Your Vietnam and Cambodia Travel Questions, answered by Travel Specialist Sophie

Our Travel Specialist Sophie has recently got back from an incredible FAM trip around Vietnam, exploring everything this beautiful country has to offer. Sophie has summarised her top tips to help you to plan your next holiday to Vietnam and Cambodia so you can enjoy it to the fullest!

Recommended length of time to spend in Vietnam and Cambodia

Vietnam and Cambodia are honestly such versatile countries! In a way I feel I barely scratched the surface as there is so much to see and do, and the people and culture differ so much depending on where you find yourself in this gorgeous country. As unfortunately nobody actually does have all the time in the world, I think I’d probably recommend 2 weeks as being the most feasible amount of time for most of us to get a good feel for both countries. On the other hand I have friends who have stayed for three to six months and more!

Four key places to see?

Angkor temple
  • Temple of Literature in Hanoi: Such a beautiful little oasis in the middle of big busy Hanoi – feels like walking into a secret world the second you step through the gates just shrouded in towering tree branches, with beautiful koi-filled ponds really draw up images in ones’ mind of it being a rather peaceful place to study – hence why it holds the title of Vietnams first university!
  • Hoi An (UNESCO): The beautiful little ancient mercantile town on the edge of the South China Sea is an absolute must-see for anyone and everyone visiting Vietnam! As Hoi An is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, thankfully it will never change and will remain frozen in history as a window to a past life in a rather different Vietnam to the one we know today. The streets and river banks are littered with vibrantly coloured lanterns while something in the region of 500 tailors make their home on each and every winding street corner.
  • War Remnants Museum (Saigon): An absolutely harrowing experience but so deeply important that each and every person who visits even attempts to understand the horrors that Vietnamese civilians endured. Although we can never truly understand what these people experienced, it should serve as a stark reminder how war does not affect just those directly fighting. Particularly shocking was seeing images of children born post 2000 (in Vietnam and America) with severe birth defects due to chemical warfare tactics deployed during the war in Vietnam.
  • Ta Prohm, Angkor Temples (Siem Reap): Walking through that first archway into Ta Prohm one can only imagine how those first explorers felt rediscovering these ancient temples after that had been lost to the majority of the world for 400 years… and I for one would imagine that is exactly how it feels. Ta Prohm is the so-called Tomb Raider Temple, where there is a poetic cycle to it where hundreds of years of nature juxtaposes with humanity conquering in an endless loop. As impressive as the most famous Angkor Wat temple is, there is a unique charm hidden among the roots snaking through the ruins of this temple in the trees.

Breath-taking view that is a must-see

Ta Prohm

The sunlight at Ta Prohm dappling through the gigantic branches of the all-encompassing trees, almost dancing with the shadows created by the imposing green and grey brick structure of the years old temples.

Best meal/any local food loves

This I have to say is near old impossible to decide! We were absolutely spoiled everywhere we dined whilst away, with a particular mention to Anantara Quy Nhon… however local cuisine I simply have to go for Chanrey Tree in Siem Reap. Had a lovely local feel, our server was an absolute delight and the food was absolutely impeccable, particular praise to the pepper beef (Lok Lak)!

Favourite experience?

Travelling by the Vietage was just such an incredible experience and such a lovely way to travel! I always find it so interesting that in England we are more than happy to get the train pretty much anywhere, and we actually view it as a really efficient way to travel, particularly to big cities – yet nobody thinks to do it abroad! Of course you have those very famous journeys like the Orient Express, and I would sincerely hope one day the Vietage could compete with that. Welcomed with hibiscus tea in the morning, followed by Vietnamese coffee and croissants (a nod to the years of French influence), free flowing drinks and a delectable three course dinner that rivals meals you would find in a static kitchen, I couldn’t not recommend experiencing it for yourself. All this while rolling through the expansive green rice paddies and tiny towns that dot this delightful journey to the seaside.

Beaches in Vietnam

vietnam beach

The whole east coast of Vietnam borders the South China Sea, and beautiful beaches range from up in Halong Bay where you can swim amongst the imposing limestone karsts (Heritage Ginger or Ylang) all the way down and round to Phu Quoc (Fusion) with key areas being Danang (Four Seasons), Quy Nhon (Anantara and Zannier) Nha Trang (Ninh Van Bay – Six Senses) and Con Dao (Six Senses).

Unique experiences

Hoi An

There are so many incredible unique experiences in these countries… sunrise at Angkor Wat, family cooking class at Anantara Hoi An, local fishing and basket boat excursion (Hoi An), cyclo tour around Hanoi, whisky tasting in the Capella Hanoi speakeasy, having something tailored perfectly to fit you, The Vietage train journey, the list goes on…

Anything that took you by surprise? In a good way!

I wouldn’t say it necessarily took me by surprise, but more something that was just lovely to experience myself was the hospitality from every single person we encountered! Everyone was so ready to offer help in any way they could and it was so lovely in countries with such difficult pasts that they have retained the purest kindest attitude.

Best time of year to travel weather wise?

cambodia beach

This is a bit of an awkward one, as North and South Vietnam have very similar climates so December to April should be an absolute treat, whereas Central is on a totally opposite climate! This means if someone wanted a beach holiday in August they would absolutely find that in Central Vietnam, but would have to be prepared to encounter less favourable weather going North or South.

Access – flights wise

You can fly direct from Heathrow to Hanoi or Ho Chi Minh on alternate days with Vietnam Airlines, alternatively there are plenty of flights via Singapore, Thailand, or Malaysia.

Other moments you won’t forget

Kayaking through the mangroves on Tonle Sap lake, Cambodia’s largest lake, where there is a whole community of people who live in floating villages and travel between home, the shop, the church – all by boat! They also keep domestic pets such as dogs or cats who will likely live their whole lives never being on land!

Is Vietnam family friendly?

Great for families, maybe not super young kids as culturally there is a lot that you would want to embrace when travelling Vietnam and Cambodia and there is also quite a lot of walking so unless they are small enough to carry, or the itinerary is adjusted accordingly to miss out on some key areas, I’d say it is a much better suited destination for families with kids ages 10 or 12 +.

Recommended places to stay and why?


Too Many! Halong Hay, Hanoi, Hoi An, Quy Nhon, Ninh Van Bay, Koh Rong…Capella is so fun sophisticated and glamorous (personal favorite for me), while being so visually impressive (think very roaring 20s) and the service is just incredible, no stone left unturned here. Sofitel is beautiful as it is a little oasis with a gorgeous outdoor pool, if you are really looking for somewhere to relax instead of continue the excitement, I’d recommend Sofitel.

Anantara Hoi An is fantastic, so perfectly located and has a lovely position on the riverbank – undoubtedly this for Hoi An.

Quy Nhon, Anantara is beautiful, right on the beach, every villa has a stunning private pool (not common round here) – very near to Zannier and for a little bit more rustic stripped back luxury, Zannier is beautiful but for more contemporary luxury I just love Anantara so much.

Siem Reap, Shinta Mani – very central location, so beautifully designed and a perfect little oasis within the town, walking distance from everything you may need.


Contact one of our specialists today on 01494 678 400 to start planning your next trip to Vietnam!


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