Two of our travelers had an amazing time in Vietnam and Cambodia last month. Here they share some things about their experience there and what made this a wonderful trip.
We hope you enjoy it!
Hi Mindy – yes we’re back home again and had a wonderful trip!
Having airport expediting was very much appreciated and well worth the cost. (Thanks for your urging Steph) I would recommend this to anyone traveling to Vietnam and Cambodia.
We had personally booked our flights for the way home, and Vietnam Airlines rescheduled our flight from Siem Reap to Hanoi an hour later – making our transfer to another airline in Hanoi potentially tight. We also weren’t sure if we would need to go through immigration to collect our bags and another check in there. We added expediting in Hanoi by calling Trails of Indochina, and what might have taken 1+ hours ended up taking about 15 minutes to get through customs, security, etc. etc. The expediter also helped us work with the airline to get our bags checked through to Seattle. This greatly reduced a stress point for us.
We were surprised our Hanoi guide accompanied us everywhere. (Ex: he traveled on the Chapa Express train along with us, to the cruise ship with us, etc.)
Our guides in Hanoi and Siem Reap were very good and knowledgeable. Hoi An guide was also good, but was more reserved and spoke mostly to Kristie – so we didn’t connect with her as strongly. All three were nationally certified guides and had traveled all around Vietnam.
Our food tour in Hoi An (subcontracted to Hoi An Food Tours / guide was nicknamed “Gum”) was awesome! One of the trip highlights for us. She was very knowledgeable and had a passion for Hoi An and food.
We personally added a night motor-scooter food tour in Saigon (Saigon Street Eats) which was also awesome, especially since we were only there overnight.
Streets of Hanoi
Hanoi was interesting and a lot of fun. We arrived on Sunday when the area around the Legend Lake is close to traffic. We highly recommend that any Americans going to Hanoi try to walk around the lake on a Sunday. School kids practicing English are positioned all around the lake, and they politely ask if they can practice their English with you. We made some quick friends and had an opportunity to practice our Vietnamese and learn about culture while talking with the kids. So much fun!
Sapa was pretty much a waste of time for us because of the time of year that we visited. We wished we had allocated that time to Halong Bay and/or Saigon instead. It was cold & rainy, foggy with little visibility, and no rice in the fields. The Chapa Express Train was not comfortable/exhausted us, even though we had a private VIP cabin. We were wiped out the days after traveling on the Express Train. We don’t recommend Sapa to others traveling this time of year, and for those going we would recommend traveling by car/van instead. Locals said the trip from Hanoi to Sapa took a little over 4 hours by car, which would have been worth the time to us.
We added a trip to Ninh Binh/Trang An during our free-day in Hanoi. This was beautiful and we would highly recommend it to others. This was a great addition.
As you probably expect, Halong Bay was a highlight of our trip. The scenery and experience were both awesome, and the boat (Bhaya Classic Premium) was perfect. There were just eight of us on the boat, it was very comfortable, and the crew was a lot of fun. We would highly recommend a two-night cruise to anyone going to Halong Bay.
Hoi An was culturally interesting and we enjoyed the bike tour. It was a fun way to see the city. The farm tour was super fun and the cooking/food was really good. As mentioned above, the food tour with Gum was the highlight of this city.
We only overnighted in Saigon, (flew in one afternoon and out the next morning) which felt like a wasteful trip. That said, we made the most of it by adding an evening food tour which was lots of fun!
Our Angkor Wat temples tour was awesome – especially because of our guide Sarom Muth. He was very personable and professional. Cambodia was a highlight of our trip and the people were wonderful.
We added on a Cambodia Village and River Boat tour through Trails of Indochina. This was an awesome tour and gave us a nice experience of the people and culture in the rural areas of Cambodia.
Angkor Wat – Cambodia
The people of both Vietnam and Cambodia were very friendly and welcoming, we had no stomach problems and the trip was well put together.
Thanks to both of you for helping arrange this trip. Kristie and I have traveled quite a bit and this trip ranks as one of our favorites!