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Itinerary review for Vietnam & Cambodia please?

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May 22nd, 2014, 09:59 AM
  #1
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Itinerary review for Vietnam & Cambodia please?

I get to spend a short time in Vietnam and Cambodia at the end of November and would appreciate a review of my planned itinerary before I start booking lodging and locking myself into some of this please. I already have my flights into Hanoi and out from Siem Reap. Everything else is up for suggestions.

Too short or too long in any of these or does it look like a somewhat balanced trip for a first visit? I'll lose half a day or more each time I switch cities... any opinions about possibly cutting out PP or HCMC? While there are lots of things in both cities that I want to see, there's nothing so far that is a "I MUST see that!" but I've only started looking into details.

Day 1: Travel
Day 2: Arrive Hanoi, mid morning
Day 3-4: Hanoi
Day 5-7: Ha Long Bay (2n, 3d)
Day 8-10: HCMC
Day 11-13: Phnom Penh
Day 14-18: Siem Reap (Angkor Wat was the main draw for this trip)
Day 19: Travel, leaving at noon (YAY for not having a 6am flight!)


I plan to fly between Hanoi and HCMC (train takes too much time for this trip).
HCMC to PP.... bus? I think that it would save very little time to fly.
PP to SR... boat or bus. Any suggestions for one over the other? It looks like pretty similar times again.

Thank you for any help or suggestions!
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May 22nd, 2014, 11:54 AM
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I would take one night from Halong Bay and add it to Hanoi. Plenty to do/see in Hanoi.

I would (and have) take the boat rather than bus from Saigon to PP, and the bus from PP to SR. But check - the boats from PP to SR used to be unsafe but may have improved. It's fascinating to see the difference when you cross from Vietnam to Cambodia on the boat. I think it would actually be faster to fly Saigon to PP, and certainly more comfortable than the bus.
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May 22nd, 2014, 12:02 PM
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I, too, would recommend only one night on Halong Bay. I have read a number of report of people who spent two nights and felt they didn't get anything more than they got with one night. Like Thursdays, I'd add the day to Hanoi. I would also think seriously about cutting either HCMC or PP and adding those days to Hanoi as well. Lots to do and see in Hanoi.

Sounds like a good trip.
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May 22nd, 2014, 12:33 PM
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Thanks for the advice! I'll cut out the extra night on the bay.

Kathie (or anyone else) - do you have any opinions for which city I should cut, HCMC vs PP? I'd split those days between the other city and Hanoi. I think 5 days is probably enough for Siem Reap for a first visit.

Thursdaysd - I got some of my transit info from the Man in Seat 61, which has usually seemed fairly accurate. Thanks for the suggestions, I'll definitely recheck the info on transit once I decide on cutting a city or not as that will change everything.
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May 22nd, 2014, 01:07 PM
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Iowa - this hasn't been updated lately, but may still beof interest: http://talesofasia.com/

I would keep PP over Saigon, but I wasn't that impressed by Saigon in comparison to Hanoi (of course, it was much hotter...). PP may depend a bit on how you feel about visiting the killing fields and Tuol Sleng, but the palace is worth seeing, and it's nice place to chill out along the river.

This is even more out of date, but may give you a flavor: http://wilhelmswords.com/asia2002/ - A Tale of Two Cities
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May 22nd, 2014, 05:03 PM
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Agree to cut a day from Halong Bay, one night is enough.

Tough call on cutting HCMC or PP, tend to agree with Thursdaysd though.

PP is interesting for a few days. Tuol Sleng and the Killing Fields are sobering, but a must see to understand just how bad it was for the Cambodian people, and then marvel at how resilient they are now.
The Russian market is fun, as is the Foreign Correspondents Club for a cool drink with views to the river.
The palace has some amazing murals. Take a cyclo while you're there for a traffic experience to scare your pants off !
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May 23rd, 2014, 07:38 AM
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<<>>

I assume that it might be like China or Egypt where the only traffic law seems to be "try not to hit things too often".


Updated Itinerary:

Day 2: Arrive Hanoi mid morning
Day 3-6: Hanoi
Day 7-8: Halong Bay (return to Hanoi evening of day 8)
Day 9-12: Phnom Penh (transfer from Hanoi day 9)
Day 13-18: Siem Reap (transfer from Phnom Penh on day 13)
Day 19: Depart around noon

That would give me 4 1/2 days in Hanoi, 1 night in Halong Bay, 3 1/2 days in PP, and 5 1/2 days in Siem Reap.

I would fly between Hanoi and PP. I'd probably also want to fly between PP and SR. It's a 45 minute flight (plus getting to the airport ahead of time) vs a 5-6+ hour bus ride. I think if it was a train then I'd go that route, but a bus makes me nervous (delays, motion sick people, stuffed in a seat for hours longer than I have to be, etc).

Better? Any other suggestions?

Thanks for the help!
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May 23rd, 2014, 07:53 AM
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You don't need 3.5 days in PP, IMO. I'd add another day to Hanoi. I think you'll be surprised by how much Hanoi has to offer. We spend a week there many years ago.
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May 23rd, 2014, 08:01 AM
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I would take the bus, it will be more interesting. If you can afford it, take a car and driver instead and stop off on the way - I especially recommend Sambor Prei Kuk.
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May 24th, 2014, 08:35 PM
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Agree that you could lose a day from PP.
Have you looked into river transport between PP and SR ? Should be good water levels in Mekong and Tonle Sap that time of year.

Traffic - yes, they are pretty much the rules. I've not been to China nor Eygpt, but as effectively a cyclist you are amongst the lowest common denominators ( the lowest being pedestrians) in SE Asia. You share the road with huge busses, trucks, cars motorbikes and every vehicle in between them, they of course, all have right of way.
They try quite hard not to hit you....
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May 26th, 2014, 08:58 PM
  #11
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I'm really curious what comments keep getting deleted.


I'm still debating shortening PP to 2.5 days instead of 3.5. Either way though I know when I'll be in SR so I made my reservations for there. It's free cancellations though so if I change my mind in the next few months I'm not tied into anything. There's something about making each reservation or plan that just makes me even more excited to go. It's very much a "I get to go! Look at where I get to stay when I get to go!" Yes, I'm like a child given way too much sugar, but I can usually resist the urge to go skipping around the room.
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May 27th, 2014, 07:07 AM
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They are all advertising by VN travel agencies. Any thread asking for advice about NV is a spam magnet.

The anticipation is often as thrilling as the trip, IME.
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May 27th, 2014, 08:12 AM
  #13
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Prachuap, sometimes places are touristy for a reason.

This is just a first visit and my main interests are the places that drew me to SEA to begin with ... the Angkor complex and Halong Bay. Future trips can be more off the beaten path.
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Jun 5th, 2014, 08:34 PM
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I'm still having fun with this and trying to book places to stay. The hard part... there are SOOO many places that look fantastic that I'm finding it impossible to choose. I get about 10-15 tabs open with hundreds of glowing reviews for a hotel or guesthouse on each one, each with more beautiful photos than the last, all at amazing prices... and then my head just explodes with indecision and I go back to reading one of my new guidebooks about the temples.

I've never had this many problems finding a place to stay before, and especially not because there are so many gorgeous options! Poor me, too many fantastic options.
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Jun 5th, 2014, 08:59 PM
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Toss a coin.
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Jun 10th, 2014, 06:48 PM
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Lowa,

Well yes sometimes a good reason and sometimes just convenience. A centrally located temple will attract a lot more tourists than a temple that isnt near mainstream hotels. Visiting a good temple on a hill and having the place to yourself is a much better experience.

A nice beach is no longer good when its overcrowded and a temple with hundreds of tourists loses its appeal.

After a while one tourist zone looks like the next so its good to look at alternatives.
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Jun 10th, 2014, 06:51 PM
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Re hotels I look for review avg above 8 across 3 sites. Booking.com, agoda and tripadvisor.
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Jun 10th, 2014, 06:54 PM
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Google Halong Bay dirty. You might want to drop it. Your plan is very rushed as it is.
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Jun 10th, 2014, 09:25 PM
  #19
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I've been playing on agoda and tripadvisor quite a bit looking at hotels. I love the different reviews and how patterns for what people are complimenting or complaining about emerge across the different websites.

As for Halong Bay, some people love it and some people hate it. I want to give it a chance. Worst case scenario, it's a short time and I'll simply relax with a book, talk to the others on the boat and look forward to Cambodia. For a worst case scenario that's still pretty awesome. Best case scenario... I absolutely love it, get amazing photos, manage to not get sunburned, etc.

I've already dropped HCMC to give myself more time in the other locations. This is just a first visit. I'd rather skim the surface a little on a first visit and know where I want to return to in the future than risk devoting all of my travel resources for the year to one or two places and maybe not liking them as much. I have enough time in SR to play at many/most of the temples and I'm not tied to a tour group so I can visit the touristy places hopefully at times when there are fewer tourists. I know there will be times when it's utterly ridiculous and I want to throw a little kid style temper tantrum and yell at people to leave because I don't want to share, but hopefully that'll be the exception.
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Jun 10th, 2014, 09:41 PM
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You go for it Iowa. We enjoyed Halong Bay, jeez, I even enjoyed the ride there.
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