Our colleague Tom recently travelled to two of Southeast Asia’s much-loved countries: Vietnam and Cambodia.
It was a part of the world that was high on his wish list for a really long time, so when we asked him to share with us his favourite moments from his Cambodia and Vietnam holiday it was anything but an easy job.
Below he shares the seven highlights that made him truly, madly, deeply fell in love with Indochina. How many have you experienced?
1. Taking it easy at Hanoi
“I wasn’t sure what to expect from the first stop on our holiday in Vietnam – all I knew about Hanoi was that it is Southeast Asia’s oldest capital – but I was instantly fascinated by its laid-back atmosphere. I loved walking around Hoan Kiem Lake, close to the Old Quarter, it was so scenic and serene. This is also where I had my first Vietnamese coffee, which was just what the doctor ordered for my jetlag!”
2. Leaving the world behind at Halong Bay
“Halong Bay needs no introduction – it is Vietnam’s travel icon for a reason. Sailing through these massive limestone cliffs is a true feast for all the senses. We would often sail to spots where you could see no other tourist boats – only some fishermen. It made the whole experience feel even more special and I just loved hearing the sound of silence (yes, that’s possible!). A real treat.”
3. Trying to find our favourite lantern at Hoi An
“This was an impossible task, as there are literally hundreds of them and they are everywhere – you can even take a lantern-making class if you want. The beautifully preserved riverside town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, offers countless photo opportunities… plus, we had some of the very best meals during our holiday here (all of them included fresh Vietnamese spring rolls, so delicious).”
4. Soaking up the atmosphere at Saigon
“There was something captivating about Saigon, a place full of contrasts and energy. The French colonial architecture, found in so many buildings in the heart of the city, was simply beguiling (a Notre Dame in Asia?!)… and then you have all these references about the Vietnam War. Leaving the city without having a Five O’Clock Follies cocktail at the rooftop bar of Rex Hotel was just impossible.”
5. Getting lost at the backwaters of Mekong Delta…
“…luckily not literally! I love travelling by water so I was really looking forward to exploring the Mekong Delta. We followed the stream through local Vietnamese hamlets and coconut groves by boat… though I couldn’t say no to swapping it with a bicycle when we were given the chance. My favourite part? Trying out a tray full of native fruit (rambutans! longans! jackfruit!) on one of our stops.”
6. Taking a peek into Cambodia’s tragic past at Phnom Pehn
“Our stops at the Genocide Museum and the Killing Fields on the Cambodia part of our holiday were the most solemn and poignant experience of our entire trip. They are such an important part of Cambodia’s recent history, both preserved in a respectful way that honours the victims. I didn’t know what to expect but, looking back now, I feel that no trip to the country can be complete without visiting them.“
7. Marvelling at Angkor Wat
“I have wanted to see Angkor Wat for more years than I can remember and luckily it did not disappoint. Unquestionably, it is very photogenic – it is built in such a symmetrical and harmonious way, truly awe-inspiring – but there is also something so graceful about the site that, despite the thousands of visitors it receives every day, it felt very peaceful. The perfect end to a perfect Southeast Asia trip!”
Did you know? There is a part of Southeast Asia where few others have travelled before. Find out about 6 little-known islands to explore on your next Southeast Asia travels.
More Southeast Asia travel opportunities
- Experience a classic journey of Vietnam on this trip
- Experience the highlights of Cambodia on this adventure
- More about Vietnam on this adventure travel blog
- 10 UNESCO World Heritage Sites to explore by bike
- Your go-to guide when you’re planning to prepare for a cycling holiday