- Asia Van Transfer: Your Alternative to Travel from Cambodia to Laos
- Review: Asia Van Transfer from Siem Reap to Pakse
- The Final Verdict: Asia Van Transfer from Cambodia to Laos
I always love road trips!
And ever since I started planning my Indochina trip, I knew that I wanted to use either bus or train to get me from one place to another.
After researching the options that I could take from Siem Reap to somewhere in Laos, I decided to make a stopover in Pakse. Honestly, when I decided to do that, it was actually my first time hearing about Pakse, so I barely knew anything about where to go or what to visit there.
However, I figured stopping by Pakse is an excellent way to go if I want to go across the border from Cambodia to Laos by land. I could stay for a night or two, and then continue my trip to Vientiane later. So I did.
Asia Van Transfer: Your Alternative to Travel from Cambodia to Laos
When I found out that there was no way to travel from Siem Reap to Vientiane that doesn’t take more than 10++ hours, I almost gave up to book a flight ticket to Siem Reap.
Lucky for me, as I checked Bookaway and found out that there was a minivan available with Asia Van Transfer from Siem Reap to Pakse for $29 USD.
I booked the ticket through Bookaway, and they also offered a pick-up service in Siem Reap as Asia Van Transfer sent me a follow-up e-mail to confirm the name of the hotel where I stayed for easy pick-up on my departure date.
It was quite an easy booking through Bookaway, so I’ll just get straight to the review…
Review: Asia Van Transfer from Siem Reap to Pakse
I got picked up from my hotel in Siem Reap, Angkor Pearl Hotel, at 7 in the morning as my departure time was at 8 AM local time.
Unfortunately, unlike the pick-up service that was provided by Giant Ibis with a minibus, Asia Van Transfer (AVT) provided the service by tuk-tuk. While it was still doable, it was a shared tuk-tuk, so we had to make the tuk-tuk fit for 3 people along with our belongings.
Mind you, each one of us has at least one big bag, so it was kinda uncomfortable. But we eventually made it work, since the AVT office was located around 15 minutes tuk-tuk ride from my hotel.
When I reached the AVT office in Siem Reap, I went straight to the check-in counter and told the lady there that I booked the ticket through Bookaway. She asked for my passport to match the ID and the reservation, and she gave me an envelope with my ticket inside it.
After getting my ticket, the lady told me to wait for a bit as her manager would explain the instruction for our journey from Cambodia to Laos as the first minibus will only take us to the restaurant close to the border.
Briefing Prior to the Departure
Around half an hour before our departure time, the manager asked all passengers to get around. He gave us some information about our itinerary for the trip, since each one of us will depart from Siem Reap although our destinations will be different from one and others.
After having a little chit-chat with another passenger, the passengers were actually split into two destinations in Laos. While some of us had Pakse as our destination, some others were going to Don Det.
Still, we took the same minivan to the Riverside restaurant near the Cambodian border. From there, we may take the same minibus to the immigration office in the borders. Only there, we will be split up according to our final destination in Laos.
The manager also informed us about any fee that may come up during the immigration process. He seems to have extensive knowledge about it since there were around 12 of us with different nationalities.
He could literally point out how much of the fee we would need to pay in the immigration according to our passport, with and without a visa required. It was quite impressive since it seems like they charge differently for different nationalities.
And guess what? The manager could easily tell us the fee for citizens from Indonesia to Mexico, without double-checking it, but his information was legit.
As an Indonesian citizen, I didn’t have to pay for a visa to either Cambodia or Laos. Still, I needed to pay the service for $2 USD on each border, so I spent $4 USD in total for it.
Departure: AVT Office in Siem Reap to Riverside Restaurant
As there were 12 of us traveling from Cambodia to Laos at the time, apparently AVT used a minivan for the service, and they provided 2 minivans, so the passengers were split into two groups.
There was one incident when we were about to depart from Siem Reap. The Irish couple who used the same tuk-tuk for the pick-up service with me, the guy suddenly disappeared.
At first, he said he was going out to find something for breakfast, but at 8 AM he was nowhere to be seen that the girl kinda got panic that she begged us to just leave without waiting for them. We stayed anyway, and apparently, the guy got lost before finding his way back to the office. LOL.
It took us around 4 hours from Siem Reap to the Riverside Restaurant. We made a stop at some gas station along the way, and I found out that the driver who took us there used to work in Papua for a mining company, so we bonded through it since he spoke a bit of Indonesian.
Anyway, there is only one official checkpoint at the Cambodia-Laos border. The checkpoint links the Champasak Province in Laos with the Strung Treng Province in Cambodia.
We stopped at Riverside Restaurant not only for a lunch break, but we also had to wait for another bus with the passengers who departed from Phnom Penh.
Lunch Break at Riverside Restaurant
We arrived at around 12.30 in the restaurant. The restaurant isn’t that fancy, but they offer various kinds of menu, although most of them weren’t available when we were there. Hmm.
We were supposed to wait for around an hour at the restaurant, but the bus from Phnom Penh ran a little late. We stayed around the restaurant for a little over an hour, but at least wifi connection was available there.
You can also exchange money to Lao Kip (LAK) at the restaurant if you don’t have it yet. In fact, I’d totally recommend it if it’s the case, because there’s no ATM or money changer available around the border.
Cambodia-Laos Border Service
The bus from Phnom Penh arrived at around 1.30 PM, and it’s slightly bigger than the minivan that took us from Siem Reap.
At the time, there were only a couple of passengers from Phnom Penh, so most of the passengers who embarked on the bus were those traveling with me from Siem Reap.
From the restaurant to the Cambodia-Laos border, it took us only around 30 minutes. Once we arrived there, we got off the bus to get our passport stamped.
As the manager informed us at the AVT office in Siem Reap, I paid $2 USD in each immigration when I left Cambodia and entered Laos. It was an easy process for me since I’m a citizen of one of ASEAN countries. But I figured the process could take a while if a visa is required to enter the country.
What’s challenging is the aftermath, since I wasn’t so sure where I should wait for the van. There was a corner where a few buses parked, but apparently it wasn’t the bus that would take us to either Don Det or Pakse.
It took me around an hour to wait until someone approached me and asked whether I was a passenger of AVT to one of the destinations.
I didn’t get a chance to take a pic of the van, but at least the van looks a bit more decent than those that took us from Siem Reap and Riverside Restaurant.
Bus from the Border to Pakse
One of the most fascinating things that happened on the way from the Cambodian-Laos border to Pakse was that random animals from dogs, goats, and even cows could be seen strolling around easily on Laos high road.
I sat next to the driver on the way to Pakse and I got to take a few pictures when some random goat crossing the road. And other times, we had to stop a bit as there was this huge cow on the road. Wow, I never felt so fascinated as a big city girl! LOL
The journey took around 2 hours in total, and it was quite a smooth trip, although the driver didn’t seem to understand English. At that point, I didn’t have an internet connection to help me translate things since I didn’t have a roaming plan on my phone.
Minus the confusion about which bus I should take after the immigration process, I think I had quite a nice trip from Siem Reap to Pakse!
The Final Verdict: Asia Van Transfer from Cambodia to Laos
So, I think the only downside of having a road trip when it comes to my Indochina travel is the inconvenience of having to take our belongings from one border to another. Other than that, when it comes to services, I think it’s alright.
To sum things up, here are the plus and minus of traveling with Asia Van Transfer from Cambodia to Laos according to my experience.
- It’s quite affordable for $29 USD per trip. Although the last time I checked, Asia Van Transfer currently stops operating due to Covid-19.
- Easy booking through Bookaway, and the check-in process was quite easy too.
- The staff at Asia Van Transfer seem to be an expert when it comes to traveling around Indochina. They’re super helpful, and they give us the information needed during the trip.
- Too many bus transfers, I suppose it would be convenient to avoid too many transits along the way that require the change of vehicles.
Despite the minus, I’m glad that I’ve tried the service. It spiced up my journey in Indochina, with all the confusion and all that. It’s worth it, though!
So, do you have any experience traveling around Southeast Asia? Have you been on a road trip around Indochina? Tell me your experience below, and cheerio! 🙂
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