“As a person who has aspired to build a career on traveling, I constantly search for opportunities to visit different places in the world. A trip with my friends to the Southeast Asian countries of Vietnam and Cambodia was an opportunity too good to pass.”
Over the years, the idea of an international vacation with friends had always been a dream scenario in my head. Adding to that desire to explore the world were Bollywood movies like ‘Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara’ that promoted and encouraged the concept of traveling with friends on a larger-than-life vacation.
Therefore, my friends and I decided to go on a backpacking trip together in Asia. Being the guy who knew about travel the most in our group, my friends left the task of narrowing down on the final destination of our trip on me.
As I had already been to places like Thailand and Indonesia, my inclination was more towards visiting Vietnam and Cambodia. After consulting with my friends, and checking out the best time to travel in Southeast Asia, we booked flights for a budget trip to Vietnam Cambodia.
Details Of Our Budget Trip To Vietnam, And Cambodia
Planning the itinerary for this trip was a challenge as we had to keep in mind the fact that this was a budget trip that would last two weeks.
I had done international budget trips before and knew it wasn’t impossible to devise a way to spend the least money possible, and have the best experiences at the same time.
Trip Cost: INR 49,000 per person
Trip Duration: 11 nights 12 days
Places Visited: Ho Chi Minh, Phnom Penh, Koh Rong Islands, and Siem Reap
Inclusions: Flights, accommodation, visa expenses, meals, transfers, and sightseeing
Itinerary of our 10 nights 11 days trip to Vietnam and Cambodia
- Day 1: Flight from New Delhi to Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam- check into hostel- sightseeing in Ho Chi Minh
- Day 2: Breakfast- full day sightseeing tour to Cu Chi Tunnels and Cao Dai Temple- return to Ho Chi Minh
- Day 3: Breakfast- half day sightseeing in Ho Chi Minh- bus to Phnom Penh, Cambodia at 2 pm- arrive in Phnom Penh at 9 pm
- Day 4: Breakfast- full day sightseeing in Phnom Penh- return to hostel
- Day 5: Breakfast- check-out from Phnom Penh- bus/shared cab to Sihanoukville- 1 pm ferry to Koh Rong- check into Koh Rong
- Day 6: Breakfast- leisure day at Koh Rong
- Day 7: Breakfast- transfer by boat to Koh Rong Samloem- leisure day
- Day 8: Breakfast- leisure day at Koh Rong Samloem
- Day 9: Breakfast- transfer by ferry to Sihanoukville- take bus/private cab to Siem Reap- check into Siem Reap at 9 pm
- Day 10: Breakfast- full day Angkor wat Tour- return to hostel
- Day 11: Breakfast- half day sightseeing in Siem Reap- leisure day
- Day 12: Check out from Siem Reap- transfer to airport- flight to New Delhi
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Vietnam: A humble society with a divine soul
Suggested Read: Best Places To See On A Trip To Vietnam And Cambodia
Ho Chi Minh City was the first stop on our budget trip to Vietnam and Cambodia. We landed in Vietnam at 10 am and straight away checked into our accommodation at Flipside Hostel.
One great thing about travel in Southeast Asia was that there were abundant low-cost and nicely maintained accommodations for budget travelers. On an average, we spent INR 600 per person on accommodation (including breakfast and wifi) per day during our 11 nights/ 12 days vacation.
Top 3 places we visited in Vietnam
There were a lot of places in Vietnam that we could have visited, but we made the itinerary to properly cover only the southern side of Vietnam. Here are some of the places I found to be remarkable on our budget trip to Vietnam and Cambodia.
1. Cu Chi Tunnels
On the second day of our trip, we went on a sightseeing tour of the Cu Chi Tunnels. Located 60 kms north of Ho Chi Minh City, these amazing network of tunnels that ran 250 km underground were made by Vietnamese people during its war against the United States.
Entry fees: INR 350 per person
2. Cao Dai Temple, Tay Ninh
On the same day as Cu Chi Temples, we visited the Cao Dai Temple in Tay Ninh city. This temple had special significance because of its the place where the religion Caodaism originated. We were truly amazed by seeing the spectacular artwork inside the temple which was filled with vivid colors and intricacy.
Cu Chi Tunnels and Cao Dai Temple sightseeing tour: INR 600 per person
Suggested Read: Best Things To Do On A Solo Trip To Vietnam And Cambodia
3. War Remnants Museum, Ho Chi Minh
The next day, post breakfast, we visited the War Remnants Museum in Ho Chi Minh. The museum housed all the remaining exhibits from the different wars Vietnam had to endure against US and France. The museum was a spine-tingling reminder of all horrors innocent people faced in this country.
Entry fees: INR 150 per person
WATCH OUT FOR..!!
Everything seems hunky-dory when someone explains about their blissful trip to Vietnam and Cambodia. However, there are a few things that you must keep an eye out for to have a brilliant holiday experience in Vietnam.
1. Crazy traffic!
When an Indian says the traffic is too chaotic, you better stand up and take notice! Vietnam has the most number of motor bikers per capita in the world. Be very safe while crossing roads because you’re never too far away from bumping into a speeding scooter.
2. Pub Crawls
More the merrier. We enjoyed the nightlife of Vietnam in the best way possible by going on pub crawls organized by hostels we stayed in. Along with the benefit of partying with 20 odd fellow travelers, we also got free shots and no cover charge whichever bar we stepped in.
3. It’s Pho! Not Pad Thai
Often our limited knowledge of Asian cuisine can get us into a foot-in-mouth situation. A similar thing happened when one of us mistook Pho noodles (traditional Vietnam) for Pad Thai (Thai noodles) that led to unpleasant culinary experience.
Cambodia: A gorgeous country with an eventful past
Suggested Read: A Romantic Trip Relishing The Scenic Beauty Of Vietnam
After visiting the War Remnants Museum, we packed our bags and checked out of the hostel in Ho Chi Minh for our bus ride to Phnom Penh, Cambodia. We arrived in Phnom Penh at 10 pm and straightaway checked into our hostel accommodation.
I was really looking forward to this part of our trip which included visit various temples, beaches, and culturally rich cities on our budget trip to Vietnam and Cambodia.
1. Killing Fields, Choeung Ek
The next day, we went on a sightseeing tour of the killing fields in Choeung Ek. This place was a mass grave of a genocide done by the Cambodian government in the 1970s. More than 8,000 people were executed here during the civil war that ended up in more than one million people slaughtered.
Entry fees: INR 390 per person
2. Koh Rong Islands (Koh Rong & Koh Rong Samloem)
After checking out from Phnom Penh, we took a taxi to the town of Sihanoukville and then a ferry to the island of Koh Rong. We spent a total of 4 nights at Koh Rong and Koh Rong Samloem collectively.
The best things about the islands were that they are scenic with their white sands and pristine blue water, relatively untouched by tourism because not many people knew about them, and the tourists are completely surrounded by nature on these islands.
3. Angkor Wat, Siem Reap
On this budget trip to Vietnam and Cambodia, we followed the age-old cliche of ‘saving the best for the last’. The time we started planning this trip, Angkor Wat, the most popular place to visit in Cambodia, was the first thing we had on our list. It was like going to India and finally visiting Taj Mahal.
On the 10th day of our trip, we rented motor bikes to go on and explore the Angkor Wat Temple complex. The reason we rented bikes was that the complex is spread out over 400 acres and has more than 70 temples to visit.
Entry fees: INR 2,400 per person
WATCH OUT FOR..!!
During our time in Cambodia, it was evident to us that their country a tourist haven and a major chunk of its income came from travelers like us. Therefore, here a few points you should keep in mind while traveling in Cambodia.
1. Insanely expensive Angkor Wat
A lot of history lovers felt disgruntled (including us) looking at the 37 USD entry fee for a single day at Angkor Wat. Ideally, it would take 2-3 days to explore the entire temple complex properly. Therefore, it is better to buy a two-day pass for 62 USD instead.
2. Burgers to die for!
For some reason, wherever we went the burgers were simply unbelievably good. I don’t know if it was the fried chicken, or the sauces, but the Khmer people definitely know how to make delicious fast food.
3. Koh Rong Samloem is a hidden paradise
A lot of the gorgeous tropical beaches in the world get attention quickly and with that commercialization. However, we visited the small and pristine island of Koh Rong Samloem which was perfect for beach lovers and yet not commercialized!
In these past 12 days, my friends and I were lucky enough to explore some beautiful places that are so different from the culture we come from, and yet similar if we look at the roots of where our countries began. The people in Cambodia and Vietnam are welcoming, helpful, and vibrant.
On a personal level, I was proud of how efficiently we carried out our trip within the budget without compromising the fun and the explorative element of our budget trip to Vietnam and Cambodia.
Highlights Of Our Budget Trip To Vietnam And Cambodia
- Seeing the vast network of Cu Chi Tunnels left me impressed by the grit and the determination of the Vietnamese people.
- The beautiful Koh Rong islands are a place I would love to go back some day.
- The elaborate architecture and overwhelming beauty of Angkor Wat did not go unnoticed.
Important Tips To Keep In Mind For A Budget Trip To Vietnam And Cambodia
- In terms of accommodation and food, I found Vietnam and Cambodia to be one of the cheapest places to visit. Although, there were a few things that I kept in mind in order to make sure that my expenses didn’t go over the budget I planned.
- Book your flights at least 3 months in advance. Air Asia is the cheapest low-cost carrier that flies to numerous destinations across Asia.
- Hostels are the best accommodation for budget travelers. You can easily find comfortable rooms starting from INR 300 per night including breakfast.
- Always collect freebies from hostels and hotels like maps, coupons, bicycle rent etc
- Backpacking districts/streets generally have great restaurants that offer delicious local food at a decent price.
- Renting a motorbike in Vietnam and Cambodia can be a very cheap and efficient way of traveling within a city or to another one.
- Split a cab for a full-day sightseeing tour with fellow travelers. It will save you on transportation expenses.
- Keep an eye for happy hours in restaurants and pubs. Some of them offer 70-80% off on hard drinks and beverages.
- Instead of going via flight, take a bus while traveling from Vietnam to Cambodia or vice versa. Crossing borders by road is not a big hassle at all in these countries.
South East Asia has a lot of unexplored treasures. Book your Cambodia & Vietnam tour package and experience a great adventure on a budget!
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