by Alex Morton, November 2013
In November 2013, I was lucky enough to embark on two back to back tours through Vietnam and Cambodia.
My first stop was Hanoi where, after a day exploring the city solo, I met up with my On the Go ‘Very Vietnam’ tour. One of the great aspects of this tour was the diversity among the group. Of a small group of 16 passengers, there were half Australians with the other half made up of English, Canadians and Scottish. The tour group’s ages ranged from 20-65, which made for a nice mix of people.
Starting in Hanoi, we made our way south taking in stops in Hue, Danang, Hoi An and Ho Chi Minh. The language barrier with the people in the rural areas would have been much more difficult to communicate had we not had the support of our Local guide, Mr. Thoi. Along with the language barrier, Thoi’s knowledge of the rich history and culture enlighted the experience, along with his assistance navigating regional trains, sensational local restaurants and more.
From Ho Chi Minh, it was off to Cambodia. Here I travelled with G Adventures on their small group ‘Cambodia Experience’ tour through to Bangkok, taking in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap along the way. Mr. Wanlop, our tour CEO (Chief Experience Officer), escorted us on local transport across the Cambodian Border into Phnom Penh, a vibrant city bustling with over 2 million people. The Khmer history was one that was explained in great detail by our CEO and also local guides. Following on from Phnom Penh, we travelled to the city of Siem Reap, home to the UNESCO World Heritage Centre – Angkor, comprising of Angkor Wat, Angkor Tom, Bayon Temple and more. We spent a day cycling around the complex, visiting the phenomenal archeological sites that towered above us and taking in what once was the Khmer Kingdom.
I flew over and back with Malaysia Airlines who I found to be a comfortable, timely 4 star carrier, which had good service.
My favourite place in this trip would have to be Hoi An, Vietnam – the atmosphere of this small Vietnamese beach town is vibrant, relaxing and a refreshing change from the hustle and bustle of the bigger cities. It’s French influence and local villages offer outstanding cuisine and is the one of the tailoring capitals of Indochina.
My handy hints: With a long list of impressionable temples and churches to visit, be sure to take appropriate clothing to respect the people and their culture. Also, try as different meals as possible, the food is simply amazing.