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Has anyone been to Vietnam and Cambodia?
I’ve the opportunity to visit the area for 6 nights next year with my wife and 11 year old. I realise that in this space of time we won’t do the region justice and will miss lots, however, would still like to do this. We will fly in from Hong Kong then out to Singapore. What should not be missed? Happy to do an internal flight.
Of course, this is COVID dependent.
Thanks in advance
Daniel30 Nov 2020
Definitely visit, but as it’s your first visit to either I’d focus more on Vietnam than attempting to visit both. Vietnam is bigger than you think, with it’s two main cities, Hanoi (the seat of government) and Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon, the commercial centre) being a 1000 miles from each other.
I’ve been travelling regularly (several times a year) to Vietnam for the past 16 years, and in that time the country has changed dramatically; in my opinion much of the change has been positive, but some of it hasn’t been so good.
Current Covid-19 restrictions has meant I haven’t been able to visit since January, and talking to friends in Government recently it seems unlikely that the country will open up to western based visitors until possibly the latter part of next year.
However, I see you are travelling in from Hong Kong, so there may be a travel bubble in place early next year that you can take advantage of.
In terms of where to visit, culturally there are differences between North and South, and as cities go Hanoi is less developed than Saigon with the old French quarter giving you a flavour of the past, also as a tourist has more for you to see, e.g. Ho Chi Minh’s mausoleum, Hoa Lo prison etc. plus, the UNESCO site Halong Bay can be visited in a day from there, but most go and stay overnight on a junk (always crowded though), also Sapa or Ninh Bihn are popular side trips from Hanoi.
To be honest I’m somewhat biased, as I much prefer Hanoi to HCM City, spending most of my time there, and only visiting HCM City when I have to.
When are you planning on visiting?
Spring and autumn are the best times for Hanoi, it gets hot in the summer, and you can have cool days in winter. HCM City is generally hot (like Singapore) all year round.
As well as these two key cities, Vietnam has some wonderful beaches, so places in the central region such as Da Nang, Nha Trang (a UNESCO site) are options, as is Hoi An (for silk)
What I’m trying to say is that you’ll definitely need to extend your trip, or organise a second trip to see what Vietnam has to offer 🙂30 Nov 2020
Thank you again.
I’m going towards the end of August if its open. From your reply it doesn’t sound likely. I will book fully flexible hotels.
If I was to do 3 nights in Hanoi and 3 at a wonderful beach, which beach would you go to? If you’ve any family friendly hotels to suggest I’d be very grateful indeed.
Thanks30 Nov 2020
For short trips I’d go for Pnom Phen (Cambodia) a good start point with interesting if depressing history visits followed by a river trip north to Siem Riep for trips to Ancor Wat area…spectacular ruins ..all depends with how long you have but a great place to explore..Vietnam is also lovely but a totally different experience but, again for a short trip I’d try a mix of the central area (How An) north to Hanoi….30 Nov 2020
DanielRawson – All three locations I mention have excellent beaches, it very much depends on what you are looking for.
If you want some entertainment for your 11 year old Nha Trang could be an option – It has a cable car link across the bay to Vinpearl Island, a Vietnamese theme park.
I haven’t been to any of these location in a while, so I don’t really know any of the hotels there.
Here is a link which will give you some more information on the beach resorts
Another option for a couple of days and not that far from Hanoi would be to visit Cat Ba Island.
If you travel by ferry from Hai Phong it will transport you to the island via some of the sights of Ha Long Bay.1 Dec 2020
For short trips I’d go for Pnom Phen (Cambodia) a good start point with interesting if depressing history visits followed by a river trip north to Siem Riep for trips to Ancor Wat area…spectacular ruins ..all depends with how long you have but a great place to explore..Vietnam is also lovely but a totally different experience but, again for a short trip I’d try a mix of the central area (How An) north to Hanoi….
I would concur with Peter, Ankar Wat is amazing and both Phnom Pen and Siem Reap are worth visiting to get the flavour. I belong to a charity that cares for Orphans effected by AIDs and ride a bicycle a minimum of 700 kms each year and out of the towns Cambodia is a little too rustic but areas such as Battambang have historic value…. But for a richer experience probably Siem Reap wins the day… Enjoy if you can get there1 Dec 2020
For me the only thing that spoils Vietnam is the influx of western brands. Just doesn’t seem right to see Debenhams (a UK version of Macy’s for our US friends) when driving into a Vietnamese city centre….
I love the hospitality given to me by my Vietnamese friends and clients, the gentle way of life and the food, even for a fussy pescatarian like me who doesn’t eat sea food, is amazing.. The climate suits me, I never get enough of the Vietnam life.
Sadly, I have not had much opportunity to visit the tourist hotspots. Generally I alternate between local Vietnamese hospitality and then the ex-pat hotspots….
One tip I was told on my first visit, take plenty of low denomination US $ bills, appreciated more than dong for tips.
I am sure you will enjoy…. hotels are ‘basically amazing’..1 Dec 2020
Chris in MakatiParticipant
With only 6 days available I wouldn’t attempt to visit more than a couple of locations in either of those countries.
Pick any two from Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, Phnom Penh and Siem Reap (Angkor Wat). There are enough regional flights between those cities to make any combination practical. For me, HCMC would be last on my list of choices out of those four.
Bear in mind that depending on what passport you hold you may need visas for both countries at a cost of around US$30 each.2 Dec 2020
With only 6 days, I’m going to recommend a completely different approach than others have. Forget both Hanoi and Saigon. Too crowded, too miserable, too stressful, not relaxing at all. Go to ONE place, relax, and soak up the beauty and culture in a more peaceful way.
I would pick either Hoi an or Phu Quoc.
Hoi an is an extraordinary old historic town, absolutely beautiful with lots of nooks and crannies to explore. It’s only about 10 minutes to the beach. Loads of superb restaurants and little coffee shops and historic bits. The lights on the river at night should not be missed. Fly into Danang (really easy) then book a shuttle to Hoi an, or your hotel can arrange that. Keep in mind it will be HOT in August.
Phu Quoc island is also fabulous and it has many direct flights. Beaches galore, and if you are adventurous, try one of the snorkeling options. I had never snorkeled before but it’s very easy and safe, and you get to see many beautiful places. The cable car to Pineapple Island is incredible! Absolutely must-do. The island has loads of great restaurants, some that overlook the ocean. The night market is great too. Many wonderful (and cheap) resorts to stay at.
Good luck2 Dec 2020
Quite frankly with 6 days you are severely limited in what you will be able to see in either country. Both offer a range of special places However you provide little guidance on your interests
with 6 days
fly from Hong Kong to Siem Reap and spend a few days exploring the wonders of Angkor Wat if temples are your thing and then head to Phnom Penh for 2 days
Fly to Phnom penh and get taxi to Chi Phat and chill out in a Cambodian village and perhaps take a trek in the jungle
Vietnam either HCMC and a tour in the Mekong delta or Hanoi and a choice of Halong Bay or Sapa3 Dec 2020
We were very fortunate to visit both countries in February/March this year, when the Chinese were largely absent, so Angkor Wat was uncrowded and CV19 had not really started in the West. We had 12 days in both countries and want to go back to explore more of those less visited areas such as Hoi.
So I would agree with much of what is above; 6 days is not enough to do the countries justice and I would concentrate on Vietnam initially.
One thing I would add in Hanoi, especially with a 11 year-old in tow, is Train Street, as it is colloquially known, where the trains run in between cafes and bars. Get a seat on an upper level of a cafe and you get a unique (and safe) experience.
You also might want to think about visiting the Cu Chi tunnels, near HCM, part of Vietnam’s tragic history. It is a bit touristy but we learnt a lot (from a starting point of close to zero admittedly) about some of the fighting that went on during the Vietnam war. It is both a bit sobering but also very educational as it is a part of history we knew nothing about really being too young at the time to really understand it.
We also did a street food tour (sourced through Viator, not the hotel) in HCM and that was a great experience.
Whatever you do I am sure you will have a wonderful time. The people are friendly and welcoming, and we look forward to going back. Enjoy.22 Dec 2020
Cu Chi tunnels.
I visited these some years ago and agree it was an interesting experience. Whilst there our local guide offered an optional extra at one of the museums, a visit to a firing range next door. Only two of our group did it, a choice of weapons were available, I chose an AK 47, my first (and only) experience of this legendary weapon. If I remember correctly the additional cost was more than the trip itself, but for me well worthwhile.22 Dec 2020