Vietnam or Cambodia – Which Destination Is Calling for You?
Vietnam or Cambodia – Which Destination Is Calling for You?
Choosing between Vietnam and Cambodia is never easy for either adventure or culture seekers. Let’s make a comparison to find out which destination better suit your interests.
Set location in Indochina region, both Vietnam and Cambodia have plenty of natural wonders and well-organized tourism offering much to see and do for worldwide visitors. Also both countries are home to deep-rooted cultures and French colonial influenced architecture along with victorious history.
For those who have enough time and feel hesitant deciding between Vietnam and Cambodia, a package arrangement including both destinations might be the best option. However, if you want to accomplish a journey in only one country, our guideline will help you to make a wise decision.
In Vietnam, you can enjoy an all-in-one experience ranging from the hustle in the cities along with picturesque villages to unspoiled natural gems along with adventurous trekking routes. In contrast, Cambodia is known for long-lasting ancient history, an authentic glimpse into rural life and Angkor temples, man-made sites to behold.
Take an elephant ride to explore the Bayon Temple
For beach lovers, Vietnam has drawn tourists’ attention to its fabulous but touristy beaches like Nha Trang, Phu Quoc and stunning Halong Bay. Cambodia offers more relaxed sights including Koh Rong, Koh Rong Samloem, Koh Ta Kiev and Kep, where you are involved in an authentic way of local life.
In terms of city experiences, Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City outweigh the laid-back cities of Phnom Penh and Siem Reap. While the old quarter of Hanoi is worth wandering through and marveling at the 1,000-year-old culture, Ho Chi Minh City is perfect for nightlife and vibrant attractions.
In case you are an adventurer, both countries are home to jungle treks, mountainous terrains and floating villages. The North of Vietnam is a trekking highlight where you can discover wonderful and challenging paths in Sapa, Ha Giang. Coming to Cambodia, you can experience a wild adventure in Cardamom Mountains, Mondulkiri or Kampot.
Mesmerizing trekking routes in the North of Vietnam
All things considered, Vietnam is best for natural lovers and city attractions; meanwhile, Cambodia is for those in search of tranquility and cultural exploration.
Either Vietnam or Cambodia is such a tropical country that average temperature is relatively high all year. Nevertheless, Vietnam’s climate is more diverse with four seasons in the North: the warm spring, hot summer, cool autumn and cold winter even snowy in Sapa. Cambodia’s weather is comparable to the weather in southern Vietnam, where general theme is hot and two seasons of dry and wet occur from January to June and from July to December respectively.
In general, weather in both countries is not a big consideration but sometimes the rain might wash out the dirty roads which make transportation more difficult in some areas, especially in Cambodia.
Both countries provide incredible food and enjoyable culinary dishes to savor the Southeast Asia taste. Apparently, each country has its own flavor and you’ll find Vietnamese cuisine more preferable to Western taste. Vietnam is a great selection for meat-eaters while Cambodia is good for vegetarians. You can easily find many luxurious restaurants and street food stalls in both countries, but here’s a short list of must try specialties in Vietnam and Cambodia.
Banh mi Vietnam with grilled pork and Vietnamese herbs
Vietnam is famous for Pho, a salty broth and fresh noodle soup with chicken or beef; and Banh Chung, traditional sticky rice wrapped in a green leaf and cooked for an extended time. There are thousands of flavorsome Vietnamese dishes such as Cha ca, Banh xeo, Banh mi, which are all affordable and give you the best food tour in the world. Cambodia is known for Lak, which is beef, stir-fried in a lime sauce and served with egg and fried potatoes; Fish-amok, a kind of Khmer curry paste made from lemongrass; Lap-Khmer and Kdam-chaa.
Fish-amok, a traditional Khmer curry in Cambodia
Outstandingly, Vietnam wins the drink category with authentic coffee and fresh craft beer. With a long history of brewing beer, you can sip a cold beer everywhere, on the streets, at bars or in high-class restaurants.
For long-distance journey, many airlines of Vietnam offer low-cost flights (JetStar and VietJet), but it’s highly recommended to book via Vietnam Airlines, the national reputation, or Bamboo Airways, a pleasant service and the most punctual airline until now. The north-to-south railway is another way to contemplate the two sides during the journey, while a long-haul bus gives you chances to visit many stopovers. Likewise, flights and buses in Cambodia are the best options to travel around the country.
Getting around the city is really convenient with various means of transport. You can ask hotel staff for a booked arrangement to move around cities or take a bus, taxi, a cycle (only in Vietnam) or a tuk-tuk (only in Cambodia) to control your own timetable. In both countries, riding a motorcycle is an unforgettable experience but a bit insecure if you haven’t gotten familiar with the traffic there.
A cycle tour around the ancient town of Hoi An, Vietnam
Tuk-tuk is a common way to get around Cambodian streets
In comparison, the facilities and cost of transportation in Vietnam outweighs the old-fashioned and expensive transport system in Cambodia.
Both countries offer a variety of accommodation choices ranging from dorm rooms to splendid resorts. At the same budget price, finding a nice and private room in Cambodia is more difficult than in Vietnam.
Homestay in Sapa, Vietnam
When it comes to luxury hotels and resorts, Vietnam is obviously a perfect choice due to a large number of wealthy tourists China, Korea and Russia. There are also fabulous bungalows and homestays providing tourists with stunning photo corners in many regions of Vietnam; while most foreigners are going to Cambodia for mass tourism.
A 5-star resort in Siem Reap, Cambodia
To conclude, Cambodian accommodation is relatively less expensive but lower-quality than the Vietnamese accommodation for budget travelers. For higher standards, Vietnam offers more exquisitely stylish mid-range and high-end accommodation, but more expensive than in Cambodia.
Vietnam and Cambodia are the two safest countries in Southeast Asia, where common dangers like pickpockets, robbing or violent crime have rarely existed. However, in some touristy areas, especially Phnom Penh and Ho Chi Minh, you should be watchful of your bag or purse on the side of busy streets. Besides, frequent travel scams can happen in both countries like shopping and accommodation scams in Vietnam; visa and border crossing scams, drinking and drug abuse in Cambodia.
Shopping in a shop is the best way to avoid scams in Vietnam
Overall, Vietnam seems to be a secure place with fewer scams than in Cambodia. If you wisely avoid these annoyances, both countries are totally safe for travelers, even for solo backpackers.
Getting a travel visa into Vietnam requires an arrangement of pre-approved visa letter and related documents in advance. You have to complete a little complicated procedure at the Vietnamese Embassy or on arrival at the Vietnamese international airport, if you have received an e-visa in advance.
In Cambodia, visa approval is fairly easy. Without any paperwork ahead of time, you can show up at the border or the airport to buy a visa there. That’s the reason why border scams are quite popular in Cambodia.
Be watchful with border scams in Cambodia
Let’s decide which is better for you!
Taking everything into consideration, you can see Vietnam beats Cambodia in some ways. Both are worthwhile to visit, so the decision is up to you. In case you have more than a week, a journey on a Mekong Cruise is a sensible way to feel the taste of both lands and enjoy the deluxe service provided on board.
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