Something that was at the forefront of what we wanted to enjoy when we first embarked on our travels was being able to experience a lot of how the locals live, get places, and experience life in general. This included also us of course wanting to see the most of every country we visited. That is why we make the decision when possible we would take buses or trains traveling to other destinations we planned to go to. This way takes much longer than flying but traveling this way has allowed us to see much more of the countries we have been to and also have experiences we normally wouldn’t have had.
It was only natural for us to try to figure out how to get to Laos from Cambodia overland without the need to fly.
When looking at how to get to Laos from Cambodia, there were very few details or resources online. Even the resources we did find talked about many different transfers and days of travel it would take and it was overall extremely confusing. We knew there had to be a better way! After talking to many different locals and doing our due diligence we found the best and quickest route for overland travel to Laos.
How to Get From Siem Reap To Don Det (4000 Islands)
For our travels to Don Det we looked and looked for the perfect service to take us from Siem Reap to the 4000 islands and I honestly think we found it. We used a service called Asia Van Transfer, this company offers direct routes from Siem Reap to Don Det (4000 Islands). All of their vehicles are 12 passenger vans which are a lot quicker than taking a bus and more comfortable. This route in total when going to Don Det from Siem Reap only took us 9 hours and cost $25 a ticket.
Ticket Information and Price
Siem Reap – Don Det (4000 Islands)
$25 for a Ticket
The ticket included three different vehicle transfers and the boat ride to Don Det
Here was our Schedule
7:45 am – We arrived at Asia Van Transfers Office in Siem Reap.
8:00 am – We got on the passenger van and departed Siem Reap there was only one other person with us, a lady from France that was able to give us some great tips on visiting Europe.
11:00 am – Stopped for a short break at a little place that was selling drinks, snacks, and had a bathroom.
1:15 pm – We arrived in Stung Treng Cambodia a city about an hour from the border where we stopped at their agency called The Riverside Guest House for an hour. They had a little restaurant so we ate lunch here and waited for our next van.
2:15 pm – Switched to another van which took us to the Tropaeng Kreal Border Post for Cambodia.
3:00 pm – Arrived at the border, where we got our departure stamps then walked a few hundred feet to Nong Nok Khiene the Laos side of the border and got our visa and arrival stamp. It took us about an hour to get through both borders because of other tour buses being there.
Waiting For Our Visa’s At The Laos Border
4:00 pm – We boarded our final land transfer in Laos. This time it was a partner company of Asia Van Transfers, it was covered in our original ticket cost. The vehicle was a truck that had an open bed with benches for seating in the back.
5:00 pm – Arrived at a small village called Nakasang which is where you take a short 15 minute boat ride to Don Det. Nakasang is just one long street, about 900 feet before the river in Nakasang there is 3 ATMs. If you need cash stop here as there are NO ATMS ON THE 4000 ISLANDS and it would be a huge inconvenience to have to come back. Our driver stopped at the ATMs for us to get money and then drove us up closer to the river where we walked to the boat house and gave them our ticket riding the final way to Don Det.
One of the boats we took to Don Det
5:20 pm – Arrived at Don Det.
Rice Patty Field On Don Det
Crossing the Cambodia Border: What To Know
At the border crossing with Laos your bus or van will drop you off about 900 feet away where you will have to walk to the main immigration office. The border at this side of the country was quite odd in the fact that no guards or anyone was outside. I am quite sure if we really wanted to we could have just walked to Laos without the Cambodian officials noticing. When going inside the main checkpoint, a tour bus had just arrived with a bus load of Chinese tourists, so a line for getting your departure stamp was nonexistent. Once filling out the short departure forms available and forcing our way through the chaos we were able to get our departure stamp for $2 each. This is a fee that the guards charge for “processing” and is also common at every checkpoint in Laos. Cambodian immigration officials didn’t charge us this when crossing in from Vietnam so I am pretty sure the officials closest to Laos just caught on of how to make a quick dollar. We have seen where people will argue and after a long period of time avoid paying the $2. But to be honest just pay the fee, it’s only $2 and will save you a lot of time and hassle. You can use either USD or Riel.
Crossing the Laos Border What To Know
To get to the Laos border it is as simple as just walking another 900 feet. Here you will need to grab an arrival form and visa form, fill it out then give them the money for your visa pricing ranges from $30-$42 (make sure you have USD!) and of course an additional $2 for the “processing” fee. At the Laos border the facilities were nice, they had bathrooms, a duty free shop, and a little coffee shop. Once getting our visas we were able to take a quick bathroom break and meet our new driver who took us the rest of the way.
Laos Visa Costs and Fees
Like I mentioned have $4 prepared in USD for a $2 processing fee in Cambodia and a $2 processing fee in Laos. Just to stamp your passport. Also make sure you have enough cash to cover your visa. I recommend bringing USD as Laos doesn’t accept Riel at their border and it is hard to get Lao Kip before entering Laos.
Visas are available to get on arrival on the border and it is what we did, it was a fairly easy and straightforward process of filling out an arrival form.
Laos Visa Price
Visa On Arrival
Make sure to bring a passport photo with you. The dimensions needs to be 4×6 cm, as per ICAO Standard photograph
Your passport needs to have been valid for 6 months and have two free pages for stamping
Laos Offers e-visas you can find more information here https://laoevisa.gov.la
Laos Tourist Visas Are Good for 30 days from Entry
Getting Around The 4000 Islands
Tuk Tuk, Water Taxis, or rent a bicycle are the best way to get around on the islands. The locals have a literal monopoly on taxis. Be prepared to pay a little more than what you are used to in the rest of Asia as it is a small island.
Getting from Phnom Penh to Laos
The best way to get to Laos from Phnom Penh is taking a bus to Stung Treng and then booking the rest of the way through a service like Book Me Bus which is who we bought our tickets through when traveling in Cambodia.
How To Get To Pakse, Vientiane, Vang Vieng, or Luang Prabang from Cambodia
Regardless of where you plan to visit in Laos you will have to go through the Si Phan Don (4000 islands) region. Here you can catch a number of different buses to other destinations in Laos.
- If you are going to somewhere else in Laos you may want to buy your ticket immediately at Nakasang as there is a lot of different advertisements for bus tickets to Pakse, Vientiane, Vang Vieng and Luang Prabang. But don’t just buy tickets through these vendor, you can buy your tickets for a few dollars cheaper with whatever hotel you choose on Don Det. This ticket will also include a boat pickup from where you are staying back to Nakasang.
- Make sure you know where you are staying on Don Det! We didn’t know a ton about Don Det other than what were some things we wanted to do. Once being dropped off at the main point of the island we started to walk hoping to find our accommodation we had booked on booking.com. After about 5 minutes we asked someone where our guesthouse was and they said “oh that’s far away either take a taxi or it’s a 15 minute walk” we thought oh that’s not a bad walk so we walked for 15 minutes, and again we asked someone where it was and were given the answer it is another hour of a walk. Um I’m sorry?? Luckily we were able to go hire a boat at a guesthouse on the way and get there in about 5 minutes instead of having to walk so long. Who knew an island in the middle of the river could be so large!