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Jon from Miami asked

Looking for the best use of 2 1/2 weeks in Vietnam, Cambodia, & Thailand

Traveling with the wife, we're not looking for the party scene but rather great food, a bit of culture, some beach time (emphasis on scenic), a bit of history, and coming back with some amazing photos. 

Our timeframe is the end of Nov - very early Dec. So far a must seems to be Yi Peng Lantern Festival and Loy Krathong in Chiang Mai. 

While I'm sure we could cover off most of the top spots, we typically don't like to spend our whole time traveling between spots. Looking for 3-maybe 4 overnight locations tops. Not looking for $$$$ but not $ either. 

What are the musts?

Best (secluded) beach? Is there one in Vietnam that rivals Thailands?

North versus South Vietnam? Or best to try to cover them both off?

What's the best way to travel between Thailand to Vietnam, how easy is it?

Angor Wat? Seems like a must but how much would we need to carve off to do it and what else is on the way to make that time worthwhile?

Any accommodation recommendations in these spots as well?


Vietnam   Cambodia   Thailand

3 Answers
top answer by
Justin from Phoenix

I'll take Hanoi over HCMC any day. I love the food in the north, and the Old Quarter is so much fun. A lot of the streets in the Old Quarter are named after what they sell on those streets. There are also some specialties in Hanoi you won't find in many other places, like bun cha ha noi and cha ca ha noi. If you want a medium-priced but very cool place to stay, check out the Hanoi Rendezvous Hotel. Hanoi also has some great museums. I can't remember the name of the military history museum, but it was fascinating.

You're also close to Sa Pa District and Halong Bay. If you haven't heard of the homestay hikes from Sa Pa, you should definitely add it to your list. Here's a story about my homestay. You won't believe how cloudy and foggy it is in Sa Pa

My favorite part of HCMC was going out to Cu Chi Tunnels. Otherwise, it was just OK. The Mekong Delta is kind of interesting, but it's far down the pecking order of interesting-to-me activities in Vietnam.

About Halong Bay ... I actually had a lot more fun spending a night on Cat Ba Island rather than staying in the more secluded bungalows. I like wandering cities of all sizes and meeting people.

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Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Hanoi Rendezvous Hotel (hotel)
  2. Sa Pa District (attraction)
  3. Cu Chi Tunnels (attraction)
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answered first by
Sarah from Milwaukee

There are likely some Vietnam beaches that are great but the major areas are quite polluted and built up. I've heard good things about Phu Quoc but haven't been there myself. 

If you can manage the time for both, I'd definitely say include both north and south Vietnam - for Mekong Delta (around Can Tho) and Hạ Long Bay. Easiest way between is flight - and not that expensive. 

I'd suggest 3 days at the minimum in Siem Reap but it can easily be extended to 5. 

My trip for the same countries in 2012 was the following - I had less time but we didn't get Hanoi/North Vietnam in that time: 

- Fly into Bangkok, there and Koh Kong island

- Flight to HCMC

- Bus to Siem Reap - took about a full day but was pretty comfortable

- Bus to Bangkok (much less comfortable, would fly if I could do it again), and fly out

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Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Phu Quoc (city)
  2. Can Tho (attraction)
  3. Hạ Long Bay (attraction)
  4. Siem Reap (city)
  5. Koh Kong (city)
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answered by
Laura from Buenos Aires

Hi Jon

I spent 9 days in Vietnam visiting Ho Chi Minh CityHoi AnHanoiHalong Bay Vietnam and Sa Pa District, and I loved it all. 

You have to visit Ho Chi Minh or Hanoi, if you can't visit both, and if you like culture you must visit Hoi An. Halong Bay must be one of the most beautiful places in the world and I absolutely loved Sa Pa. 

I took flights to go from one place to the other except from Hanoi to Sa Pa where you must go by overnight train. 

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Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Ho Chi Minh City (city)
  2. Hoi An (city)
  3. Hanoi (city)
  4. Halong Bay Vietnam (attraction)
  5. Sa Pa District (attraction)

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