Saving the date for Cambodia & Vietnam

My work schedule for the first quarter of 2020 has been set and my vacation dates confirmed, so now it’s time to start anticipating my next travel adventure! After an awesome trip to Thailand and Laos this past April, I knew that I wanted to return to Southeast Asia. Next February, Mr. Chuckles and I are planning a trip back to the region, this time to visit Cambodia and Vietnam.

Being the obsessive travel planner that I am, I’ve actually already started to do a ton of research on a potential itinerary. So far, I’m looking at a 16 day trip: 5 days in Cambodia and 11 days in Vietnam (including one day for the long flight home). It’s going to be a packed itinerary, but suits my fast travel style.

Self planned or package tour?

After much consideration, I’ve decided to plan this entire trip independently. Although we had a great time with Intrepid Travel on our last trip to Southeast Asia, I have since become much more confident in organizing long distance travel. It’s also a bit more budget friendly and will allow us more flexibility in modifying our itinerary as we go. Another qualm I had with the packaged Intrepid tour was their selection of accommodations, so it will be nice to customize this ourselves this time around. We’re going to avoid the rough transportation options as well; our experience on an overnight train was a novelty but not necessarily fun enough to pursue again. The only thing I’ll probably miss while doing this on our own is the social aspect of being in a group, but I’m sure we’ll have the chance to meet some people during our day tours.

Working itinerary


Day 1: Arrival in Phnom Penh. We will only spend a half day in this city to rest and get over our jet lag, as there isn’t a whole lot that I am interested in seeing here, but it’s logistically and financially easier to fly to Phnom Penh from Toronto rather than directly to Siem Reap. Points of interest include the Royal Palace, Silver Pagoda, Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, and perhaps a traditional Khmer dance show at Cambodian Living Arts.

Day 2: Morning flight to Siem Reap. Evening street food tour.

Day 3: Tour of Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom complex.

Day 4: Morning cooking class. Afternoon tour to Tonle Sap floating village Kompong Khleang.

Day 5: Day trip to Kulen Mountain and Beng Mealea. Evening show at Phare Circus.


Day 6: Flight to Ho Chi Minh City. Evening street food tour.

Day 7: Day trip to the Mekong Delta area.

Day 8: Flight to Da Nang and transfer to Hoi An. Evening food tour (yes, another one!).

Day 9: Countryside bicycle tour on Cam Kim Island in Hoi An.

Day 10: Morning cooking class. Relax and explore more of Hoi An on our own. Points of interest include Old Town and An Bang Beach.

Day 11: Flight to Hanoi. Spend the afternoon exploring the Old Quarter.

Day 12: Morning Hanoi city tour. Evening street food tour.

Day 13: Morning pick up from Hanoi to our overnight boat cruise in Bai Tu Long Bay, the lesser touristed alternative to Halong Bay.

Day 14: Second day in Bai Tu Long Bay. Evening arrival back in Hanoi.

Day 15: Day trip to Ninh Binh. Final evening in Hanoi.

Day 16: Departure to Toronto. End of trip. 😢

A note about Sapa

My original itinerary included 2 days/1 night in and around Sapa, located in the northwest region of Vietnam. It’s a beautiful mountainous area known for its rice terraces and ethnic minority communities. There are a couple well-reputed companies, such as Sapa Sisters and Ethos, that organize treks led by guides hired from local villages and do some good work in promoting sustainable, ethical travel in this increasingly popular tourist destination.

However, after further research, I think I will be leaving Sapa for another trip. February is just not a good time weather-wise to be visiting since it is in the midst of winter and it actually gets quite cold and foggy in Sapa, likely obscuring the views that most people travel here to see. It’s also outside of harvest season so the rice terraces will not be the lush green that is seen on all those epic Instagram photos. On top of this, it’s quite a journey even from Hanoi, including a 6 hour bus ride on bumpy, winding roads. As such, I am swapping out for an extra day in Hoi An and Hanoi, where I’m sure we’ll still find lots to do and see!

Original post 24/10/2019 | Updated 15/11/2019

Header image: Source

8 responses to “Saving the date for Cambodia & Vietnam”

  1. Sounds amazing. I think we are on the same trajectory: first SE Asian trip with a reputable tour company to build confidence. Second trip = self-planned. We’ll see if that’s how it goes with us. You sure have a lot planned. I look forward to reading about it and noting your mosquito bite count each day. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. If I recall correctly, your trip to SE Asia is coming up soon, isn’t it? Looking forward to reading about your experience too!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. jasonlikestotravel Avatar

    Sounds like a great itinerary, I’m looking forward to seeing all of the food from the tours you do! I agree on the planning stage too, I prefer booking it independently and having a bit more flexibility on what you can do and where you stay.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, the food is usually my favourite part of travelling so I’m really looking forward to it!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. […] next travel experience won’t be happening until February 2020 when we head off to Cambodia and Vietnam, so the upcoming couple months will probably be occupied by food blogging in Mr. Chuckles’ […]


  4. […] Happy New Year! My start to the new decade was spent doing some additional preparation for my upcoming trip back to Southeast Asia. As I’ve written before, Mr. Chuckles and I are in the midst of planning a trip to Cambodia and Vietnam. […]


  5. This sounds so amazing !! I think when you book it yourself it is so satisfying after! Knowing you organised it all yourself and you should be so proud it’s a huge thing to feel confident within yourself to book some expensive & a lot of things! We always book things ourselves too, check out my blogs and I’m currently planning Vietnam

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It takes a bit of work, but I agree that it’s nice to be managing our entire itinerary. Looking forward to reading about your travels too!

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.