Air travel is the recommended way to go between Vietnam and other points in Asia. You must obtain a visa to visit most countries near Vietnam—Laos, Cambodia, and China—which can be difficult; it's best to make visa arrangements before you go to Vietnam. Cambodia and Laos currently provide visas on arrival at international airports (with a photo), but this is subject to change; inquire at these countries' embassies for the most up-to-date policies. In general, Thailand automatically grants short-term-stay visas to most Western visitors. Note also that tourist visas can be arranged quickly for most Asian countries from their respective embassies in Bangkok.
Going overland from Vietnam to other points is neither easy nor comfortable, though it is possible. Again, although it’s possible to arrange visas at most borders, rules change all the time. It's important that you make enquiries or prearrange visas before making the journey overland. Vietnam–China border crossings include Mong Cai, Huu Nghi, and Lao Cai (near Sapa). Two trains per week run from Hanoi to Beijing via Nanning, crossing at Dong Dang. The trip takes 55 hours. Traveling overland into Laos today is easier than in previous years; many travelers make the journey via the Lao Bao border crossing, 85 km (53 miles) from Dong Ha in central Vietnam, or opt to cross the border at Cau Treo, near Vinh, also in central Vietnam. Entering Cambodia on the Mekong River has become possible at Vinh Xuong, 30 km (19 miles) north of Chau Doc. Travelers also make the trip into Cambodia by bus through Moc Bai, northwest of Ho Chi Minh City, from which it takes about 6–8 hours to reach Phnom Penh or by boat from Chau Doc which takes 5–6 hours. The best time to make this journey is on the early morning bus, as the roads on the Cambodian side of the border are neither in good repair or well lit, making the journey slower at night.
Chinese Embassy. 46 Hoang Dieu, Hanoi, Ha Noi. 24/3845–3736; www.vn.china-embassy.org.
Royal Embassy of Cambodia. 4500 16th St. NW, Washington, District of Columbia, 20011. 202/726–7742; www.embassyofcambodia.org.
Royal Embassy of Cambodia. 71A Tran Hung Dao St., Hoan Kiem District, Hanoi, Ha Noi. 24/942–4789; www.embassyofcambodia.org.