If you had to choose one, which would it be? We look at the often-missed highlights of Vietnam and Cambodia to help you decide.
Vietnam: Ha Giang Province.
This far-north region of Vietnam is renowned for its untouched mountainous landscape and impressive rocky outcrops, but it’s little visited by tourists. It’s the region to go to if you want to experience ‘the real Vietnam’ and meet local people; and its famous Dong Van Rock Plateau is a UNESCO-protected geological park worthy of a visit in its own right.
Kontum, capital of the Kontum Province, is the gateway to the region’s small villages, which are populated by indigenous hill tribes. It’s highly recommended that you visit these villages with a guide, who can help you with communication and understanding local customs.
Vietnam: Buon Ma Thuot.
This city is virtually untouched by tourism, making it a good place to experience authentic urban Vietnamese life. Not only that, but it’s a great base for exploring nearby attractions such as Yok Don National Park - Vietnam’s largest nature reserve.
With a colonial French vibe, pure mountain air and beautiful waterfalls, being in Dalat is a bit like being in the Alps. This laidback little city is a pleasant place to unwind, and a popular spot with honeymooners.
The peaceful seaside resort of Kep was once Cambodia’s most popular, but it suffered greatly in the country’s civil war; buildings ruined in those days can still be seen. These days it’s a friendly place with a National Park and an idyllic beach.
This tiny, remote town makes a good base for reaching the area’s interesting temples and basket-weaver villages. Irrawaddy dolphin-spotting on the Mekong River is a must if you visit Kratie; early evening is a good time to go on a boat trip, when the heat of the sun is less fierce.
Experience Cambodia’s natural beauty with a visit to Mondulkiri Province, the country’s least populated region. Head to the provincial capital of Sen Monorom to begin a journey into the surrounding jungle - you can even explore the area on the back of an elephant.
If it’s a larger city you’re after, Battambang is the country’s second biggest and full of exotic statues, Buddhist temples and French colonial architecture. From here, you can visit the caves of Phnom Sampeu, including the chilling Killing Caves of the Khmer Rouge; Battambang is also home to the popular “Bamboo Train”.
The perfect spot for riverside relaxation, Kampot is popular with those heading to the Bokor National Park, a couple of hours away. Among the area’s other attractions are the pepper farms that provide much of the area’s income.
Experience some of these often-missed highlights for yourself. Until the end of June, we’re offering 10% off all Small Group Journeys to Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos. Click here to find out more.