The Most Classic Vietnam and Cambodia Trip Itinerary
Vietnam and Cambodia are mandatory stops on the itinerary of every traveler in Southeast Asia. In these welcoming and friendly countries, you can discover authentic Southeast Asia. More so, Cambodia and Vietnam allow you to be a modern traveler who enjoys shopping, entertainment, and a fusion of traditional and contemporary cuisine. Depending on your preferences and the distance, you can travel efficiently by road, boat, train, and airplane in Vietnam and Cambodia. Both nations have many noteworthy attractions. To discover what makes these countries so unique, refer to the classic Vietnam and Cambodia trip itinerary.
The most classic itinerary of the Vietnam and Cambodia tour
It is possible to have an introductory tour of Cambodia and Vietnam essentials in a few weeks. To have good weather and avoid potential delays due to abundant rainfall, start visiting Cambodia from late autumn to early spring and then proceed to Vietnam. Conclude the Cambodia-Vietnam classic tour until late spring.
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25-day tour of Cambodia and Vietnam
Day 1 – Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda, Phnom Penh
Royal Palace of Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia, is a blend of Khmer and European architectural styles featuring gold tiles, Buddha statues, and busts of the Cambodian monarchs. Pay attention to the fresco depicting the Ramayana epic in the Throne Hall and admire the tropical garden as you explore the Royal Palace complex.
The highlight of the adjacent Silver Pagoda is the Temple of Emerald Buddha, housing a big statue of Buddha made of crystal.
Day 2 – National Museum and a river cruise, Phnom Penh
National Museum of Cambodia, near the Royal Palace, will inform you about the Hindu deities and Buddha incarnations, which will benefit you during the Vietnam-Cambodia classic tour. Also, you will acquaint yourself with the exhibits originated during the Khmer pre-Angkorian, Angkorian and post-Angkorian eras. Hire a guide since the exhibits don't follow the chronological order.
By the end of the day, take a sunset cruise to appreciate the city skyline and see floating villages.
Day 3 – Traveling to Siem Reap
Bus tickets, depending on the provider, cost between a few and a dozen USD, and travel times are typically six or seven hours. The average flight fare is 100 USD, albeit you can pay down to 50 USD if you reserve the ticket well in advance. The average duration of the flight from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap is 45 minutes.
Days 4, 5 and 6 – Angkor Archaeological Park, Siem Reap
The three-day pass for the Angkor Archaeological Park is 62 USD. The park comprises the Angkor Wat, the world's largest temple complex, and many other temples combining Hindu and Buddhist elements. In the Angkor Thom, which used to be the Khmer imperial capital, you will find the Bayon, "the Mona Lisa of Southeast Asia." While exploring the park, you will acquaint yourself with mythological beings, such as Nagas, Garudas, Apsaras, and mythological and historical events.
During your holiday in Siem Reap, attend a spectacular Apsara dance and the performances of the Phare: Cambodian Circus.
Day 7 – Tonle Sap Lake and Night Market, Siem Reap
Tonle Sap is a big lake featuring floating villages that stand on the stilts during the dry season. Explore mangrove forests and discover the abundant wildlife on a boat tour. By the end of the day, browse souvenirs at the Angkor Night Market.
Day 8 – Flight to Hanoi, Vietnam
Direct flights from Siem Reap to Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam, last up to two hours. The average price of the one-way flight is 160 USD, albeit you can decrease the cost by half when buying the ticket a few months in advance.
Day 9 – Old Town Quarter, Hoan Kiem Lake, and West Lake, Hanoi
Old Town Quarter is a commercial area of the Vietnamese capital featuring narrow alleys. Besides local architecture, you will admire French-colonial buildings, with the neo-Gothic cathedral among the highlights.
Hoan Kiem Lake
Adjacent Hoan Kiem Lake is a peaceful oasis whose biggest attraction is the Ngoc Son Temple, located on an island. Access the temple via a red bridge. Also, visit the historic Tran Quoc Pagoda, the most prominent pagoda in the city of pagodas, in the corner of nearby West Lake.
Day 10 – Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, Temple of Literature, and Vietnam Museum of Ethnology, Hanoi
Visit the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, where the founding father of Vietnam rests, in the morning hours. There, acquaint yourself with this illustrious personality and the Vietnamese Revolution. Next, take a short stroll to the Temple of Literature, a serene complex devoted to Confucianism featuring manicured gardens. Vietnam Museum of Ethnology introduces the tribal culture of over 50 Vietnamese minorities, their practices, and related architecture.
Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum
Day 11 – Journey to Halong Bay
To cover the 180km/110mi distance from Hanoi to Halong Bay, you can choose between train (a few USD), bus (several USD), and a private transfer (up to 100 USD). Travel times are approximately 3:30 hours for bus and private transfers and 6:30 hours for trains.
Days 12 and 13 – Cruising Halong Bay
Book a two-day cruise to discover the top attractions of Halong Bay and admire its limestone rocks overgrown by vegetation. Upon the end of the tour, return to Hanoi.
Day 14 – Journey to Hue
Hue is 700km/435mi away from Hanoi. Average flight deals are up to 200 USD while reserving a place on a sleeper train (up to 40 USD) that travels 14 hours is the best budget option.
Days 15 and 16 – Evoking the imperial times in Hue
In Hue, you will see relics of the bygone imperial era of the 19th century. Pay special attention to the Imperial Citadel, Khai Dinh Tomb, and the Thien Mu, the tallest pagoda in Vietnam. Take a boat tour on the Perfume River.
Day 17 – Traveling to and exploring Da Nang
Catch a morning train for a few-hour journey to Da Nang for a price of around 15 USD. There, examine the Dragon Bridge and acquaint yourself with the Cham artwork at the nearby Da Nang Museum of Cham Sculpture. Afterward, relax on My Khe Beach's white sands.
Day 18 – The Marble Mountains, My Son and arrival in Hoi An
Hire Grab to get conveniently from Da Nang to the Marble Mountains and My Son Temple before arriving in Hoi An. The Marble Mountains feature caves and shrines, while My Son is a Cham Hindu temple.
Days 19 and 20 – Hoi An and the Cham Islands
The "Venice of Vietnam" features canals flowing through the city abounding with a blend of Eastern and Western architectures. Take a day tour by boat to the Cham Islands to snorkel, bird watch, and relax on beaches with powdery sands.
Day 21 – A trip from Hoi An to Ho Chi Minh
The only efficient way of traveling from Hoi An to Ho Chi Minh is by airplane from Da Nang. The average duration of the flight is 1:30 hours and typical fares are around 100 USD most of the year.
Days 22, 23, 24 and 25 – Ho Chi Minh and the Mekong Delta
Fans of shopping who held back until arriving in Ho Chi Minh will rightfully claim their reward. The cosmopolitan city is the best shopping destination in Vietnam and among the best in Southeast Asia. Take a boat tour of the Mekong Delta, admire the diverse architecture and Hindu and European landmarks, and tour attractions directly connected to the Vietnam War (Cu Chi Tunnels) and its ending (the Reunification Palace).
Mekong Delta boat trip
Tips for classic tour of Vietnam and Cambodia
As a first-time traveler, you are likely to find many things strange in Vietnam and Cambodia. Before everything else, you would do well to prepare for sudden weather changes.
Tips for visiting Cambodia
- The official currency in Cambodia is the Riel, but you can pay with USD almost everywhere. Still, the change will be in Riels.
- Obtain the 30-day visa on arrival in Phnom Penh or Siem Reap for 30 USD.
- Although many Cambodians are poor, taking basic precautions against theft is all you need to do to secure your belongings.
- Cambodia is a fairly affordable country. Aside from expenses related to sightseeing and entertainment, you may spend less than 20 USD a day for staying at budget establishments and eating local food.
Tips for traveling Vietnam
- For covering long distances in Vietnam (from Hanoi to Da Nang or Ho Chi Minh, for example), travel by plane. Otherwise, your journeys are likely to last around a day and over. For short and mid-range distances, buses and trains will do.
- Apply for the visa online. For detailed information about the procedure and the cost, contact the Embassy of Vietnam.
- Keep an eye on the Vietnamese living in poverty, who, unlike the poor Cambodians, may show interest in your money.
- Be extra careful when paying with cash, since the banknotes feature too many zeros. It is easier than you think to hand over the 500,000 Dong banknote instead of 50,000.
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If you can add several days to your classic Cambodia-Vietnam itinerary, you will be able to visit a few other noteworthy sites and places. Koh Ker is the pre-Angkorian complex you can visit on a day trip from Siem Reap, Cambodia. From Hanoi, Vietnam, take a half-day journey to Sapa by bus or an overnight journey by train to marvel at terraced rice fields. From Ho Chi Minh, go to Dalat, the "City of Eternal Spring," to take a break from the heat.
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