This post is to show you how I narrowed down my trip to Cambodia and Vietnam after tons and tons of browsing and interacting with travelers who have been there earlier. This travel itinerary (it was rather hectic due to lack of time) for Cambodia and Vietnam in 8 days should help you with all the necessary information before you zero down on the places you would like to visit.
I tried adding offbeat places than the regular ones to have a peaceful, non-crowded experience. For Eg: Hanoi was knocked out of my list though my return flight was from there. Yes, I do not regret not going to Hanoi after visiting the other places in Vietnam. A lot of people still don’t know about Hue and Hoi An and these places – my oh my -what beauty and amazing stories they have in store for us to carry back home.
Quick Info on Cities Covered
Flew from Chennai, India
When: August 2016
Cambodia: Siem Reap and Phnom Penh
Vietnam: Ho Chi Minh (Saigon), Hué (pronounced as Huway) and Hoi An (my favorite)
Cambodia: Multiple options, read more about getting a Cambodian Visa
Vietnam: Applied 4 weeks ahead of our travel date through VFS, India
Temple Run Itinerary
|Day One||Wearing huge smiles, we took flight from Chennai to Kuala Lumpur in Air India. Land in KL at 2230 hrs local time.|
|Day Two||Next day, flight from Kuala Lumpur to Siem Reap in Air Asia. Picked up from the airport by our tour guide. Checked in at Hotel Villa Médamrei. Visited Koh Ker, Preah Vihear, and Beng Mealea. This takes a whole day and Preah Vihear is quite an intensive walk. After returning, go for a massage, and then head over to the Night Market, and then Pub Street.|
|Day Three||Started at 0500 AM for Angkor Wat sunrise, proceeded to Angkor Thom, Bayon, Ta Prohm, Baphoun etc. After finishing all the ruins, head over to Pub Street again (yes, it is addictive!), we proceeded to take the bus (we chose Giant Ibis) to Phnom Penh. (In the evening you can also chose to go to Tonle Sap River for sunset.)|
|Day Four||Reached Phnom Penh at 0430 AM. Checked in to Hotel Relax. After breakfast, we took a tuk-tuk to go to Killing Fields, Tuol Sleng Prison Museum and chill by the Tonle Sap River in the evening.|
|Day Five||Day two in Phnom Penh – Independence Monument, Central Market, Royal Palace, Russian Market, Wat Ounalom. (The Russian Market was better than Central Market). Took the bus to Ho Chi Minh City at the Mekong Bus Station at 1430 hrs. After crossing border and Visa stamping, arrived at HCMC at 2030 hrs.|
|Day Six||After breakfast, at 0800 AM, took the guided bus tour to Cu Chi Tunnels. After returning at 1430 hrs, visited War Remnants Museum, Notre Dam Cathedral, General Post Office, Ben Thanh Market and Independence Palace. In the evening visited the Bitexco Financial Skydeck for awesome views of HCMC, then left for the Night Market and ended the day at Backpackers street. (This city is crazy and had I known more about this place earlier, would have definitely stayed for a couple of more days.)|
|Day Seven||Took an early morning flight from HCMC. After landing in Hue, took a cab to check in at Hotel Serene Palace and drove to Phong Nha Caves. (There are two other caves as well – Paradise Caves & Dark Caves. You cannot do all in one day, so plan accordingly if you want to visit all.) After visiting the Phong Nha caves and the amazing Stalactites and Stalagmites, we returned to Hue for the night life experience. We went to Hue Walking Street and took pictures of the Dragon boats on the Perfume River. Don’t miss Truong Bridge which is now a symbol of this beautiful city.|
|Day Eight||Next Day, we took a tour guide to explore the Thanh Toan Bridge, Minh Mang’s Tomb, Khai Dinh’s Tomb, The Citadel (Imperial City), Thien Mu Pagoda and boating on the Perfume River. After this at about 1645 hrs, we proceeded to Hoi An via Da Nang by car. (On the way, if time permits, visit the Lang Co beach and the Hai Van Pass). After reaching Hoi An, explored the beautiful night scenes in the Old Town.|
|Day Nine||Rented a two-wheeler to visit the Cu Dai and An Lang Beach. Payed a visit to the Old Town on the other side of the Japanese Bridge. (Make sure you stitch your suits, dresses in Hoi An as they have mastered the art of perfect fittings. I got two dresses, one blazer and one pant – all under 24 hours). Proceeded to Da Nang Airport to end the trip with a huge sad smiley face.|
|Day Ten||Flight to Malaysia and back to Chennai.|
Other cities you could consider apart from the cities mentioned above
Cambodia – Sihanoukville (beaches), Kampot (Bokor National Park)
Vietnam – Ninh Binh, Nha Trang, Sapa, Hanoi (Ha Long), Da Nang.
Hotels we stayed in:
Ho Chi Minh City: Elios Hotel (brilliant location)
Hue: Hotel Serene Palace Hotel (Room was excellent!)
Hoi An: Ving Hung Library Hotel (this was my favorite of all the properties we stayed in)
Our travel guide at Siem Reap: San Park – firstname.lastname@example.org – +855 12788354
Our travel guide (car) at Vietnam right from Da Nang Airport pick up to dropping us back – VM Travels
Total cost for two (includes all kinds of Travel, Visa, Hotels, Entrance Fees, Food and Shopping): ₹1,85,000 / US $2700 odd.
Are you planning a trip to Cambodia or Vietnam? Have any questions that are unanswered? Ask away in the comment section below.