Kuala Lumpur to Bangkok
* Train possible (1 day, 1 night) but transfer required at either George Town (Malaysia) or Hat Yai (Bangkok). See Malaysian railways and the Thai railways timetables for details.
Malaysian Railway Schedules http://www.ktmb.com.my
Thailand Railway Schedules
KTM's intercity trains arrive at the new KL Sentral railway station, located (despite the name) a fair distance to the south of the city center. Take the Putra LRT or KL Monorail to the city center, or RM10 coupon taxi to most destinations in the city center. Most services are available at the station, including showers (RM5 for shower only, RM15 if you want a towel & toiletries too).
* Buses also available, even direct, although it's a long haul Kuala Lumpur has several bus terminals (Malay: stesen bas or hentian) which handle long distance express bus services; many destinations are served by more than one terminal.
The biggest (and invariably most crowded) terminal, located in the city centre near Chinatown. Beware of pickpockets, ticket touts and other undesirables, especially late at night.
Access: Plaza Rakyat station (Ampang and Sri Petaling Lines) is within walking distance; many local bus stops nearby.
To/from Hat Yai, in Thailand:
* Konsortium Bas Ekspres Semenanjung (KBES) (Counter 73. Tel: +60-3-20313036) has departures at 10:30 & 23:00 - RM45 one-way.
* Possible detours: Penang, Ipoh, Phuket, Ko Samui
Bangkok to Siem Reap
Time: Anything from 9 to 14 hours, depending on season
* Starts with a 4-5 hour bus ride from Bangkok to Aranyaprathet (‘Aran’), the town on the Thai side near the border. Both public buses and buses operated by private tour operators are availiable; tickets can be bought from nearly any travel agent in Bangkok, and on any of Bangkok's four bus terminals, make sure you get the right terminal for your bus. Public buses are the cheapest option, and are of reasonable standard.
* From Aranyaprathet, get a tuk-tuk the last 6 km to the border crossing. Be aware of the touts approaching you on the border; ignore them as they will expect a whapping tip at the other end for not really helping you much at all. Beware of scams; the border police sometimes tries to make an extra buck on various fees and fines they more or less make up on the spot. You do not need to pay a fine for not bringing your yellow fever certificate. You should only have to pay the visa fee with the price stamped in your passport, although in reality you'll probably have to pay at least 1000 baht.
* From Poipet on the Cambodian side, it’s a further 3-6 hour bus or taxi to Siem Reap, in the dry season; in the rainy season the trip may sometimes take as much as 9-10 hours as the road gets flooded. You may get a bus or hire a taxi, it may be a good idea to share one if you come across fellow travellers. Approach drivers directly and agree on a price to Siem Reap. Bear in mind that Northern Cambodia is still one of the most heavily mined areas in the world; if you need to take a leak, you are well advised to choose safety before dignity and do what you need on the road itself.
* Particularly the Poipet to Siem Reap leg can be an exhausting journey, but it's also a fantastic experience, and you should be completely safe.
Things to do at Siem Reap
* Visit the Angkor Wat. Depending on your level of interest, you should spend between one and three days sightseeing the Angkor Wat. Be aware that due to the size of it all, it is not really possible to see all of it in one, or even two days.
* See the separate Siem Reap page for tips on restaurants and bars.You may notice how many of the restaurants have similar names, only differentiated by number 1, 2, 3 etc. This is due to the fact that when a particular named restaurant receives positive mention in any major guide book, surrounding restaurants will change their name to the same. Restaurant "No #1" of any particular name is not necessarily the one that received positive mention; food is generally good and cheap however, just be vigilant and ask to see the menu first.
* Get the speed boat across the Tonle Sap to Phnom Penh. Tonle Sap is one of the biggest freshwater lakes in the world. Beware of the slow boats trafficking the lake, as they are both slow and unsafe.
Siem Reap to Phnom Penh
Time: 4-9 hours
You have two options; road or boat. Which is more comfortable depends on the state of the road; when good, buses are excellent and fast, and boats deteriorate from lack of custom; when bad, boats become the preferred option. The road is steadily gaining the upper hand in terms of convenience, but taking the boat gives you the opportunity to travel across Southeast Asia's largest inland lake, the Tonle Sap, and see the people living around and (literally) on the lake.
* Boat: A daily catamaran service from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh may be in operation, depending on the season and the state of the road. Older diesel boats limp across the Tonle Sap the rest of the time. These boats' safety record is rather patchy, and in dry season they may not be able to pass beneath Kampong Chhnang at the foot of the lake (in which case you'll end up on another bus) -- but you won't see the Tonle Sap another way. Most hotels can sell you tickets and it will include minibus transfer from your hotel to the port of departure (90 mins). The price for anyone with a white face is a whopping US$25+.
* Bus/taxi: The road from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh has been recently resurfaced; in March 2007 modern a/c coaches did the trip in 4 hours with lunch included. As with any road in Cambodia, however, maintenance is patchy and the situation can deteriorate after only a few seasons. Check with your hotel or a travel agency in Siem Reap for up-to-date information.
Things to do at Phnom Penh
* The first thing you should do is to hire a moto driver! It looks crazy, but it really is the only way to get around. Be prepared to pay around US$5 for a moto driver for the entire day.
* Visit the Tuol Sleng museum, also known as S-21. Saloth Sar (better known as Pol Pot) used to be a teacher at this former high school. As Pot grasped power in 1975, he turned the school into an "interrogation centre". Several thousand people were interrogated and killed here. Only a very few left Tuol Sleng alive. Upon entrance to the Tuol Sleng museum, you will be approached by guides who will tour the grounds with you for a US$3-5 fee.
* The Choeung Ek museum gives another chilling account of the atrocities of the Khmer Rouge. Located just outside the city centre, you can still find human remains if you dig with your shoe just beneath the ground surface. Get your moto driver to take you there.
* Make sure to pay a visit to the Foreign Correspondent's Club, the legendary FCC, overlooking the river and central Phnom Penh. This place serves the best burgers in Phnom Penh, and they have regular happy-hour deals on Gin & Tonics. Burgers and drinks are priced accordingly, but still comparatively cheap (around US$3 for your GT) Perhaps one of the few places in Asia where full colonial gear (black boots/white uniform) still today wouldn't feel out of place.
Phnom Penh to Ho Chi Minh City
Time: 6-8 hours
* The best option is to buy a tour with a travel agency in Phnom Penh, as a public bus will only get you to the Vietnam border, which is a no man's land. Organized trips will bus you to the border where you cross on foot, before another bus picks you up on the other side for the 3-4 hour drive in to Ho Chi Minh City.
* Alternatively, tour operators in Phnom Penh organize boats down the Mekong to the border near Chau Doc. Again, you cross on foot and transfer to a Vietnamese boat waiting on the other side. Speedboats (US$15–20) operate direct from Phnom Penh whilst for the slower boats (US$6–8) a minibus takes you to landings downstream of the ferry across the Mekong on Highway 1. From Chau Doc regular buses make the connection to Ho Chi Minh City.
Things to do in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)
* Use one of the many travel cafés to organize your excursions, found on the main backpacker street in District 1, the Ph?m Ngu Lão. The quality of these trips are generally good, and the prices are low. The Sinh Cafe organize trips both to Mui Ne, the Mekong Delta and Cu Chin tunnels at reasonable prices, but there are a multitude of offers and options, and competition is fierce.
* You should spend some time to see the architectural highlights of central Ho Chi Minh City, many of which were built by the French. The Opera, the Central Post Office and the almost perfect miniature replica of the Notre Dame church is all worth a visit.
* Ho Chi Minh City has a vibrant nightlife. However, to combat a rising drug use problem, the authorities have imposed a midnight curfew for all clubs and bars. This is not to say that you can't party till early morning - you simply have to find out which clubs run an afterhour on the particular night. Apocalypse Now! is a usual suspect (yes, it's the name of a club). Don't worry, the police quietly condones afterhour parties as they know it is needed to attract tourists, and although drinking after hours is illegal, it is very widespread.
* The Vietnam War museum is a must-see, particularly if you're into browsing some captured old American military hardware. The museum has a large collection of captured tanks, helicopters, bombs and planes. Formerly known as the American War Atrocities Museum, the name was changed after normalization of US-Vietnamese relations in the 1990's.
* The Co Chin tunnels just outside town offers an exciting glimpse into the secret tactics of the Viet Cong during the war.
* A trip to the Mekong Delta is absolutely worthwhile, and a 3-day trip including hotel, guide, transportation and food is usually around US$15!
* The Mui Ne resort town is a good choice for some beach life if you don't want to travel too far from the city. There is a public bus to Mui Ne every day, or you can simply hire a driver.
* Reunification Hall, 106 Nguyen Du St. Formerly South Vietnam's Presidential Palace, this is a restored five-floor time warp to the Sixties left largely
Untouched from the day before Saigon fell to the North. On April 30, 1975, the war ended when tank 843, now parked outside, crashed through the gate. You can also visit the war rooms in the basement and view a propaganda film recounting how the South Vietnamese lackeys and American imperialists succumbed to Ho Chi Minh's indomitable revolutionary forces. Entry 15,000 dong; open daily 0730-1130, 1300-1600.
* War Remnants Museum, 28 Vo Van Tan St. Formerly known as the Exhibition House of American War Crimes, this is a disturbing exhibit of man's cruelty during the Vietnam War. In addition to halls full of gruesome photographs, exhibits include a real guillotine, a simulated "tiger cage" prison and jars of deformed fetuses blamed on Agent Orange. The museum, currently a rather confused assemblage of warehouses, will shortly be moved to new purpose-built premises under construction next door; however, the comic relief provided by a display on the evils of American rock music has sadly disappeared. Entry 10,000 dong; open daily 0730-1145, 1330-1730.
Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) to Hanoi
* Trains arrive at the main Hanoi train station (Ga Hang Co, 120 Le Duan, tel: 825 3949) daily from cities in the south including Hue and Nha Trang. The Reunification Express goes all the way to Ho Chi Minh City, although there is very little 'express' about it.
There are train services to the north-west (including Lao Cai, from which you reach Sapa - the onward route to Kunming in China is no longer open). To board trains bound for these destinations, you have to enter the railway station compound through the "backdoor" at Tran Quy Cap station. Just tell your driver which destination your train is heading to.
Be mindful of any "helpful" stranger who offers to carry your luggage — he probably has a sum more than the cost of the ticket in mind for the help. However, tickets for all destinations are sold in the main station, though there are two counter halls, north and south, serving the respective destinations.
Buy your tickets as early as possible, since especially sleeper-tickets can be sold out several days in advance. If you can't get a ticket anymore, try a travel-agent who still might have stocks. You may also try your luck in the station just before boarding time, agents still holding tickets will be eager to sell as the departure draws near.
* By bus. Most of the "open-tour" bus itineraries either begin or end in Hanoi, with Hue the next (or previous) stop (12-14 hours, US$8-9), and from there to Hoi An, Nha Trang, Dalat, Mui Ne, Ho Chi Minh City, and other cities in Vietnam, depending on the bus company.
Hanoi to Nanning
* Direct train service not available as line to Kunming is still disrupted by landslides. As an alternative, train buffs can travel to Dong Dang, cross the border and continue from Pingxiang.
* There is also direct bus to Nanning from Kim Lien Hotel in Hanoi.
Nanning or Guilin to Shanghai
* Direct train services are available from Nanning to Shanghai. Many would probably visit Guilin, which is a few hours from Nanning along the rail line towards Shanghai. Before Shanghai, the city Hangzhou is probably worth a visit.
Shanghai to Beijing
* Direct train services are available. Power sockets on Z series trains.
2007 info - approx 500RMB (100SGD)
Train From Shanghai to Beijing
Z14 19:00 6:58 with Dinner
Z22 19:07 7:05 without Dinner
Z6 19:14 7:12 with Dinner
Z2 19:21 7:19 without Dinner
Z8 19:28 7:26 with dinner
* By bus 13-16 hours, no available direct route as of 2005. Pros - see chinese landscape
Beijing to Singapore * www.jetstar.com