Vetnam, Laos & Cambodia

Sun 03 Sep, 2023

It was a long five years since our last trip to West Africa. A combination of the global COVID pandemic and the rebuilding of the business made travel impossible. After pushing back the decision for half a year, we drilled down our long wish list, looking for a place that would be ideal to visit in March. Finally decided to do Indochina, with Vietnam as the main course, a bite of Laos and some Cambodia for dessert.

Indochina is a popular destination with fairly organized tourist infrastructure, so booking tickets, hotels and activities is quite straightforward. The problem has always been our limited time. Once more we had to squeeze a myriad of places to visit and things to do, to just three weeks. With the help of a local agency that covers the entire Indochina we came up with a plan that covered the highlights and then some.

The most challenging issue was to issue the online visas for Vietnam. When I went to study in the US, I decided to spell my name in a way that is now incompatible with the Greek transliteration regulation. As a result I have two last name and two first name spellings on my passport that truncate to a weird combination on the ICAO machine read line. It turns out that the Vietnamese immigration wants the name spelled exactly as displayed on the ICAO line and as this was not confusing enough, you can only only issue single entry visas online. We had to enter Vietnam three times during the trip so I had to apply for three different single entry visas. In the end after several failed attempts I managed successfully to issue the two visas and failed with the most important one, the first.

With the help of the local agent I applied again 2 days before departure and headed to the Athens Venizelos airport without a valid visa to enter Vietnam. It took a lot of negotiation at the airline counter, intense paper shuffling a heavy does of smiling to convince them that my visa would be just fine and waiting for me in Hanoi. It didn’t. Smiling, negotiations, paper shuffling all over again and finally, after 40 minutes in the immigration office of the Noi Bai International Airport, I got my passport stamped.

Our itinerary was rather complex: three days in Hanoi and Halong Bay, then fly to Luang Prabang in Laos, back to Hanoi to drive to Sapa on the Chinese border; fly to Hue, drive to Hoi An, then fly to Ho Chi Min City. Stay two days, fly to Siem Reap in Cambodia, then to Phnom Penh and finally back to Ho Chi Min City before returning to Athens. Could it be any simpler? Definitely, but this was the only way to make it within 18 days.










Ha Long Bay

Luang Prabang


Hoi An

Ho Chi Min City


Siem Reap

Phnom Penh