Vietnam/Cambodia – Planning the Trip

Over the next few weeks, I’m going to have the chance to spend a couple of weeks in Vietnam and Cambodia and thought I would start the trip reports with some of the background of the trip, how I planned it and used award miles/points, and my packing considerations.  This may not be as interesting as the trip itself but might help someone who wants to plan a similar trip in the future.

First of all, why go to Vietnam and Cambodia?  Over the past thirteen years, I have been fortunate to have the opportunity to do a lot of international travel, see things that I never imagined, and make friends around the globe.  If one likes this aspect of travel, you inevitably start to hear stories from other travelers, read about other places in magazines and travel websites, and think about where you might use the miles and points you’ve accumulated from a lifetime of travel both globally and around the U.S.

One also finds it is getting harder and harder to find destinations that are unique, still have a sense of “foreignness,” and aren’t overrun with KFC’s, McDonald’s, and Starbucks shops on every corner.  And, of course, most of us also want to find that place that fits those criteria but still has enough infrastructure in place and enough stability that the trip is not too challenging.

Vietnam is a hot destination for travel now and things will be changing at a rapid pace in the next ten years.  Cambodia is less developed but Angkor Wat and the Siem Reap area is already being swamped by visitors so I want to get there sooner than later.  Also, they are still very inexpensive destinations but that also will change in coming years.

I’ve had the chance to visit Japan, Hong Kong, Beijing, Shanghai, and Singapore in the past, so have some basic familiarity with Asia, but never been on the Indochina peninsula.  I knew that I would only be able to set aside a couple of weeks and, therefore, would need to be careful not to try and take in too much.  This narrowed me down to these two countries and leaves Laos, Thailand, and Myanmar for another time.

In fact, even with limiting the trip to these two countries, there was a need to make decisions on what to include and what to exclude.  Destinations such as Sapa, Halong Bay, Hue, Nha Trang, and the Mekong delta all fell to the wayside once I started outlining how much time I would have in the region.  Here is what I ended up with as a rough itinerary:

  • Hanoi
  • Hoi Ann
  • Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)
  • Siem Reap / Angkor Wat
  • Phnom Penh

This will have me moving fairly quickly but hopefully give me time to experience the destinations in my usual manner of walking all over town.  In my next post, I’ll discuss how I booked the trip for next to nothing.

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