A good way to see the main highlights of Vietnam and Cambodia in a limited time.
- What was the most inspirational moment of your trip?
- Spending my 35th birthday clambering up and down the temples of Angkor Wat in the sweltering heat!
- What did you think of your group leader?
We had two group leaders - one for Vietnam and one for Cambodia. Despite only having us for 2 nights, our group leader in Cambodia was extremely accomodating and was incredibly knowledgeable about the temple complex around Angkor Wat. Our guide in Vietnam was very friendly and competent, but I felt he could have done more to share with the whole group insights into Vietnamese history and culture, rather than just discussing with individuals.
- Do you have any advice for potential travellers?
July is not the most comfortable time to travel in this region - it is very hot and sticky. In the Mekong Delta, it was positively stormy.
Consider carefully before you go what kind of people would be attracted to a "leisurely" trip and whether you fit in to that group. I had hoped for a group with an average age nearer my own, as I had experienced on a previous Exodus trip. We all got along well, but age and expectations do influence the group dynamic.
Watch out for pickpockets in the cities and markets of Vietnam.
This trip does not spend long in Cambodia. I fell in love with the place when I got there. If you think you are likely to, tack on some extra time!
- Is there anything else you would like to add?
Highlights for me:
1. Angkor Watt and the lovely, smiley Cambodian people
2. Market visit and Cooking class at the Red Bridge School in Hoi An, Vietnam
3. Learning about the Vietnam war (which I am too young to remember - in that respect it was good to have some older people in the group), including the trip to the tunnels outside Saigon (additonal excursion)
4. My Son (additional excursion)
5. Slap up seafood meals, kayaking and karaoke while cruising around Halong Bay
The added value of doing this trip with Exodus was that we covered a lot of ground in a limited time and had a guide on tap to organise things and impart local knowledge. You also have an instant group of people to travel with. I would never have seen as much, covered as much ground, nor have been as confident if I had travelled alone. However, the down side is that you are shunted around en masse and have limited exposure to local people beyond the guide, hotel staff and shop assistants. But that's the trade off.
If I were to re-design this trip, I would add more time in Cambodia (maybe cut out the tortuously slow bus ride to the Vietnamese coast) and insert some more activities with a bit of local interest. For example, Exodus supports charities in the region - it would have been good to visit them, or to visit a more remote area (other than cities). I would also like to see a more "meaningful" activity in the Mekong Delta (it was pretty touristy) or avoid it all together if the weather is typically as bad as it was when we were there. But then that would probably be a 3-4 week trip and I only had a fortnight's holiday!