Adding a few of the lesser-known places to the essential Vietnam and Cambodia tour itinerary can create the more adventurous experience. Going off-the-beaten track and visiting places that are rarely seen will help see towns and people in their authentic form. While it may be a little nerve racking to leave the traditional tourist trail, the ability to do something completely different is certain to bring plenty of excitement and thrills.
Let's take a look at just a few of the lesser-visited highlights to be discovered in Vietnam and Cambodia:
Ha Giang is located in the very far-north of the country and is appreciated for its mostly untouched landscape that consists of impressive rocky outcrops and mountainous region. However, this part of Vietnam isn't known to attract the highest number of tourists. Ha Giang is certain to be listed on any travel itinerary where the traveller is looking to meet local people and experience the real Vietnam. Also, the region has the Dong Van Rock Plateau, which is a UNESCO geological protected area that is well worth visiting.
The Kon Tum Province with its capital Kon Tum is located in Vietnam's lush-green central highlands. Visitors on the Vietnam holiday can expect to see plenty of indigenous hill tribe people who live in the region's small villages. Because of the remote location and the likely difficulty with understanding local customs and communicating, it is worthwhile using the services of a guide for this type of authentic tour.
Buon Ma Thuot
Buon Ma Thuot is a further place of interest that is located in the central highlands. This is a perfect place to visit to experience more of the authentic urban life of the local Vietnamese people. Additionally, this is a great place to visit to get access to several of the region's awe-inspiring natural wonders. The Yok Don National Park is approx 40 km from Buon Ma Thuot and regarded as the countries largest wildlife reserve. It is only a short distance from Cambodia, and makes it possible to relax in the clean air and spot wildlife, trek, kayak and camp.
Dalat has a very noticeable colonial-era influence that relates to the people, the food, and the architecture. A visit to this city is certain to present a wonderful place to fully relax and unwind after long spells of sightseeing in other parts of the country. It is a region that is highly involved with agriculture and specialises in fresh fruits and vegetables, coffee, and dairy products. For the adventurous travellers, there are plenty of fun activities to get involved with, such as swimming, cliff diving, abseiling, rappelling, climbing and hiking.
Hon Gai Peninsula
Hon Gai Peninsula is connected to Vietnam's mainland via a sand bar and a place that is relatively unexplored. For the travellers in search of a peaceful destination on the Vietnam travel, this region offers plenty of stunning beaches to relax. One of the best places to set up base for the night is Dai Lanh beach which has mostly basic and simple accommodation. This still remains a mostly undiscovered location which means the tourist infrastructure is minimal. Also, in order to get around it will be necessary to organise your own transport.
Kep is a small fishing village that is often omitted from the Cambodia travel itinerary. But, it shouldn't be. There are plenty of things to see and do in Kep. Beyond feasting on the fresh seafood, there are the beaches, the caves with local shrines, and the national park, which is highly appreciated for its very scenic hiking trails. Also, it is worth visiting the salt fields and pepper plantations to see first-hand the work of the local people.
Koh Tunsay (Rabbit Island) is a relatively short distance from Kep – about 20 minutes travel time by boat to reach this island. It is a great travel destination for those looking to experience the rustic lifestyle. A visit to Koh Tunsay won't be glamorous or luxurious, but there are still several quiet and relaxing beaches to be found on the island. It still has a very authentic nature and development has been slow to start here, which has helped to create the almost back in time feeling.
Banteay Chhmar is an ancient temple that is reached after completing a 2-3 hour journey. Many tourists visiting the Angkor Archaeological Park will look to explore only a select few well-known temples. However, there are several more secluded and relatively untouched temples that are a distance from Angkor Wat. One of the most charming is Banteay Chhmar. This ancient temple is well secluded in the jungle and if visiting on the Cambodia travel packages there is likely be very few other travellers.
Phnom Aural is the country's highest peak at 1,813 metres. While this mountain isn't given much promotion as a place to visit on the Indochina tours, it is certain to appeal to those with an adventurous spirit in search of a top hiking destination. With a challenging trek in front of you it is essential to have the proper camping and hiking supplies, as well as a local Khmer speaking guide. The climbing trails aren't the easiest to follow, but the climb up the mountain is certain to present plenty of opportunities to appreciate the landscape and take the photographic memories. A visit to Phnom Penh is likely to offer the best choices for picking up supplies and sourcing a guide.
Pailin is mostly untouched by tourism and is located approx 60 minutes from the Thai border. The most interesting things to see and do in Pailin are to visit the Wat Phnom Yat temple and the O’Tavao waterfall. Also, this part of western Cambodia is perfect for the outdoors person with the opportunity to explore the Cardamom Mountains and Boyaca Valley.