Vietnam and Cambodia are two countries well worth exploring in-depth, and it’s very easy and highly recommended to combine the two countries into the same trip. It does depend on how much time you have for your trip, however it is possible to experience a comprehensive Vietnam and Cambodia tour in under three weeks.
|cruises on mekong river|
Starting in Hanoi, you can experience the dramatic scenery of Halong Bay cruises on an overnight trip on a traditional junk boat before heading south to the friendly town of Hoi An, full of old-world charm. Continuing south to Ho Chi Minh City you can take part in a crawling expedition through the Cu Chi Tunnels and explore the capital city for a couple of days. Jumping on a boat, you can travel through the Mekong river cruises and wander over the border to Phnom Penh, the capital city of Cambodia. After visiting the sights in this bustling city you can catch a bus (or take a boat trip across the lake) to reach Siem Reap, where you will find one of the great wonders of the world, the Angkor temple complex, including Angkor Wat.
Day 1: Arrive in Hanoi
Arriving into a big city like Hanoi after a long international flight can sometimes be a bit daunting, so it’s a good idea to organise an arrival transfer to meet your flight and take you directly to your hotel. On the road from the airport you’ll catch your first glimpses of Vietnamese street life, with small houses and peddlers on the side of the road, and many, many motorcycles. It’s recommended to stay in a hotel in the old town, in the heart of the city with a huge array of food stands and small restaurants to choose from. Small streets run criss-cross through each other and sidewalks have a wide variety products for sale displayed on them. While zigzagging through the many motor cycles parked everywhere, you’re sure to find what you’re looking for.
Day 2: Explore Hanoi
After a good nights’ sleep it’s time today to kick start your Vietnam and Cambodia tour and get out and explore this lively city. You could spend the day wandering through the markets, complete with live chickens, fish and sweet-smelling herbs and spices. Or perhaps you could jump in a tuk-tuk and travel through the historic district. Hoan Kiem Lake in the heart of the city is a great spot for a stroll in the afternoon, and be sure to stop at a local restaurant for a typical Vietnamese spring roll.
Day 3: Hanoi – Halong Bay
|cruises mekong river|
If you have organised a Halong Bay tour, you’ll be picked up from your hotel in the morning for the journey to the small coastal town of Halong. A Chinese sailing ship (a junk) will be waiting for you on your arrival. On board you’ll be served a lunch fresh from the sea. The scent of the fresh fish dishes being prepared in the kitchen is sure to make your mouth water.
The boat will start off on its cruise through the area and it will set anchor at Dinh Huong Island, Ga Choi Island, Dog Island and Sail Island. Then you’ll go on to visit the Sung Sot cave and you can take a refreshing dive into the waters at the Titov beach. Those who like to fish can try to catch different types of fish from the boat with a rod and some fishing twine. During dinner you’ll be able to enjoy the view once while you watch the sun set with a glass of Vietnamese wine in hand.
Day 4: Halong Bay – Hanoi
The following morning you’ll wake up to a delicious breakfast and you’ll explore some nearby islands in the bay. Keep your camera on hand; these islands are incredibly photogenic. On the way back to Halong lunch will be prepared and after arrival a transfer will be waiting to take you back to Hanoi.
Day 5: Hanoi
|mekong river cruises|
Today will likely be your last full day in Hanoi on this Vietnam and Cambodia tour. If you feel up to it, you may enjoy going for an early morning visit to Hoan Kiem Lake. Shortly after sunrise, the Vietnamese head out to the lake for an energizing early morning work-out. Men and women practice Tai Chi, play games of badminton or groups of women walk around the lake. Along the way they’ll do stretches for their arms and legs from time to time. A great way to start the day…
Hanoi has many temples, pagodas and museums. The temple of literature is an oasis of peace and tranquillity amidst a bustling city. Visiting several of these temples by bicycle rickshaw is a fun past-time. It usually doesn’t cost more than a few dollars and it’s an excellent way to see more of the city while also not being cut off from the sights and smells.
Day 6: Hanoi – Hoi An
Today you’ll fly from Hanoi to Danang, near Hoi An. The city of Hoi An is a Vietnamese highlight for many due to its abundance of small restaurants and cafÃ©s, dirt-cheap tailors and an appealing beach. The intriguing historic Hoi An monuments are less well known. In the historic part of the city you’ll be able to buy a ticket for about $10 which comes with entrance vouchers for the famous Japanese bridge, the ancient trade houses and a small museum. The charming city centre can easily be explored on foot and is exactly as it was in the 17th and 18th century when it was an important harbour and trade post.
|mekong river tours|
In the afternoon, perhaps you could rent bicycles to explore further, visiting the large market, the historic harbour and then biking past the paddy-fields to the beach. The beach is surprisingly quiet during the day. You’ll be able to find a deck chair beneath one of the awnings and let yourself be pampered with drinks and snacks by the beach restaurant waitresses. If you stay until sunset, you’ll see the beach slowly begin to fill up as the Vietnamese come to the beach to cool off with their families after a long work day.
Itinerary Suggestion for a Vietnam and Cambodia Tour