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Traveling from south to north Vietnam by land

Vietnam by land

Traversing Vietnam by land is not only not that difficult, but is also a truly rewarding trip on so many levels. Not only will you get the full Vietnam experience, but also truly get to embrace the food, drink and culture of this fascinating country.

There are of course many ways to do this, with my suggestion merely being, but one of them. I have though done this journey in full, so can attest that this does indeed work.

Vietnam by land starting from the south

It is actually probably easier to start this journey from the north, but as I live in Cambodia I can take the bus from Kampot to Phu Quoc.

Phu Quoc is the biggest Vietnamese island and a truly off the beaten track experience. I personally love it here with the seafood being excellent and the hotels being of particular value.

From here to Saigon cannot be done by train, but needs to be done by bus through the Khmer Krom areas.

Saigon to Nha Tang or Da Nang by train

What is there to say about Saigon other than it has a great nightlife, street food and overall cuisine? Getting here is also super easy by plane and by bus from Phnom Penh.

Then you get to take the train, which again is the source of a real treat.

This is done on the Reunification Express, with you obviously getting a choice of where to break up the journey. In mu mind the two best options are Nha Trang and Da Nang with them being 10 and 16 hours away respectively. Both of these are great beach towns with excellent food, although I would edge towards to Da Nang.

The middle of Vietnam

Probably the best part of this journey is relatively short and that 8is the Da Nang to Hue part, This is a really scenic journey that will drop you in the former imperial capital of Hue, also the last stop in the former state of South Vietnam.

There is not only a great nightlife here at places like the DMZ Bar, but also a truly epic street food scene. Touristically Hue is also probably the most important city within Vietnam.

From here it is possible to just skip the rest and head directly to Hanoi, but I went out on limb and headed to Vinh. At first glance there was not much going on here, but I did end up at the hometown of Ho Chi Minh and discovered a little bit of street food.

Hanoi to Cao Bang, or China

Previously there was a train from Hanoi to Nanning, but sadly I was to discover that this is no longer the case. This meant that after enjoying some Bia Hoi in Hanoi and deciding not to head to Cao Bang I was to take the bus to the border.

Said bus drops you nearish to the border in about 4 hours, before you then jump in a buggy to do the formalities. This it would appear is decidedly easier on the Vietnamese rather than the Chinese side. Anti-foreign sentiment is indeed alive and well in the PRC.

All told getting from Hanoi to China can be done for less than 20 bucks, but it will only drop you in Pingxiang, where there is very little to do. You can though jump in a shared taxi or get a bus to Nanning, from here Guilin Railway Station Yangshuo and the rest of China await you.

I personally managed this trip in about 10 days, but it can be done in half of this if you are in a rush, or indeed Vietnam by land can be done much slower and more pleasurable if you do so wish.