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Vietnam forum

Help me make a decision!

Posted by Arigato9 on 17/8/2011 at 19:02


Ok, so I need some help making some decisions. I have 18 days to do a mini-adventure through vietnam (I arrive in Saigon Sept. 12), Laos, and Cambodia. The things i have had my sights on are ha long bay-cat ba island, sapa, luang prabang, and ankgor wat-siem reap-phnom Phen.. I have to leave by the 30th so, I was thinkin 8 days in vietnam and then 5 in each laos and camodia. Any and all suggestions are welcomed!!

Jah Love,


#1 Arigato9 has been a member since 26/5/2011. Posts: 29

Posted by travellingsarah on 17/8/2011 at 20:54 TF writer

Posted from within Vietnam.

It's good that you've got a clear idea of key places you want to go so you're not trying to do everything in just 18 days. I'd maybe spend a day in Saigon then fly to Hanoi and take a 2 day trip to Halong and then a 2 day trip to Sapa (both still flying visits but feasible - you might be able to fit an extra day into one of them) plus a day or so in Hanoi. Then fly to LP and then onto Cambodia for maybe 3 days in Siem Reap and 2 in PP. Or if you want to do some overlanding you could go from Sapa overland to LP via North Laos. It'll take some time away from LP but will add a bit of an adventure!

#2 travellingsarah has been a member since 23/3/2010. Location: Vietnam. Posts: 684
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Posted by chinarocks on 17/8/2011 at 21:23

I would spend one day max in Saigon when I arrive and then fly to PP for 2 days (Killing Fields, S21, Royal Palace, stroll by the waterfront). Then fly (or overnight bus) up to Siem Reap for 3-4 days at the temples.

Then a flight up to Luang Prabang as overland up through Southern Laos will take too long based on your time. 4-5 days chilling in LP to give you a flavour for Laos and make you want to return some time for more.

Then fly to Hanoi and do 7-8 days around the North.

I know there are a lot of flights there but I think they are necessary if you want to see roughly 6 places in 18 days and not be tired all the time.

They are all "highlights" you are seeing and as such you wont be disappointed but will also probably be constantly surrounded by tourists.


#3 chinarocks has been a member since 17/6/2011. Posts: 738

Posted by daawgon on 17/8/2011 at 23:55

What's the BIG rush? IMHO that kind of itinerary is more suitable for 6 weeks instead of 18 days. Indochina is best seen slowly - you're going about it all wrong!

"The going is slow though and don't make the mistake of trying to fit too much of Vietnam into a short trip -- otherwise you'll spend the bulk of your time travelling." - travelfish quote

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Posted by Arigato9 on 18/8/2011 at 09:11

daawgon: I don't have six weeks, in my opinion, i am going about it all right! And trust me I wish I had more time but for now I have had my heart set on these three locations so I can a t least experience a little bit of each country and then head home.

thanks for the advice guys!

#5 Arigato9 has been a member since 26/5/2011. Posts: 29

Posted by Arigato9 on 18/8/2011 at 12:36

So here is what I am ultimately planning to do:

Fly in at 12:30am to Saigon wait for the first bus at 7:00am to Phnom Penh, arrive spend a day and a half in PP, head to Siem reap at night by bus, to get there by morning and sleep on bus. Spend three days in Siem Reap/ankgor wat. Fly to luang prabang for four days in LP (I also thought about flying into vientiane then taking a bus from there to vang vieng for a day and then onto LP???), then fly into Hanoi, for 6-8 days, heading into ha long bay and cat ba island, and then for sapa for two days in sapa and travelling around. Any suggestions maybe on some other destinations i might be able to take a side trip to.


#6 Arigato9 has been a member since 26/5/2011. Posts: 29

Posted by chinarocks on 18/8/2011 at 15:07

Very good Brien.

As regards the visiting VV option I would say no, I really think you'll have enough with all the rest. LP is best appreciated in 4 days plus rather than the 2 or 3 you would only give it if you visited VV.

You can always come back to the area and visit all the hotstops you are missing out now, e.g. Hoi An, Kampot, Snookville, Battambang, Southern Laos, VV etc.

#7 chinarocks has been a member since 17/6/2011. Posts: 738

Posted by MADMAC on 18/8/2011 at 22:22

I would never try and visit more than one country in 18 days. That averages 6 days per - just not enough to absorb anything about a place. The language, cuisine, habits... they are all so radically different from western civilization that it takes a long time to really figure out one of these countries. Actually, 18 days isn't enough either, but at least in one location you'll absorb a little something. I guess it's OK as a sight seeing excursion, but as for absorbing culture, if that is in fact a desired end state, it's not going to happen with this kind of rapid shift. Cambodians, Vietnamese and Laos are as different from each other as French, English and Germans are from each other. I wouldn't go so far as to say "You're going about it all wrong", but I would go so far as to say that you will go back with some nice pictures and that's about it.

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Posted by chinarocks on 18/8/2011 at 22:55

MADMAC is back with his patronising and condescending views on someone just looking for some simple info. The OP has stated that he knows it's not an ideal amount of time in each country but that he still wants to see these sights. In an ideal world we'd all spend three months in every country but seen as that is not realistic maybe you could try being a bit more constructive than simply saying stay longer here, absorb the culture properly there etc. It's getting boring your snobbish views of anyone who chooses to spend less than the "optimum" amount of time in each country.

#9 chinarocks has been a member since 17/6/2011. Posts: 738

Posted by MADMAC on 19/8/2011 at 01:11

I understand that the OP only has the amount of time he / she has. I got that. I did think Daawgon put it a little harshly, but his point is well taken.

Now the OP has said that he / she really wants to visit the locations listed and that's fine as long as the cost of doing so is understood. Sometimes people don't actually understand or appreciate that. If I were going to take a vacation to Europe, and I had 18 days, I wouldn't go from Paris to Rome to Berlin. I recognize some people do do that, but I would not for the reasons I highlighted here.

In my personal opinion, the biggest mistake people make coming here is racing around from place to place, constantly moving. When you do that, and especially when you go from country to country, you make it impossible to absorb the human dynamic of the cultural experience. If you aren't interested in that, that's perfectly OK. Perhaps the OP is more interested in architecture, given the selection of the locations chosen. I don't know. I am simply making the point to the OP that there is a cost in the intended approach. A cost that may or may not be important to the OP.

#10 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
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Posted by Arigato9 on 19/8/2011 at 07:43

Madmac you make valild points, way more constructive than daawagon, and in any case I don't want this to be turned into some grudge post about who is right. It is all opinion, and in this case I have just spent a year in Korea teaching English and I have been dying to see these certain areas of Indochina, first and foremost with a stop in the Philippines to El nido and puerta princesa.

The most important thing to remember is that there is no right or wrong way really, just that persons path and how it attains to their life and goals. Trust me I'll be back!!! HAve a great day guys and thank you for all the help!!!

#11 Arigato9 has been a member since 26/5/2011. Posts: 29

Posted by MADMAC on 19/8/2011 at 11:11

Have a great trip. Repost on this thread to let us know how it went when you finish.

#12 MADMAC has been a member since 6/6/2009. Posts: 6,957
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Posted by Arigato9 on 19/8/2011 at 12:07

I leave in two weeks and I am freakin exstatic!!!!!! I wish I had more time and this has got me thinkin on passin by laos this time and spending a week in Cambodia and then a full 11 days in vietnam hittin up the coast by train and then flyin into Hanoi from Hue. But hey thats the best thing about travelling, the decisions are up to you. I will defiently post my experience on this thread, i wish u could upload photos but those will be on my bolg. Peace guys and thanks for all the friendly advice... I love travelfish!


#13 Arigato9 has been a member since 26/5/2011. Posts: 29

Posted by chinarocks on 19/8/2011 at 15:28

Good to see we're all friends again!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I take your point MADMAC about the more you can spend somewhere the better, and my best memories from my year travelling were, for the most part, of the countries I spent the longest. However, as OP points out, he wants to hit some big sights in 18 days, which is fine too!!!

Happy travels.

#14 chinarocks has been a member since 17/6/2011. Posts: 738

Posted by Arigato9 on 2/9/2011 at 16:17

Hey Guys,

So I have decided to not fly into Luang Prabang, and save that journey for another time to spend more time in vietnam. I wanted to see if anyone knew if there was a bus from Can Tho to PhnomPehn? I appreciate the kind words as always.


#15 Arigato9 has been a member since 26/5/2011. Posts: 29

Posted by eastwest on 3/9/2011 at 09:12

There isn't a direct single bus but there are roughly 3 alternatives.

- Simplest is to backtrack to Saigon and take a bus from there to PP. Can be done in one long bus day
- Get on a bus to Chau Doc and from there take the ferry to PP. This is a far more scenic route and can be done in 1 day as well but requires a bit more planning
- The least touristic route is via Kep in Southern Cambodia. Reach Kep in half a day and then onward to PP. Only to be enjoyed when you're not in a hurry and best to spend a night (or two) in Kep. Depends of course on whether you want to see the Cambodian coast.

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