Here's my two weeks in Vietnam and Cambodia travel guide. A history tour with a little bit of beach time at Phu Quoc Island.
Highs & Lows
An impromptu dinner with our guide's family at his childhood home whose father was also was a Viet Cong solider.
Too much time spent on transportation (planes, vans etc.)
This was my first trip to Asia and I wanted to experience the food, culture, and get a mix of city, country and beach. The trip fulfilled all my goals and then some.
We drove about 2 1/2 hours to visit the floating villages in the Mekong Delta (Cai Be). We were able to ride in the boats and get out to visit some of the working villages. This was a real highlight of the trip. Definitely recommend. The next day we toured Saigon and visited War Remnants Museum and the Presidential Palace. Both were worth the time.
The first day we spent visiting the temples - 1st we went to Angkor Thom which is smaller than the more popular Angkor Wat. I believe Angkor Thom was one of the locations for the movie Tomb Rader which was fun to see in person. Next we went to Bayon Temple, and then onto Angkor Wat. All were spectacular and worth the visit. It was however excruciating humid so I recommend carrying water and dressing cool. The next day, the guys went to visit the Banteay Srey and Ta Prohm temples. My friend and I stayed at the resort and relaxed by the lovely pool. During our time in Cambodia we also had another exceptional guide who shared his stories of fleeing as a young man to Thailand to escape the Khmer Rouge. I highly recommend splurging on hiring guides as it added so much to our experience. The following day, we drove a few hours Tonlé Sap Lake. The lake has floating restaurants and villages which was a cool experience. We also walked through a tiny lake village (Kampong Phluck) to see how the locals lived when the lake rose and receded (the houses are built on tall stilts). Everyone we met was extremely friendly and welcoming.
Q & A
What would you have changed?We had a few too many layover moments in Saigon (and a 13 hour layover in South Korea). I would have worked better on tightening the schedule.
Anything go wrong during the trip?A hotel concierge sent us to an extremely formal restaurant that clearly catered to tourists. We were the only guests in the entire place which was filled with tuxedo waiters. Funny more than anything. Careful what the concierge recommend!
Restaurant recommendations?Incredible. The best Pho we had was a tiny street vendor in Hanoi.
Tips you would give a friend?Be open to different. Hanoi's chaos of people and scooters are intense. The food hygiene is different than the USA (raw meat for sale displayed on the roadside for example)-none of us got sick though! Also - get a guide. We would not have had the same incredible experience had we not had local guides to give us incredible storytelling and life changing moments (whisky shots with former Viet Cong solider!)
Packing tips?Bring good walking sandals/shoes and clothing for heat and humidity. We also pre-treated many of clothes with anti-mosquito repellant (Permethrin which you can buy at REI or Amazon).
Transportation Tips?Our guides arranged most of our transportation . In the cities we used cabs-just make sure they turn on the meter so you don't get a surprise rate at the end.
Any surprises?The brutal humidity especially in Siem Reap and Phu Quoc.
Booking details?We used the travel company, Exo Travel to plan and book most of our trip. Highly recommend as the guides they assigned to us were incredible.