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Tentative itinerary for Cambodia and Vietnam - input please

Tentative itinerary for Cambodia and Vietnam - input please

Sep 13th, 2010, 04:56 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Oct 2009
Posts: 59
Tentative itinerary for Cambodia and Vietnam - input please

My husband and I will be moving with our kids (5 and 7) next Fall (2011) from Munich to Portland, OR. We'd like to take an extended trip to Asia between jobs. I was originally thinking of Bali but I think I have caught the bug for more adventure in Vietnam and Cambodia. My husband wants to relax and I want culture and something exotic. Of course we also need to consider our kids' interests, attention spans,etc. Would love any input on the following itinerary:
1 day: Fly direct to Bangkok – there is an overnight, direct flight (great for kids) instead of flying to Cambodia, and we can stay with friends there
3 days: Bangkok to recover, shop and hang out
1 day: taxi to Siem Reap (is this possible?)
1 week: Angkor Wat temples, Siem Reap, Tonle Lake (is it possible to get a house on the lake as our base?)
1 day: fly to Phu Quoc island
2 weeks: Phu Quoc island (is it possible to rend a small hut with a kitchen rather than staying in a hotel?)
1 day: fly to Hue
2 days: Hue
1 day: fly to Hanoi
2 days: Hanoi
2 days: fly home from Hanoi

I decided to cut these sights - they look amazing but not sure how good they are with kids, and I had to cut something so we weren't always on the go but would welcome input if you think that is the right decision:
2 days: Sapa rice fields
4 days: Halong Bay

Thanks so much!
MunichB is offline  
Sep 13th, 2010, 05:00 AM
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Sorry, guess I forgot one question - instead of flying is it realistic (and reasonably priced) to travel by train within these locations? Also, from Bangkok to Siem Reap? I had read on one of the forums about taking a taxi but wasn't sure if that was the best way. Thanks!
MunichB is offline  
Sep 13th, 2010, 05:44 AM
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I would not drive in a taxi with children from Bangkok to Siem Reap. I'm not sure what the road condition will be, but even if it is improved from what I've heard was horrendous, it will be a long day with two young ones. The flight will be easy and so much more enjoyable.

I think that the children would enjoy the Sapa rice fields and I'm sure that they would get lots of attention from the ethnic minority groups there. If you go, you will need three days (leave from Hanoi around 8 pm on a sleeper train and arrive at 4:30 AM, 2 nights in Sapa and return on third evening on sleeper train)

I'm not sure if the kids would enjoy Halong Bay or not. Are they swimmers? If so, they might enjoy the swimming in the bay, the Kayaking and the hike through the caves. You only need one night for Halong Bay, but it takes several hours to get to and from the bay from Hanoi.

I'm not clear on how many days you have in Hanoi. We spent 5 days there and loved it. Be sure to get hotels with pools for the kids as it is very hot and you will need to return to the room mid day for a reprieve from the sun.

I'm surprised you are skipping Hoi An. While I loved Hue (and probably like it more than Hoi An), Hoi An is a favorite of most people. Why not take time from the Islands and stay at the beach on Hoi An for a few days. Hoi An is magical.

I have never heard of anyone getting a houseboat on Tonle Lake. I don't believe it is the thing to do. You would be better off getting a nice hotel with a pool which you will need mid day.

Sounds like you will have a spectacular trip. Have you visited Bangkok before? If not, there's plenty to do there. Your kids would love a day or two out with Tong. While she is not inexpensive, I am sure it would be one of the most memorable experiences for them.
dgunbug is offline  
Sep 13th, 2010, 05:44 AM
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In case you don't know who Tong is - she is a guide that many Fodorites use and there is much info about her on this site.
dgunbug is offline  
Sep 13th, 2010, 10:37 AM
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Hi dgunbug,
thanks so much for all of the feedback. I'll have to think this over and perhaps re-work my itinerary! A couple of clarifications:
- I didn't mean a houseboat but rather just a house on the lake to use as a base for seeing the temples and Siem Reap. I have since read some not-so-great reviews of the lake - perhaps I should just skip that?
- Sounds like hotels, or at least a house with a pool, are a must.
- Yes, we have been to Bangkok but before kids. I'll check out the posts about Tong.
- I got mixed up on Hue vs. Hoi An - that is actually what I meant so I am glad you caught that!
Thanks so much,
MunichB is offline  
Sep 13th, 2010, 05:38 PM
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I would not skip Hue. In fact, I personally liked Hue more than Hoi An, but I think you should see both and they are not too far from one another. Plan on several days in each location if possible.

I would not skip a day tour of the lake...it is very interesting, but you definitely don't want to stay there. I'm not certain there are even any hotels nearby.
dgunbug is offline  
Sep 13th, 2010, 08:22 PM
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Hi Barbara,

Air Asia have direct fly from BKK to Siemreap, so check on their cheap fare.
While you say fly from Siemreap to Phu Quoc, it means you have to fly Siemreap to Saigon and connect flight to Phu Quoc, consider the time fly cause you may not want to wait for too long in Tan Son Nhat airport.

Phu Quoc: never heard about apartment style, just hotels and resorts only, but there are quite a lot of restaurants in town and cheap seafoods.

Agree you should be in Hoi An - I think more than 2 days, you can easily spend a week here. Hue is quiet city and great for culture explorer. From Hoi An to Hue can be transfered by train or private car.

I still think you should go to Halong Bay , maybe a private boat 2 cabins for your family? it's not that really expensive and worth it. 2 days 1 night trip I recommend.

Sapa will require a bit of trekking, i think you should consider Mai Chau - beautiful valley with Thai stilt house. Should stay in Mai Chau Lodge resort.

I wont recommend you to stay on boathouse in Siemreap. I dont think it's possible either.

TravelSenseAsia is offline  
Sep 14th, 2010, 03:57 PM
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Correction, Air Asia does not fly from BKK to Siem Reap, only to Phnom Penh.
sf7307 is offline  
Sep 14th, 2010, 07:51 PM
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I like the Phu Quoc island idea, but 2 weeks there seems excessive. It is a small, fairly undeveloped island and you may get bored with more than 3-5 days (and 5 days only if you are big time beach people.) Great beaches there, but if you really like beaches, maybe go to Nha Trang as it offers a lot more to do (plus it is on the way to Hue.)

Similarly, I think a whole week in SR would be too much. I would be templed out after 3 days.
krgystn is offline  
Sep 15th, 2010, 09:42 AM
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one week in siem reap is not too much. There is lots to do besides go to temples.

Disagree also about the overland trip from Bkk to Siem Reap. It's fascinating. Most common way is to take a government bus from Bangkok to the border then a taxi from the border to Siem Reap. The road is perfect, 5 hours from BKK to Poipet, 3 hours from there to Siem Reap. You can also take the train from BKK to the border. You can also take a taxi. Many options, but do NOT take the bus on the Cambodian side, take a taxi for sure from Poipet to Siem Reap. If you don't want to deal with the taxi mafia, have your hotel or guesthouse arrange a car and have the driver meet you at immigration. Easy peasy.

Read talesofasia.com about the overland journey and don't be put off by all the scam warnings. Once you have all the information about how to do it, it's a great trip. I've done it a dozen times.

The Tonle Sap is amazing, but probably not for staying....it's too far from the sites and would be hard to get food, etc. But DO take a day trip to Kompong Khleang while you're in town to experience the authenticity of fishing village life. DO NOT go to Chong Kneas; that's probably the bad reviews you've been reading.

Enjoy your trip!
offwego is offline  
Sep 15th, 2010, 10:14 AM
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Re Kompong Khleang, can you combine it with anything else? or wold you say it's a full days experience?
I am all booked now, so sorry to be missing you. Went with 5 days in SR i figured there was plenty to see and do!
Smeagol is offline  
Sep 15th, 2010, 01:32 PM
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Offwego - the road from Bangkok to Siem Reap may be fascinating, but remember that MunichB will have 2 small kids in tow. Not sure I would want to spend that much time in the car.

I agree that 7 days is a bit much for Siem Reap - I personally could spend that much time doing all the temples, but many people get templed out and with the children, it may be too many days. Four or five days would be good though. Remember that you will break up the days with time at the pool. It is impossible to stay out all day in the heat. You will want a day for the boat ride also.
dgunbug is offline  
Sep 15th, 2010, 08:16 PM
Join Date: May 2004
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smeagol my plans to go to the US have changed and I think I'm going to be in town for your visit. Email me and let's talk again.....

who can say re: whether children are okay on a road trip or not? I assumed these particular ones were okay or the OP would not have asked about taking a taxi...?
offwego is offline  
Sep 15th, 2010, 08:40 PM
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forgot to answer that Kompong Khleang can be combined easily with Bang Melea, or the Rulous Group. If you leave town at 6am (and you should because the early morning light is amazing, the village is more active in the morning and the water is better) then you're back in SR by 1pm-ish....

If you're just "into" the whole floating/fishing village/lake thing, you can also get in the boat at Kompong Khleang and go out across open water to Kompong Phluuk, have your driver meet you there with car/tuktuk whatever to take you back to town. That would eat up most of the rest of the day but a lot of good boat time and the addition of seeing the flooded forest which is beautiful if the right time of year...
offwego is offline  

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