How to plan a trip to Vietnam and Cambodia ?
1. When to visit
Both countries are subject to two main seasons, wet and dry, but they can still be visited and enjoyed all year around. The best time to visit Vietnam and Cambodia is the dry season from November to April because humidity falls across central and northern Vietnam and rainfall becomes less frequent in both Vietnam and Cambodia. However, the wet season is not so bad and even can be a pleasant time to go thanks to lower visitor numbers.
Traveling in Vietnam
Vietnam transportation is improving rapidly in terms of both quantity and quality. When you travel for long distance from one province to another, you have multiple choices of vehicles: airplane, bus and train based on your budget and time.
Currently, traveling between Vietnam’s cities by air becomes so popular. Vietnam Airlines is the leading carrier of the country with a wide range of both domestic and international flights. For cheaper alternative, Vietjet Air is also a good carrier that often has a lot of flight promotions.
Rail transport in Vietnam is also favored by a large number of tourists. Most of Express trains in Vietnam are sleeper trains with many napping carriages, however, some trains on the North – South Express Railway also have sitting carriage. The North – South Express Railway is the national train route under the management of Vietnam Railways Corporation. It begins in Hanoi and ends in Ho Chi Minh city.
Therefore for travelers who would love to enjoy many breathtaking landscapes along Vietnam such as Hai Van Pass, Van Phong Bay and especially Truong Son Mountain ranges, getting a train ticket should be an exciting experience. The ticket fare is from 600,000 to 2,000,000 dong for the whole trip from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City and vice versa and the trip takes about 30 hours.
For short routes within a city, bus is a great choice. The ticket fare is very cheap (less than 10,000 dong). Besides, taxi and motorbike are common public vehicles in Vietnam. Especially motorbikes are widely used by most Vietnamese people and foreign backpackers in their adventurous trips to mountainous areas.
Traveling in Cambodia
In oder to move among tourist attractions in Cambodia, the popular form of transport is bus. Phnom Penh – Siem Reap route costs 140,000- 200,000 dong / ticket.
To travel in Phnom Penh you can choose one of the following types: walking, bike or motorbike rental, taxi, tuk tuk. However, if you are still unfamiliar with the traffic here, you’d better take taxi or tuk tuk.
Travelling from Vietnam to Cambodia
- By plane
If you want to save your time, flying from Vietnam to Cambodia should be the best way. Vietnam Airlines and Cambodia Angkor Air are two airlines performing this flight route
- By passenger car, open bus
Getting from Vietnam to Cambodia by bus may take hours; however, it can help to save money for other purposes because of cheap price.
At present, car companies offer Ho Chi Minh City – Cambodia route are Mai Linh, Sapaco, Kumho, The Sinh Tourist, Mekong Express. Most of these firms have representative offices in Pham Ngu Lao street or Bui Vien Street located in the heart of Saigon.
You can find a wide range of accommodation from budget hostels to five stars hotel in Vietnam which is at least 5 dollars for budget option and 150 dollars for luxurious one. The simplest way to reserve a hotel room is to book online before you come.
Hotels in Cambodia are quite diverse and have unique architecture , you can easily find yourself one place to stay with affordable price. Alternatively, you can ask the taxi or tuk tuk driver for cheap hotels.
A trip to Vietnam and Cambodia will reward you with an incredible mix – big cities, perfect coastlines, lush jungles and above all some really friendly locals. There are so many things to see in Vietnam and Cambodia, here are the most popular places:
Visiting Sapa in the early November and late December, tourists can feel the typically cold climate of the North Vietnam. With temperature under 10 degrees Celsius, Sapa visitors can admire snow and immerse themselves in romantic scenery here. Apart from fantastic mountainous scenery, tourists can enjoy traditional music of ethnic minority compatriots.
- Halong Bay
Your trip to Vietnam won’t be complete without visiting Halong Bay, one of the top 7 natural wonders of the world. Passing many competitors, Halong is really a perfect natural masterpiece with stunning view.
- Hanoi – the capital of Vietnam
The most beautiful season to visit Hanoi is in Autumn. It is said that Autumn of Hanoi brings its own specical feature that nowhere has. With the combination of ancient and modern beauty, Hanoi will impress you by interest points such as Hoan Kiem Lake, Long Bien Bridge, Hanoi’s Old Quarter, Temple of Literature, Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum etc. or simply by sipping coffee at a street cafe while looking at the flow of traffic.
There are a lot of things to do in Hue city. Tourists can visit the kingdom of Nguyen Dynasty or take a boat on Huong River and enjoy ceremonial song named as “ca tru”. Besides, they also can go sightseeing to ancient temples with thousands of years old such as Hue High School for the Gifted, Ngu Binh Mountain, Vong Canh Hill etc.
- Da Nang
Recognized as one of the best points to visit in 2015 by TripAvisor, Da Nang is becoming more and more popular with international tourists. It not only possesses a variety of beautiful natural scenery but also offers qualified services. Some destinations that you should not ignore when traveling to Da Nang are Asia Park, system of bridges, Ba Na Hills, My Khe beach, Bodhisattva of Mercy Statue etc.
- Hoi An
Located not far from the center of Da Nang city, Hoi An acient town is one of the must-see spots for travellers. The most special thing you can find in Hoi An is the streets are decorated with colorful lanterns. Things to do here are taking a boat on Hoai river to admire its night life, visiting Japanese Covered Bridge, ancient houses, dropping flower garlands on Hoai River, enjoying delicious food like Cao Lau, chicken rice, Quang noodle, and so on.
When it comes to Nha Trang, people often think of fascinating beaches. However, it is also home to Vinperland amusement park as well as picturesque landscapes like Mieu island, Tam island, Dam market, Thap Ba Ponagar, Long Son pagoda etc.
- Da Lat
Da Lat is also known as flower city with stuning natural beauty. Traveling Dalat, you can hire bikes to go around tourist attractions such as Xuan Huong Lake, Flower Parks, Langbiang, Chicken Church, Elephant Waterfalls, Love Valley, strawberry garden etc. Dalat with a romantic beauty will give you one of the best experience in your holiday in Vietnam.
- The Mekong Delta
The Mekong Delta in southern Vietnam is the home to floating markets because every activites take place on the river from trading goods, shopping to eating. In addition, tourists can participate in many exciting activities such as picking fruits, coconut forest tourism, fishing in the swamps etc.
Saigon will make you mingle with the animation of modern life. The most popular spots to spend your time in Sai Gon are Western Streets, Nguyen Hue Flower Street, Ben Thanh Market, Notre Dame Cathedral etc.
Phnom Penh also known as Nam Vang or Nam Vinh, is the largest city and the capital of the Kingdom of Cambodia. Phom Penh owns many unique French and Khmer architecture buildings. Phnom Penh is one of the destinations that atrracts the largest number of international as well as domestic tourists in Cambodia. You can visit famous tourist spots below:
- Cambodian Royal Palace
Royal Palace is located on Sothearos Street where takes place activities of royal family, royal ceremonies and where to welcome foreign guests.
Opening time: 7.30 – 11 a.m , and 14:00 – 17:00 p.m every day of the week. Tickets are 6$ / person.
- National Museum of Cambodia
National Museum of Cambodia is located at the Road 178 and 13, near the Royal Palace. Currently in the museum, there are about 5,000 items with archaeological, religious values of the Khmer from the fourth century to the thirteenth century.
Opening times are from 8:00 to 17:00 every day of the week.The entrance fee is 3$ / person.
- Wat Phnom
Wat Phnom also called Penh pagoda, is located in Street 96 and Norodom Avenue. On annual New Year’s Day, many important festivals often take place here.
Opening times: Every day of the week. Fares are 1$ / person (only apply for foreign visitors).
- The Independence Monument
Located at the intersection of Norodom High Street and Sihanouk Street. The monument designed in traditional architecture with lotus shape – “stupa” of the Khmer – modeled according to the architecture of Angkor Wat.
Opening times: Only open a few major holidays. Free entrance ticket.
- Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum
Located at the corner of Street 113 and 350, PhnomPenh Capital. The museum is a place to save the crimes evidence of the Khmer Rouge in period of 1975-1979. Opening times: from 8:00 to 17:00 every day of the week. The admission is 2$ /person.
- Choeng Ek Killing Field
Choeng Ek Killing Field is about 15km from Phnom Penh Capital, where millions of Cambodians killed by the massacre of Pol Pot genocidal regime. This area is located along Sisowath Quay River and quite large international tourists and local people often come to relax and stroll.
Siem Reap, a resort town in northwestern Cambodia, is the gateway to the ruins of Angkor, the seat of the Khmer kingdom from the 9th–15th centuries. Here are the spots you should pay a visit to:
- Angkor Wat Temple
Angkor Wat temple is in Angkor temple relic, 320 km to the North from the center of Phnom Penh capital with the total area of 20ha. It consists of 398 zones with delicate sculpture of Khmer. Today, the Cambodia’s government has renovated the temple to become a tourist attraction for both domestic and international visitors.
- Angkor Thom
Angkor Thom is the last and oldest ancient capital of the Khmer empire. Angkor Thom was built in the style of the Bayon. All are built with laterite, above the towers are carved Naga.
- Tonle Sap
Tonle Sap is the largest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia, situated between the Mekong and Tonle Sap river, about 30 minutes walk from Siem Reap city. The lake was recognized as biosphere reserve area of the world in 1997 by UNESCO. To visit the Tonle Sap lake you can rent a boat to go on the route: Phnom Penh – Siem Reap and Siem Reap – Battambang. This will be an exciting experience for you.
Battambang is the second largest city of Cambodia, about 293km to the northwest of Phom Penh capital. Situated on the banks of the romantic Sangker River and in the southwest of Tonle Sap. Tourists will be impressed by its extremely peaceful and poetic beauty.
Visiting Battambang you can not only enjoy the beautiful natural scenery, but also have the opportunity to visit the interesting tourist places such as Wat Ek Phnom with 28m-height Buddha statue, Puoy Kamping lotus pond, Prasat Banan Temple, and Nory bamboo train.
The south area and islands of Cambodia
Kampot is a small city, located on the banks of Kampong Bay River, near Thailand Bay. Here, visitors can enjoy peaceful setting of riverside villages and visit some famous tourist attractions such as Bokor mountain with abandoned houses built in ancient French architecture, the famous wooden bridge across the Kampong River, caves in Phnom Chhnork and Kampot old train station.
- Sihanoukville coastal town
Sihanoukville is famous for the cleanest and most beautiful beaches in Cambodia like Otres, Ochheutarl. Also, from this town you can take a boat to visit Koh Rong and Koh Russei Island with stunning beaches.
- Koh Rong Island
Koh Kong Island is located from Koh Kong district 22km to the south. There is only a fishing village named Alatang located in the southeast of the island. Beaches here are untouched and liken to “Hawaii of Asia”. Coming to Koh Kong, you can admire the beautiful scenery and explore peaceful primeval forest on the island. It will be an exciting journey for those who love to explore and conquer nature.
- Koh Ta Kiev Island
It takes about 1 hour to go from the mainland to the island. Koh Ta Kiev is famous for alcohol distillation factory. In addition to visit wine factory, you also can explore the forest on the island, go hiking, swimming and camping, organize outdoor barbecue party as well. This will be an interesting tourist destination you do not skip when visiting Cambodia.
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