From the 3rd of July - 23rd of July next year I'll be travelling (as the title suggests) from, Siem Reap, Camodia to, Hanoi, Vietnam, and was just looking for any general travel advice (or specific routes) on any MUST see's along the way or what to definitely avoid, as an 18 year old, and a first time traveller to Asia alone, I want to see as much as I can along the way.
Also, is it worth really planning ahead and booking a structured itinerary in the form of hostels/hotels or is it feasible to just 'pay as you go' as I've been told it is likely I'll be ripped off and end up spending far more if doing the latter!
Any tips/info/links will be greatly appreciated.
These are the fist places that pop into my head along that itinerary (East out of Cambodia and North through Vietnam). The ones marked * are the spots I would definitely not miss on your trip. Super-impressive spots are marked **:
Mekong delta into Vietnam*
Phu Quoc (from hearsay)
Hoi An **
There are plenty of less mainstream places I have not mentioned but hopefully this is a starting point.
My tips would be: don't rush it, spend at least 4/5 days in each place if you can. And leave with an empty suitcase: Hoi An in particular has some incredible tailors.
When I was traveling I looked up hostels/hotels on Travelfish the night before arriving at a destination. It worked a treat. I wouldn't commit to a booking without good reason, and I can't think of any.
Hi Joe - FSH has given you some great ideas above (especially about not rushing it!) - but that's a massive amount to cover in 3 weeks.
I would tend to suggest 6 days in Cambodia (at least 3 in Siem Reap), and the rest of the time in Vietnam. BUT.. in Vietnam either plan on picking out the highlights (and either flying or expect long overnight busrides between each place) - OR concentrate in, say the Central/Southern area.
'Must see' places that I would suggest are:
1. Siem Reap
3. Hoi An
... and as options:
4. Do boat trip from PP to Chau Doc, then spend some time travelling through Mekong Delta through to HCMC, 2-4 days in HCMC then on to Hoi An (maybe stopping at Dalat along the way. Fly from Hoi An (Danang) on to Hanoi.
5. Or.. similar to 4, but spend more time travelling from HCMC to Hoi An and skip out northern Vietnam. (Save it for another trip).
6. Or ... to 1-day trip from PP to HCMC (skipping Mekong area) then doing highlights in Vietnam (HCMC, Hoi An, Hanoi, Sapa, Halong Bay), spending 3-4 days in each minimum.
(This is top-of-head as I'm in a rush to type this...so I haven't worked out number of days for my suggested options).
Given your short time frame, and desire to see Cambodia and Vietnam, I would suggest missing out Sihanoukville (too much time spent getting there/back, and it's not all that great anyhow), Nha Trang (nothing too special there either) and Hue. If you're after beach time, there are some nice beaches in Hoi An area.
Keep in mind that each time you travel between destinations you essentially lose a good part of the day (waiting for bus, waiting on bus, getting to/from airport/bus station, actual travel time, finding/getting to accom, etc). That adds up when you are only away for 20 days.
Thanks so far!
Should probably have mentioned I'll have already spent 8 weeks in Cambodia volunteering around the Siem Reap area; and after my month or so of travelling I'll be travelling through Thailand afterwards for a further 4 weeks!
I know it'd be silly to try and cover it all in the space of a few weeks