How to Plan a Vietnam Cambodia Laos Backpacking Tour?
Southeast Asia is one of the most popular destinations for tourists in the world. This corner of the Asian continent is big and diverse, offering many great activities for everyone. Natural beauties, fascinating landmarks and many cultures are assets Southeast Asia has in abundance. Even if you put advertised destinations aside, there is still a lot to explore. Cambodia, Vietnam and Laos are especially rewarding in this regard.
These countries are very popular among backpackers. Affordable lodging, cheap transport and endless friendliness of the locals are faithful companions to members of the backpacking community. Even so, planning is essential in many things in life, including traveling.
Therefore, let's find out how you should plan a Vietnam Cambodia Laos backpacking tour.
What makes Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos standing out among other nations?
Forget everything you have heard about these beautiful countries. One random turn is often everything it takes to reveal a completely different world to you. Off-the-beaten paths that evade the radar of an ordinary traveler are as many as stars in the night's sky.
In Cambodia, for example, the Angkor Archaeological Park is but a center. Once you start roaming, ancient temples, lakeside villages on stilts and cities of old will start appearing. Laos is the prime destination in Southeast Asia for ecotourism. There is no telling whether lush jungles, wildlife spotting or tribal culture will delight you more. As for Vietnam, gorgeous seaside and beaches, the beauty of Halong Bay and the landscapes of Sapa are just a few assets of this fascinating nation.
The list of stunning places in these three countries goes on and on. Add to it the Mekong Delta in Vietnam, Kuang Si Falls in Laos and the archipelago near the mainland of Cambodia. Being a backpacker in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia is a wonderful thing. Just make sure not to wander off too far unless you have all the time in the world. All these countries are very seductive, making you think that days have passed instead of weeks.
Things you need to keep in mind for your Vietnam Laos Cambodia backpacking tour
Each country has so many attractions that exploring them would keep you busy for weeks, if not months. And we talk only about popular places of interest there. Most backpackers traveling Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam visit the following destinations:
- Phnom Penh, Tonle Sap Lake and Siem Reap in Cambodia.
Phnom Penh view
- VangVieng and LuangPrabang in Laos.
Luang Prabang view
- Ho Chi Minh, Hoi An, Hue and Hanoi in Vietnam.
Hoi An at night
To do a quick introductory tour of these destinations, you would need around a month for sure. If you add some other interesting places along the route, the time you need for backpacking increases significantly.
While planning your Vietnam Laos Cambodia backpacking tour, you don't need to book return flights. Especially since prices of 2 one-way flights are similar to those of return flights. Direct flights are available from Vietnam and Cambodia to destinations around the world. North America, Europe, Asia and Australia are some of them. As for Laos, its airports don't serve flights from long-haul destinations. Yet, you can fly without any problem to Vietnam and Cambodia from there.
Considering the budget for backpacking, each of the three nations is surprisingly affordable. If you are an especially frugal backpacker, you can make it with $20 USD per day in most cases. But, it would be wise if you can allocate a somewhat bigger budget. As pointed out, traveling these countries will unavoidably make you reorganize things sooner or later. And having a few bucks in reserve would certainly prove useful. So, if you can afford to, plan the budget of up to $40 per day.
Some approximate expenses you would have as a backpacker are:
- Lodging: up to $10 in Vietnam, around $5 in Laos and several $in Cambodia.
- Food: a few $ in Laos and Cambodia, several $ in Vietnam.
- Transportation between cities: around $5 in Laos and Cambodia, $6 in Vietnam.
In order to get around without spending a lot of money, you will need to travel by bus. And good for you since amazing scenery will be with you most of the time. Buses and minibuses are among the cheapest means of transport in these three countries of Southeast Asia. Usually, the one-way bus ticket won't cost you more than a dozen USD regardless of the distance you travel. That is, if you don't go from Ho Chi Minh, in the south of Vietnam, to Hanoi, in northern Vietnam.
Furthermore, know that both old and modern buses travel along the roads of Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. Sometimes, they are comfortable and air conditioned. In other cases, they are hopelessly cramped. Furthermore, roads in Laos and Cambodia, although recently improved, are still unsuitable for fast journeys. Which brings us to another point you should pay attention to.
Bus tour in Vietnam Laos Cambodia
The rainy season isone of the reasons why journeys tend to last long. In Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, wet season usually spans summer and a few months in spring and autumn. Yet, different parts of these countries feature different monsoon seasons. This is in particular true for Vietnam. Southern and northern parts of the country (Ho Chi Minh and Hanoi) are the rainiest from June to September. Da Nang, Hoi An and Hue are the wettest from September until December.
You will always have some rain as you backpack these countries regardless of the season. Yet, intense showers during summer are likely to slow you down and force you to improvise. And that will affect your budget as everything else.
Tips for backpackers traveling Cambodia Laos and Vietnam
- There are many ways for you to interact with the friendly locals. One of them is the Couchsurfing website. Get in touch and allow them to show you their city and country.
- Have a cook stove while backpacking forests, mountains and the countryside of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. Waterproof blanket will also prove useful at some point.
- To make additional savings, you can hitchhike. But don't resort to that until you familiarize yourself with the situation on the road. The way some locals drive may seem strange, if not adventurous, to unaccustomed tourists.
- Some backpackers travel over the night by bus to cut travel and lodging expenses. Inquire about the bus company in detail beforehand. Some companies have an infamous history of crashes that took place during the night. Also, secure your valuables well before you fall asleep.
- If you are an adventurer with more time, visit the Cardamom Mountains in Cambodia. There, you may see wild elephants and tigers in the environment free of poaching.
- Find Si Phan Don, or 4000 island, along the Mekong River in Laos, near the Cambodian border. Irrawaddy dolphins live there and you can explore the river flow by kayaks.
- In Vietnam, visit the CauVang (Golden Bridge) near Da Nang for exceptional panoramic views. This landmark is not very far from the border of Vietnam with Laos and Cambodia. We recommend you to take a private Vietnam Cambodia Laos tour, so that you will just sit back to enjoy the trip and we will take care of all details including transportation, accommodations, meals, tourist attractions, visas and all others.
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