Hi, me and a friend are planning on visiting South East Asia but aren't sure if we will have the time to do what we want. I was wondering if anyone with more experience could let me know what they think!
We fly into Bangkok on the 13th July and plan to get a flight to Hanoi the next day. We then want to travel south through Vietnam seeing all the sights on the way and through Cambodia until we get back to Bangkok. The problem is that we have to meet a friend in Bangkok on the 8th August (We then plan to head down to full moon party and see southern Thailand). We aren't sure if this is enough time to do both countries (Vietnam and Cambodia) justice and would really appreciate it if someone could give us a second opinion.
#1 cadrishon has been a member since 15/5/2014. Posts: 1
Assuming you will start your Vietnam adventure on July 15th and finish in Cambodia on August 7th, that gives you just over three weeks on the road.
In my opinion, it is not enough time to "do both countries justice". If you really want to see both countries then you are going to have to prioritise heavily and make use of internal flights, particularly in Vietnam. In this instance, you could spend 2 weeks in Vietnam and 8/9 days in Cambodia.
My advice would be to spend all of your time (from mid-July to 7/8 August) in Vietnam, and relax and see the country properly. It is a massive and varied country, and also hugely interesting and scenic, and you will not be bored whatsoever with this amount of time.
I believe the usual first time itinerary to Vietnam would be (roughly) Hanoi, Sapa, Halong Bay, Hoi An, HCMC, Mekong Delta and, time permitting, Dalat and Hue also.
Be careful about (i.e. consider avoiding outright) bus travel in Vietnam as the stories are not good.
#2 chinarocks has been a member since 17/6/2011. Posts: 738
A lot of people will tell you it isn't enough time to do each country 'justice'. It is a little under four weeks, considering you'll probably want to get into BKK by the 7th of August. I usually like to limit myself to a region of exploration for 3 weeks minimum. An example of that would be Northern Laos, just Cambodia, or say Java and some time on the islands. That said, if you want to just hit some highlights going down Vietnam you could still have a handful of nights in Cambodia, just to visit Phnom Penh for say 2/3 nights and Siem Reap for 3 nights. Each country is really unique from the other in terms of people, culture, food and such, so you may want to do that and get a chance to see Angkor Wat as well.
This would probably mean flying from Da Nang to HCMC and maybe only a one night trip to Can Tho if you want to catch a glimpse of the Delta. That gives you a little more time around Hanoi and Hue/Da Nang/Hoi'an. With that you probably will have to skip Sapa as well in the north. Would possibly be a little rushed, but you can squeeze it in. Otherwise, just stay in Vietnam and be more leisurely about it.
If you decide it's too much, you might decide as an alternative to fly into Pakse and do the Bolavens, 4,000 Islands, head down into Cambodia. This would still be busy, but certainly less rushed. Or you could fly into Saigon and do southern Vietnam and Cambodia. There are some alternatives that would help you avoid rushing around.
Hanoi & Ha Long Bay (4 nights)
Overnight train to Hue (1 night)
Hue (2 nights)
Hoi'an (2 nights)
Flight Da Nang to HCMC (1 night)
HCMC (1 night)
Can Tho (2 night)
HCMC (1 night)
Phnom Penh (3 nights)
Siem Reap (4 nights)
As a rough plan with a few more nights still left to throw around. Doesn't offer any beach time, but the OP can get that during the FMP. It is a bit fast, but some people don't mind moving like that and an extra day could be added easily to Hue/Hoi'an area (probably would want to as otherwise there would only be one full day in Hue without having just arrived) or HCMC. Travel from Hue to Hoi'an can be arranged as a tour of the area as well, or the beautiful train ride in the morning from Hue to Da Nang and then transport to Hoi'an which is only about 30 minutes south of Da Nang. A look at the weather that time of year might also cause the OP to cut something from a specific region, I can never keep track of the climate zones of Vietnam.
I agree too little time for both. If you follow the above then you miss out on Sapa and the whole of the North West of Vietnam which is stunning and you miss out on places like Darlat as well as much of the delta. I can see the attraction if you are not coming back to the area of trying to fit Angkor Wat into the plan but certainly not three nights in Phnom Phen
I spent 4 weeks in the North West alone and another 4 weeks just in the delta