editorial
When you arrived at Yangon airport, the first person who approach you is a taxi driver who wants to take you to the downtown. the fair is OK, $1/person. On the way to the town, he and his friend offer you to exchange money with low rate and offer the taxi service for you to go around. I don't
know the fair amount but you can get some idea to start bargaining. There are many travel agents in Yangon. However I don't recommend you to take the service because I witness that the drivers negotiate prices of hotels and restaurants for you. but a couple was charged $20 for the room $5. So be
aware of their services. You will end up to pay a lot more beside the cost of taxi.

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99.12.05: Andreas Gramann <a.gramann@online.de>
Car Hiring in Myanmar
I want to travel around in Myanmar in March/April 2000 for 4 weeks and we also would like to do some diving. Do you know of any landbased diveoperator at the coast, or are there are only the liveaboards starting in Phuket?
From Editorial
Unfortunately I am not specialist of beaches in Myanmar. I don't know the dove operators in Myanmer nor liveaboards in SEAsia. But this subject comes up time to time. I found a travel agent in Myanmar who answered in LPTT so I asked the same question that you have. His answer is the SE side of Myanmar, West coast(not E coast) does not have enough transport nor enough facilities. There are some beaches in Myanmar, you can enjoy some but not as much as the counter parts of Thailand or Philippines.

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99.12.06: Watts Family

South Laos
We are traveling to Laos end of this year, staying initially at Pakse and Champasak. Is the road transport from Pakse to Don Khong proper buses or trucks? We would prefer to go by boat but understand it is rather uncomfortable and takes about 10 hours.
Did you go to Sekong or Attepu? We would like to travel between the two by river but are a little concerned about the malaria risk in that area, even though we are taking doxycycline. Any advice appreciated.


From Editorial
The type of buses between Pakxe to Muang Kong varies.
Some buses go to the island after they cross the Mekong by ferry. Other stop at Hat Xai Kun from where you walk 200m to get the river and take a boat or ferry. The transport which goes directly to the Muang Kong are usually a truck(a big and a small) which has benches on the back. The ones which are heading further S are very old proper buses.

The information can be found here.
http://www.itisnet.com/english/asia/laos/pakse/paksetop.htm
There are more information in our site such as Kuang Kong.

About the boats from Pakxe to Muang Kong, it arrives Muang Sean, west side of the island around evening time. Some said it was good trip. You have to remember 2 things. One: Most local passengers get off just before the last stop. The driver of the boat may start charging more. Two: When you arrives, there will be a tuk-tuk waiting for you. He takes you to Muang Kong with very expensive price. Not much room for you to bargain because there is no other transport and if you refuse, you have to walk for 8km in the darkness.

For the Attepu and Sekong, there are some good report about Attepu. I may go there next time I visit Laos. I don't know the boat trip between them. About Malaria, I met a western doctor who works there as a volunteer, he told me that we had better take the medication though he did not use it due to the side effect.


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99.12.05: Lee Miller
South Cambodia and SE Thailand beaches.
I have traveled in Cambodia last year I went as far North as Stung Treng and worked for a while helping drill water wells. I would love to enter this time via Koh Kong and Sihonouville. Several questions if you don't mind. First of all are the beach's in Thailand around Don Khong Island worth going to for beach time and also are there good affordable beach places in Cambodia. Can I get all the visa's I need in Bangkok. Thanks for your help nice to hear from a fellow traveler.
SE coast of Thailand has many islands and beaches. Many travelers go there. They are not bad. A lot of blue water and sky and white sand however they are just islands, no spectacle scenery like one in W side of Thailand., Koh Samui or Koh Phi Phi. Those in SE are less developed, facilities are sometime very very basic. I think many travelers go there for that reason. I do not mean they are not worth of going. It depends on what do you expect.
For Cambodia beaches, we have researched Sihanoukville only. I don't know anywhere else. The beaches are about 4 km away from the town, 2 km away from the GH area. The beaches are nothing special, badly developed in a small scale. You don't feel anything.

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99.12.02: Reese<enkatsu@yahoo.com>
Does anyone know how to get to the Pudi Jail in Kuala Lampur? It is supposedly the first jail
to open its doors as a museum in Asia, 4th in the world. What are the hours and admission
fee? Is it worth seeing? I read there is a movie shown in the jail. Any info. would be great. Going
to Malaysia in 3 more weeks! Thanks, Reese

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99.12.01: Carl

N. Laos:
I am going with a friend who only has from 12-28-to 1-15. We both want to go to Muang Sing... Plan is to go on January 2 by train north from Bangkok to the border and overland to Vientienne over friendship bridge... I wonder what is the best way to go... I heard of a direct flight to a town near Muang
Sing and then I figured we could go back by boat, truck what ever to Vientiene and then to Lao Bao...to Vietnam and so...any ideas....carl......


From Editorial
Muang Xin is located very deep inside of N. Laos. If you could fly from Vientiane to Luang Nam Tha, it is very easy way. You can save 2 or 3 days. But you have to take a back track anyway.
The overland route you may consider is that you go to Chiang Kon, N. Thailand, border to Houesai Laos. From there you may take a fast boat to Ban Xieng Koe, 4 hrs bus ride to Muang Xin. The boat trip is reported excellent. Only problem is find a passengers to share the boat.
Route 2. take a slowboat/fastboat from Houexai to Pakben then bus to Udomxai, then Luang Nam Tha then Muang Xin. This route takes 2-3 days.
Route 3 : Take a boat to Luang Prabang, then bus to Udom Xai, Laung Nam tha, then M X.

Whichever you take, you need time.
From the N to Vientiame, buses are most common. Boats may run, but not for Laos people, just for Tourists, so it costs a lots.


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99.12.01: MARKHAM Lucy

Laos advice
Is there a particular route you would recommend through Laos? What are the best things to see? I gather it is best to travel by water as the roads are bad - would you agree? Is it true that you can only get a visa for 7 days at the Friendship Bridge border and that you have to the capital to get
renewals? I gather you can gain access to Vietnam from Laos - have you done this? Was it OK?


From Editorial
The good route may be depend on how long you are going to travel and How much hard trip you can stand for, because Laos does not have the best of the best in the world such as Pyramid, Angkor Wat or Grand Canyon. The highlight for Laos is relatively untouched country by tourism. People's really welcoming smiles, very low standard transport, unspoiled nature, less tourism, etc. It is a very rare country where you can still feel and experience the traveling in SE Asia 20 years ago.
There are a few places I can recommend to see in Laos.
From the North,
Muang Xin: You can see Hill tribes and can visit some of their villages.
Luang Prabang: You can enjoy the culture of Laos.
Boat trip in N. Laos. There are many rivers you may try. I cannot say which one is the best. I personally have not taken any. Sorry. The most people are taking a slow or fast boat between Houey Xai to Luang Prabang because this is the major traveling route for the travelers enter from N Thailand.
There are many other great river trip in Laos. But main transport in Laos has already moved from boat to bus, therefore boat trip becomes only for tourism. . Very few locals taking boats except certain routes. The most boat trips in N is expensive. It does not mean that trip is bad. Many people are enjoying and you have to pay more for the great experience.
Vang Vieng: a foreigners town but it is very relaxing place. You can visit many caves and can go down a river with the huge tire tubes.
Vientiane: capital of Laos. You can visit many temples and herbal sauna.
Campassak: where you can visit a Khumer temple which is said the prototype for Angkor Wat.
4000 island area where you can have nice trip on Mekong River and can visit biggest water falls in SE Asia.
Some visit Phonsavan, plain of Jars. Mixed reprot. Some says good, some says no worth. The reason is simply the hardness to get this town. Either you touchier yourself or pay money for flights.

There are many other places to visit, such as High land area S Laos near Vietnam, etc. Most people traveling along with route 13 and very few go off this routes.

The common route is enter from N, Chiang Kon, Thailand to Houe Xai, then to Luang Prabang, then Vang Vieng, Vientiane, Savannaket, Pakxe, Muang Kone, Don Kon.

The road condition is improving every year. The major highway, route 13 is now almost paved, except between Savannaket and Pakxe. But still many roads are bad. However in dry season it is possible to travel. As I said earlier, boat is no longer major way of transport(a few exceptions). You have to pay tourist price.
The visa you can receive at the friendship bridge in Nong Khai is valid for 15 days.The cost is $30, equivalent baht is acceptable.You can extend the visa with $1/day at the immigration office in Vientiane and Phonsali.


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99.12.01 Amy Usher <amy@scottworks.com>
Bicycling in Laos
I am planning on riding my bike through Laos from Northern Thailand. Do you have any suggestions, experience, knowledge of areas to go and those to avoid? Any help you can provide is very much appreciated. At this point, I haven't got a lot of information! Thanks for any help you can provide.
Editorial
Surprisingly many people are traveling by bicycle in SE Asia, including Laos. One of my friends actually traveled from China to Laos by bicycle. He bought one in China and sold it in Laos with more money. I have asked him about the traveling. He said there was no problem. Road was rough but not impossible to ride a bicycle. There were always villages or town to sleep.Food to buy. In some case, small villages, he have to use body language to tell the Laos villagers that he was looking for accommodation by putting his hand to next to his face to express his sleeping. But he always could find some kind of accommodation, not hotel of course.

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99.12.02: Shane
Laos Info
I am going to Laos in 4 weeks any info you have would be brilliant. I am only going to the southern half. Entering at Lao Bao and traveling to Pakse. I have given myself 3 weeks.
If you travel from Laos Bao to Pakxe for 3 weeks, you have a lots of extra time.
From Editorial
The road from Lao Bao to Savannnaket is one of the worst road you will have experience in the world as many reported. Savannaket is a town with no touristic attraction but very relaxing town. The road from Savannaket and Pakxe is under construction. Very bad and very dusty. The Pakxe is a ugly town surrounding by beautiful mountain and river. You can visit Chanpassak to see a ruin temple of old Angkor.
Our site contains a lot of travel information such as budget accommodation, transport etc. I hope it will help your trip.

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99.12.01: David Baker <devad@jps.net>

Cambodia
If you have any info that would be useful, I would appreciate it. I was only going for a week, but want to stay longer. I have 6 weeks to do Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. I may skip Vietnam or just a brief "hello." I'd be grateful for any shared info. Thanks- Dave


From Editorial
Our site contains Cambodia info not only in Travel Info Section but also many travelers reports in "Hot info on the road" and "Travelers memories".
If you have to leave from Laos after a week, it is same. Laos is very beautiful country. There are many places to see. You may use at least 2 weeks, preferably 3 week or more.

Camboida now is really opened up. You can visit many places. A year ago, people visited only Phnom Penh and Angkor Wat which many people spent only 10 days maximum, but now many are staying there for weeks. If you want to enjoy a bit of all tree countires. You may enter Laos from N. Thailand Chaing Kon then come down to Vientiane and get the visa for
Vietnam and corss the border, Laos Bao and move to Hue and come down to Saigon, then cross the borderof Moc Bai to Cambodia, Phnom Penh and move to Siem Reap where you can enjoy Angkor Wat and cross the border of Poipet to
come back to Thailand. You can take the route within 6 weeks. It will be very nice trip.


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99.12.01: Doron Feldman<kangaroo_man@hotmail.com>
Vietnam Visa Info
In your Vietnam page you wrote it takes 8 days to get a Vietnamese visa from Phnom Penh, but in your Cambodia page you wrote it can be arranged in one day through Capitol GH. I assume Capitol GH is in Phnom Penh.
I would really appreciate it if you could clarify this as soon as possible, as I'll be on the road in a few days.
From Editorial
Regarding to your question, I am very sorry there are conflicts of information. The Vietnamese page is one year old and should be updated. Currently the person research in 99 is editing her information but she has some personal problem. Please allow time for this.
The information in Cambodia should be more reliable in term of freshness. The Capitol GH can arrange the visa within a short period, but it cost extra charge. Most of Vietnamese embassy in SE Asia requires 4-5 days to process the visa and fast service is always available with extra service.
If you have any question, please feel free to send to us.

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