Vietnam and Cambodia are quite unique in relation to landscapes, modern development, history, religion and culture. A very pleasing aspect of organising the combined tour is the ability to see the differences first-hand without having to travel a vast distance.
The shared borders with Thailand and Laos and linked by the Mekong River makes the process of travelling between the south of Vietnam and Cambodia very common and a typical part of touring this part of SE Asia. Many travellers combine the two countries because of the short travel distance from Ho Chi Minh City. Even if travelling by road, the journey time from Ho Chi Minh City to Siem Reap is in the region of 10 hours, while this is much quicker with a boat ride on the Mekong River from Chau Doc to Phnom Penh. Also, taking one of the many daily flights between the two cities will shorten the travel time to a little over an hour.
Whether it is to compare the mountainous jungle trails, searching for the finest beaches, learning about past history, or discovering the different cultures, the Vietnam and Cambodia holiday simply works and there is enough difference between the two to avoid a feeling of over similarity.
Let's take a look at a few of the best places to include on the Indochina tour itinerary:
A tour of the world-famous Angkor Wat complex will need a two or three days to truly appreciate this ancient marvel. While it can be quite appealing to explore the temples on an independent tour, the option to hire a local English-speaking guide is certain to help bring more passion and knowledge to exploring this ruined citadel. Beyond the major attraction of Angkor Wat, there are plenty of other temples to see throughout this archaeological park including Angkor Thom and Ta Prohm.
Halong Bay is a short distance from Vietnam's capital city, Hanoi. After completing the 4-hour journey, tourists are certain to appreciate the surreal landscape that will meet them. Halong Bay is an impressive sight with nearly 2,000 limestone islets that rise from the emerald waters. The best way to appreciate the bay is to sign up for an overnight boat trip on a traditional junk-style boat. In addition to exploring the local waters, the boat trips can include the many cave systems and secret sandy covers. Plus, there are plenty of opportunities to get involved with activities like swimming and kayaking.
Hue is an old imperial city that is certain to appear on many Vietnam Cambodia tour itineraries with plenty to see for the first time visitor. There is much to experience on a cultural tour with the complex of palaces, pagodas and tombs to discover at this UNESCO World Heritage site. One of the most appealing methods to explore Hue and its local surroundings is on a motorbike or even taking a boat trip along the Perfume River to appreciate the many sights that run the length of the riverbank. Also, a trip to Dong Ba market is certain to be enjoyed by those that love to shop and also to stop for a bite to eat with banh khoai (rice cakes) a popular snack option.
Kampong Thom province is located southeast of Siem Reap and a further place of interest with plenty of notable archaeological sites. In fact, many of these are dated prior to Angkor Wat, and give the option to learn more about the country's history without having the number of tourists to contend with. A further great attraction aside from the impressive Sambor Prei Kuk temples is the option to stay for the night in one of the local homestays. This is a great way to really appreciate Cambodian life in a minority village and enjoy a home cooked and traditional Khmer meal.
One of the most scenic options to travel from Vietnam to Cambodia is by boat along the Mekong River. Aside from using the river to arrive in Cambodia, there is plenty to see in this thriving part of Vietnam. A great way to get around is by boat. A tour on a traditional sampan can give a perfect glimpse of life on the water with several floating markets to visit such as Cai Rang and Cai Be. Even though there are other transportation options to cross from Vietnam to Cambodia, such as flying and bus routes, the river boat is the most scenic and means it is possible to see the riverbanks active with fathers working and kids playing.
Phnom Penh is Cambodia's capital city and located at the confluence of the Tonle Sap, Bassac and Mekong River to offer the local people the ability to import and export a wide range of supplies that help the marketplaces, street stalls and cottage industries thrive. This city has preserved a lot of colonial-era French charm with many structures that still stand, which are also complemented by those landmarks with the more traditional Buddhist and Khmer architecture.
Best time to visit Vietnam and Cambodia
The climate in Vietnam and Cambodia will vary with the time of year and season. The dry season (November to March) is the peak travel time when both countries have plenty of tourists visiting the long list of fascinating attractions. In general, the weather for the entire region is likely to be very appealing for the months of March and April. For the tourists that like to get a break from the crowds, a tour to Vietnam and Cambodia that takes place during the rainy season (May to October) may be the best choice. There are plenty of savings to be found at this time of the year, especially in relation to accommodation and flights. Even though there is the risk of the occasional heavy rainfall, there is no real reason not to travel at this time of year. Also, the landscape is lush and green at this time to make rice paddies that much more striking and a perfect time for the photography tours.