Vietnam/Cambodia in 8 days, must go places?

Hi Guys

Being a true Ozbargainer I couldn't resist when I saw the deals with Jetstar to HCMC Vietnam in June for $460 return with luggage. I have always wanted to go Vietnam and Cambodia but only managed to get 8 days off work. I understand 8 days is merely enough to travel through Vietnam, let alone Cambodia as well. The only thing I'm dying to see in Cambodia is Angor Wat and I was advised that 3 days 2 nights should be enough which leave 5 days in Vietnam. We are planning on flying from HCMC-Siem Reap ( Cambodia) - Hanoi -Na Dang ( Hoi An) - HCMC. However I have a feeling that is way too much travelling in 8 days therefore I need advice on the MUST GO places in Vietnam, I have also heard that June is the start of monsoon season in Vietnam and the North will be much nicer than South. Does is mean that we should spend more time in Hanoi then HCMC? Is Sapa worth visiting?

I am travelling with my partner and we are a couple in our late 20s who are into sightseeing, cultural and adventure.

Please help

Thank you all in advance


  • We did exactly this a few years ago. Had to cut out North Vietnam. Do the South properly and then revisit the area another time doing North Vietnam and Laos, would be my advice.

  • Just watched a Getaway repeat on Foxtel last night. The girl went to Sapa… I think it took her 8 hours on the train plus bus ride to get there from Hanoi. You'll probably won't have time to do that.

  • +1 vote

    My 2 cents… you'll end up commuting more than actually seeing…

    Choose one area of Vietnam and stick with it:

    1/South is more developed, better night life and shopping… you get to see modern chaotic Vietnam…
    2/North is more rustic, lots of history and slower pace… highlight of my trip to Vietnam was Halong Bay (highly recommend you spend one night on a boat there)

    Based on your interest I would say north is more what you want, but HCMC airport is more convenient and will save you a lot of time… I found were the cheapest and most reliable for tours/transport (be aware of fakes though, there are hundreds of them) is a good free travel guide for the region

    Side note: I was at Angkor Wat about 2 years ago, they were doing repairs and have this huge scaffolding over some of the front which really ruined it. Though Angkor Wat is only one of a number of temple around the area… tbh after 1.5 days I was "templed out"…

  • The Red Bridge cooking school is awesome.

  • This is what we'll be doing in June:

    Day 1: HCM - Cu chi tunnels + temple tour
    Day 2: Reunification Palace + other sightseeing stuff around the city (not helpful, sorry) + food tour on a scooter
    Day 3-5: We are doing a Mekong Delta tour with exit to Phnom Penh option. On the night of Day 3, they offer a homestay option for accommodation which has gotten good reviews. On day 5, we take a 4?-hour speedboat from Vietnam to Phnom penh. In PP, we'll visit the killing fields if we have time.
    Day 6: Bus to Siem Reap
    Day 7-8: Angkor wat

    But your return flight is from HCM so hm… this post may not be too helpful lol

    I don't think you'll have time for Hanoi if you really want to go to Angkor wat

    Let me know if you want to know which tour companies I've booked. I've chosen ones that had a good balance of decent reviews and of course, cheap. :)

  • North: Halong Bay (beautiful!), Sapa (much cooler up there…if you like hiking it's great!), Hanoi (don't like much!), Tam Coc River(Ninh Binh) limestone mountains and caves rowing up river

    On the way down: Hue (old French influence), Hoi An (buy clothes, try cau lau noodles!).

    South: HCMH (Saigon)Reunification Palace, War Museum, street food, Cu Chi Tunnels, Mekong Cruises…watch out for the motor bikes!

    Bus plane or boat to Phnom Penh….Royal Palace, Camp S21 (chilling!)

    Bus, plane to Siem Reap….get ready for the temples! Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom, Bayon, Phimeanakas, Kleangs, Preah Pithu Group, Ta Prohm(best of the lot!) Preah Khan, Ta Som, Banteay Kdei, Banteay Srei, the Landmine Museum and the Royal Palace.

    That's 4 weeks worth….1 week in Siem Reap

  • Thankyou guys for commenting! we are now thinking of only going
    HCMC-Siem Reap-Hanoi-HCMC. we must come back to HCMC because our return flight is from there.
    2 days in HCMC ( the only reason we are going to HCMC is because thats where our international flight arrives and depart), 2 days in Siem Reap and 4 days in Hanoi.
    Does that sound better?

    • If you want to stay in the north, be prepared that it could be very hot during that time of the year, the heat is different to here in Australia. A trip in Ha Long bay would be nice but it'll take 2 days at least. Other than that, you best experience will be exploring the old quarters in the heat (even in the night) and enjoy the local beer.

    • If you are going to stay in Hanoi and you can't get to Halong Bay….I would definitely "day trip" to Tam Coc (pls excuse previous post spelling!)…see if you can figure out how they can row all day with their feet!…here's a trip advisor

    • Must go place from my point of view is as below:
      North: Ha long bay and Sapa are definitely worth visiting. At this time of the year, Ha long bay would be a better choice. You can hire a private cruise for roughly $150 a night or alternatively join a tour for around $50 a night (all meals included, drinks extra but quite reasonable). Hanoi especially the old quarter is noisy but quite fun to explore. Take a cyclo and do your shopping - make sure to sharpen your bargaining skill. If you are brave enough, try street food, they taste much better than the same dishes in 5* restaurant. I never had stomach upset in Hanoi being very adventurous myself.

      As someone else had suggested, TamCoc is a nice place with beautiful corrasional caves formed naturally over thousand years. I did it last year and couldnt be happier.

      Middle: Danang and Hoi An are fantastic. The cities are clean and well organized. People are polite as well and you often dont have to do much bargaining.

      South: Saigon (aka HCMC) is even noisier than Hanoi but good thing is you will bump into at least a fellow Oz every day. Expats are everywhere. The pubs and bars are good. Day trip can be organized through thesinhtourist as someone pointed out before. They are trustworthy, I used them countless time and cant recommend enough. Cu Chi tunnel is ok. Its not too far from the CBD but the road to get there is terrible. Make sure you do the trip to the Mekong delta. Lots of activities for a very reasonable price - I paid $25 including lunch last year - you get to visit the floating market, a candy factory, a winery, a bee and snake farm, riding horses, play kites with local kids, boating on the big river and also visiting the dairy milk canal - good value for money.

      And BTW, at this time of the year, it is really hot everywhere. Temperature expects to rise up to 40 in the north and 35 degree in the South. And its humid. Dont forget to bring water with you

    • Honestly I'd skip Cambodia and just do that on another trip. Flights are pretty expensive between Saigon and Siem Reap and you'll waste 2 days travelling there and back. I'd just do Vietnam and do Cambodia on your next trip.

      Then I'd just recommend doing south Vietnam. Probably 3 days in Saigon, 1 day in Hue and 3 days in Hoi An with a train back to Saigon.

  • Angmor Wat and associated temples are fascinating especially when they and huge remaining reservoir were built by hand. This city complex was 3 times the size of London at same time. Look at Lonely Planets description of graphic carving freize around Angkor under colonnade. Scenes from battles to child birth.
    All of housing has long gone to jungle but scale of buildings gives you an idea of how many busy workers built this complex whilst still producing 3 crops of rice per year

  • We just got back from Siem Reap a week ago.
    Temples wise I def recommend Angkor Wat, Lara Croft temple and the pink temple (I'm shocking with the names) you could do the first two in one day easy but the second is a lot further out. Can also recommend a great tour guide if you need it.
    In town I can def recommend Phare, the War Mueseum and for eats if your close the Kurosity Kafe was our favorite.
    If you need further details or have specific questions let me know.

  • 8 days is a tight time frame to do much inter country travel so I would stick to HCMC and Angkor wat. Iff you can find a tour they will take care of transport and hotels and maybe guides but you won't feel you are on a school camp trip. It's still allows you to be independent and lots of free time but very economical.

  • As people have stated above, 8 days in not a long time for 2 countries. Cambodia and Vietnam as not big countries but not that small either.

    I spent 5 days just at Angkok Wat and that place is indeed amazing.

    Haven't been to Vietnam so I cant comment but I would say avoid Phenom Phen. It's a pretty depressing city. All I remember was the genocide museum and the city is packed full of older western men with their teenage girlfriends/bar girls, what ever you want to call it. not really a place I had a great memory of