Asia Route: 3-week itinerary to Vietnam, Laos & Cambodia

A 3-week Asia route shows you the stunning diversity of Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia. Natural beauty, dynamic megacities and exotic villages will provide you with the most unforgettable experiences whilst traveling in this part of the world. I created this route guide to help you plan your trip, but also give you some additional places to add to your route through these 3 countries.

Day 1 – 2: Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam

Once in a lifetime experiences are everywhere in Vietnam, and for us it all started in Ho Chi Minh City. A city described with words as energy, discovery, culture and a chaotic whirl that breathes life to every street corner, market, food stall and all who settle here. It is also a great introduction to the culinary superpower where the Vietnamese cooking has become a fascinating draw for travelers.

There are at least a million street-food tours and cooking classes on offer, and your taste palate will have a blast exploring all the incredible flavors. I highly recommend booking a food tour through Saigon Adventure during your visit in HCMC. It is the best  introduction to Vietnamese cuisine and culture, and it is so much fun to experience this on the back of a motorbike! Roaming through the craziest of streets in downtown Saigon, right in the middle of a tsunami of scooters and cars.

Read more about: A nightlife and food tour in Saigon

gptempdownload-11

If you have time, I also recommend you to spend a day touring and enjoying the scenic speedboat in the tangled maze of rivers found in the Mekong Delta. During this slow tempo day tour, you will visit unique temples, a river market, buffaloes plowing fields, rice paddies and so much more. All this, whilst being surrounded by all the charming local colors and scenic views, as well as experiencing glimpses of rural Vietnam and daily life.

Read more about: Mekong Delta River Tour

img_6916

Day 3: Nha Trang, Vietnam

The high-energy beach resort of Nah Trang is a tropical place in a stunning setting. With its turquoise bay, surrounding hills, and the white sanded beach line as far as the eyes can see. Central Nha Trang is a party town at heart, and you can find plenty of restaurants, shopping areas, high-end hotels and clubs at this lively, high-rise place.

About Nha Trang: 24 hours in Nha Trang

img_6973-1

Day 4 – 6: Hoi An, Vietnam 

I feel very enthusiastic about visiting Hoi An! One of my favorite things to do in life is to just watch all the different lights spark up when its dark outside, and there can’t be a better place for that than in Hoi An! Bucket list destination – check! 

However, there is a trillion things we want to do and see whilst we are here, and we only have 2 days. Even thought I wish we could fit everything into these 2 days, the time optimist in me knows deep down that we can´t. So we have to prioritize. Which is not my strongest trait. At all…

About Hoi an: Things to do in Hoi An

Here are my absolutely must-dos whilst in Hoi An;

  1. Golden Bridge in Da Nang. Read more about it here: The Golden Bridge
handy-new-tourist-destination-in-danang_1.jpg
Source: Vietnam Investment Review

2. Boat tour on the Hoai River. Read more about it here: Boat trip on Hoai River

HoiAnKysuu_056.JPG
Source: Ancient House Resort Hoi An

3. Take a stroll beneath hundreds of lanterns.

hoi-an-at-night-2.jpg
Source: Hoi An Food Tour

4. Visit the ancient town. Read more about Hoi An here: Hoi An

HoiAnancienttown13.jpg
Source: Vietnam Tourism

5. Experience the countryside by bicycle.

Cam_Thanh_Village_3.jpg
Source: Vietnam Excursions

What do you think? Is this doable in 2 full days without rushing it? I think it can be done. Well, at least I hope it can 🙂

We will by flying from Hoi An to Hanoi by the way. We are not very keen on visiting too many museums and seeing that we have limited time, we decided to skip Hue and just fly directly to Hanoi instead. 

Day 7: Hanoi, Vietnam

Neither Thomas or I are huge fans of overly touristy areas, and I therefore think that Hanoi can be a tad overwhelming for us. Whilst there is absolutely nothing wrong with touristy areas, we have decided to minimize our time in Hanoi and just use it at a base for our Halong Bay tour.

Whilst we are here we would like to take a stroll in the popular Old Quarter, and I have heard that exploring this historical area certainly is a must-do and well worth the time. The streets are packed with scooters, bicycles, cars, and it is a local experience that will give us an idea what it is like to live in Hanoi 🙂

About Hanoi: A stopover in Hanoi

Hanoi-Old-Quarter
Source: Hanoi Hotels
1*yexgks_Rrapeusfxw33hew.jpeg
Source: Medium

We also want to check out the Loan Siem Lake, a popular hangout place for both locals and tourists. The rumor has it as a wonderful spot to watch either the sunrise or the sunset from. I would love to rent a bike or take a stroll around the lake simply enjoying the views and scenery.

Read more about things to do in Hanoi here: fun things do in Hanoi

hoan_kiem_lake_1.jpg
Source: Vietnam Travel

Day 8 – 9: Halong Bay, Vietnam

You can’t go to Vietnam without a visit to Halong Bay, and we finally decided to do the 3-day cruise with Vietnam Open Tours. Please see our schedule below;

Day 1: Hanoi – Halong Bay (L, D)

07.45 – 08.00: Pick up at hotel and transfer to Halong city.

12.00 – 12.15: Board the Imperial Classic Cruise and check in to our cabin.

13.15: Cruising time towards thousands of amazing limestone islands emerging from emerald water, passing by floating fishing village. Lunch is served.
16.00: Kayaking for an hour or more through slide rock cliffs.
17.00: Swimming time.
19:00 Enjoy dinner.
20:30: Spend the evening on your own.
highlight_sapa_4
Source: Hanoi Sans Souci Hotel
Journal-Day-36-The-Halong-Bay-saga-Part-1
Source: Vietnam Travel Blog
HyperFocal: 0
Source: Adventure Indochina Travel

Day 2: Halong Bay (B, L, D)

07.00: Breakfast.

08.00: Visit the Surprising Cave – one of the most beautiful caves in Halong Bay.

09.30: Sail through Lan Ha Bay for 2 hours.

11.30: Arrive at Catba Sandy Beach Resort and check in to bungalow.

12.00: Lunch at Catba Islands.

13.00: Time at leisure – relaxing, sunbathing on the beach, play football, volleyball, kayaking etc.

18.30: BBQ dinner.

20.30: Spend the evening on your own.

Popular-Grottos-In-Halong-Bay-4-3.jpg
Source: Starlight cruises
cat-ba.jpg
Source: Cat Ba Day Tours
56fb571324996.jpg
Source: Best Price Travel
FamilyBungalow2.jpg
Source: Catb Sandy Beach Resort

Day 3: Halong Bay – Hanoi

07.00: Breakfast.

08.15: Pick up at bungalow by boat.

09.30: Cooking class on board the cruise on the way back to Halong Harbor.

11.15: Lunch.

12.30: Bus back to Hanoi and transfer to hotel.

Cooking-Class-on-Rosa-Cruise-Halong.jpg
Source: Marco Polo Asia
Vietnamese-Cooking-Class-helloVietnam-1349x600-min.jpg
Source: Hello Vietnam

Day 10: Hanoi, Vietnam

We will be back in Hanoi around 5pm after our Halong Bay cruise, and we have no other plans than to grab dinner, enjoy life and perhaps find a rooftop bar for the evening.

 

Day 11 – 13: Luang Prabang, Laos

One of the highlights during our trip will definitely be our time in Luang Prabang! I have never been to Laos before, but I am looking so much forward to visit this friendly village, where it somehow feels like time has stood still. Endless trekking opportunities, mountain-bike trails, kayaking trips and outstanding natural beauty – it will be perfect for us 🙂

We will arrive in Luang Prabang in the late afternoon by flight from Hanoi, and for our first evening I thought it would be a good idea to hike up Mount Phousi. Stretch our legs after flying and enjoy a beautiful view whilst doing it? Yes please.

mount-phousi-sunset-05-07-2016.jpg
Source: Pixelbit

We are also planning on visiting Kuang Si Waterfalls during our time here – an absolute must! This is actually what first caught my attention and made me want to travel to Laos in the first place 🙂

The Kuang Si waterfall plunges down in spectacular pools with bright, turquoise water, and the lower pools are perfect for swimming. We are also planning on climbing up alongside the waterfall where we can view the waterfall from the top – that must be a great photo opportunity!

0000136_luang-prabang-kuang-si-waterfalls-half-day
Source: Earthporm
DSC_0308
Source: Sundown Traveler

Other than the above, we would like to check out the Old Quarter as well as the night market. It is supposed to be an amazing sight, and offers the most extensive collection of local handicrafts, decorative items and home textiles in the country. It is said to be one of the best night markets in Asia because items are mostly handmade. Maybe this is the place were we buy all the Christmas gifts for this year? 🙂

handicraft3
Source: Naphavong Guest House
maxresdefault-2.jpg
Source: Mike Du Bose

Day 14 – 16: Vang Vieng, Laos

We are not quite sure how long we will be staying in Vang Vieng yet – we hear a lot of different feedback regarding this place. We are not specifically interested in the party scene going on there, but on the other hand, there are some amazing activities to be done, as well as hiking trail etc.

My biggest concern about Vang Vieng is however how touristy it will be. I am aware that it has become a hub for Chinese Tourism the last couple of years, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that! My concern however is related to the fact if this has taken away the charm and serenity of it all? I guess we will see 🙂

Depending on how long we will stay, this is what we would like to do whilst in Vang Vieng;

  1. Rent a bike and head over to the Blue Lagoon.
5409868087_01543d69cb_b.jpg
Source: Flickr

2. Hot Air Balloon

Balloons-over-Vang-Vieng.jpg
Source: Travel to Laos

3. Water tubing.

vang-vieng-tubing-3.jpg
Source: Laos Tours

4. Hike up Phangern Mountain Viewpoint.

Trekking-in-Vang-Vieng.jpg
Source: Travel Hysteria

We are taking the bus from Vang Vieng to Vientiane by the way. Hopefully everything runs smoothly, and I am looking forward to be traveling by bus during day time for once!

Day 17: Vientiane, Laos

I know there is a million things to do and see in Vientiane, but all I want to do is to visit the Buddha Park! Bucket list cross off – here we go! What a spectacular place! That it even exist is completely mind-blowing to me.

Short introduction; Buddha Park is a sculpture garden housing a collection of Buddhist and Hindu sculptures. The park was built in 1958, and there is actually a similar park in Nong Khai in Thailand as well! The park houses over 200 sculptures made from concrete in varying sizes from small to very large! What an awesome place!

mythology-religious-statues-wat-xieng-khuan-buddha-park-laos-amazing-view-vientiane-45338944
Source; Dreamstime
Vientiane
Source: Pandaw
vientiane-buddha-park-shutterstock-2014-07-07__web
Source: Id-reisewelt

I am literally counting down the days until I get to witness this breathtakingly, awesome, insanely cool and beautiful place! These are the sort of things that makes my jaw drop completely <3

And oh – we are flying from Vientiane to Siem Reap in Cambodia where we are spending the last part of our trip.

Day 18 – 20: Siem Reap, Cambodia

I know that 3 days in Siem Reap and the temples is not enough.. And that the Angkor is a place to be savored, not rushed.. BUT, we only have 3 days and we will have to make the most of it!

Here are the attractions and activities we want to squeeze in during our time in Cambodia;

  1. Bayon Temple
bayon.jpg.jpg
Source: Adam Laws

2. Preah Khan

52448461-entrance-to-ancient-preah-khan-temple-in-angkor-siem-reap-cambodia-mysterious-gopura-on-woods-backgr.jpg
Source: 123RF

3. Ta Prohm

Ta-Prohm-1.jpg
Source: Bookings Nigeria Travel Blog

4. Banteay Kdei

Banteay-Kdei-Temple.jpg
Source: Freme

5. Pre Rup

Sunset-on-a-Pre-Rup-temple-1680x1120.jpg
Source: AWOL

6. Angkor Wat

angor.jpg
Source: Mangatrip

7. The Angkor zipline experience

WhatsApp-Image-2017-02-07-at-2.08.33-PM-1
Source: Angkor Zipline

8. Visit Floating Village at Me Chrey

Me-Chrey-22.jpg
Source: Getty Images

Our Cambodian adventure will be complete after 4 days. We are flying to Bangkok for an overnight stay before continuing on our journey back home to Norway.

If you have any travel trips for the above destinations, I would love to hear them! 🙂

 


 

9 Comments Add yours

  1. Hi Rikke, thanks for your comment on our blog. Your planned trip looks great. We’ve written about a few of the places you plan to visit in our blogs so they might help with further ideas. We will be covering Vientiane & LP in the next blog.

    Here are a few suggestions. Allow a good 5/6 hours for Ba Na Hills, there is a lot to see there. It’s quite weird but worth it for the Cable car journey & of course the Golden Bridge. It can be cooler up there so take a rain Mac just in case. You can do that & get back for Hoi An in the evening easily. Hoi An is best at night with all the lights & colours so best to maximise the evening/nights there.
    We really liked Nha Trang – there are some great half day snorkelling trips to coral reef. Takes about 45 minutes on the boat. The trip returns by midday/early pm as the sea starts to get rougher, which leaves all afternoon on the beach!

    You can do quite a lot in 3 days at Angkor, Banteay Srei is really beautiful – squeeze it in if you can. Let us know if you want a guide recommendation. Hanoi – worth seeing the Prison & you can do that in 1-2 hours. HCMC – Cholon (Chinatown) is worth visiting. God luck!! Sam & John

    1. Thank you so much for the wonderful tips above! This is highly appreciated, and I will definitely check it all out! 🙂

      I am super keen on including a snorkling experience whilst we are in Nha Trang, and even more excited for the Golden Bridge & cable car journey!

      I hope you had a fantastic trip, and I will make sure to read your next blog posts as well 🙂

  2. mariemagesha says:

    I’m planning a trip to Laos and Cambodia, this was very detailed and super helpful, thank you so much.

    1. I am so happy you liked it! We are actually in Laos right now, and heading to Siem Reap in Cambodia next week 🙂 more blogposts are coming, but the internet is not working in my favor.. Let me know if you need any assistance planning your trip, I am happy to help 🙂

  3. mariemagesha says:

    I actually had a question about, how to get around, from Laos to Cambodia, what would you recommend? If you have any other great tips about Laos I’d love to read them. I have been to Vietnam for about three weeks, I hope you enjoyed your time there, it was one of my favorite countries to visit.

    1. We are flying from Luang Prabang in Laos to Siem Reap in Cambodia. If you would like to take the bus I think you will have to change buses in Pakse, and the entire trip takes a total of 19-20 hours. We found it easier to just go by plane. However whilst traveling in Laos I would opt for the buses; it is super cheap, clean and comfortable seats 🙂

      If you are planning to do a trip to Vientiane, I would definitely recommend you to visit the COPE museum, Buddha Park and enjoy one of the Herbal sauna experiences!

      I an so jealous that you got to spend 3 weeks in Vietnam! I LOVED it there! We only had 10 days in total so we will have to go back 🙂

      1. mariemagesha says:

        19-20hrs sounds pretty exhausting. Again, Thank you for the great information, and for taking the time to answer my questions, I really appreciate it. ☺️ you guys are awesome!

      2. No problem 😍 I am happy to help! And we look forward to following your trip through Laos and Cambodia 😁

Leave a Reply