Southeast Asia forum
16th May, 2013
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I was wondering if i could pick some of your brains please?
A friend and I have just booked our flights to Bangkok. We arrive on the 21st of July and we fly back just less than a month later. I have spend a month in Thailand previously so after a day or two in Bangkok we are making our way to Hanoi by plane then we are on to Cambodia over land. (and here my questioning starts!)
I know two countries (plus Bangkok) is a lot to fit into a month. I have been thinking of flying from Hanoi to Hoi An (i believe the airport is Da Nang?) but i really would like to see some of the country. My friend has never done independent travel which sort of makes me the leader of the pair so I am a little nervous and need all the help i can get!
In terms of Visas I know it is far cheaper to get the Vietnam visa either in Bangkok or with a VOA but is this available as I am not flying in from the UK but from Thailand? Also the Cambodian Visa, would it be easiest to do that over there too?
My itinerary is this... Bangkok, Hanoi, Ha Long Bay, Hoi An, Saigon, Phnom Penh, Kompong Cham, Battambang, Siem Reap, Bangkok
Am i being insane? I know people will say "such and such is amazing and you could spend a month there alone" but i would like to see as much as i can in my short time. I know it's rainy season over there and i have read many conflicting reviews of how this will affect our time. Some say a storm in the afternoon and thats it and some say cloudy all day and constant rain. What have you guys experienced?
I would love your ideas and critique of my early planning! I am really excited and just want it to be as good as i can possibly make it!!
#1 Posted: 16/5/2013 - 07:51
25th April, 2012
A month isn't too bad for 2 countries, but it's not a long time, and with the itinerary you have you will be spending a considerable amount of time in transit. If you are set on keeping the itinerary for Vietnam the same then I would spend a little more time there than Cambodia, because travel times are longer and there is arguably 'more to see'. I also think you can cut one of the places out of Cambodia (either Battambang or Kompong Cham), because with such limited time you will not get to spend much time in each place, and Siem Reap alone could easily take up a week or more if you weren't in a hurry!
Cambodian visa needs no prearranging - just arrive at the border and get it. Vietnam is more complicated, but you will be able to get one in 1 day in Bangkok (as long as you arrive on a weekday!). I can't help much with the Vietnam internal travel questions because I've spent very little time there so hopefully someone can help you there!
Finally, rainy season varies a lot, but in July - August it will be cloudy most of the time and rain most days, but usually the rain doesn't last more than an hour, but sometimes it can last all night. This will mean that occasionally you will be stuck somewhere and not be able to go out, but apart from that the effects aren't too drastic (unless there is a flood ).
Hope that helps
#2 Posted: 16/5/2013 - 14:17
Vietnam doesn't do a VOA. You have to apply for a letter and then bring that letter with you to get the 'VOA'. Only works with certain ports of entry (and by flying in) so you should be fine flying into Hanoi . You can arrange it before you depart and it doesn't matter that you're coming in from BKK.
There really isn't any reason to fly from Hanoi to Danang - as you can just take a sleeper train. I find this more convenient anyway since the train stations in both Hanoi and Danang are very central. If you catch the later sleeper (around 5pm I think) you'll also be passing through the section of rail between Hue and Danang during light and that will be very scenic. So - you can fly and lose the better part of a day in transport, or take the train and get an experience along with saving a night in a hotel.
Timing your trip regionally and you get a 1 week around Hanoi, 1 week around Hoi'an, 1 week around HCMC and 1 week in Cambodia. So, don't over plan it and maybe at the start of your trip try and skim a few days off Hoi'an and HCMC area so you can get a little more time in Cambodia and make up for those days in BKK. To be honest I'd cut out both Kompong Cham and Battambang and instead approach Cambodia via the Delta - leaving HCMC after 2-3 nights, spending a night or two in Can Tho and then trying to get from Can Tho to Kampot for a couple of nights. From there onward to PP a couple nights and give yourself at least 3 full days for Siem Reap. It is a little rushed - but not impossible. Another option would be to skip Kampot and from Can Tho work up to Chau Doc and cross up into Phnom Penh from there . . . probably will eat up some time though you'll only get a good stay in PP and Siem Reap.
#3 Posted: 16/5/2013 - 19:35
16th May, 2013
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Thanks SO much for your help guys! This is exactly the kind of thing I needed to know. A friend of mine told me that "they dont do overnight trains in that part of the world" So I just figured they knew what they were talking about! Overnight trains are far more my thing!
I have been reading so much that sort of answers questions but really asks more than i thought were possible! Shame about the cloudy sky though. So much for picking up a sly sun tan en route!
I think i will take both of your advice and cut out some of my Cambodia stops. I dont want to miss out on the experience by spending my days in a sweaty bus!
Thanks again.. I'm sure there will be more questions as my research gets into full swing!
#4 Posted: 17/5/2013 - 06:41
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