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Cambodia-Vietnam Itinerary Advice Please!

Cambodia-Vietnam Itinerary Advice Please!

Old Dec 12th, 2006, 06:41 PM
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Cambodia-Vietnam Itinerary Advice Please!

Hi all,
At last I think I am ready to get some itinerary advice. We are 4 people, my sweetie and me (pretty experienced travelers), and my parents (68 and 64 years old, decent shape, infrequent travelers but don't mind long drives or train rides).

We have three weeks and are flying into Phnom Penh and out of Hanoi. Here's what I have in mind so far. General questions include any advice about travel times (we are doing a lot of overland travel, which we all enjoy as part of the experience), of course any recommendations about hotels and restaurants, and suggestions for side trips or alternative routes. There are some specific questions noted along the way. Thanks in advance!

Feb 23 Arrive at 7:30 PM in Phnom Penh, taxi to hotel (TBD) for full night's sleep
Feb 24 Day in Phnom Penh, taking it slow
Feb 25 Day in Phnom Penh, sight seeing
Feb 26 Hire a driver/guide to take us to Siem Reap [Question:Are there interesting places to stop along the way?]
Feb 27 Explore Angkor Wat
Feb 28 More Angkor Wat/maybe excursion to Tonle Sap
Mar 1 Begin overland/water trip toward Chau Doc [Questions: Is it necessary to go back through Phnom Penh to do this? If not, is there an interesting midpoint where we could stay the night or is it best to get to Chau Doc and spend the night there? What combination of boat/bus/driver would you recommend? How long will it take? ]
Mar 2 Stay overnight in Chau Doc
Mar 3 Pick up an overnight river tour, sleep on the boat
Mar 4 Continue on by boat and bus to Saigon, spend night in Saigon
Mar 5 Explore Saigon
Mar 6 Fly Saigon to Danang, taxi to Hoi An
Mar 7 Beach around Hoi An, maybe cooking class
Mar 8 Travel by train or driver [Question, which would you choose?] to Hue (where my father lived about 30 years ago during the war)
Mar 9 Explore Hue
Mar 10 More Hue and nearby sites
Mar 11 Overnight train to Hanoi
Mar 12 Explore Hanoi
Mar 13 Head to Halong Bay, overnight on boat
Mar 14 Head back to Hanoi
Mar 15 Hanoi and nearby
Mar 16 Depart Hanoi at 8:30 PM

What do you think? Thanks all!
Amy
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Old Dec 12th, 2006, 07:23 PM
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Do don't have enough time in Siem Reap. Remember that there are many dozens of accessible temples. It takes a full three days just to see the so-called major temples. There are many so-called minor temples where you may be the only visitor. You seem to have yourselves scheduled for a day and a half of temples. You actually have more time in Hue than in Siem Reap.

In general, you are spending far too much time moving around, and don't have enough time at the various stops to what these places have to offer. I suggest that you want not fewer than two nights in any place you are stopping, and preferably not fewer than three.

If you want to spend so much time going overland, you need to cut some stops. Flying more legs would help, but you are still trying to do too much. Asia lends itself best to slow travel.

Where is your gateway into/out of Asia? There may be a better routing. For instance, you might start in Siem Reap, then go to PP, then on the Mekong.
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Old Dec 12th, 2006, 07:35 PM
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I agree with Kathie that two days is not enough for Siem Reap. I spent two days there the first time, and had to go back again (there are worse fates, of course). I believe you will have to go back to PP to get a boat to Chau Doc, so it would make sense to start in Siem Reap.

I would suggest dropping either Hoi An or Hue. Probably Hoi An if your father lived in Hue, unless you are big on shopping. Or you could drop Saigon - you're only scheduling one full day there, and you are going to Hanoi, which many people (including me) prefer.
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Old Dec 12th, 2006, 08:41 PM
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I assume you are now flying into and out of Hanoi. Are you spending a day there to recover from jet lag. If you are flying then into Cambodia it would be better to go to Siem Reap first. Spend at least 3 days here. You do not need a driver/guide to get from SR to PP, only a taxi. From PP to Chau Doc I have explained in an earlier post your options to get there. A tour from there to Saigon will be by both boat and land. Most tours put you up at a hotel at night, except for the very luxury cruises. I leave comments on your Vietnam itinerary to others.
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Old Dec 13th, 2006, 04:11 AM
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Having travelled to all the places you listed, I agree that you are spending too little time in most places. You need more time in Siem Reap. I would cut out either Saigon or Hoi An.
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Old Dec 13th, 2006, 07:42 AM
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Hi again, thanks for this helpful advice.

To clarify, our flight in is NYC-Bangkok-Phnom Penh. Out we are routed Hanoi-Bangkok-NYC. I can check if we can fly Bangkok to Siem Reap and how much that will change our flight cost.

I had a feeling a lot of people would say 2 days is not enough in Siem Reap. Though we are excited to go, my bf and I have done lots of ruins in Mexico and expect that we will experience burnout/boredom fast. We like to wander around and take in the atmosphere, but do not need to see every temple. My parents on the other hand, might appreciate a bit more time - so I'll discuss with them, and maybe if we can cut that overland travel by flying directly into SR, we can add another day.

We are definitely not shoppers and I think it's a good idea to cut Hoi An -but I was really hoping for at least one beach day on this trip! Any suggestions to fill that gap?

Also, I know most people wouldn't spend 3 days in Hue. But it is important to my dad, and this is his first time out of the US since the Vietnam War! So I am letting him call the shots on that one.

As for skipping Saigon, I am happy to do this from what I've read... will check with my parents and see what they think.

Overall, I do understand the comments about not staying in one place very long, but for us there is also the issue of really experiencing the process. My parents don't like to fly because they like to experience the transition from one place to another. This is our definition of "slow travel" - does that make sense? I sent them 5 intineraries, 4 where we flew bewteen hubs and spent more time in each place. But they chose this one. But I will continue to discuss the options with them.

Scotters, thanks for the help with the land/boat route through the Mekong, have definitely taken down notes!

Look forward to hearing more comments!
Amy
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Old Dec 13th, 2006, 08:32 AM
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Hi Amy

We did a similar trip to this a few years ago but took over 4 weeks to do it. Like you we love to go overland whenever we can so I understand your desire to do this. We had a day more than you plan in Siem Reap and it was not enough for us. We just made a return trip there for 10 days! As you say see what you can do to fly straight to Siem Reap and then come down to PP.
Totally understand your wanting to spend the extra time in Hue for your Dad. We travelled for a while with some Vietnam vets and it was a very emotional experience but a very postitive one for them. I think about them a lot when I remember that trip.
Happy travels J
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Old Dec 14th, 2006, 11:30 AM
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Hi, good to hear from another person who enjoys the trek. Not so common I guess.

So, it looks very feasible to fly into Siem Reap, and I am really happy about the decision since I think that will be a much more relaxing place to start our adventure.

But I am still muddled on what to do about the beach. If we cut out Hoi An, are there any beaches that are close to Hue that we could do as a day trip from there? What other day trips are good from Hue?

I appreciate all the help!
Amy
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Old Dec 14th, 2006, 01:38 PM
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If you want a short beach holiday you could consider Sihanoukville in Cambodia. By spending one more day in Cambodia you could do this.

Feb 23 Fly BKK to SR
Feb 24 SR
Feb 25 SR
Feb 26 Taxi SR to PP in morning
Feb 27 PP
Feb 28 PP to Sihanoukville Beach by taxi (4hrs)

Mar 1 SK
Mar 2 SK to Kampot by taxi (2hrs) - visit Bokor Mountain old hill station.

Mar 3 Taxi to Vietnam boarder at Phnom Den (3hrs). Walk across boarder to Tinh Bien and take tax to Chau Doc about 10km north.

Just a suggestion
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Old Dec 14th, 2006, 03:45 PM
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Hi Scotters,
Thanks for that suggestion... in my first run plans I had considered Sihanoukville but then dropped it in exchange for Hoi An. Maybe if we did that we would skip Kampot but make the drive to the border all in one shot. What are those roads like?
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Old Dec 14th, 2006, 05:35 PM
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Personally we liked Hoi An a lot more than Sihanoukville although we are not lay on the beach people & did not end up going to the beach in Hoi An! We are not shoppers but just loved Hoi An for its wonderful buildings and wandering the streets and the early morning food markets. At night it was like a wonderland.
J
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Old Dec 14th, 2006, 07:39 PM
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Thanks Jules, I appreciate the comparison. Still have not made up our mind but are leaning toward Hoi An mostly because it fits more easily into our itinerary. We do want it for the beach though... anyone know if it's nice, how it compares to beaches in Cambodia? Are there any bungalow style accomodations? Or is it just not that kind of place?
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Old Dec 14th, 2006, 08:19 PM
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Amy - The road from Sihanoukville to Kompot is good and from there to the boarder can be pretty rough but not as bad as the road from Poipet to Siem Reap. A taxi will be around $50.
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Old Dec 17th, 2006, 04:53 PM
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Thanks Scotters... still haven't ruled it out so thanks for the extra details.

-Amy
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