In case any of you are thinking that a trip to Vietnam and Cambodia may be in your future, here are a few detailed tips as you plan your itinerary:
- Virtually every tourist we’ve met is doing 1 of 3 variations on an itinerary: Vietnam south to north with Cambodia somewhere in the middle; Vietnam north to south with Cambodia somewhere in the middle; or occasionally a circular route (starting and ending either in Hanoi or HCMC) with Laos included. With the exception of Laos, everyone’s stops are basically identical. We didn’t realize that in advance.
- We were in Indochina for 17 days. The pace and length felt right to us. If we’d needed to shorten it by a couple of days, we would have cut out the day in Can Tho and limited our Mekong Delta visit to a single day in Ben Tre. Hue was interesting, but it would have been next on the chopping block if we were being ruthless with our time.
- We noticed lots of signs for “homestays” — the Vietnamese equivalent of B&Bs. We didn’t try these, but visited a few as stops on our tours. Would have been interesting to spend longer. We loved what were referred to here as “eco-tours” — many by bicycle, involving visits to homes.
- We know some folks who cruised for longer than we did on the Mekong River. I doubt our kids would have welcomed that, in hindsight.
- We only visited Siem Reap in Cambodia. We debated about also including a visit to Phnom Penh. The feedback we received from other travellers and from our kids is that we made a good choice not to go. Ditto re: avoiding Thailand on this trip.
- We organized our trip through VietnamStay, an agency based out of Hanoi that we read about online. Every element was excellent — can’t recommend their services highly enough. We paid more than we would have if we’d organized each element ourselves, but given the overall length and complexity of our trip and our lack of knowledge of the places in advance, we welcomed having a driver, a guide, some local advice and a sign that said “Warmly Welcome Rebecca Family” at every stop.