This trip concentrates on the south of Vietnam, with a taste of Mekong Delta and beaches thrown in. Ideal for travellers who are either on a short trip, or want to see Vietnam and Cambodia, this small loop can be completed in as little as seven days (though we'd not recommend that!)
Starting in Saigon, you'll head inland and north to Da Lat before heading back to the coast, first to Pham Rang Thap Cham and then onwards to Nha Trang for some serious beach time. From Nha Trang, turn back south and head down to Mui Ne, then back to Saigon. From Saigon it is down to the Delta, to My Tho then Can Tho, and, if you're heading to Cambodia, on to the border crossing at Chau Doc.
The suggested minimum time for a trip like this is ten days, though two weeks will be a more comfortable pace. Vietnam is a bigger country than you may think, and the land transportation can be very slow.
1) Saigon -> Da Lat (hill station, day trips, natural scenery)
2) Da Lat -> Phan Rang Thap Cham (Cham temples)
3) Phan Rang Thap Cham -> Nha Trang (beaches, boat trips)
4) Nha Trang -> Mui Ne (beaches, sand dunes)
5) Mui Ne -> Saigon (museums, nightlife, day-trips)
6) Saigon -> My Tho (riverine life)
7) My Tho -> Can Tho (floating markets)
8) Can Tho -> Chau Doc (riverine life, border crosing to Cambodia)
One day: Skip Phan Rang Thap Cham
One day: Skip My Tho
Three days: extend your trip north from Nha Trang to Hoi An.
This trip links in easily with the Cambodia one month adventure.
To help you work out how you'll get around, we've listed the trip durations for the various forms of transport available. Note that with the exception of flight times, these are average trip times, so no hate mail if you take the slow train.
|VIETNAM: Southern Explorer|
|Da Lat||Phan Rang Thap Cham||-||3:00||-||-|
|Phan Rang Thap Cham||Nha Trang||-||2:00||-||-|
|Nha Trang||Hoi An||-||10:00||9:00 (Da Nang)||-|
|Nha Trang||Mui Ne||-||7:00||7:00 (Ma Lam)||-|
|My Tho||Can Tho||-||1:30||-||-|
|Can Tho||Chau Doc||-||3:00||-||-|
Stuart McDonald co-founded Travelfish.org with Samantha Brown in 2004. He has lived in Thailand, Cambodia and Indonesia, where he worked as an under-paid, under-skilled language teacher, an embassy staffer, a newspaper web-site developer, freelancing and various other stuff. His favourite read is The Art of Travel by Alain de Botton.
Where to go, how long to stay there, where to go next, east or west, north or south? How long have you got? How long do you need? Itinerary planning can be almost as maddening as it is fun and here are some outlines to help you get started. Remember, don't over plan!
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North or south or both? Laos is relatively small and transport is getting better and better. Those visiting multiple countries can pass through here a few times making for some interesting trips.
The peninsula is easy, with affordable buses, trains and planes and relatively short distances. Sabah and Sarawak are also relatively easy to get around.The vast majority of visitors stick to the peninsula but Borneo is well worth the time and money to reach.
So much to see, so much to do. Thailand boasts some of the better public transport in the region so getting around can be fast and affordable. If time is limited, stick to one part of the country.
Long and thin, Vietnam looks straightforward, but the going is slow and the distances getting from A to B can really bite into a tight trip plan. If you're not on an open-ended trip, plan carefully.
This is where itinerary planning really becomes fun. Be sure to check up on our visa, border crossing and visa sections to make sure you're not trying to do the impossible. Also, remember you're planning a holiday -- not a military expedition.