Ok so that didn't work out too well above. Anyways this is my very first time posting to a site like this or at all ha so bear with me pls. Myself and my boyfriend are leaving Australia mid Oct - though we are Irish and are planning to travel around Vietnam/Cambodia for 5 weeks (our return flight to Ire is November 17th). I have come across this website and am really impressed, it is making me 2nd think buying the LP book SE Asia on a Shoestring cos if I can get all the info here for free why not?!
I have yet to make out an itinerary and to be honest after reading many of the forum posts I am deffo not sticking to a strict one but I think it will go something like this - fly into Hanoi from Bangkok and travel south from there to HCMC and then onto Cambodia for a week or 5 days depending on time contraints. I have read posts re Ha Long Bay so this is def going to be introduced into our plans but just a few questions....
Is is better to fly throughout Vietnem from place to place or bus/train it? Safety wise but also financially as we are backpackers. We did Thailand in '08 for ten weeks and did a bit of both so maybe its the same?
Is this time period (roughly 5 wks) enough time to travel around Vietnam/Cambodia without rushing anything? I am super excited to finally get to go here so I really do WANT to enjoy it not to be travelling constantly!
How much money (roughly obviously) in say US$ would one need for this time period? So we can get our asses in gear for saving, we will want to do some tours, will be staying in clean accom but backpackers hostel etc - double room.
In terms of money again, is it better to get travellers cheques or to use an atm card, I am aware that there is not atms in the smaller places but if there are not atms are there banks where you can change your travellers cheques (I have never used tcheques before only atm so a basic q but one I need to ask!)
Is there anything we should NOT miss out on? I have heard off friends that Angkor Wat is truly amazing so def do want to do a trip there.
Sorry if this is a repetitive post but as I said I am new here so pls forgive that fact :)
Hello! A quick response to your questions - my opinion only of course...
In 5 weeks it's perfectly feasible and you won't be travelling constantly if you're just focussing on the main sights / places.
In this time it's also very feasible to travel by train / bus everywhere i.e. no need to fly, although if your budget permits it you might prefer to take a flight or two. Safety is no issue in my experience - just keep valuables on your person at all times.
Budget is so variable! I'd say $30 per person per day would be plenty but you could get by on less.
ATMs are available in most places and I think they're a better option than travellers cheques.
Don't miss ... anywhere!! Seriously, I think Hanoi's worth more than a flying visit and Hoi An is fantastic. I've also just made it to Sapa for the first time and loved it.
I would agree that 5 weeks is a good amount of time.
Try to do a 2 nighter in Halong Bay, which gets you away from the crowds. In Vietnam I found you definitely get what you pay for. Tours to Halong can be incredibly cheap, but perhaps not so great; spend a bit more and you'll notice the difference IMO.
Apart from Halong, highlights for us were Hanoi, Sapa, Hoi An and the Mekong Delta in Vietnam and Siem Reap (Angkor) in Cambodia. I'm sure there are many more, though.
We took trains, planes and buses. For longer trips the plane was good value.
I think it can be wise to take both your debit card for ATMs and Travelers cheques. Dollar TCs in Cambodia were really useful. Plus, you get extra security. As we traveled around the region, we had problems with ATMs at each new destination. Despite having told our bank (Nationwide in the UK) where we were going we had problems accessing money. This meant we had to ring the Bank to get them to unfreeze the account EVERY TIME. Despite the card giving a 24 hour number to ring, they cannot deal at that number and you have to ring again when the normal Customer Service line opens at 9am UK time. Thank God for skype, costs would have been astronomical otherwise. Plus, without those TCs we may have not been able to get any money at all for a day or 2. To rely on only one source of money wouldn't be wise IMO.