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Preplanning of Cambodia/Vietnam trip-Itinerary?

Preplanning of Cambodia/Vietnam trip-Itinerary?

Old May 7th, 2024, 10:58 AM
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Preplanning of Cambodia/Vietnam trip-Itinerary?

Hi
We just got back last week from Thailand and it was a whirlwind of a trip. We are now starting to plan our trip to Cambodia and Vietnam for either Feb/March/April. We are trying to decide when to leave Canada. We do not want it to be too hot in HCMC when touring but we know we cannot predict the weather. So should we leave mid Feb or mid March. We have up to 4 weeks of time.

We are a couple in our mid 50's and have no mobility issues and walk daily. My husband is a history fanatic and I love to learn about the history too and also about how the locals live. We want this trip not to be rushed and have some days where we just walk around and find ourselves wherever. Would love to do a cooking class and eat some great new food.

We want to start in Siam Reap then over to HCMC to start south to north.

I have read many trip reports on here and also have a book I got,

Here is a loose itinerary:

Canada to Siem Reap- 3 nights/4 days

Fly from Siem Reap to HCMC and stay 4 days?
Plan two days for Angkor Wat and around town the others (maybe only 3 days?)

HCMC
1 day to Cu Chi tunnels and Cao Dai Temple
1 day to Mekong Delta( do we do a bus or private tour or boat tour)
Food tour
City tour
Do we stay in District 1 or 3?

HCMC to Da Nang-take a flight
Stay 4 nights?
Do we stay in Nha Tran or My An or My Khe or elsewhere
See sights around Da Nang and have some down time at the beach, maybe rent bikes

Da Nang to Hoi Ann
Private transfer
Stay in Old Town
4 nights?
Cooking class
Marble Mountain
Lady Buddha
Ba Na Hills? ( is it too touristy?)

Hue- 2nights?
Private transfer

Tam Coc- 2-3 nights
Private transfer

Hanoi(fly from Da Nang) 3 nights plus 2 night on Lan Ha Bay for cruise
Stay in Old Quarter

Fly home and stop somewhere to break up travel time.

Does this itinerary look feasible and what would you change?

I appreciate all the feedback.
kimmer1968 is offline  
Old May 8th, 2024, 02:53 PM
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It's been ten years since I was in Vietnam, but my cooking class with Van at Green Bamboo cooking school in Hoi An was a highlight, and it looks like she's still in business!
https://greenbamboo-hoian.com/
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Old May 8th, 2024, 04:27 PM
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Originally Posted by kimmer1968
Canada to Siem Reap- 3 nights/4 days

Fly from Siem Reap to HCMC and stay 4 days?
Plan two days for Angkor Wat and around town the others (maybe only 3 days?)
.
I haven't been to Viet Nam yet, and so can only comment on the time in Siem Reap. I must admit that I'm not sure how much time you actually have there, and I would suspect that some of that time will be lost to jeg lag since you are coming from Canada.

IMO, you can see the Angkor Wat and some of the surrounding temples in 2 days. There are plenty of other Khmer ruins in the area, so I was happy to spend much longer in the area. And there are plenty of things to keep you busy in Siem Reap for a day or two -- there's a wonderful museum, some interesting wats, and I heartily recommend a visit to the APOPO center where you can learn about the rats (yes, rats!) that are used to detect unexploded ordinance.
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Old May 8th, 2024, 11:13 PM
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Sounds like a very exciting trip! Having done many similar trips in the region over many years, I would be concerned about the number of locations you are planning to visit. Every time you move, you will lose at least half a day to travel. In some case the journey can be as much fun as the destination , in others it can be a real pain. How much time to allocate to each place very much depends upon your interests.

A few observations;
  1. Cambodia - There is more to the country than Angkor Wat. It would be a real shame to miss out on Phnom Penh , one of my favourite asian capitals. As history buffs, I am sure you will find the albeit tragic history, fascinating. I would try and spend at least a couple of nights (one full day ) there. Agree with KJAs comments re time at Angkor. You can see a LOT of temples in 2 full days. Any spare time I would spend on a visit to one of the villages on Tonle Sap.
  2. Mekong Delta - one of my favourite parts of Vietnam and a greta way to visit is to take a boat from Phnom Penh to Chau Doc and spend a couple of days there visiting the Cham villages, Sam Mountain and Tra Su submerged forest before heading 3 hours by road to Can Tho for overnight and an early morning visit to Cai Rang floating market before heading straight to Saigon or another stop at Ben Tre to explore the small canals and cottage industries. A homestay in the delta will meet your desire to see how "the locals live" and is a lot of fun.
  3. HCMC/Saigon - our "spiritual home in Vietnam. Manic and v. busy , there could not be a bigger contrast to life in the delta. The big luxury hotels (which are very nice!) are in Disitrict 1 as is the backpacker / bar /club areas. We prefer to stay in district 3 which is more "local" . less fancy accommodation (we always used to stay at Ms Yang's homestay which sadly is no more but we loved the area which has some of our favourite local restaurants. It is also walkable to some of the key sites like the War Remnants Museum, The Reunification Palace. etc Frankly you dont need a tour for these or any of the other sites. A food tour would be great - check out https://xotours.vn haven't used them but friend have and rated them highly. Worth looking into Vietnamese food beforehand. My wife wrote a couple of posts re Vietnams food for our blog in conjunction with a Vietnamese friend.
  4. Central Vietnam - I confess I am not a fan of Da Nang itself. Some of the best beaches in Vietnam which is why there are mile after mile of mega hotels strung out along the beach road. If you want beach time it is great and I suppose you could use it as a base to explore, but I much prefer Hue, the ancient capital which is jam packed with history. The Imperial Citadel and Tombs etc are amazing and easily visited by bike or by a tour. Hue has some of the best food in Vietnam. If you are at all interested in caves, the largest cave system in the world, Phong Nha Khe Be is a day away near Dong Ha easily reached by train form Hue or Da Nang. Hoi An is very, very quaint and for that reason it does get packed out with tourists mostly in big groups visiting form the big hotels up the coast. Mid day is the quietest time to wander, evenings get manically busy. If staying there consider a day trip to the Cham ruins at My Son. Ba Na Hills are VERY touristy - I would avoid. Marble mountains and Hai Van pass can easily be incorporated into a transfer between Hue/Da Nang/ Hoi An rather than a separate day trip.
  5. The North - Hanoi is a very different to Saigon and has a lot to see. It is big on museums and history and arguably needs more time than Saigon. Yes, definitely stay in the old quarter. I would allow 3 full days min. It is going to be a lot cooler there than in the south and whilst you will still see blue skies, it may be a bit foggy around Halong etc. Two nights and one full day would likely be enough for Tam Coc/Ninh Binh. Make sure to avoid the really touristy areas and try not to go on a weekend. You may be able to combine with your Lan Ha Bay cruise to avoid doubling back (either are around 3 hours from Hanoi.
Here are links to the Vietnam and Cambodia sections of our blog with some detail and photos of our travels in the region.

https://accidentalnomads.com/category/vietnam/
https://accidentalnomads.com/category/cambodia/

Not a fan of beaches unless we are diving which we have done at Nha Trang but these days I would avoid NT . It did get overrun with Russian expats and became a bit unpleasant . Whether that is still the case, I dont know. There are beach options around Hoi An if you choose to stay there. Otherwise, Quy Nhon is worth considering as a beach destination but I doubt you have time for adding another destination.

Hope this helps a little. Happy planning!
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Old May 9th, 2024, 10:24 AM
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Originally Posted by memejs
It's been ten years since I was in Vietnam, but my cooking class with Van at Green Bamboo cooking school in Hoi An was a highlight, and it looks like she's still in business!
https://greenbamboo-hoian.com/
Thanks
kimmer1968 is offline  
Old May 9th, 2024, 10:26 AM
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Originally Posted by kja
I haven't been to Viet Nam yet, and so can only comment on the time in Siem Reap. I must admit that I'm not sure how much time you actually have there, and I would suspect that some of that time will be lost to jeg lag since you are coming from Canada.

IMO, you can see the Angkor Wat and some of the surrounding temples in 2 days. There are plenty of other Khmer ruins in the area, so I was happy to spend much longer in the area. And there are plenty of things to keep you busy in Siem Reap for a day or two -- there's a wonderful museum, some interesting wats, and I heartily recommend a visit to the APOPO center where you can learn about the rats (yes, rats!) that are used to detect unexploded ordinance.
Thanks
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Old May 9th, 2024, 10:37 AM
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Originally Posted by crellston
Sounds like a very exciting trip! Having done many similar trips in the region over many years, I would be concerned about the number of locations you are planning to visit. Every time you move, you will lose at least half a day to travel. In some case the journey can be as much fun as the destination , in others it can be a real pain. How much time to allocate to each place very much depends upon your interests.

A few observations;
  1. Cambodia - There is more to the country than Angkor Wat. It would be a real shame to miss out on Phnom Penh , one of my favourite asian capitals. As history buffs, I am sure you will find the albeit tragic history, fascinating. I would try and spend at least a couple of nights (one full day ) there. Agree with KJAs comments re time at Angkor. You can see a LOT of temples in 2 full days. Any spare time I would spend on a visit to one of the villages on Tonle Sap.
  2. Mekong Delta - one of my favourite parts of Vietnam and a greta way to visit is to take a boat from Phnom Penh to Chau Doc and spend a couple of days there visiting the Cham villages, Sam Mountain and Tra Su submerged forest before heading 3 hours by road to Can Tho for overnight and an early morning visit to Cai Rang floating market before heading straight to Saigon or another stop at Ben Tre to explore the small canals and cottage industries. A homestay in the delta will meet your desire to see how "the locals live" and is a lot of fun.
  3. HCMC/Saigon - our "spiritual home in Vietnam. Manic and v. busy , there could not be a bigger contrast to life in the delta. The big luxury hotels (which are very nice!) are in Disitrict 1 as is the backpacker / bar /club areas. We prefer to stay in district 3 which is more "local" . less fancy accommodation (we always used to stay at Ms Yang's homestay which sadly is no more but we loved the area which has some of our favourite local restaurants. It is also walkable to some of the key sites like the War Remnants Museum, The Reunification Palace. etc Frankly you dont need a tour for these or any of the other sites. A food tour would be great - check out https://xotours.vn haven't used them but friend have and rated them highly. Worth looking into Vietnamese food beforehand. My wife wrote a couple of posts re Vietnams food for our blog in conjunction with a Vietnamese friend.
  4. Central Vietnam - I confess I am not a fan of Da Nang itself. Some of the best beaches in Vietnam which is why there are mile after mile of mega hotels strung out along the beach road. If you want beach time it is great and I suppose you could use it as a base to explore, but I much prefer Hue, the ancient capital which is jam packed with history. The Imperial Citadel and Tombs etc are amazing and easily visited by bike or by a tour. Hue has some of the best food in Vietnam. If you are at all interested in caves, the largest cave system in the world, Phong Nha Khe Be is a day away near Dong Ha easily reached by train form Hue or Da Nang. Hoi An is very, very quaint and for that reason it does get packed out with tourists mostly in big groups visiting form the big hotels up the coast. Mid day is the quietest time to wander, evenings get manically busy. If staying there consider a day trip to the Cham ruins at My Son. Ba Na Hills are VERY touristy - I would avoid. Marble mountains and Hai Van pass can easily be incorporated into a transfer between Hue/Da Nang/ Hoi An rather than a separate day trip.
  5. The North - Hanoi is a very different to Saigon and has a lot to see. It is big on museums and history and arguably needs more time than Saigon. Yes, definitely stay in the old quarter. I would allow 3 full days min. It is going to be a lot cooler there than in the south and whilst you will still see blue skies, it may be a bit foggy around Halong etc. Two nights and one full day would likely be enough for Tam Coc/Ninh Binh. Make sure to avoid the really touristy areas and try not to go on a weekend. You may be able to combine with your Lan Ha Bay cruise to avoid doubling back (either are around 3 hours from Hanoi.
Here are links to the Vietnam and Cambodia sections of our blog with some detail and photos of our travels in the region.

https://accidentalnomads.com/category/vietnam/
https://accidentalnomads.com/category/cambodia/

Not a fan of beaches unless we are diving which we have done at Nha Trang but these days I would avoid NT . It did get overrun with Russian expats and became a bit unpleasant . Whether that is still the case, I dont know. There are beach options around Hoi An if you choose to stay there. Otherwise, Quy Nhon is worth considering as a beach destination but I doubt you have time for adding another destination.

Hope this helps a little. Happy planning!
Wow, thanks for all the info and insight. We are not interested in going to Phnom Penh. There is way too much disturbing sites that we do not want to see. We saw our youngest daughter die and that is enough trauma for us. Some of the museums in Vietnam will be okay and I can just skip over exhibits that are too much for myself or my husband.

We will stay in District 3 in HCMC.I did see that food tour on Youtube and it looks awesome.

I will look at maybe having one homebase for Central Vietnam.

I will look at your thoughts on North Vietnam. We should be in North Vietnam by March.

Thanks
Kim


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Old May 13th, 2024, 10:05 AM
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Originally Posted by crellston
Sounds like a very exciting trip! Having done many similar trips in the region over many years, I would be concerned about the number of locations you are planning to visit. Every time you move, you will lose at least half a day to travel. In some case the journey can be as much fun as the destination , in others it can be a real pain. How much time to allocate to each place very much depends upon your interests.

A few observations;
  1. Cambodia - There is more to the country than Angkor Wat. It would be a real shame to miss out on Phnom Penh , one of my favourite asian capitals. As history buffs, I am sure you will find the albeit tragic history, fascinating. I would try and spend at least a couple of nights (one full day ) there. Agree with KJAs comments re time at Angkor. You can see a LOT of temples in 2 full days. Any spare time I would spend on a visit to one of the villages on Tonle Sap.
  2. Mekong Delta - one of my favourite parts of Vietnam and a greta way to visit is to take a boat from Phnom Penh to Chau Doc and spend a couple of days there visiting the Cham villages, Sam Mountain and Tra Su submerged forest before heading 3 hours by road to Can Tho for overnight and an early morning visit to Cai Rang floating market before heading straight to Saigon or another stop at Ben Tre to explore the small canals and cottage industries. A homestay in the delta will meet your desire to see how "the locals live" and is a lot of fun.
  3. HCMC/Saigon - our "spiritual home in Vietnam. Manic and v. busy , there could not be a bigger contrast to life in the delta. The big luxury hotels (which are very nice!) are in Disitrict 1 as is the backpacker / bar /club areas. We prefer to stay in district 3 which is more "local" . less fancy accommodation (we always used to stay at Ms Yang's homestay which sadly is no more but we loved the area which has some of our favourite local restaurants. It is also walkable to some of the key sites like the War Remnants Museum, The Reunification Palace. etc Frankly you dont need a tour for these or any of the other sites. A food tour would be great - check out https://xotours.vn haven't used them but friend have and rated them highly. Worth looking into Vietnamese food beforehand. My wife wrote a couple of posts re Vietnams food for our blog in conjunction with a Vietnamese friend.
  4. Central Vietnam - I confess I am not a fan of Da Nang itself. Some of the best beaches in Vietnam which is why there are mile after mile of mega hotels strung out along the beach road. If you want beach time it is great and I suppose you could use it as a base to explore, but I much prefer Hue, the ancient capital which is jam packed with history. The Imperial Citadel and Tombs etc are amazing and easily visited by bike or by a tour. Hue has some of the best food in Vietnam. If you are at all interested in caves, the largest cave system in the world, Phong Nha Khe Be is a day away near Dong Ha easily reached by train form Hue or Da Nang. Hoi An is very, very quaint and for that reason it does get packed out with tourists mostly in big groups visiting form the big hotels up the coast. Mid day is the quietest time to wander, evenings get manically busy. If staying there consider a day trip to the Cham ruins at My Son. Ba Na Hills are VERY touristy - I would avoid. Marble mountains and Hai Van pass can easily be incorporated into a transfer between Hue/Da Nang/ Hoi An rather than a separate day trip.
  5. The North - Hanoi is a very different to Saigon and has a lot to see. It is big on museums and history and arguably needs more time than Saigon. Yes, definitely stay in the old quarter. I would allow 3 full days min. It is going to be a lot cooler there than in the south and whilst you will still see blue skies, it may be a bit foggy around Halong etc. Two nights and one full day would likely be enough for Tam Coc/Ninh Binh. Make sure to avoid the really touristy areas and try not to go on a weekend. You may be able to combine with your Lan Ha Bay cruise to avoid doubling back (either are around 3 hours from Hanoi.
Here are links to the Vietnam and Cambodia sections of our blog with some detail and photos of our travels in the region.

https://accidentalnomads.com/category/vietnam/
https://accidentalnomads.com/category/cambodia/

Not a fan of beaches unless we are diving which we have done at Nha Trang but these days I would avoid NT . It did get overrun with Russian expats and became a bit unpleasant . Whether that is still the case, I dont know. There are beach options around Hoi An if you choose to stay there. Otherwise, Quy Nhon is worth considering as a beach destination but I doubt you have time for adding another destination.

Hope this helps a little. Happy planning!
Thanks for all the wonderful information.
kimmer1968 is offline  
Old May 13th, 2024, 11:32 PM
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I did the motorcycle tour with this company in dalat city and hoi an with this company,hope they still work after covid : rew rew . vn
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Old May 16th, 2024, 07:53 AM
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When we went to Vietnam we only did Vietnam for our full 3 weeks so I can't comment on combining it with neighbouring countries but I agree with Crellston's recommendations fully.

We particularly loved Mekong and Hanoi. Hue and Saigon were superb for food and history in particular. I'm so glad we didn't stop in Da Nang, it's an endless stretch of characterless modern build hotels, not my cup of tea at all. Hoi An old quarter is stunning but oh my goodness so many people (and considering we travelled in Feb 2020 when tourism numbers had plummeted because of the pandemic, I cannot imagine going in a non-pandemic year)

We went South to North, and you can read our full 3 week itinerary for Vietnam on my blog but here's a brief summary.:

- Flight UK to Saigon
Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City, 3 nights)
Mekong Delta (3 nights)
- Flight to Da Nang, Sightseeing Da Nang, Monkey Mountain, Marble Mountains & Linh Ung Pagoda all part of transfer to Hoi An
Hoi An (4 nights)
- Hai Van Pass and Lap An Lagoon (Transfer to Hue)
Hue (2 nights)
Hanoi (2 nights)
Halong Bay / Cat Ba Island (2 night cruise)
Hanoi (3 nights)
- Flight home to UK
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Old May 16th, 2024, 11:25 PM
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Kimmer1968 re "We are not interested in going to Phnom Penh. There is way too much disturbing sites that we do not want to see. "

I understand that some sights re the Khmer Rouge genocide like the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum and the Choueng Ek Killing Fields are not for everyone and will be disturbing for most, but there are many other sights to see in PP that do not focus upon that period of Cambodian history - The Royal Palace, the Silver Pagoda, Russian and central markets to name but a few. PP also has the best food in Cambodia!

Perhaps more importantly, I would not discount PP as it a superb starting point for an overland/boat trip through the Mekong Delta to Saigon that it would be a shame to miss.
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