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How to Plan a Trip to Cambodia and Vietnam 2024: Itinerary, Best Times, Expert Tips

By Ruby ZhaoUpdated Jan. 29, 2024

In the heart of Southeast Asia, Cambodia and Vietnam have long been in the limelight for many travelers. They border each other, offering convenient travel connections.

Diversity is absolutely one of the most enchanting features of Vietnam and Cambodia. Plunging into Halong Bay, climbing up Pre Rup for a breathtaking sunset in Siem Reap, or delving into Hanoi's alleys for delicacies... no matter whether you're traveling for a honeymoon, anniversary, or family vacation… Vietnam and Cambodia will not disappoint you.

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Places to See in Cambodia and Vietnam

Vietnam and Cambodia, neighboring Southeast Asian countries, present distinct travel experiences.

Vietnam boasts diverse landscapes, from the northern rice terraces to the iconic Ha Long Bay, and is rich in history with influences from China, France, and the United States. Its vibrant cities like Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City offer a blend of traditional and modern charm, and the cuisine is celebrated for its freshness and flavors.

On the other hand, Cambodia is renowned for the awe-inspiring Angkor Wat and the Khmer Empire's historical sites, set amidst lush landscapes. The country embraces Khmer culture, featuring unique dishes such as amok and showcasing a slower pace of life.

Top Things to Do in Vietnam

Halong Bay Cruise in Vietnam Take a Cruise Through the Karst Scenery in Halong Bay

1. Explore the Old Quarter in Hanoi: explore the city's charm by visiting sites like the elegant Bach Ma Temple and Dong Xuan Market, the oldest local market in the city.

2. Stay overnight on a cruise to see Halong Bay: exercise with water activities like swimming, kayaking, or canoeing, and enjoy the sunset on the cruise deck with a cup of beer in hand.

3. Trek in Sapa among the rice fields: bring yourself closer to the raw nature of Vietnam.

4. Track back to the last emperor's life in Hue: a good destination for history buffs.

5. Soak in the beauty of Hoi An Old Town: strolling around the lantern-lit streets, you will have a sense of peace and tranquility.

6. Visit the floating markets along the Mekong Delta via a boat ride: they have retained their traditional way of doing business.

7. Relax on a wonderful beach on Phu Quoc Island in South Vietnam: enjoy sunbathing, and fresh seafood, as well as fantastic scuba diving and snorkeling.

Top Things to Do in Cambodia

Sunset at Angkor Wat in Cambodia

1. Explore the ancient temple complex of Angkor Wat, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most significant archaeological sites in Southeast Asia.

2. Take in the charming countryside scenery on a quad bike in Siem Reap: pass the seldom-visited local villages, rice fields, and temples, and reward yourself with an amazing countryside sunset.

3. Take a boat trip on Tonle Sap, the largest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia. See Siem Reap from another perspective as you pass the floating villages, which still retain the lifestyle of the ancient Cambodians.

4. Sense the misery of the Khmer Rouge period in Phnom Penh: Although it's sad and even disturbing to visit the Killing Fields and S-21 Prison, this will get you acquainted with one of the worst human tragedies of the last century.

How Long Do You Need in Vietnam and Cambodia?

We highly recommend allocating a minimum of 12 days for your inaugural journey to Vietnam and Cambodia. For an even more enriching experience, consider extending your trip to 14 days. This extended timeframe allows for a leisurely exploration, enabling you to cover a broader range of destinations and partake in a diverse array of activities, all at a relaxed pace.

Vietnam: (8-12 days)

  • Hanoi (2-3 days)
  • Halong Bay (2-3 days)
  • Hoi An (2-3 days)
  • Ho Chi Minh City (2-3 days)

Cambodia: (3-7 days)

  • Siem Reap (3-4 days)
  • Phnom Penh (2-3 days)
  • Optional: Sihanoukville or Kampot (2-3 days)

Vietnam and Cambodia Itinerary Ideas: 12 Days and 2 Weeks

Our 12-Day Cambodia and Vietnam Highlights Tour is a classic tour for your inspiration, designed for those who want to visit all the must-see destinations and essential sights in both Vietnam and Cambodia within a limited timeframe.

What we are suggesting is the hardest-to-easiest approach. Cambodia's cultural attributes demand more of your engagement: emotions are drawn at the Killing Fields and S21 Museum and a lot of walking is required at the Angkor Wat Complex. Vietnam is relatively relaxing and can be a good wind-down after Cambodia.

Cambodia and Vietnam Highlights tour map
  • Day 1: Phnom Penh Arrival, Cambodia
  • Day 2: Phnom Penh (Heart-Breaking Past and Hopeful Present)
  • Day 3: Phnom Penh – Siem Reap (1-hour flight or 6-hour drive along Tonle Sap), Tomb Raider Experience
  • Day 4: Siem Reap (Angkor Wat in Depth)
  • Day 5: Siem Reap – Ho Chi Minh City by flight | Saigon at Dusk
  • Day 6: Ho Chi Minh City | Mekong Impression
  • Day 7: Ho Chi Minh City – Hoi An (Danang Airport)
  • Day 8: Hoi An Ancient Town
  • Day 9: Hoi An (Danang Airport) – Hanoi
  • Day 10: Hanoi from a Different Angle
  • Day 11: Hanoi – Halong Bay | Relaxing Cruising in Halong Bay
  • Day 12: Halong Bay – Hanoi, Hanoi Departure

What sets apart this tour is the presence of a dedicated scholar of Angkor culture who will guide you through the intricacies of Angkor Wat. Additionally, you'll have the opportunity to soak in breathtaking views of Halong Bay on a carefully selected cruise, characterized by its smaller size, providing more privacy and intimacy. Glide through a hidden canal in the less-touristy area of the Mekong Delta aboard a traditional sampan, and experience more unique and memorable moments throughout the journey. See the detailed itinerary.

More itinerary options are suggested in 2 weeks in Vietnam and Cambodia>>>

How Much Does It Cost to Travel to Vietnam and Cambodia?

When traveling to Vietnam and Cambodia, you can expect lower prices than in Thailand and Singapore. For a private trip, the daily cost usually ranges from US$170 to US$250 per person.

Travel with us, beyond regular sightseeing, you can enjoy more exclusive activities: foodie adventures, a fishing tour with a basket boat ride, sunset quad bike rides, and an Angkor Wat walking tour led by our Khmer scholar.

We've also carefully selected various hotels at the best agent rates whether you are looking for a family resort or a boutique hotel with unparalleled views.

You can see our two handpicked private tours to get more details about costs and itineraries. The prices are based on a group of 2+ people.

What Is the Best Time to Visit Vietnam and Cambodia?

Floating market in Mekong Delta in Vietnam See trading traditionally in the flourishing floating markets in Mekong Delta in Vietnam

Both countries are subject to a monsoon climate. There are three main seasons in Vietnam and Cambodia:

  • Dry season: November to February
  • Hot season: March to May (temperatures consistently get up to around 38°C (100°F))
  • Rainy season: June to October (it usually rains in the afternoon and at night, so it's easy to plan around the weather)

The best time to visit both Vietnam and Cambodia is during the dry season, which typically spans from November to March. This period generally offers more comfortable temperatures, lower humidity, and less rainfall, making it ideal for exploring cultural sites, outdoor activities, and enjoying landscapes.

The shoulder seasons, such as late November or early December and late March or early April, can offer a balance between favorable weather and fewer tourists.

The hot season and the rainy season are not so comfortable for travel, but you will find fewer crowds and lower prices for flights and accommodation.

Typhoons from July to September

Typhoons typically strike the northern to central coast of Vietnam during the July-to-September typhoon season, potentially leading to cruise cancellations in Halong Bay and the risk of flooding in Hoi An Ancient Town.

Cambodia seldom gets struck by storms, except for Sihanoukville during the typhoon season.

How to Get to Vietnam and Cambodia?

Hui An Ancient Town in Vietnam Walking in the Narrow Lane in Hoi An Ancient Town

If you are traveling from the USA or Europe, it's advisable to consider starting your journey in one of Vietnam's prominent cities, like Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh City, due to their accessibility from international destinations. In Cambodia, major airports include Siem Reap and Phnom Penh.

To travel between Vietnam and Cambodia, you have three options: by boat, by plane, or by road.

  • Flying: Opting for air travel is the most convenient choice, requiring only 1–2 hours for the journey.
  • Boat Travel: Choosing to travel by boat provides a unique experience along the Mekong River. You have two notable options—a 5-hour ferry departing from Chau Doc in Vietnam to Phnom Penh or a longer cruise option, either a 4-day cruise between Ho Chi Minh and Phnom Penh or an 8-day cruise between Ho Chi Minh and Siem Reap.
  • Road Travel: While not recommended due to its extended duration of about 7 hours, traveling by road is a feasible but time-consuming option.

How to Obtain Visas for Vietnam and Cambodia?

Vietnam Visas

Holders of normal passports issued by the following countries do not require a visa to visit Vietnam:

  • Europe: United Kingdom, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Belarus, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Russia, Sweden
  • South and Middle America: Chile, Panama
  • Asia: Japan, South Korea, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Thailand, Kyrgyzstan, Philippines, Brunei

Starting from August 15, 2023, Vietnam e-visas are issued to citizens of all countries and territories, and they are issued for multiple entries for up to 90 days. You can now apply for the e-visa online. The e-visa fee is approximately 25 USD, and your application will usually be processed within 3 working days. Applying for an e-visa is efficient and convenient.

Cambodia Visas

Regular passport holders from the following countries do not require a visa to visit Cambodia (for the following periods):

  • Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Singapore, and Vietnam (30 days)
  • Philippines (21 days)
  • Thailand (14 days)

If you are from other countries, you can apply for an e-Visa online for US$37 before arrival, or you may do it on the spot when you enter Cambodia as a Visa-on-Arrival (30 USD for single entry). Visa-on-Arrival is not available at the border-crossing from Chau Doc in Vietnam, but it is at most other ports.

Visit Vietnam and Cambodia with Asia Highlights

Traveling is all about experiences. That is the very thing that you cannot cut corners on. It is also nice to get inspired by experiences. Here, we have designed classic tour itineraries catering to almost all palates for inspiration. If that doesn't strike your fancy, talk to us and get started here: Help Me Plan Now.

Why Asia Highlights (10,000+ reviews & 98.8% 5-star rating)

  • Save Your Time:
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  • Personal local guide and ride
  • Explore at your own pace
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  • Specially-crafted family adventures
  • Celebrate milestones with style!

Get Inspired with Some Popular Itineraries

At Asia Highlights, we create your kind of journey — your dates, your destinations, at your pace. You can have any trip tailor made for your travel.

More Travel Ideas and Inspiration

Start planning your tailor-made tour with 1-1 help from our travel advisors. Create My Trip
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