Traveling overland? Crossing borders by bus, train, taxi, tuk tuk, or on foot? This post is for you! Keep reading for details on how to cross borders overland between countries in Asia. *This post will be updated on an ongoing basis as I travel.
The information below reflects crossings I completed on foot (not via an airport). Of course, these aren’t the only ways to cross between countries – there are multiple routes, border crossing points, and methods of transit to choose from.
Where Are You Going? Quick Links to Routes:
- China to Laos
- Laos to Cambodia
- Cambodia to Thailand (crossing complete, coming soon)
- Thailand to Cambodia (crossing complete, coming soon)
How To Cross Borders in Asia
China To Laos
Completed September 2018
From Kunming | There is one border crossing from China to Laos. To compete this, head south to the city of Kunming China. There are two ways to cross the border.
1 – Take an international bus from Kunming China to Luang Prabang Laos. The bus is posted at 22 hours, but online accounts report it usually atkes upward of 30 hours. If you’re OK with the possibility of sharing a bus bed with 1-4 individuals (the back has a 5-person bed seat) and people potentially going to the bathroom in the aisles, this is the cheapest option.
2 – Take a bus from Kunming China to Mengla China. There is one day bus and three overnights per day. The overnight buses have beds, but they are individual. It’s posted as 12 hours but took more like 14. Then, take a minibus from Mengla to Mohan, the border town in China. About 45 minutes. At Mohan get out, walk to the end of the road away from town (there is only one way) and enter the large customs building at right. Exit china customs. Keep walking down the path to the Laos border. Enter the office at right, get your visa, and cross into Laos. Take a minibus (station at right after you exit customs office) to your next destination. I recommend a stop in Luang Namtha (only about 1.5 hours on the awful roads). This is what I did. It was a lot of steps, but I was not trapped on a vile bus for 1+ days and it was pretty straightforward.
Read About My Experience | My First Sleeping Bus: Travelling Overland from China to Laos
Laos To Cambodia
Completed September 2018
There is a single border crossing from Laos to Cambodia, and an unpopular one at that. It is not part of the “typical” itinerary to cross on foot here; people usually go Thailand-Laos or Vietnam-Laos.
From Pakse | To complete this crossing, head to the city of Pakse in southwestern Laos. There is one bus per day in the morning (around 7:30-8:30am). The bus company is not good – they don’t provide any detail on what to do and also they forgot us 10km from the border – but it is your only option from Pakse. Please note, it may be possible to get a bus from elsewhere, but all buses I saw to Cambodia’s border stopped in Pakse on the way.
Purchase your through ticket to Siem Reap or Phnom Penh. These are your two options, although the van will stop in the small town of NAME. Your ticket will include transfer from your accommodation through to the bus stop at your destination. A van will come for you, and likely make several bathroom stops on the short 1-hour (or less) drive to the border. It is possible you’ll be dropped off on the side of the road before the border to wait for another van to come for you – they seem to grab passengers as they go back and forth from the islands and border in the morning. Your ticket should include transfer directly to the border.
At The Border | Once at the border, bypass the window at center – this is a “health” check and you’ll be asked to pay a $1 fee that is technically not compulsory. Then, go in the door to the left and approach the first window. You will get stamped out of Laos, and also get the visa upon arrival for Cambodia. It should cost US $30 for the visa. They may try to charge you (or actually charge you) US $35 as they try to charge. You will also have to pay a $2 fee for the stamp, whatever that means, which they try to convince you is a good value by saying “you wont pay anymore after this.” Then walk down the hall to the next set of windows, and you’ll get your visa signed and stamped into Cambodia.
Exit the building, walk to the end of the gate, and find your van transport on the left. They should be waiting since you’ve booked a through ticket to Cambodia. There is a man in a small mini mart who will check your ticket and tell you what to do. He was quite helpful.
Read About My Experience | Left 10km From the Border: Traveling Overland from Laos to Cambodia