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Southeast Asia forum

One week, Cambodia, Laos, or Vietnam?

Posted by RonnyK on 26/8/2009 at 04:10

Hey guys !!

I'm planning a trip to one of the above mentioned countries. I'll be going in Dec ('09), and a week is all the time I have. I know it's not enough but I still want to make the most out of my trip.
Am not sure which country to visit. I'd like to go to all three but .... Anyway, can you please suggest/recommend one of them and why?
Thanks for making my decision easier.

#1 RonnyK has been a member since 26/8/2009. Posts: 6

Posted by somtam2000 on 26/8/2009 at 07:24 admin

Hi RonnyK,

If you can pass on a bit more info on what your interests are, I'll try to give you some useful pointers.


#2 somtam2000 has been a member since 21/1/2004. Location: Indonesia. Posts: 7,942
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Posted by RonnyK on 27/8/2009 at 04:23

Hey !!

My interests are pretty varied...obviously, I love to travel, whether it's to a metropolitan city, for a safari/trek, or to an Island/Beach.. Recently though I've been craving places like Machu Picchu, Giza, Serengeti/Ngorongoro, Kilimanjaro, Amazon expedition, Galapagos, Easter Island etc.. Journeys of a lifetime if you will... Having said that, Angkor Wat is definitely on my list.

I am an avid photographer (love breathtaking inland and coastal scenery), like adventurous/sporty/fun stuff, like to learn the history/culture of a place and it's people, am fascinated by Wonders of the World.

In the three countries, what intrigues me most are Angkor Wat and Ha Long Bay. I've been to Chitchen Itza, and want to visit Angkor as well and ever since I saw Top Gears Vietnam special, I've been waiting for an opportunity to go. But I've heard Laos is spectacular as well.

That's about it, like I mentioned earlier. I want to make the most out of my one week. I'll definitely come back and visit the other two countries later, but for now, which place would you suggest? Could you give me some pros and cons as well.

Thanks a lot, I really appreciate your help.


PS: Let me know if there's any other info that you might need. I know my answer is a little vague. I just love to travel.

#3 RonnyK has been a member since 26/8/2009. Posts: 6

Posted by seagypsy on 27/8/2009 at 05:33

Hi Ronny,

Given what you've posted, then I'd recommend Angkor at Siem Reap. With a week you've got enough time to also visit the capitol, Phnom Penh and perhaps one more destination in Cambodia but Angkor itself could easily eat up 3-5 days though some go for a full week's pass. The great thing is that they've altered the Angkor complex passes with more flexibility such that you don't have to use up, for example, the 3 day pass in consecutive days.
IMO, it's even grander than Chichen in the Yucatan. The other SEA archaeological destinations that are comparable but on a much smaller scale are Bagan-Burma, Borobudor-Java, or Sukothai-Thailand.

#4 seagypsy has been a member since 5/2/2009. Posts: 136

Posted by BruceMoon on 27/8/2009 at 06:11


I'm with seagypsy on this too. At that time of year, Vietnam can be a bit wet.

On Angkor , go look at this weblink to read more.

One 'special' Angkorian temple site that few visit, but is very photogenic (as if Angkor itself is not!!!), is Kbal Spean and Beng Mealea. If you want to add these, they are 'outside' the Angkorian pass system, and well away from the main complex. Another day is needed just for these two (but worth it IMHO).

Despite being the capital, because it sees less wealthy western tourists, Phnom Penh is a complete contrast to Siem Reap . Also, being the capital, PP has a largest Khmer Rouge 'atrocities' museums, and also hosts the Royal Palace.

So, assuming you fly into Siem Reap and spend a minimum of 4 days there, another travelling to Phnom Penh, and a full day there, you've now spent 6 days in Cambodia. If you add an extra day to see Kbal Spean and Beng Mealea at Siem Reap, that's your week.

Hope this helps.


#5 BruceMoon has been a member since 27/12/2008. Location: Australia. Posts: 1,941

Posted by RonnyK on 28/8/2009 at 05:38

Bruce and seagypsy, Thanks a ton for your suggestions. I was just wondering though, if I spend 4-6 days in Siem Reap, cover the Angkor area, then fly to Hanoi (covering Ha Long Bay) for 3-4 days there... That would just be perfect.

Obviously, it's not going to be a complete experience but for the limited time I have, can I work out something similar? Or do you think it's a better idea just to spend those 7-9 days at one place?

#6 RonnyK has been a member since 26/8/2009. Posts: 6

Posted by BruceMoon on 28/8/2009 at 06:30


In the imagination, anything is possible. It's the logistics that ruin it all.

There are three things that spring to mind.

First, while you can fly directly Siem Reap - Hanoi, at US$260, is this within budget?

Second, December can be quite wet in the Halong Bay region. If the area is too wet, or 'blown out', while you may have paid your money, the operator will just say too bad, so sad. Many refuse to refund. So, the idea of Halong Bay could turn out a big negative.

Third, there is something to be said for staying in the one language group area. You pick up on the basic language and 'engage' more. You can also get a deeper understanding of their culture. The Khmer Cambodian people are very different towards western travellers than the Han Vietnamese. At the end of the time in SE Asia, you may come away with some negative feelings.

You started off with 7 days, now you are suggesting possibly 10. If you have more time, you might entertain the coast of Cambodia.


#7 BruceMoon has been a member since 27/12/2008. Location: Australia. Posts: 1,941

Posted by RonnyK on 28/8/2009 at 18:00

Hey Bruce

Agreed, even though the first point is not a problem, the other two definitely are. And I completely understand the two separate language groups, definitely a difference in personality and outlook.

I did start out with 7, figured I could include a weekend as well. I'll reevaluate my travel plans and look at the possibility of visiting the Cambodian coast instead.

Though I've read that the best time to go to Ha long is from Dec to Mar. Anyway, I'll check again. Thanks once again.

#8 RonnyK has been a member since 26/8/2009. Posts: 6

Posted by elscapist on 23/6/2010 at 15:09

Thought December is the time when there is little rain in Vietnam, or rather whole of SEA generally?

#9 elscapist has been a member since 4/6/2010. Posts: 4

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