Backpack with TwoWheelers in Cambodia & Vietnam

11th Jan 2020


Photo of Backpack with TwoWheelers in Cambodia & Vietnam by Two Wheelers
Day 1

All set to embark on our first South Asian trip to Cambodia and Vietnam, also TwoWheelers' first international trip.

We took an Air Asia flight from Chennai (MAA) to Siem Reap (REP) via Bangkok (DMK) on Jan 11th.

Day 2

Reached Siem Reap at Angkor International Airport at 11 am local time and found the tuk-tuk driver who was sent by our Air BnB host for free airport pick up.

Ankor International Airport

Photo of Siem Reap, Cambodia by Two Wheelers

Post lunch at Slek Morn restaurant, we walked to Angkor National Museum. It is an excellent information point which contains the history and mysteries of the Khmer civilisation

The museum details the architecture and historical background of the Angkor temples. We strongly recommend you visit the museum (entry at $12/adult) before hopping on the famous Angkor temple tour.

Tuk-tuks are the easiest way to get anywhere in the city and the average fare for short trips is between $1-2 (Please feel free to negotiate with the drivers). Most tuk-tuk drivers are frequent users of smartphones. You can show google maps location to them and they will understand.

Nasi Goreng, an Indonesian dish at Slek Morn restaurant

Photo of Backpack with TwoWheelers in Cambodia & Vietnam by Two Wheelers

For dinner, we had wood fired pizza at the Flying Zebra near pub street and tasted Angkor beer.

Photo of Flying Zebra, Krong Siem Reap, Cambodia by Two Wheelers
Day 3

To experience the best of Angkor, we strongly recommend a three day pass (costs $62 per person for 3 days) which can be purchased from the ticket counter little away from the city and on the way to Angkor Wat. Please do not lose this pass as they check in every temple.

The best way to cover Angkor temples is to hire a tuk-tuk on daily rental ($20-25/day) because these drivers know them all and can help you cover in less time. Alternately, you can do it by hiring a bike/bicycle. If you had already visited Angkor National museum, you would not require any tourist guide.

sunrise at Angkor Wat

Photo of Angkor Wat, Krong Siem Reap, Cambodia by Two Wheelers

You can grab bites on the way. There are many food joints around these temples. We had coconut water, ice tea, ice cream etc. You may want to avoid fried food and keep yourself hydrated at all times as the temperature is usually high during the day. Walking around can get you exhausted!

Buddha is everywhere -Bayon temple

Photo of Bayon Temple, Krong Siem Reap, Cambodia by Two Wheelers
Day 4

Bantãy Srĕi, also known as lady temple is an old architectural beauty with very intricate carvings everywhere

Banteay Srei temple

Photo of Banteay Srei, Cambodia by Two Wheelers

Banteay Srei temple

Photo of Banteay Srei, Cambodia by Two Wheelers

Sunset at Phnom Bakheng

Photo of Phnom Bakheng, Angkor Archaeological Park, Krong Siem Reap, Cambodia by Two Wheelers
Day 5

A sneak peek into the lives of fishermen community and their village (referred to as floating village).

Tonle Sap River

Photo of Tonlé Sap, Cambodia by Two Wheelers

Kampong Phluk, one of the floating villages on Tonle Sap

Photo of Tonlé Sap, Cambodia by Two Wheelers

Oldest of all temples - from late 9th century

Photo of Bakong Temples, Prasat Bakong, Cambodia by Two Wheelers

Arrived at Noi Bai International Airport, Hanoi, Vietnam at 21.00 (local time) and got our visas on arrival (stamping costs $25 per person). Indian passport holder requires an approval letter from the Vietnamese Embassy prior to arrival, the cheapest online service being this one.

At the airport, we got USD converted to Vietnamese Dong (VND). We then, quickly grabbed a burger and a donut and hopped on a sleeper bus to Sapa.

Recommendation - Sapa Express

We had booked Sapa Express bus with an airport pick up at 22.45 hours (costed $22/person for roundtrip bus + $5 for airport pickup).

The currency denominations are very high and may cause confusion, so here is a tip :

They do not say the last three zeros, so a lakh is only said and counted as a hundred. It would be much easier if you calculate 135,000 as 135 instead of looking at notes as a 1 lakh, thirty thousands and five thousands.

Day 6

Just before the sunrise, we stepped out of the bus in a chilly and windy Sapa. We planned to visit Fansipan and tour around the city of Sapa in a day. We walked along the Sapa River and reached the tourist information center and booked our tickets to Fansipan. There is a government tourist center right next to Sun Plaza and is recommended to get genuine information for travellers like us.

Early in the morning at Sapa Lake

Photo of Sapa, Sa Pa, Lao Cai, Vietnam by Two Wheelers

We then headed to a mall like structure with an underground European Style railway station called Sun Plaza to catch a train to Ga Mường Hoa station from where we took a cable car to Fansipan, the highest peak of Indo-China (the train and cable car costs 750,000 VND per person) and then another train to reach the highest point of Fansipan (costs 150,000 per person).

All information about traveling to Fansipan can be accessed here.

Using the trains and the cable car is the quickest way and works well for those who are visiting for a day or two. You can buy your train tickets with cable car tickets from tourist information centers, online or at the station itself. Alternatively, you may choose to trek to Fansipan which will take 2-3 days.

Sapa Station, Sun Plaza

Photo of Backpack with TwoWheelers in Cambodia & Vietnam by Two Wheelers

Sun Plaza where you can get your train to Ga Mường Hoa

Photo of Backpack with TwoWheelers in Cambodia & Vietnam by Two Wheelers
Day 7

After experiencing the mountains, clouds and beautiful landscapes from the top, we walked back to the main city for lunch. Strongly recommended by others and now by us too Sapa O’Chau Cafe is a community led home stay and cafe. We took Bia Saigon and Bia Hanoi to get the taste of north and south Vietnam along with veggie noodles. The volunteers in the cafe told us to just walk up to Thach Son road to catch a bus/van (costs 30-40k VND/person) to Lào Cai railway station (7 minutes away from Vietnam-China border). We had made a booking in advance from Lào Cai to Hanoi with Laman Express. From the Ga Hà Nội (the railway station in Hanoi) we walked to the Daiichi Travel office to catch a bus to Bến Bèo harbour on Cát Bà Island (500,000 VND per person roundtrip from Hanoi, includes ferry too).

We booked through Air Bnb, a floating house locating in Lan Ha Bay where we were provided with laminates and paddles to Kayak and yes, that is exactly all we did! Kayaking for some time that evening and had a lively dinner. The hosts were great, others on the floating house were awesome company and the food was the best in the trip.

Inner X homestay, Lan Ha Bay

Photo of Lan Ha Bay, Vietnam by Two Wheelers
Day 8

We woke up and jumped into the laminate to kayak in the South China sea for continuous two hours. We experienced breath taking views in Lan Ha Bay and reached the edge to experience strong waves and open sea. We put up a request for a taxi boat to our BnB host to get to Ben Bo harbour (costing 150.000 VND). From the harbour, we walked our way back to Daiichi office with one stop to switch to our outdoor shoes and another one for lunch. (we struggled with food both in Cambodia and Vietnam mainly because of the smell of a herb or oil they use in every dish).

Kayaking in Lan Ha Bay, South China Sea

Photo of Lan Ha Bay, Vietnam by Two Wheelers

We checked in to our hostel in Old Quarter Hanoi and went out to explore the night. Our first stop was at Egg Coffee Cafe Trung to taste delicious Egg Coffee (it was suggested by a young couple we met in Fansipan) and Fro-yo. We saw a lively space with a bunch of people playing outdoor games and to our surprise, walking further on that street led us to Heineken Ha Noi Takeover Party '2020 on the street alongside the Hoan Kiem Lake ! We danced to the tunes of Vietnamese pop music as we watched the stars perform live. After we were fully pumped up, we spotted a KFC, grabbed a burger combo and walked towards the popular night market. We could get fridge magnets, chopsticks and personalised passport covers (twowheelers on it) from that market! The night at Hanoi was well spent, we booked our cab (for 300.000 VND) to airport for 3 am to catch a 5.20 flight to Ho Chi Minh.

Heineken Ha Noi Takeover Party '2020

Photo of Backpack with TwoWheelers in Cambodia & Vietnam by Two Wheelers
Day 9

Credit card gave one of us free access to Song Hong Business Lounge with a relaxing massage chair, exotic food with local red wine made in Đà Lạt.

Đà Lạt Red Wine

Photo of Backpack with TwoWheelers in Cambodia & Vietnam by Two Wheelers

We reached Hồ Chí Minh with a slight delay in the flight and decided to visit the War Remnants Museum which exhibits the remnants of all the wars Vietnam has witnessed, the horrific crimes on the people and its after effects. It lays out the stories of collaboration and global support to Vietnam and efforts of the President Hồ Chí Minh. For every traveler, this is a must visit place. Tickets to the museum were 40.000 VND/person. Though there are no lockers but we could keep our back packs locked in the gate security room for free.

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