Angkor Wat or Dalat, Vietnam?

Jun 12th, 2013, 06:57 PM
  #1  
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Angkor Wat or Dalat, Vietnam?

This might seem like an obvious choice, but hear me out!

I saw Angkor Wat in 2006 while on a side trip from Thailand. I went with my sister, and we both absolutely loved it. I'm going back to the region this July with my husband, who's never been to Asia at all. We're mostly going to be in Vietnam, but we've got a few days when we could fit in a trip over to Siem Reap so he could see Angkor Wat too. My dilemma is just if it's going to be too much travelling, and if it would be better to take our time getting to Ho Chi Minh City through Dalat, which I hear is lovely (and cool, which might be an important respite in mid July!). We're from Canada, so the likelihood we'll be back in SE Asia anytime soon is very slim - we've pretty much got to plan as though this could be the only time we'll get there.

Here is our potential itinerary (Days 7-10 are the ones in question):

Days 1-6 - Hanoi, Ha Long Bay, Hue, Hoi An
Day 7 - early afternoon flight from Da Nang to Siem Reap
Day 8 - Angkor Wat
Day 9 - Angkor Wat
Day 10 - early afternoon flight from Siem Reap to Ho Chi Minh City
Days 11-14 - HCMC, Mekong Delta, HCMC again

We are pretty busy in the first and last parts of the trip, as you can see (I didn't elaborate for the sake of brevity, but it's pretty packed). Do you think it's worth going to Siem Reap for two full days, or should we just linger a little more in Hoi An, then head down to Dalat, perhaps via Mui Ne (we're doing the "beach thing" for a week in Bali after we leave Vietnam, so we didn't prioritize beaches on this part of the trip, but some cooling/relaxation might be nice mid-trip too). Like I said, I've seen Angkor Wat before but my husband hasn't, and while I would love to see it again, I haven't seen Dalat at all. Is Dalat worth leaving Angkor Wat off the itinerary?

So, what do you think? Flight Da Nang - Siem Reap, two days at Angkor Wat, then flight to HCMC, or stay in Vietnam and go by flight/train/bus (however) from Hoi An to Dalat and then down to HCMC from there?

I really appreciate any input you can provide - thank you so much in advance!!
caralin is offline  
Jun 12th, 2013, 08:20 PM
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I visited both Siem Reap and Dalat (and Mui Ne) in November/December 2011, on a 6-week trip to Vietnam and Cambodia. Dalat is a cool break, with vestiges of French architecture. It's somewhat off the normal tourist route, and we enjoyed it. The city of 400,000 people is set among tea plantations and flower farms and has a nice vibe. But is it "worth" leaving the astounding Angkor Wat off the itinerary to visit Dalat? I don't think so.

There's really no comparing the two. Getting to Dalat also takes some time--we went by private car from Nha Trang, which was comfortable, but still a 3 1/2-hour drive. And it's another 4 hours by car back down to the coast if you want to spend a night in Mui Ne (nice, but with Bali on your itinerary, I would skip it).

If I had to choose which one to go back to, it would be the Angkor complex, even for the short time you have available to make the detour. Can never get enough Cambodia, in my opinion. If you do choose Siem Reap, remember to get a multi-entry visa for Vietnam.
aprillilacs is offline  
Jun 12th, 2013, 09:05 PM
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Yeah, that's what I was kind of thinking. Thanks so much for confirming for me, though, as someone who's been to both - I appreciate the insight!
caralin is offline  
Jun 12th, 2013, 09:39 PM
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My concern with your itinerary is not what you are going to do with days 8 and 9, but how on earth you plan to fit in all those places in days 1-6. Have you actually laid it out day by day including travel time? Instead of trying to decide between Angkor Wat and Dalat, you need those days to slow down and actually see something in Vietnam.
thursdaysd is offline  
Jun 13th, 2013, 05:32 AM
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I absolutely agree with thursdays on this. Your schedule is packed - and not in a good way. You have listed so many places, you won't have time to experience any of them. In fact, in your first few days, you'll be spending much of your time in transit. The drive to/from Halong is a full day.

Of course, no place in VN holds a candle to Angkor, but if you want to go to Angkor, plan to spend three full days there so you have enough time to see all of the major temples.

I think you need to do some editing. In 14 days you really can't see all of VN, let alone VN and Angkor. Pause and consider what the most important things are for you to do/see/experience. Then choose those, cut the others. If you truly think you won't be back, doesn't it make it more important to slow down and experience the places you do visit?
Kathie is offline  
Jun 13th, 2013, 06:40 AM
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Thanks for the advice, guys - I know we're going to be pretty busy, but I do always struggle with what to cut out. Here's the whole breakdown:

(Day 0 - arrive Hanoi 9pm)
Day 1 - Hanoi
Day 2 - Out to Ha Long Bay, overnight on a junk boat
Day 3 - Return from Ha Long Bay. Take the overnight train to Hue.
Day 4 - Arrive Hue at 8am. Spend all day in Hue.
Day 5 - Morning in Hue, then get a private driver to Hoi An
Day 6 - Hoi An
Day 7 - Morning in Hoi An, then afternoon flight to Siem Reap
Day 8 - Angkor Wat
Day 9 - Angkor Wat
Day 10 - Morning in Siem Reap, then afternoon flight to HCMC
Day 11 - HCMC
Day 12 - Trip to Mekong Delta, overnight in a homestay
Day 13 - Return to HCMC
Day 14 - Flight to Bali

By taking the overnight train from Hanoi to Hue, we're hoping we'll be able to take full advantage of all of the time we've got in each city. The flight times are pretty quick to and from Cambodia as well, so we're hoping those will still be usable days and not total travel write-offs.

If you still think this is too packed, what do you recommend we cut out? Should we stay longer in either Hue or Hoi An, and then just see the other as a day trip or not at all? I really don't want to skip Ha Long Bay, but all recommendations seem to insist on spending at least one night, as the drive to/from Hanoi is a bit arduous as well.

Thanks again for your feedback!!
caralin is offline  
Jun 13th, 2013, 08:13 AM
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So, you have one day in Hanoi (fascinating city, we spent a week), one day I Hue (if your plane arrives on time), one day in Hoi An, two at Angkor, then one day in HCMC and one in the Mekong Delta. Out of 14 days, you will have 5 or 6 (less than half!) that you will be in a place and able to explore it. Frankly, I think you need to cut a whole area of VN. I'd cut Halong Bay plus HCMC and the Delta, but it is a matter of personal preference.

Really, this trip sounds exhausting and no fun. You seem to have the idea that all of your transport will go like clockwork and you will be fresh and rested every day. Even if those two conditions were true, it would still be way too crammed. Remember, it will be very hot and very humid, in the 90s (at least) every day, and you will have almost daily rain showers.

What does the rest of your trip look like?
Kathie is offline  
Jun 13th, 2013, 08:19 AM
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" My dilemma is just if it's going to be too much travelling"

As Kathie says, this whole itinerary is too much travelling. You have made no allowance for jet lag when you arrive, and one day is just not enough time time for a city like Hanoi. How long would you give Venice or Rome? Personally I would skip Hoi An and the delta, but it might work better to skip everything in the south.
thursdaysd is offline  
Jun 13th, 2013, 12:01 PM
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3 days Hanoi
2 days Ha Long Bay (overnight)
2 days Hoi An (flight from Hanoi to Danang)
3 days Siem Reap
2 days Saigon
1 day Mekong Delta Tour
Fly to Bali
Bisbeee is offline  
Jun 13th, 2013, 12:06 PM
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Bisbee, if those are full days - i.e. five nights = three days - they don't have that much time.
thursdaysd is offline  
Jun 13th, 2013, 03:20 PM
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Bisbee's itinerary is very good, but does take more days than you have. Thursday's typo, above should be 4 nights=3 full days. So that itinerary would take 21 days/nights.
Kathie is offline  
Jun 13th, 2013, 08:45 PM
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Hmmm... Yes, I wish we had time to do Bisbeee's whole itinerary! Kathie asked about the rest of our itinerary, so I've included the whole trip below. Right now I've extended Hue by a day at the expense of Hoi An - thinking about cutting the Mekong Delta entirely if we keep Angkor Wat. We can't cut the entire south at this point, as we've already booked our flight to Bali out of HCMC.

Currently:
Day 1 - Leave Canada.
Day 2 - Arrive Tokyo mid-afternoon local time (necessary layover in Tokyo, decided to extend)
Day 3 - Sightseeing in Tokyo. Late afternoon flight to Hanoi, arrive mid-evening.
Day 4 - Hanoi
Day 5 - Out to Ha Long Bay, overnight on a junk boat
Day 6 - Return from Ha Long Bay. Take the overnight train to Hue.
Day 7-8 - Arrive Hue at 8am. Spend all that day and the next in Hue.
Day 9 - Afternoon drive to Hoi An (closer to our flight out of Da Nang)
Day 10 - Morning in Hoi An, then afternoon flight Da Nang to Siem Reap
Day 11-12 - Angkor Wat
Day 13 - Morning in Siem Reap, then afternoon flight to HCMC
Day 14 - HCMC
Day 15 - Trip to Mekong Delta, overnight in a homestay
Day 16 - Return to HCMC
Day 17 - Flight to Bali. Arrive late, go to hotel.
Day 18-20 - Ubud. Day 20 drive to Pemuteran.
Day 21-25 - Pemuteran
Day 26 - Flight home to Canada

So, we do have some relaxing at the end - three nights in Ubud and then five nights in Pemuteran do to some diving, reading, and relaxing.

If we cut the Mekong Delta, we could do the following:
Day 4-5 - Two full days Hanoi (arrive late Day 3, leave morning Day 6)
Day 6 - Out to Ha Long Bay, overnight on a junk boat
Day 7 - Return from Ha Long Bay. Take the overnight train to Hue.
Day 8-9 - Arrive Hue at 8am Day 8. Spend days 8, 9 in Hue.
Day 10-11 - Morning drive to Hoi An. Spend days 10, 11 in Hoi An.
Day 12 - Morning in Hoi An, then afternoon flight Da Nang to Siem Reap.
Day 13-15 - Angkor Wat. Day 15 evening flight to HCMC.
Day 16 - HCMC
Day 17 - Morning flight to Bali.

Do you think this is better? Should we skip the Mekong Delta as I've done here, or should we take Angkor Wat off the itinerary altogether and just stay in Vietnam?
caralin is offline  
Jun 13th, 2013, 09:27 PM
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Or, alternately, should we keep the Mekong Delta but cut something like Hoi An? And if we do the Delta, should we take the time to do an overnight homestay, or just do a day trip?

I'm getting behind the idea of cutting SOMETHING out, it's just a matter of what. We prefer the history and culture of Hue to the shopping and tailoring of Hoi An, so I think between those two that would be our choice (though Hoi An still sounds lovely and charming too, of course). I liked the idea of the Delta for seeing a unique local culture, and the floating market sounded appealing - I missed seeing one in Thailand back in 2006, so I'd liked the idea of including it this time. Obviously, though, something needs to give! What are your suggestions for what to cut?
caralin is offline  
Jun 14th, 2013, 04:41 AM
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The Mekong Delta is a long, dusty trip from HCMC. I wish we would have spent the day in HCMC instead of on the road. Given your time constraints, I would drop both Hue and Hoi An. Hue is interesting and a day and a half is OK there but Hue pales in comparison to the magnificent temples of Angkor. I believe the Hue airport is closed or about to close which makes it not an easy place to get in and out of. Also, to get to Siem Reap you have to fly back to Hanoi or fly to HCMC, adding to travel time. Add the days to Hanoi and Siem Reap. More info here:

http://www.fodors.com/community/asia...heast-asia.cfm
Marija is offline  
Jun 14th, 2013, 07:09 AM
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The second itinerary is better than the first, so cutting the Mekong Delta helps. And cutting Hue/Hoi An would help even more. Also, do you have to spend a day in Tokyo? Marija is right about the Hue airport getting ready to close, and I don't believe there are any flights from DaNang to Siem Reap, you'd have to change planes in HCMC or Hanoi.

So here is a thought:
Day 4 Hanoi,
Day 5-6 Hanoi to Halong Bay and return
Day 6-7 Hanoi
Day 8 fly to Siem Reap
Days 9-10-11 Siem Reap
Day 12 fly to HCMC
Day 13-14-15 HCMC and the Mekong Delta
Day 16 fly to Bali.

If you opt not to visit the Mekong Delta, add one of those days to Hanoi or Siem Reap
Kathie is offline  
Jun 14th, 2013, 07:39 AM
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I agree with Marija tat the delta is not worth the effort, and with Kathie that both Hanoi and Siem Reap deserve more time.

Also, you are traveling next month. Have you checked to see that you can even get seats on flights to/from Siem Reap on the days you need?
thursdaysd is offline  
Jun 14th, 2013, 09:30 AM
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Those aren't full days in my itinerary. Let's try this again.

3 days Hanoi (
2 days Ha Long Bay (overnight after morning drive there)
2 days Hoi An (flight from Hanoi to Danang in the morning) This gives you a day and half there.
3 days Siem Reap (flight from Danang to Siem Reap morning) This gives you 2 and a half days there.
2 days Saigon (flight from Siem Reap to Saigon morning) This gives you a day and and half or 2 and half days if you cut out the Delta trip.
1 day Mekong Delta Tour (I only put this cause you had it in your original plans. Personally I think they day tour is a waste of a good day) I wouldn't classify it as a dusty trip though.
Fly to Bali
Bisbeee is offline  
Jun 14th, 2013, 09:45 AM
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I'm of the opinion that if a place isn't worth two full days (three nights) I'm not sure it is worth a stop. So I would question the utility of the Hoi An stop as it makes for a lot of extra travel time. If you cut that, then you are able to spend three full days in Siem Reap (which I think is very important).
Kathie is offline  
Jun 14th, 2013, 10:04 AM
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I only listed Hoi An because it keeps showing up on her their itinerary. I personally don't feel you need more than a day and a half there. I agree that the time would be better spent at Angkor Wat.
Bisbeee is offline  
Jun 14th, 2013, 11:30 AM
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If they overnight in Halong Bay they can't fly to Danang the next morning, it takes a good half a day to drive back to Hanoi. It is much easier to follow an itinerary if you write nights rather than days.
thursdaysd is offline  

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