fly into HCMC (1 night)
Phnom Penh (3 nights)
Siem Reap (3 nights)
Battambang (3 nights)
Phnom Penh (1 night)
Kampot (2 nights)
Kep (2 nights)
Mekong to HCMC (3 nights)
HCMC (1 night/2 days . . . depart at midnight second day)
I'm traveling with a buddy who hasn't been to SE Asia before and wanted to go somewhere I haven't been. Tickets Shanghai-HCMC were way cheaper than SH-PP, so we decided to get a little experience of Vietnam as well, I've been to HCMC and Can Tho in the Delta region already.
1) He is a big guy so we were thinking of breaking up the long trip between Battambang and Kampot with an overnight in PP, however, has anyone hired a private car or taxi to do this - if so how long and how much did it cost?
2) I'd love to hear people's thoughts on Kampot/.Kep and which is a better option. I'm interested in a nice beach for some day in the trip but wonder if the tightness of the schedule makes Koh Tonsay to far afield. Perhaps shave a night from PP, SR or B . . .or even the Mekong Delta? Should we base out of one and just day trip to the other?
3) Are we making the right decision to do Kampot/Kep and avoid Sihanoukville . We want somewhere relaxing but where we still might meet some people to hang out over beers. I'm thinking Sihanoukville is a bit too wild. Thoughts?
4) Having spent a couple nights in Can Tho, any recommendations for a couple nights in the Mekong Delta, a town that left a good impression on your heart?
PP to Kampot in a private taxi would be about $30 and takes a couple of hours. Battambang is further, therefore more pricy and a longer time, but I've not done this journey in a taxi myself.
Koh Tonsay is perfectly feasible, only 25 minute boat ride from Kep . There are usually share ferries until about 8.30am but you can charter a boat anytime, for a price. Many people just go for the day, but it's easy to stay overnight and get a beach hut experience.
Kep and Kampot have different vibes, so it's difficult to recommend one over the other. It's only about 35 minutes on a tuk tuk between the two, so a day trip is possible. The accommodation in Kampot is perhaps more easily accessible as many of the places in Kep are resorts and you'd require transport to get around. Maybe stay in Kampot, go over to Kep to visit the island overnight, then spend a day in Kep on the way back and stuff your face with crab. There's plenty to go and see in the countryside between the two towns too - bat caves, plantations, fishing villages. I'd recommend a day of cycling or motorbiking around and just seeing what you find.
Sihanoukville's not all party party - Otres beach is much calmer than the main beach closest to town. Have a look at the Sihanoukville posts in the Cambodia blog on this site to get a feel for what goes on where. However, you may get what you want from Koh Tonsay and save a bit of travel time.
Hope this helps, and wishing you and your mate the best time!
The countryside between Kampot and Kep has some of the finest scenery in Cambodia.I haven't been in a long time and I'm sure Kep has changed but I doubt the scenery has.Seems a pity to be tied to a tuk-tuk, if you can, hire a motorbike and you can stop at leisure.Of course the best time would be before December and the countryside dries up.
BTW Ocheteal beach isn't wild.There are a few bars scattered along the front which tend to go for the loud music scene but lots of the beach is quiet and relaxing.I always think the advantage it has over other places is it's relatively cheap.You can sit next to the sea by candlelight in a big rattan chair and enjoy fresh seafood barbeques and fresh beer/fruit shakes etc. The only negative aspect are the professional beggars but just ignore them and they'll go away.
Thanks for the above. All these thoughts on Sihanoukville make wonder if we should skip it . . . I guess it'll depend just how close we want to stay to the beach for how long. I'm feeling Kampot's pull for some reason - I think I like the idea of basing out of the riverside town with some motorbiking and maybe just hitting up Koh Tonsay for one night. Thanks for the words on Kep, sounds a bit resorty and I wasn't expecting that.
I've been reading a few posts about Thorntree about going from Kep/Kampot direct to Saigon, but we plan to go to Chau Doc . . .
Does anyone know if it is easier to do Kep/Ha Tien (Prek Chak/Xa Xia) to Chau Doc OR the Phnom Den/Tinh Bien crossing between Chau Doc and Ha Tien?
Kep / Ha Tien is far easier than the other crossing. Especially given your route. But I don't understand why you'd want to go to Chau Doc if you're going slowly to HCMC from Kep.
Ha Tien is worthy of a night as well if you're still looking to fill the days in Mekong Delta. Very quiet town but pleasant enough to do a little exploring in an otherwise ignored part of Vietnam.
Taxi PP to Kampot is more likely to be $35 nowadays and add $5 to reach Kep. Battambang to PP is around $40-45
Kep is not that resorty. Just depends on your budget and interests. Most people visit Kep to just wind down. It might just not be lively enough in the evenings for 2 lads who would like some company for a few beers in the evening (Kampot is much better for that). In high season (nov. - march) there will be enough (single) "travellers" to meet up with but yeah, the majority of visitors to Kep is couples and families
If you do consider SHV keep in mind that the road between SHV and Kampot is probably the worst road in Cambodia at the moment and it will cost you about half a day to get to Kampot from SHV
Eastwest - I guess I always thought of Chau Doc as the spot to come in as it also has a border entry into Cambodia and my original plan had been to come back into the Delta direct from PP - that plan had changed, but Chau Doc remained in my mind, I'd heard it was a pleasant and colorful place. Do you have other places to recommend in the Delta? Better spots to head on to from Ha Tien?
Thanks for the advice on the road, in order to absorb more we're trying to keep locations to a minimum so pretty sure SHV is off the plan.
'If you do consider SHV keep in mind that the road between SHV and Kampot is probably the worst road in Cambodia at the moment and it will cost you about half a day to get to Kampot from SHV' ????
Well I rode on my motorbike Phnom Penh -Kampot (route 3) then on to Sihanoukville on route 4 about one year ago and unless things have changed I thought that road pretty good. The stretch from Kampot to the junction with route 4 is relatively new I remember them laying it in 2006.
In fact I thought the whole of route 3 from Phnom Penh to Kampot to route 4 is brilliant with a good surface and very little traffic.OK when you hit route 4 you've got an increase in traffic but it's still a good road.
If you think that is the worst road in Cambodia I could introduce you to ones ten times worse and that's just going out of Phnom Penh never mind up north.
Chau doc is indeed a colorful place but also just a border town and in that category one of the better ones. I've only visited once but would not consider it worthy for a considerable detour, which it will be, coming from Ha Tien .
I would spend 1 night in Ha Tien and stroll around there for an hour and visit some of the smaller sights in Ha Tien by motorbike. You have small beach in town and a huge stretch of deserted beach just outside.
About 2-3 hours from Ha Tien is Rach Gia which is a huge city. I've never spend a night there but I'd love to do that once. Just for the sake of being in a huge bustling vietnamese city where there are no foreign visitors. As far as I know there isn't much of interest apart from the ferry to Phu Quoc
Otherwise there aren't many options on the way to Can Tho . The bus/taxi passes enough towns/places on the way but I can't say if any of them are worthy of a stop. I would just spend most of the time in Can Tho and explore or move on closer to HCMC and stop in places like My Tho or Vinh Long which are the most commonly visited towns in the delta.
You say you are looking for beach time.Bear in mind neither Kampot or Kep have a beach worthy of the name. Have you thought about Phu Quoc? I think you can get a ferry from Hatien as well as Rach Gia. Beautiful beaches and lovely island.
I've been to Phu Quoc and it is very nice. I think we'll try out Koh Tonsay for a day on the beach - thanks for the heads up on Kep.
By the way, thanks everyone for all the great comments.