Getting There Away

The NH5 from Phnom Penh is in good condition. Buses depart from Psar Thmei via Pursat (18,OOOr, six hours). To and from Pailin, share taxis take about four hours (20,OOOr or 200B). From Poipet, private buses leave from the Tourist Lounge (32,OOOr, three hours). Or try Capital and Neak Krorhorm around the corner, which normally undercuts them. From Battambang, buses leave from the transport station near Psar Boeng Chhoeuk to Siem Reap (US 4, four hours) and Sisophon (US 2, two to three hours)....

Svay Rieng

A laid-back town that sits by the Wayko River, there is literally nothing to do here. Adeda Bank ( 9455545) represents Western Union for money transfers. If you do get stuck here the best place to stay is Tonle Waikor Hotel ( 945718 r US 10 (JJ)), where spacious rooms have all the basic luxuries you need for a quick stopover, including a TV and fridge. Vimean Monorom Hotel ( 945817 r US 510 ) offers clean, decent-sized rooms. There are snack stalls along the river and others around the market,...

Battambang

Acleda Bank Banan Hotel Canadia Bank Hotel Royal Internet Caf KCT Internet KCT Internet Victoria Hotel Police Station Tourist Office Smokin' Pot 23 B4 Sourn You Van Restaurant 24 C5 Sunrise Coffee House 25 B3 White Rose 26 B4 Riverside Balcony Bar 27 C6 Fast Boats to Siem Reap 29 C2 Ferry Crossing 30 C3 Taxi _ To Phnom Sampeau (18km) Sneng (26km) Kamping Poy (36km) Pailin (83km) _ To Phnom Sampeau (18km) Sneng (26km) Kamping Poy (36km) Pailin (83km) complete with all amenities and bustling with...

Southcentral Coast

Undeniably, the beach is the big attraction in this part of Vietnam. Nha Trang and Mui Ne have become the favoured destinations for those whose idea of paradise is reclining by the water, cocktail in hand, contemplating whether to have a massage or a pedicure before hitting the bars later. With most visitors not venturing outside of these two main enclaves, the rest of the beautiful coast is wonderfully overlooked - leaving empty beaches to be explored by the more independendy minded. Nha Trang...

Mekong Delta

Vietnam's 'rice basket', the Mekong Delta is a watery landscape of green fields and sleepy villages, crisscrossed by the chocolaty brown canals and rivulets fed by the mighty Mekong River. Its inhabitants - stereotyped as an extremely friendly and easy-going lot - have long toiled on the life-sustaining river, with their labours marked by the same cycles governing the waterways. After winding its way from its source in Tibet, the Mekong River meets the sea in southernmost Vietnam. This...

Chunchiet Villages

There are many hill tribes occupying the regions of Ratanakiri that can be visited for a glimpse into the Chunchiet way of life. Ethnically they are impossible to tell apart from the Khmer Krom (Lower Khmers), especially now that they have traded in their colourful costumes and bright beads for current Khmer dress. When travelling to the villages, it is best to arrange an accompanying tour guide as the Chunchiet people are rather shy of outsiders. As with polite custom when visiting someone's...

Dining For A Cause

Combine food for the body with food for the soul at restaurants and caf s that run vocational training programmes for street kids. Good cause, good food, good Idea. KOTO on Van Mieu (Map pp352-3 747 0338 www.streetvolces.com.au 59 Pho Van Mleu mains 30,000-50,OOOd S breakfast, lunch & dinner, except Mon dinner (B)) Recently relocated into a larger property, KOTO offers local specialities, home comforts, delicious sandwiches and cakes, real coffees, fruit shakes, plus free wi-fi. KOTO is a...

Ho Chi Minh City Saigon

Boasting an electric, near palpable energy, Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) is Vietnam's largest metropolis and its undisputed capital of commerce. For the casual visitor, Saigon -as it's still called by all but the city officials who live here - can seem a chaotic collage of traffic-clogged roads and urban bustle, with nary a green space in sight. Yet thousands of expats and Vietnamese immigrants couldn't imagine living anywhere else. They've long since fallen prey to the hidden charms of one of...

Silk Products Clothing

Pho Hang Gai, about 100m northwest of Hoan Kiem Lake, and its continuation, Pho Hang Bong, is a good place to look for embroidery such as tablecloths, T-shirts and wall hangings. This is also the modern-day silk strip, with pricey boutiques offering tailoring services and selling ready-to-wear clothing. Other fashionable streets include the blocks around St Joseph Cathedral (Map p358) Pho Nha Tho, Pho Ly Quoc Su and Pho Hang Trong. Designer boutiques here sell silk clothing, purses, homewares...

Vietnam Directory

Vietnam has something for everyone - from dives to the divine. Most hotels in Vietnam quote prices in a mix of Vietnamese dongand US dollars. Prices are quoted in dong or dol- The usual voltage is 220V, 50 cycles, but sometimes you encounter 110V, also at 50 cycles, just to confuse things. Electrical sockets are usually two-pin. Most guesthouses and hotels have cheap laundry services, but check they have a dryer if the weather is bad. Vietnam News and the Saigon Times are popular...

Lao Noodles

Noodles of all kinds are popular in Vientiane, especially in the unofficial Chinatown area bounded by Th Heng Boun, Th Chao Anou, Th Khun Bulom and the western end of Th Samsenthai. The basic choice is f e (rice noodle), mit (traditional Chinese egg noodle) and kh o pirn (very thin wheat noodles with a spicy Lao sauce). F e and mii can be ordered as soup (eg f e n m), fried (eg khiia f e) or dry-mixed in a bowl (eg f e h eng), among other variations. I.1IIMIJH Vianq iawan (Mapp272 g 213990 Th...

Islands

There are quite a few islands dotting the gulf within day-trip distance of Sihanoukville. For snorkelling, Koh Ta Kiev and Koh Khtea are the best. Bamboo Island Koh Russei , Koh Ru and Koh Rung all have basic accommodation, with boat trips out there encompassing spots of snorkelling along the way. Though those who have just arrived from Thailand will be disappointed. Bamboo Island is surrounded by clear waters and the bungalows r USSS-10 are sweet with shared bathrooms and breezy terraces....

Traditional Massage

More visitors learn to pummel bodies the Thai way in Chiang Mai than anywhere else. We've received good reports about the following Chetawan Thai Traditional Massage School 0 5341 0360 www.watpomassage.com map_chlangmai _en.html 7 1-2 SolSamud Lanna, Th Pracha Uthit 5-day foot Thai massage course 5500 7000B Affiliated with the Wat Pho massage school in Bangkok. Offers tuition in foot and Thai massage. Lek Chaiya 0 5327 8325 www.nervetouch.com 25 Th Ratchadamnoen 5-day course 4000B Khun Lek, a...

Crossing Into Vietnam Attapeu To Bo Y

In far southeastern Attapeu Province a new border to Vietnam links to Kon Turn and Pleiku. It's 113km southeast of attractive Attapeu town, where there are several guesthouses. Visas are not issued here yet . It's a new border, and transport is sketchy, but at least three Vietnamese-run buses were operating each weekfrom Attapeu to Pleiku via Kon Turn US 10, 12 hours when we visited. The buses depart Attapeu at 9am Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and come the other way on Tuesday, Thursday and...

Central Coast

Residence Hue

Home to historical sites, fantastic food and the country's most iconic beach, Central Vietnam deserves to rate as a top priority for travellers. Tourists who want to avoid lengthy bus journeys will find Danang's airport the perfect gateway to a fascinating set of the country's most famous destinations, including three must-see Unesco World Heritage Sites - history-seeped imperial Hu , architecturally impressive Hoi An and the sacred ruins of ancient My Son. Hu is the intellectual, cultural and...

Voen

On the banks of the Tonle San, Voen Sai is a bustling little village of Chinese, Lao and Kreung minorities. This is a good place to buy authentic Chunchiet handicrafts for half the price sold in Ban Lung. On the other side of the river is the wealthy Chinese settlement that sits alongside the Lao village. Small ferries can take you across for lOOOr return. To get here on your own, the road from Ban Lung is in poor shape and can take around two to three hours of dusty driving, the distance is...

Luang Prabang Province Nong Khiaw Muang Ngoi

Nesded next to the looming limestone cliffs ofPhu NangNawn Sleeping Princess Mountain , Nong Khiaw is a quiet market town on the banks of the Nam Ou. The location is stunning, but most travellers only stop for a short break before catching a boat further north. Those who stay and explore the dramatic surrounds are rewarded with walks to nearby caves and Hmong villages. The friendly guesthouses, on both sides of the river, are markedly less busy than the bungalow huts of Muang Ngoi Neua. Nong...

Getting Around

Pick up a ticket at the taxi kiosk just outside the baggage-claim area, then present the ticket to the drivers outside arrivals. The airport is about 3km from the city centre. Public bus 4 red sdwngthdew, 15B and 10 white bus, 10B run from the airport to Th Tha Pae between 6am and 9pm. You can charter a tuk-tuk or red sdwngthdew from the centre of Chiang Mai to the airport for around 65B. Hordes of red sdwngthdew circulate the city with fares of 15B to 20B per person,...

Sleeping Eating

Huanam Hotel 04261 1137 36 Th SamutSakdarak r 150-320B S S Rooms aren't quite as slick as the lobby. They are, nonetheless, good value in a good location. Mountain bike rentals are 100B per day. Submukda Grand Hotel 0 4263 3444 72 ThSamut Sakdarak rSOOB 3 This shiny new tower was erected in 2006 to cash in on the expected rise in tour-bus business the bridge would bring. Rooms are boxy, but they're good. To Thai-Lao P.nondzhip Bridge .TT fa f gt i Kabao 2 km Huanam Hotel Ploy Palace Hotel...

Phu Khao Khuay National Protected Area

Covering more than 2000 sq km of mountains and rivers to the east of Vientiane, the underrated Phu Khao Khuay NPA www.trekklngcentrallaos .com is home to several waterfalls and a herd of wild elephants. Phu Khao Khuay pronounced poo cow kwai means 'Buffalo Horn Mountain' and is home to three major rivers flowing off a sandstone mountain range into the Ang Nam Leuk Reservoir. The main attraction is the wild elephants, which make regular appearances at their

Tonle Sap The Worlds Greatest Flood Barrier

Asia's largest freshwater lake and the world's biggest fish bowl, the Tonle Sap is an ecological wonder. It is connected to the Mekong at Phnom Penh by a 100km channel, known as the Tonle Sap river. In the wet season the level of the Mekong rises and backs up into the river, causing it to flow northwest into the lake, which then swells from 2m deep and 2500 sq km to 10m deep and 13,000 sq km. In the dry season, when the Mekong level is low, the Tonle Sap reverses its flow, draining the water...

Tubing

Tubing down the Nam Song has become a rite of passage on the Indochina backpacking circuit. And it has to be said, it's a lot of fun. The tube renters have formed a cartel that operates from a shed near the old market site the price is fixed at US 3.50 for the trip, including your tube, life jacket and the t k-t k ride to the launch point 3km north of town. The trip can take two or more hours depending on river conditions and how many of the makeshift bars you stop off at en route People have...

Weather Hill Station

Mama Cambodia 012-221468 mains USS2-3 5 breakfast, lunch amp dinner 'Mama' is a middle-aged woman with a talent in the kitchen that could make you discard your own. Unlike the bizarre beauty queens laminated into her menus, her traditional Khmer meals are authentic and tasty. KhmerGourmet 012-1799450 S breakfast, lunch 8t dinner Saviours of the sweet tooth, fresh pies, cakes and cookies line the display cabinet of this caf , but its piece de resistance is the coffee machine, a proper one, that...

Wat Si Saket

Built between 1819 and 1824 by King Anou-vong Chao Anou , Wat Si Saket Map p272 cnrTh LanXang amp Th Setthathirat admission US 0.50 S8am-noon amp 1 -4pm was the only temple to survive the sacking of Vientiane in 1828. Chao Anou, who was educated in the Bangkok court and was more or less a vassal of the Siamese state, had Wat Si Saket constructed in the early Bangkok style, but surrounded it with a cloister similar to - but smaller than - the one that surrounds Pha That Luang left . The...

Crossing Into Thailand Cham Yeam To Hat

From Krong Koh Kong, you need to cross the toll bridge 11B for a bike 44B for a car to reach Cham Yeam 10 minutes . Take a moto 80B to 100B including toll or charter a taxi 200B including toll . Once there walk across the border to Hat Lek where there are minibuses and pick-ups waiting on the other side for easy transfers on to Trat or Ko Chang. For information on crossing this border in the other direction, seethe boxed text, p158. moto for a whole day of sightseeing, taking in the waterfalls,...

Siam Square Pratunam

Siam Sq lies conveniently along both Skytrain lines. A low-key, DIY traveller community bunks down on Soi Kasem San 1. Pranee Building Map ppll8-19 0 2216 3181 931 12 Soi Kasem San 1 r450B g One of the cheapest options on the street, Pranee isn't fancy but the rooms are large with air-con and hot water the bathrooms are a tad decrepit. Wendy House Map ppll8-19 0 2216 2436 Sol KasemSan 1 d incl breakfastfrom 1000B E As professional as they come with genuine Thai-style concern for the guests....

Maha Leap Pagoda Complex

The Maha Leap holds significance for the locals as this is one of the last remaining wooden pagodas left in the country. Over a century old, it was only saved by the temple-burning Khmer Rouge because they found use for it as a hospital. Many of the Khmers who were put to work in the surrounding fields perished here, and 500 bodies were thrown into graves on site, now camouflaged by a tranquil garden. The pagoda itself is beautiful. The wide columns supporting the structure are complete tree...

Spas Massage

Depending on the neighbourhood, prices for massages tend to stay fixed around 250B for a foot massage and around 500B for a body massage. Wat Pho Map pp118-19 0 2221 3686 Th Sanamchal S 8am-5pm runs the nation's premier massage school p 115 and has air-con service there, but the massage pavilions inside the temple itself provide a greater sense of tradition. Spas are becoming increasingly popular in Thailand, and while Health Land Map pp118-19 0 2637 8883 www.healthlandspa.com 120 Th Sathon...

Chiang Khong

More remote yet more lively than Chiang Saen, Chiang Khong is an important market town for local hill tribes several villages inhabited by Mien and White Hmong are nearby. Lots of travellers pass this way between Thailand and Laos. Several banks have branches in town with ATMs and foreign exchange services. There is no shortage of lodging in town, much of it on the river. Reuan Thai Sophaphan 0 53791023 p_durasawang hotmail.com 8 Th Sal Klang r 200-600B S has spacious rooms in a beautiful teak...

Old Quarter

American Club 1 C5 D5 Domestic Post Office 4 C4 Ethnic Travel 6 B2 Handspan Adventure Travel see 56 industrial amp Commercial B2 International Post Office see 4 Ocean Tours 9 B2 ODC Travel 10 C2 SOS international Clinic 11 B5 Thang Long Bookshop 12 C5 UK Embassy see 11 D4 C5 Bach Ma Temple 15 B1 Highway 4 see 62 'Hanoi Hilton' 16 A5 Memorial House 17 C2 Ngoc Son Temple 18 C3 SF Salon amp Spa 19 C1 St Joseph Cathedral 20 B4 Women's Museum 21 B5 Artist Hotel 22 C5 Church Hotel 23 B4 City Gate...

Eating

Boon Ni Yon Uthayan 04524 0950 Th Si Narong per plate 15B S breakfast amp lunch Most of the food for this vegetarian buffet is grown organically just outside the city. Kai Yang Wat Jaeng 081709 9393 228Th Suriyat mains 20-100B S lunch It looks like a tornado whipped through this no-frills spot, but the chefs cook up a storm of their own. This is considered by many to be Ubon's premier Yasothon, 100km northwest of Ubon Ratchathani, just might be Thailand's most dreary provincial capital - except...