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2-week Vietnam Cambodia itinerary: Cultural highlights for first-time visitors

A 2-week Vietnam Cambodia itinerary is enough time to see and explore the most memorable highlights. The best time to visit Vietnam, as Absolute Travel Asia would recommend to you, is spring and autumn, when the weather is pleasant, especially, there is less chance of heavy rain. Meanwhile, Cambodia has a climate that is typically warm and pleasant year-round. See below the schedule of the best Vietnam Cambodia itinerary in two weeks.

2-week Vietnam Cambodia itinerary for first-time travellers

1. Hanoi

Hanoi – the capital of Vietnam, would definitely be in your must-not-miss places to visit during your 2-week Vietnam Cambodia itinerary. It is a modern city but still retains a unique old charm and striking colonial architecture. You can commence your tour of Hanoi with well-known tourist attractions such as the Ho Chi Minh Complex; The Temple of Literature (Vietnam’s first university); Ngoc Son Temple & Hoan Kiem Lake; and Dong Xuan market. Then enjoy one-hour cyclo ride through the narrow chaotic streets of the Old Quarter. This is where you can see the local life of Hanoians; or buy local souvenirs and specialities. You can also get exposed to the local old culture by getting a ticket to watch a traditional performance of the famous Vietnamese water puppets.

As described by a lot of our customers, Hanoi cuisine is among the most tasty in the world, while incredibly reasonable priced. Hanoi food utilizes freshwater ingredients such as prawns, squids, shrimps…,served with platters of fresh greens and herbs as well as the quintessential dipping sauce. Here are some of the best traditional delicacies you should try:

  • Bun thang (Rice vermicelli with chicken, egg, pork)
  • Banh cuon (Rolled cake)
  • Banh goi (Fried dumplings)
  • Bun cha (Vietnamese dish of grilled pork and noodle)
  • Xoi xeo (Vietnamese sticky rice with Mung bean)
  • Bun rieu (Rice noodles in tomato broth).

2. Halong Bay

As part of your 2-week Vietnam Cambodia itinerary, your trip in the North would not be complete without Halong Bay. It is a beautiful natural wonder in Northern Vietnam, declared as UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994. The Bay is known for its emerald waters and thousands of towering limestone islands topped by rainforests. The best way to get to Halong City is by car, minibus or bus from Hanoi.

When in Halong Bay, do not miss a chance to board a traditional wooden junk, which will take you past islands named for their shapes. And do not forget to visit ancient limestone caves and go sea kayaking and swimming if the weather permits. In the evening, enjoy a freshly prepared seafood dinner under the stars.

Halong is famous for its variety of fresh and delicious seafood (crab, prawns, squid and snail). The catch served in most restaurants usually comes right out of fishing boats in the early hours of the morning. When in Halong Bay, don’t miss out on the following specialities:

  • Cha muc (Grilled chopped squid)
  • Sam (Horseshoe Crab)
  • Fresh prawns and lobster
  • Ngan (Austriella Corrugata)

3. Hoi An

To continue with your Vietnam and Cambodia holiday in 2 weeks, from Hanoi, let’s take a flight to Da Nang, then get on a bus to Hoi An old town.

In 1999, Hoi An is described by UNESCO as “an exceptionally well-preserved example of a South-East Asian trading port dating from the 15th to the 19th century”. Therefore, the architecture and culture in Hoi An is a unique mixture of many different styles (Chinese, Japanese and European influences).

During your trip in Hoi An, we would recommend you start a walking tour with numerous places of interest: the 400-year old Japanese Covered Bridge, the Phuc Kien Assembly Halls, a museum and the colorful local market. Following the narrow lanes, you walk along tiny

streets with houses influenced by Chinese, Japanese, French and European architectures. You can also purchase locally produced products, from faux leather and silk, to fruit shirts, paper lanterns, dried fish and shredded pork, ground coffee, and even custom-shoe tailors.

Besides exploring Hoi An on foot, there are various additional activities you can join. You can join a cooking class, visit rural villages around Hoi An by bicycle, or take a day trip to My Son Ruins.

Hoi An is famous as a food lovers’ destination with many local specialities to eat. Below are some local amazing dishes you can try in Hoi An:

  • Cao lau (Rice noodles with barbecued pork, greens and croutons)
  • Com ga (chicken rice)
  • My Quang (Vietnamese turmeric noodles)
  • Banh xeo (Crispy pancake)
  • Bun thit nuong (Vermicelli noodles with grilled pork).

4. Hue

Hue is a charming city with many beautiful landscapes. As a result, it could not be missed out on your Vietnam Cambodia trip in 2 weeks. If you are a history lover, or simply enjoy exotic cultures, Hue- Vietnam’s former Royal Capital is definitely a perfect destination.

Let’s spend the full day for a city tour of the Imperial City of Hue, firstly with the ancient walled Citadel including the former Imperial Palace. It was once the home of Vietnam’s emperors. Then visit the Dong Ba market to learn about local produce and specialties of Hue. You might get some great deals done at the local Dong Ba Market.

In the afternoon, you can cruise the Perfume River by a dragon boat. It is where you can enjoy the river views, have a meal and visit some of the major tourist sites around the area.

However, a stay in Hue would not be complete without a visit to the stunning Imperial Tombs of Hue, including the tombs of Minh Mang, Khai Dinh and Tu Duc Kings. You can get to many of the tomb sites with an organised guided tour by car or motorbike.

While in Hue, it is obvious that you can not miss a chance to taste Hue’s simple, yet sophisticated dishes. The way Hue people make and eat food represents the way they live their lives. Here are a list of Hue dishes which you should enjoy when you come to this old capital:

  • Hue Rice dumplings (Banh beo, banh nam & banh loc)
  • Bun bo Hue (Hue’s beef noodle)
  • Com hen, Bun hen (Baby clams with rice or noodle)
  • Benh ep (Savoury pancake)
  • Bun Thit Nuong (Grilled pork noodle).

5. Ho Chi Minh city

Another must-visit destination in your 2-week Vietnam Cambodia itinerary is Ho Chi Minh City, an overwhelming place – and not just because of the traffic. There is so much to do here, whether you’re a lover of history, art, cuisine, culture or nightlife. Therefore it is easy to understand why you may feel worry you will leave something out. But don’t be so panic, here are what you should do.

If you want to visit the inner town, one day is just enough. You can start your visit with a guided city tour starting with the War Remnants Museum – a real eye-opener to a part of Vietnam’s proud history. Then the Reunification Palace – the former South Vietnam Presidential Palace. Not very far from the museum are two other major tourist attractions: Notre-Dame Cathedral and the Central Post Office. For those who have a passion for local products and specialties, do not forget to drop by Ben Thanh market. It is where you can buy almost everything from clothes, souvenirs, jewelry, food.

Ho Chi Minh city (also known as Sai Gon) is Vietnam’s culinary capital. It is home to the best of Vietnam’s mouthwatering local dishes – the North, the Centre and the South. It is also the crossroad of culinary cultures, from the Oriental cuisine to Western cuisine. So it is easy to find the food you want here.

6. Mekong Delta

Leaving behind the hustle and bustle of Ho Chi Minh city, let’s head south to visit of the Mekong Delta, cruising among local barges full of fruits and vegetables. This will leave you will lots of fun memorable experiences for your Vietnam Cambodia tour. The Mekong Delta is referred to as the country’s ‘rice bowl’, and it accounts for 70% of Vietnam’s overall fruit output.

You can board a rowing boat, which will take you deeper into the countryside on smaller canals to enjoy the peacefulness of the Delta. You will also see traditional houses made of wood and palm tree leaves and see some activities of the local farmers. You will have an opportunity to interact with them and see how they catch fish or pick up fruits by ancestral ways in Mekong Delta. Cycling along village paths is another great option to help you see the local farms, houses, real life of the Mekong Delta people.

Then, you can make a stop at local workshops where you can see how to make rice paper, coconut candy and pop-rice, pop-corn…You can also visit a handicraft village where you can see how they make rice-net for spring-rolls, fish sauce, soya sauce, cooking salt, sewing coconut-leaves for cottage roof.

The day after, you can hop on a boat cruise to visit the vibrant Cai Rang floating market. This is where you will experience a “strange” type of market, in which all purchasing activities take place on boats and ships. Then continue to a small canal to visit a fruit garden, where you can enjoy many kinds of delicious fruits.

The best way to get a real taste of the region is through its fabulous specialties and delicacies. And here are our suggestions:

  • Bun ca (Fish cake noodle soup)
  • Hu tieu My Tho (My Tho noodle soup)
  • Ca tai tuong (Elephant ear fish)
  • Lau ca keo (Goby fish hotpot)

7. Siem Reap – Angkor Thom and Ta Prohm

Another worth-your-visit place that must be included in your 2-week Vietnam Cambodia itinerary is Siem Reap, which attracts millions of visitors each year from all over the world. The small provincial town has grown into a big tourist hub and continues to grow each year. From Ho Chi Minh city, you can take a flight to Siem Riep to start exploring this town.

You can devote the whole morning or afternoon to Angkor Wat, the largest, and for most people, the most impressive temple in the complex. Later, take a walk to the summit of Phnom Bakheng Hill for a panorama of the whole complex lit by the rays of the setting sun.

The day after, you can continue the Cambodia and Vietnam itinerary with Angkor Temple complex. Do not forget to visit Angkor Thom, starting with the Bayon, a bizarre structure of several architectural changes reflecting a switch from Hinduism (the foundations) to Buddhism (the superstructure). After that, pay a visit to the Elephant and Leper King Terraces, followed by the Baphuon Temple, which is now nearing the end of an eight-year multi-million dollar restoration programme.

You can also take on a drive to Siem Reap River where you will take a boat trip on Tonle Sap Lake to visit the village of Kompong Phluk. You can ‘go native’ aboard a dugout canoe for a paddle through the flooded forest near the village.

While you may be anxious to explore the ancient ruins, why not sample the local Khmer cuisine as well? Here are 5 dishes to add to your list:

  • Pumpkin duck egg custard
  • Khmer herb cocktails
  • Korko soup
  • Prahok
  • Num banh chok

We hope that the 2-week Vietnam Cambodia itinerary we map out is useful for you all. If you still have any troubles, do not hesitate to contact us. We are always happy to support you to make sure you get the best fulfillment for your Cambodia and Vietnam tour.

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