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Narrowing it all down...18 days in Cambodia or multiple countries?

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Hi Everyone,

I'm just beginning to start on my planning for a trip to Cambodia but I'm having a hard time narrowing my focus down.

To start off here's a bit of our background. My husband and I are in our late 20s and independent travelers. We dislike going on group tours and much prefer going on our own if we can, or hiring a private guide if it's something that will greatly enhance the experience. We like to save money where we can and are generally budget travelers but I wouldn't say shoestring. We work hard so that we can play hard and aren't afraid to splurge on something if it's a once-in-a-lifetime kind of thing and also will take a domestic plane flight if it saves a ton of time. We much prefer adventure to the city (our hobbies at home include rock climbing, ice climbing, and mountaineering) and we are active people. We dislike crowds but know that they are inevitable at times if we want to see the popular spots when it's not a torrential downpour :-)

Now to the questions!

We will have ~18days in the country (this excludes travel time to and from the US (Portland)). Should we just focus on Cambodia or will we have enough time to explore Laos as well? Vietnam? Or....should we start in Laos and then head to Cambodia? Anything specific we should focus on? Where would you fly into/out of?

Options for dates are December 2nd - 21st or January 13th - Feb. 1st. There may be a slight chance of Nov. 4th-23rd as well. Is there an appreciable difference between these months? Cost? Crowds? Weather?

Oh, and one more quick note....we've spent 3 weeks in Thailand a few years ago and loved it (we would totally just go back there but want to experience new things!).

I think that's it for my first questions. I'm mainly trying to focus on plane tickets for now in order to work the rest out later.

Thank you so much for your time!

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