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Vietnam and Angkor Wat, Cambodia: Need help organizing Itinerary

Vietnam and Angkor Wat, Cambodia: Need help organizing Itinerary

Old Aug 23rd, 2014, 07:16 PM
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jft
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Vietnam and Angkor Wat, Cambodia: Need help organizing Itinerary

My husband and I (mid 50s) are booked to Vietnam flying from Toronto to HCMC arriving Jan 29th and returning from Hanoi on Feb. 14th. We would like to do a short excursion to Angkor Wat (Siem Reap, Cambodia) during this trip. Other places in Vietnam we would like to visit include Hue, Hoi Ann and Sapa.
I am having difficulty figuring out how to organize this trip.
Sapa seems best scheduled around the Can Cau Market (Saturday) or Bac Ha Market (Sunday). That would mean taking the night train from Hanoi on the Friday Feb. 6th returning on the night train Sunday night.
Do we fly to Siem Reap at the start of our trip from HCMC- the morning of Jan 31st returning on the evening of the 2nd or the morning of the 3rd of Feb.? If so is it best to fly from Siem Reap to Hanoi, spending time there before going to Sapa and then going to Hue/Hoi Ann area after Sapa returning back to Hanoi for our flight home on the 14th?
Or do we proceed from HCMC to Hoi Ann/Hue, making our way to Hanoi for a trip to Sapa (leaving Friday the 6th- returning on the Monday and then fly in and out of Hanoi to Siem Reap the following week before leaving on the 14th?
As I write this it seems less hectic and more cohesive to do Vietnam and end up with a short trip to Angkor Wat at the end when we are not as jetlagged.....
I wasn't sure if Halong Bay is worthwhile in early February so did not include it in the itinerary. Any other suggestions appreciated. Sorry this is so long-winded.
Thanks!
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Old Aug 23rd, 2014, 09:01 PM
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Basically, you have two weeks on the ground in Asia and you want to visit HCMC, Hue, Hoi An, Hanoi, Sapa, and Angkor Wat - 6 locations. It might be logistically possible to do it, but it would be exhausting and you would have no experience of any of these places.

It takes three full days just to see the major temples at Angkor (that means four nights in Siem Reap). Get a copy of Dawn Rooney's book, Angkor: A Guide to Cambodia's Wondrous Temples.

Hanoi itself is worth three of four days, but let's say you just spend three days (four nights). Getting to/from Sapa mean three nights minimum - two night trains, one night there. That doesn't give you any time to explore the place, and you'll be exhausted as you may well not sleep on the train (many people describe the journey as very rough).

That leaves another two or three nights - enough for one other place. Since you are flying into HCMC, it makes sense to make that your other stop. You'll have to leave Hue and Hoi An for another trip.

So take a good look at what you want to do and prioritize - really with two weeks, 3 or 4 places is the maximum you should consider. If you can add another week, you could visit all the places you originally intended.
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Old Aug 24th, 2014, 07:48 AM
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I appreciate your thoughts.
I now realize that we could fly from Siem Reap direct to Danang.
If I do go to Angkor Wat, an early morning flight out of HCMC ON Jan 31 to Siem Reap returning to Danang on the 7pm direct flight on Feb 2 makes sense. Several days in Hoi Ann and maybe Hue. We can fly to Hanoi from Hue or Danang and then leave on Feb 7 for Sapa on the evening train arriving for the Sunday market day and a night or two in Sapa. Evening train back to Hanoi for the rest of the trip departing on the 14th.
I think this the best itinerary. I am comfortable with 2 1/2 days in Siem Reap and don't really feel a need to spend too much time iN HCMC.
Without Siem Reap I would spread out itinerary.
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Old Aug 24th, 2014, 07:58 AM
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most of us prefer 3-4 days in SR...

I think I would cut sapa from this trip---too much time needed..
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Old Aug 24th, 2014, 08:43 AM
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Thanks!
I am thinking of taking out Sapa and adding a day to Angkor Wat.
I am thinking of going to Mai Chau for a day or possibly include one night out of Hanoi.
I really like markets and will miss the major ones in Sapa. What are your favorite Vietnamese markets?
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Old Aug 24th, 2014, 10:07 AM
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I prefer Sapa to Angkor but that is very much a subjective view. Mai Chau is definitely worth an overnight trip. A homestay is easily arranged in Hanois old quarter or through your hotel. I am pretty sure there is a Sunday market there but it won't compare in size to those around Sapa.
Ninh. Binh is also worth of consideration

A few photos of Mai Chau from our visit a few years ago
http://blog.travelpod.com/travel-blo...ai/3/tpod.html

The main sights in district one HCMC can be covered in a very full day but two would be much better. Visiting Angkor is clearly much easier from HCMC. Getting an early morning flight out to SR would give you almost an extra day of sightseeing ( maybe out to Tonle Sap and around town on your first day).

Unless you really like temples, 3 nights in SR would be enough. Organise a guide and driver with your chosen hotel in advance so you can hit the ground running.

I didn't realise there were no flight to Da Nang which makes sense for you as it is only a couple of hours drive to either Hoi Sn or Hue. Both towns are worth a visit. Hoi An is very quaint and picturesque but gets very busy. Hue is a lot bigger and the main sights e.g. The Imperial City and the Tombs are more spread out. If you like trains then one of the worlds most scenic train journeys is between Da Nang and Hue takes around 4 hours and far preferable to ten taxi ride.


I would split your time maybe 2/3 Hue and Hoi An before heading off to Hanoi.
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Old Aug 24th, 2014, 12:36 PM
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If I take the early morning plane from HCMC to Siem Reap on the 31 Jan and return on the 7 pm flight on Feb 2nd to Danang I can fit everything in.( allows 2 1/2 days in Siem Reap)
Late arrival Hoi Ann Feb 2 departing morning of the 5th.
Feb 5th either morning scenic train from Danang to Hue or private ride via the Hai Van Pass.
Fly Hue to Hanoi morning of Feb 7th and then take evening train to Sapa.
Return Sapa early morning Feb 10th.
Return to Canada leaving mid day Feb 14th.
I may still remove one component of the trip. We are not shoppers or beach goers. We have done a lot of travelling. Are the flights on Vietnam Airlines routinely on time?
Thanks
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Old Aug 24th, 2014, 03:06 PM
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It's been a few years since I went to Vietnam, so I've forgotten...Does VN offer multi-entry visas? If you are going to have to buy separate visas for each entry, you might be better off flying directly to Siem Reap when you get off the international flight. I like Saigon, but unless there is something specific that you want to see there Saigon, that's the city that I'd skip. Asia is so much more enjoyable if you slow the pace.
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Old Aug 24th, 2014, 03:23 PM
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Good point, lcuy! Yes, VN does sell multi-entry visas. And the OP will need one.
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Old Aug 24th, 2014, 04:50 PM
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I am agreeing that my itinerary is too ambitious. In looking at Hoi An I am intrigued to take a cooking class or street food your, not possible with such a tight itinerary.
This is our first trip to Asia although we have traveled extensively in Europe.
Now I need to decide whether to chop Sapa or Angkor Wat.
My son was in Vietnam this April and the multilevel rice fields of Sapa with the view look so beautiful. Early April is a much better time to visit than early February.
I realize I will need a multi entry visa if I go to Angkor Wat. The thought of another flight after 22 hours of traveling is not appealing. I think a multi entry visa for Canadian is just more costly but I will investigate.
On one hand if I am seeing Vietnam it's nice to be more complete. On the other hand Early February does seem like a good time to go to Angkor Wat and it is a short hop from Siem Reap.
Decisions!
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Old Aug 25th, 2014, 10:11 AM
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I think we decided to stick with Vietnam and save Angkor Wat for our next trip.
Thanks
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Old Aug 25th, 2014, 12:06 PM
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I think that is a good decision. Have a wonderful trip!
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Old Aug 25th, 2014, 01:31 PM
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Good decision.
Just found this food tour for our visit in Dec. May be of interest..
http://xotours.vn
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Old Aug 25th, 2014, 01:40 PM
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Good decision.
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Old Aug 25th, 2014, 05:36 PM
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Thanks Crellston! You are going to Vietnam this DecemberÉ So you get ridden around on motorbikes going to food places IN HCMC!
I was looking at this food tasting in Hoi Ann which got good reviews. http://www.tasteofhoian.com/index-2.html and maybe a cooking class at Green Bamboo. http://www.greenbamboo-hoian.com/
I am getting worried that I will roll off the plane on my way home!
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Old Aug 25th, 2014, 10:49 PM
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Concur with Vietnam focus, having been to Angkor Wat, Vietnam and Thailand.
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