Make your dream getaway come to life! Learn the best way to go on a journey to Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia.
If you are tired of your usual 9 to 5 routine and you’re dreaming to immerse yourself in incredible culture, packing your bags and heading to Southeast Asia might the key to solving your woes. The Indochina trail is one of the most famous ways to travel to the continent. It will take you through Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, and Cambodia. You can even extend your trip and cross out Singapore, Myanmar, and Malaysia in your bucket list.
This part of Southeast Asia is beaming with mystery and grandeur with thousands of temples and ornate architectural design. Not only that, here, you will meet the most hospitable people. Stepping into Indochina will make you feel as if you have been transported to a time where culture and tradition are immensely felt. The best thing is, you do not have to spend your entire life savings because it offers great value for your money.
With the great temples of Thailand, the lush nature in Laos, the bustling roads of Vietnam, and the amazing food in Cambodia, you will definitely not run out of things to do. This travel guide includes a comprehensive guide on the things you should bring and the best things to do in Thailand, Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia. If you want to learn more, keep on reading.
What to Bring
A great trip is dependent on how prepared you are. Here are the things you need to bring to have a hassle-free time in Southeast Asia.
Without a doubt, your passport will be the most important document that you own in your travel. Make sure that your passport is valid for the next 6 months, especially if you want to spend a long time traveling outside your home country. If you need a tourist visa to enter Southeast Asian countries, make sure to bring it with you as well.
If you plan to stay in a hostel, padlocks are a must have. The last thing that you want is to come home to your hostel and find out that you are missing your camera or other valuables.
Sunblock and Hats
Southeast Asia can be extremely hot. To avoid sunburn, it is best to be prepared with a tube of sunblock and a hat.
Jumpstart Your Adventure in Laos
Laos is one of the most underrated places in Asia. With its friendly people and amazing attractions, this will surely add an interesting mix in your Asian travel cocktail. One of the best things that you should not miss in Laos in visiting the Luang Prabang, an entire town considered as a UNESCO heritage site.
Located in 700 meters above sea level in northern Laos, the charming town of Luang Prabang is encircled by mountains. It is considered one of the top places for Buddhist learning and spiritual contemplation. Although prices can get a little steep since the town is flocked by tourists, it definitely warrants a visit. The town offers the perfect fusion of grand temples, breathtaking nature, and French architecture.
If you have wondered about the structure in Laos’ flag, you can see it in person in Vientiane. Known as That Luang, or the Great Stupa stands 148 feet tall. This remarkable structure was influenced by Buddhist beliefs and has tons of images of the Buddha, red lacquer doors, pointed stupas, and images of animals and flowers.
In Laos, you will also find Van Vieng. Surrounded by picturesque landscape comprised by limestone cliffs, rivers, and lush mountains, this area seems like heaven on earth. Some of the most popular things to do in this one of a kind town are tubing in Nam Song River, and swimming in the blue lagoon of Tham Pouknam Cave.
Take a Trip to Thailand
To get to Thailand from Laos, take a tuk-tuk or a public bus to 13 miles south of Vientiane to Thanaleng. From here, you can take a train in the Vientiane Railway station to the bustling city of Bangkok. It is recommended to take a first or second class train cabin for the 11-hour scenic train journey.
Home to 69 million people, Thailand is one of the most famous destinations in Southeast Asia. Upon seeing its extraordinary temples, pristine beaches, and urban life, it is no wonder why. From the moment you set foot in “the Land of Smiles,” you will be awed.
In Thailand, you can take a cruise in Sop Ruak with Pandaw, the place where the Mekong River meets the Ruak River. Also known as the Golden Triangle, this is the point of meeting of Thailand, Laos, and Myanmar. Here, you can find statues of elephants and Buddha.
Visiting temples is one of the best things that you can do in the country and the Grand Palace is on top of everyone’s list. This temple is located in the heart of Bangkok. It has been home to the country’s king and his court for 150 years. You will surely not run out of things to do in its sprawling 218,400 square meter area. Just make sure to be appropriately dressed because this the palace has a strict dress code.
Thailand is rich in biodiversity, and one of its most popular symbols is the Elephant. Try to avoid animal centers which force elephants to do tricks because this fosters animal cruelty. Instead, visit centers such as the Elephant Nature Park, an organization which rehabilitates rescue elephants.
If you want to get a tan during your trip, do not miss out seeing its 5,000 miles of coastline. The only problem that you will have will be which beach to visit first. Whether you prefer mainland beaches or island getaways, the Land of Smiles has thousands of beaches in store for you. One of the most popular destination is Haan Rin in Koh Pha Ngan. Although it is mostly quiet, it holds a high-spirited full moon party once a year.
Immerse Yourself in the Culture of Cambodia
Crossing the border from Thailand to Cambodia is very easy and safe. Just be careful in avoiding visa schemes. Although flying from Bangkok to Phnom Penh is the fastest way, you can take a bus from Bangkok to Siem Reap if Angkor Wat is on top of your Cambodia to-do list, or hop on a bus from Bangkok to Phnom Penh if you want to go straight to the city.
Fifteen minutes from Siem Reap, you can find the most-visited attraction in Cambodia. The temples of Angkor is a twelfth-century city complex which was once the center of the Khmer empire. Hailed as a UNESCO World Heritage site, this is a place where you can feel one with the country’s vibrant history.
If you want a unique and out of this world experience, drop by Phare Cambodian Circus. Located in Siem Reap, this production shows one of a kind cultural performances by Cambodian youth. Here, you will know the amazing history is the country through the most impressive way using live music, theater, and dance.
Another thing that you should not miss while in Cambodia is to immerse yourself in authentic culture. For this, you can visit the Osoam Cardamom Community Center. The grueling 7-hour travel time northwest of Phnom Penh will be worth it once you see the authentic Cambodian community that embraces sustainable tourism and development. One of its key attractions is the eco-tourism farm which aids 327 families from different ethnic groups.
Have the Time of Your Life in Vietnam
To get to Vietnam from Cambodia, all you have to do is take a bus. One of the most reputable bus companies is the Mekong Express Limousine Bus.
Sailing in Ha Long Bay is a must when in Vietnam. Just like a scene from a movie, this UNESCO Heritage Site in northern Vietnam is only four hours away from Hanoi. This archipelago of more than 3,000 limestone islets is also rich in wildlife.
If you are up for a wild adventure, visit the largest cave in the world in Vietnam. Found in Quang Binh province, the Hang Son Doong is so huge that a towering skyscraper could easily fit inside it. You can also take a dip in the waterfalls found in the cave’s surrounding jungle.
Finally, if you think sand dunes can only be found in Middle East, you thought wrong. Feel like a tourist in the wonderful Sahara desert as you take a stroll along the Sand Dunes of Mui Ne. You can have a picnic here, and do tons of activities such as sledding, kite flying, and sunset watching.