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Tips for Memorable Travel in Vietnam and Cambodia

Travel Tips Vietnam and Cambodia

Combining Vietnam and Cambodia is not a strange travel trick among backpackers. Following the right travel tips Vietnam and Cambodia will give you rich, memorable experiences. Both countries share a border, and a 10-hour bus trip is what you need to reach Cambodia from Vietnam (and vice versa).

Visiting the two countries in one trip are recommended if you have at least three to four weeks to spend. Here are useful tips to follow so you can optimize the trip.

Travel Tips in Vietnam

Many travelers from outside the two countries choose Vietnam as the first stop, especially the capital Hanoi. No Bai International Airport is the sixth busiest airport in the world, so finding an international flight with reasonable cost is easier if you make Hanoi your first destination. 

Taxi scam is a prevalent problem in Vietnam, especially toward passengers of independent taxis. If you need a transportation, stick to reliable taxi companies like Vinasun or Mai Linh, and always agree on the fare when booking. Large cities have ridesharing services like Uber, Grab, and Go-Viet, so you can download their apps for the convenience. Cash is still the most popular payment method in Vietnam, so make sure to prepare it in your wallet. 

Once you decide to move to Cambodia, book a bus seat from reliable company like Champa Mekong or Giant Ibis. These bus companies specialize in border crossing between Vietnam and Cambodia. You can book the seat online for an easier trip. 

Travel Tips in Cambodia

After booking a bus seat in Vietnam, make sure to come to the pick-up spot at least 30 minutes before departure. Depending on the bus route, you may arrive in Phnom Penh or Kampot first in Cambodia. Make sure you already have your vaccination booklet, which is a requirement. Cambodian border office offers visa application during arrival. However, obtaining Cambodian visa before your trip reduces the risk of paying unnecessary fees. 

Most of major destinations in Cambodia are religious and cultural sites. Despite the hot tropical weather, make sure you dress properly in these sites. This means no exposed shoulders, thighs, bellies, or backs, both for men and women.

Tuk-tuk (three-wheeled motorized vehicles) and regional bus networks are quite reliable in Cambodia. The country uses Riel and US Dollar as its currencies, but you need to get used to the “unique” way the locals conduct transactions. For example, after paying for something in US Dollar, don’t be surprised if you get the changes in Riel.

Recommended Destinations in Vietnam and Cambodia

After learning about travel tips Vietnam and Cambodia, the best part is finding out where you should visit. Here are several recommended destinations in the two countries.

1. Hanoi

The capital city of Vietnam is vibrant and colorful, a meeting between the old and the new. Sit in one of the city’s coffee shops like a local, and taste refreshing Vietnamese iced coffee or unique egg coffee. Hoan Kiem Lake is a popular spot for travelers, surrounded by highlights such as Ngoc Son Temple, Hoa Lo Prison Museum, and One Pillar Pagoda.

2. Ha Giang

Ha Giang presents a rugged but beautiful terrain, with limestone hills, valleys, and rice paddies. This area is a highlight for a cross-country motorbike ride, especially if you ride on Ma Pi Leng Pass and Quan Ba Pass.

3. Sa Pa

Sa Pa is a mountain town inhabited by several Vietnamese ethnic groups, and many of them are living from tourism. The tourist-y vibe doesn’t stop you from enjoying authentic rural charm. Rent one of the local homestays run by locals and climb the nearby Mount Fansipan if the weather permits.

4. Nin Binh

Nin Binh is a natural wonder popular as a day trip destination from Hanoi. Highlights in this area include limestone formations, rivers, and green sceneries. Boating trip is a perfect antidote for the hot, crowded major cities.

5. Hue

Hue used to be the capital of Vietnam during its imperial period. Some of its former splendor was destroyed by American bombs during Vietnam War, but the remaining architectures are still beautiful and majestic. Highlights in the walled imperial city include arched entrances, a citadel, and the Chinese-style To Mieu Temple.

6. Kampot

Kampot is a quaint and laidback Cambodian riverside town that has recently been attracting tourists. The town offers coffee shops, wine bars, and great restaurants. The river is a popular spot for boating and kayaking. Adventurers can trek in the nearby Bokor Mountain and see the ruins of luxury resorts abandoned after the Khmer Rouge overtook Cambodia.

7. Siem Reap

Siem Reap is the location of the famous Angkor Wat Temples. While it may be considered a “tourist trap”, Angkor Wat is still a magnificent site to behold. The sunset view in this place is amazing, and its detailed arts and engineering feats are worthy of admiration.

8. Kep

Kep is a boutique town in Cambodia more suitable for medium-range and luxury travel. However, this place is a must-visit if you love seafood. Kep is famous for its juicy crabs, cooked in Kampot pepper for the ultimate spicy food experience. Tuk-tuk is rare in Kep, so make sure you bring extra money for rental car or shuttle service.

9. Koh Rong Samleom

Koh Rong Samleom is a small island situated 45-minute boat ride from Sihanoukville, mainland Cambodia. The island is a perfect getaway from tourist spots, boasting pristine white beach and turquoise water.

10. Phnom Penh

Why visiting Cambodia if you are going to skip its capital city? Phnom Penh is often treated as the starting travel point to other areas. However, this rising metropolitan city offers a lot of interesting activities. The National Museum and Royal Palace give glimpses of Cambodia’s imperial past. The city also has many coffee shops, bars, and restaurants, including fine-dining spots. Psar Kandal and the Central Market allow you to shop like the locals and buy cheap souvenirs or snacks.

Southeast Asia is quickly becoming a highlight in the new age of global travel. Follow these travel tips Vietnam and Cambodia to explore the two highlights of Mekong Delta in one trip.