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Border runs

I have a 12 month tourist visa to Vietnam from the U.S. which still requires border runs every 90 days. They can as brief as 5 seconds because my Vietnam visa is unaffected.

But I'm unfamiliar with the best ways to make border runs from Nha Trang. Flying to HCMC and then the bus to Moc Bai? Can that be done roundtrip in one day? Flying to a different country?

I'm interested in advice and in someone who needs to make a border run about the same time (end of September).

In the future I will combine border runs with travel but the first one is bad timing for me to do that.

I've browsed some of the past posts on this issue and they seem to be a little dated. Is there anything new in late 2017 that affects this topic?

Thanks, all!

Flights from Nha Trang to either Phnom Penh or Vientiane seem to be about triple the cost to SGN.  I doubt you could do the fly>bus>bus>fly routine in one day.  "Time is money" is an a rarely understood concept in Vietnam.  Unless you are objectively going to lose money taking two days off, why not fly to HCMC first?

Catch the sleeping bus Nha Trang - HCMC the night before. Arrive hcmc around 5am. Don't bother flying down as the timing is off and you have to muck around with taxis, hotels etc.

Try and catch the early coach bus from hcmc around 6am or 6.30am to Moc Bai border. Pay the man on the bus $10 ? to take care of your exit stamp (the $10 spend saves you hours lining up to exit Vietnam). He'll need your pp and will return it on the Cambodia side.

Catch the local public transport bus back to hcmc for 40,000. You'll be back in hcmc by lunchtime if all goes well. From there you can fly, train or bus back to Nha Tang. You need the right visa letter though before you go. Make sure you print out the right form as well for re entry as it can save you queuing twice (I qued on the entry side once for 2 hours to be told wrong form !). They have forms there though. Say no to the touts wanting money to help you fill in the form. If you want you can pay a motorbike person say 20,000 to take you from the Vietnam entry side to the public bus stop (about 700m) which is a long walk in the heat.

Disclaimer: I haven't been to Moc Bai for 12 months :)

Thank you so much, Panda and THIGV, for your thoughtful responses. I'm in the thick of trying to figure out Mac Boi logistics.

But it crossed my line of sight that there's a 50% off sale going on for the daily flights from/to NT/KL as part of the new flights inauguration. So I thought: That sounds cool. And did a KL hotel check and every single one, from guesthouse to high end, comes back with a bed bug posting. Maybe they've fixed it in the interim...and maybe they haven't. I'm a bug magnet.

yes it's good news about that new leg but will they have a visa on arrival booth at Cam Ranh airport on the return leg ?

That is a very good question and I don't know the answer. But I do have a 12 month multiple entry visa. When I had some email correspondence with some VN immigration person out in the cybersphere, he said I could reenter anywhere with that visa. Now whether or not he was thinking of CXR is unclear. But what do all the Russians and Chinese do when they fly here? They must be visa-free, correct?

if you have a 12 month visa you shouldn't have to leave the country for the 12 months...unless they only gave you a 3 month stamp. keep us informed if you take the KL route and what is required at Cam Ranh, cheers

Thanks! The 90 day exit requirement has been part of the 12 month visa since it was instituted. Makes no sense, but there it is. You don't have to apply for a new visa upon re-entry because you already have the visa in your passport. Do I have to fill out visa forms upon reentry? I'm guessing I won't know until it's happening.

I sent out an email to whomever I'm corresponding with at the immigration office asking about a visa desk at CXR.

I looked up visas and the Russians don't need them for 15 days or fewer, but the Chinese do. So seems as though there should be some sort of international visa desk at the airport already. I didn't notice one upon arrival, but then again I was flying domestically by that point.

I haven't purchased anything yet but at the moment I'm leaning towards a couple of days in Penang. Who knows how long the airfare sale to KL will last. I'll try the bus runs through HCMC to Cambodia next trip out.

Update: the Air Asia web site only takes credit and debit cards - unless you have their card - and then charges you a whopping $24 fee for using a card. Which wouldn't be so bad except then it doesn't accept the card as payment after you ok the fee. I tried a half dozen times, called my credit card company twice -- reservation will not go through. I did a search and apparently this is not unusual for Air Asia. At this point I will put Penang off for another date.
I have to pivot to a second choice. I decided the bus run from HCMC was too complicated for me to tackle as a newbie alone.

that sounds strange, I've never had an issue using cc with air asia. They are a big company so there shouldn't be a problem...

Moc Bai is pretty easy, it's just a pain to have to do it...it is the fastest and cheapest border run though.

I have a private driver that takes me in his new SUV. I set and have a drink and in a few minutes he is back with everything and they walk me through. Quite nice for me. But it does not seem that hard to do yourself once you have done it once. For me he picks me up at the airport and delivers me either back to the airport or wherever depending on my schedule.

Diazo, thanks for letting me know about your great way of getting to the border. Would it be possible to PM me that information, or, if you're comfortable with it, posting it here?

Panda, I received an email earlier today from AirAsia apologising for "technical errors" and asking me to try booking again. I did and it sailed through. Booked an airbnb in Penang in Georgetown and I'm really looking forward to it.

I think what "scares" me about the bus run from HCMC is all the details that have to come together. Once I've seen anything done once, I can replicate it and all its variations in a snap. It's the first time that gives me pause, especially in a couple of languages I don't speak.

For early January, maybe I can do Diazo's car and driver, and by April I'll be ready for the bus run on my own. I'm going down to HCMC for a few days in a couple of weeks and will get to know the lay of the land.

Thanks to all of you this is coming together and border runs will be a snap!

Jane

Update: the flight to and from KL from NT was easy and empty. Once the plane took off, the flight attendants let everyone move seats. There was an immigration agent at the NT airport and only a tiny line. A fairly painless way to do a border run.

New and improved :

Diazo, thanks for letting me know about your great way of getting to the border. Would it be possible to PM me that information, or, if you're comfortable with it, posting it here?

Panda, I received an email earlier today from AirAsia apologising for "technical errors" and asking me to try booking again. I did and it sailed through. Booked an airbnb in Penang in Georgetown and I'm really looking forward to it.

I think what "scares" me about the bus run from HCMC is all the details that have to come together. Once I've seen anything done once, I can replicate it and all its variations in a snap. It's the first time that gives me pause, especially in a couple of languages I don't speak.

For early January, maybe I can do Diazo's car and driver, and by April I'll be ready for the bus run on my own. I'm going down to HCMC for a few days in a couple of weeks and will get to know the lay of the land.

Thanks to all of you this is coming together and border runs will be a snap!

Jane

Don't go to Saigon by bus, catch the train, it's a much nicer and safer experience.

This is excellent advice.

colinoscapee :

Don't go to Saigon by bus, catch the train, it's a much nicer and safer experience.

New and improved :

I think what "scares" me about the bus run from HCMC is all the details that have to come together.

You don't even know scared until you have been on a Vietnamese cross country bus while passing three semi-trucks at night, on the curve, going uphill with a mountain drop-off to the side.  It is definitely white knuckle time.  I have taken a few fairly long trips by motorbike and have never felt frightened.  Busses are something else.   :o

Thanks for the advice.

An FYI if you haven't flown there lately, but when I went down to HCMC in September, my airfare was $4 each way on VietJet. Add in taxes and fees and baggage and whatnot, I think it was still $35 round trip. The public bus in to my hotel was 25 cents door to door. Unless the train is a great experience not to be missed, it's hard to beat the planes for convenience and price.

New and improved :

Thanks for the advice.

An FYI if you haven't flown there lately, but when I went down to HCMC in September, my airfare was $4 each way on VietJet. Add in taxes and fees and baggage and whatnot, I think it was still $35 round trip. The public bus in to my hotel was 25 cents door to door. Unless the train is a great experience not to be missed, it's hard to beat the planes for convenience and price.

True, but you did mention catching the bus, hence the replies.

I'm very sorry, colinoscapee, you are absolutely correct. I skipped a step in describing my thinking on this subject.

Earlier on I had a further chat with Diazo about his technique of flying into HCMC, then having a driver pick him up at the airport and drive the roundtrip to the border, then arriving back at the airport the same evening for the return flight.

So I made flight reservations to HCMC where I had to go for a meeting, and was quite surprised by how cheap and easy it was. My thinking evolved to comparing prices and time to that transport. Everyone made buses seem like a poor choice if there were alternatives. I won't by any means rule out the Saigon-border bus if for no other reason there might be fellow expats on there to give me guidance. And flight ticket prices can change dramatically.

(And nowhere is 100% safe: British Airways just had to pull airplanes out of rotation for infestations of bedbugs for the second time in five years.)

Diazo :

I have a private driver that takes me in his new SUV. I set and have a drink and in a few minutes he is back with everything and they walk me through. Quite nice for me. But it does not seem that hard to do yourself once you have done it once. For me he picks me up at the airport and delivers me either back to the airport or wherever depending on my schedule.

The first I've heard of a person being delivered somewhere...A parcel/precious cargo...definitely! LOL

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