Is it possible to fly from Siem Reap to Chiang Mai?
Could you please recommend an airline that offers good prices and the frequency of flights on this route? Thank you in advance. Matthew
No airline operates a direct service between Chiang Mai and Siem Reap at the moment so you would need to travel via Bangkok and the only carrier servicing this route is Bangkok Airways. Once you are in Bangkok, though, there are several flights to Chiang Mai, including those offered by budget carriers Thai AirAsia, Nok Air and One TwoGo.
Bangkok Airways did offer a temporary service between Chiang Mai to Siem Reap, the gateway to Cambodia's Angkor temple complex, between May 15 and October 27, 2009 but later decided not to introduce permanent flights between the two tourist spots.
Air Asia says there are plans to expand flights from Chiang Mai and Siem Reap in the future. However, no further details about the service are available as yet.
I will be travelling through Laos next year, from north to south, and plan to travel overland to cross the border to Cambodia. Is the border crossing manageable without using a travel agent to handle the procedures? Thanks, Jeff
Most travellers stop by Si Phan Don or "4,000 islands" in southern Laos. There are a few big islands there like Don Det and Don Khong where many people stay before crossing the border. For a long time, it was only possible to cross the border between Cambodia and Laos by boat - from Veun Kham in Laos to the Khmer town of Stung Treng - the riverside town that marks Cambodiaâ€™s northern border.
Now, most people cross by land. Any travel agent in Pakse, Don Khong, Don Det and Don Khon will be able to sell you a through bus ticket to the Cambodian town of your choice. Today, most travellers ask their hotel or guesthouse to arrange tickets on a bus to Cambodia, even to Siem Reap or Phnom Penh. Prices vary from US$20 to $35. If you find a good deal and compare it to what it would cost you to cross the border independently, the rates are quite a bargain. Buses usually leave from Pakse, do a pick-up at Si Phan Don and travel onwards to their designated destinations.
There have been some reports about long delays on trips from Si Phan Don islands to Cambodia as well as drivers dropping foreign passengers at an unknown place and asking for an extra fee.
Today, the roads are paved and visa-on-arrival can be obtained in both directions. At the border, you change to a bus or minivan and get your Cambodian visa for US$20 (plus $1-2 for unofficial fees). Don't forget to bring a photo and make the payment directly to uniformed immigration officials. Always avoid paying touts offering a "visa service".
If you have time, and are passing by the area, Kratie is a good spot to stop and watch the Mekong Irrawaddy Dolphins. The village of Kampi, around 20km north of Kratie, is the best place to see this critically endangered species.