Me and three others are planning a trip to Southeast Asia. We are deciding on where we should go and our biggest issues is we can't decide how long it takes to get everywhere. We are thinking we want to take the bus most places and we have heard it takes a long time, but nothing much more specific than that. We have a weak itinerary that we have made up but we are not sure if we have packed to much into the time we have or maybe not enough. Our trip is going to last exactly three weeks.
Our itinerary is as follows (as of now):
Da Nang Vietnam (arrival)
Hoi An Vietnam
Nha Trang Vietnam
Ho Chi Minh City Vietnam
Phnom Phenh Cambodia
Siem Reap Cambodia
Tha Khaek Laos
Return to Da Nang (departure)
We are also tentative on how long to stay at each place which really all comes back to how long we are traveling between destinations. If anybody could give us some pointers or at least point us in the right direction to solve our issue it would be greatly appreciated. Thanks
#1 dspudwill has been a member since 28/4/2013. Posts: 5
Firstly, I'm intrigued...where are you flying in from that Danang is your first and last stop? I know it's an international airport, I'm just curious.
I'm not sure exactly what questions you want answered, but sounds like travel times between locations are the main considerations. So here you go:
Danang to Hoi An is a short trip - only about 45 mins in a taxi. Cheapest to book through your guesthouse in Hoi An, but if you don't have one booked it'll cost about $25. There are buses but as far as I know they're not regular and you still need to get into Central Danang to pick them up (I might be wrong on this as I haven't checked for a while), so a taxi is recommended unless you're spending some time in Danang anyway.
Hoi An to Nha Trang is around 10 hours on a train (though you have to get the train from Danang) and can be done overnight. Train is recommended versus bus for safety and comfort reasons, but the bus is more direct as you can pick it up in Hoi An - that takes about 12 hours.
Nha Trang to HCMC - 7 or 8 hours on a train, 10 hours on a bus.
HCMC to Phnom Penh - About 6 hours on a bus. Regular departures.
PP to Siem Reap - from memory, it was supposed to be about 4 hours but took nearer 6.
Siem Reap to Tha Khaek - no idea! And where are you flying back to Danang from?
In terms of how long to spend, just my opinion but given how long you have I'd do something like this at a minimum, just to get a flavour:
Hoi An - 3 days (more if you want to build in Danang, visit My Son or spend time on the beach, but you've got beach time in Nha Trang)
Nha Trang - as long as you want to spend on a beach and have time to fit in
Saigon - 3 days if just staying in the city, longer if you want to do trips out to Cu Chi, Mekong etc.
Phnom Penh - 2 or 3 days
Siem Reap - 2 or 3 days
That gives you plenty of spare time to play with and be flexible with.
I'd cut out Laos, 3 weeks for a quick trip through Vietnam and the 2 main stops in Cambodia is a bit of a stretch - but if you're not looking to stay too long in any spot you can do it. If you really want a cave there is Son Doong cave in Quang Binh Province. A friend made it out there and loved it, not a day trip though - hard to get to, and especially in the rainy season and could be closed so check before you depart. I'd think something more like a week minimum the Da Nang area with Hue and Hoi'an and/or a trip out to Son Doong . . . may need to add a day or two for that (Hue & Hoi'an if you want history, not really a party scene in Hue but a very travel oriented atmosphere in Hoi'an, you probably wont spend much time in Da Nang).
For beaches I've heard a lot of underwhelming reviews of Nha Trang and would consider flying directly from Da Nang to HCMC. Then you could hit up Can Tho for a night or two on your way to Rach Gai to take the ferry to Phu Quoc for a better beach scene. If you take a week for that part of the trip that gives you week to get to Phnom Penh (2-3 nights) and see Siem Reap (3 nights) which you may want to stop between PQ and PP at somewhere like Kampot for a night or two. If you cut out something like Can Tho or Hue you can have a little more time on the beach or in Cambodia. This would be a bit rushed
My advice get a south east asia travel guide, you will see the places locations, and be able to read just how far Siem Reap is from Vietnam, etc, and how long that would take.Guidebooks also mention travel times.
To get from Siem reap to phnom penh is about 6 hours if i remember, about 7 hours phnom penh to Ho chi minh, to work up to Hoi An would take about 2 days of travel. (If i remember correctly from my travels there a few years ago.)
I'm interested as to why you chose those destinations? Where did you learn about them, why did you choose them?
Travellingsarah we are coming from Florida however the reason we want Da Nang first and last is because two of the people we are traveling with have family from there so we want to see them in the beginning and the end. Also thank you for all those travel times, I have heard from a couple different people now that all those destinations are to many for the short amount of time we are going to be there. I think we have tweaked our stops to:
Da Nang (2 days)
Hoi An (2 days)
Nha Trang (2-3 days)
[cross the Cambodian Boarder]
Sen Monorom/Elephant Valley Project (2 days)
Phnom Penh(4 days)
Siem Reap (4 days)
[fly back to depart Da Nang]
Do you think that is a little more reasonable and relaxing? We started broad and are trying to narrow it down slowly. Nha Trang seems to be the next weak link.
Caseyprich We actually had just decided that Laos was a little far fetched. We were really thinking Nha Trang just because we had read the beaches were really nice but the deeper we look the more we find out about dynamite fishing and how there are to many tourists etc... We wanted Phu Quoc but we thought it was a little out of the way especially with our new itinerary we are thinking about. Do you know of any good beaches a little bit more north that we could go to instead of Nha Trang? Really the more secluded the better I would think.
Snookieboi we actually found out about this website from our travel guide we bought. It is called Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos & Northern Thailand. The book has been helpful to point us in the right direction but nothing beats talking to actual people who have been to the places so thank you for responding. As for how we learned of all these places, there is really two answers. One is one of our group members was born in Da Nang Vietnam so she brought up places like Nha Trang as well as Hoi An. The second place we found destinations, like Tha Khaek , was from our travel guide. However our biggest reason to talk to real people was to hear which places didn't end up being as good as the travel guide says. We chose Hoi An because it was close to Da Nang and a hit from what we have heard. Then Nha Trang was for the great beaches (we thought). Traveling inland to Cambodia's capital was said to be a great idea from the travel guide. Also online a lot of people have said Phnom Phenh was a great city to see. Siem Reap is to see Angkor Wat of course. Laos we read in the book was very interesting and had a lot of caves near Tha Khaek which is why we were thinking of going to that city. However we have decided three weeks wasn't enough to add Laos as a third country to see.
Does anybody have any information on the Elephant Valley Project? On the website is some information but not a lot. Does the place actually treat the elephants well? And/or is there a better destination in eastern Cambodia to spend 2-3 days?
#5 dspudwill has been a member since 28/4/2013. Posts: 5
Hoi an is a lovely little place in Vietnam. I liked Ho chi minh city too-lots to see there and the outside restaurants offer amazing and cheap food, also you can arrange bus travel from there really cheap and there are really great cheap tours they do to many places like cao dao temple, chu chui tunnels, and there is also a trip to the floating villages or something-cant remember what it was but it was wonderful.
Nah trang isn't much to write up about, but it's ok i suppose. I preferred a little beach town nearby. Think it was muine or something. There are many nice places worth visiting. the lonely planet guidebook is easy to read and has ready made itineries you can easily fine tune as well.
I would pick 3 - 4 places in Vietnam and stick with Phnom Penh and Siem Reap in Cambodia. Trying to fit more in to such a short space will just mean losing valuable time in transit.
Siem Reap also has a lot to offer, whereas Phnom Penh has less to see in terms of attractions, and has less of a choice of restaurants, bars and accomdation, so consider allowing more time in SR than PP. Maybe someone who is more familiar with PP can sell it a bit better than I can?