If you’re hoping to do some travelling this year but can’t decide where to go, you might want to think about visiting Vietnam and Cambodia.
These two Southeast Asian countries boast vast, intoxicating cities, dreamy beaches, breathtaking scenery, compelling culture and history, and mouthwatering food. Plus, because they’re neighbours, you can see many of the best attractions in one trip – particularly if you decide to take a tour.
To help you get the most out of both these beautiful countries, we’ve teamed up with award-winning tour specialists Wendy Wu Tours; the number one touring company in Asia. So, if you want to find out how you can explore two enthralling but unique countries in a single trip, we’ve got you covered!
Here are 10 of the best places to visit in Vietnam and Cambodia.
1. Halong Bay
Vietnam isn’t short of breathtakingly beautiful places, but Halong Bay has got to be a contender for the most spectacular. Known for its startling green waters and towering limestone pillars that are crowned with trees, Halong Bay is truly otherworldly.
This designated World Heritage Site boasts an estimated 1969 islands – though a further 2000 are scattered along the coast towards China.
The best way to explore Halong Bay is undoubtedly by boat, and as you sail along these emerald waters, you’ll be able to see floating villages, secluded beaches, and local children fishing or climbing upon the jagged rocks.
Swimming and kayaking in these twinkling waters is a joy, and stumbling upon the bay’s many secret sea caves and gleaming grottos will have you feeling like an intrepid explorer.
Visit the spectacular Halong Bay
2. Hoi An
On Vietnam’s central coast, halfway between the major cities of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, you’ll find Hoi An, an elegant riverside city that it’s almost impossible not to fall in love with.
Though it was once a busy port, today Hoi An is charmingly easygoing, making it the perfect place to relax and recharge. Home to ornate bridges, colourful colonial buildings and flowing lanterns, and crisscrossed with canals, it’s astonishingly picturesque.
Hoi An’s old town is exceptionally well-preserved, and the diverse architecture reflects the town’s melting-pot history – from Chinese wooden-fronted shops, French colonial houses, Japanese bridges, and narrow Vietnamese tube houses.
The cobbled, lantern-lined streets are packed with interesting shops, excellent eateries, lively markets, and some of the best tailors in the world. So if you’re looking to get a special suit or dress made, you won’t find anywhere better to do so!
Take a trip to Hoi An
Sprawled along the banks of the atmospheric Perfume River, Hue (pronounced ‘hway’,) is one of Vietnam’s most vibrant and engaging cities. And if you’re interested in history, it’s an absolute must-visit.
This is a place where Vietnam’s turbulent history and exciting future collide – a place where old meets new and modern hotels stand alongside crumbling citadel walls.
Many of Hue’s finest buildings were destroyed in the American War. But the palaces and shrines of the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Imperial City and Forbidden Purple City still evoke the past glories of imperial Vietnam, and you can spend the whole day exploring these sites while learning about the Nguyen Dynasty.
Hue is a tranquil city that’s simply jam-packed with history. Just outside the city itself, the tombs of bygone leaders are dotted among the forested hills of the Perfume River Valley.
Book a getaway to Hue
As Vietnam’s capital city, it will come as no surprise to learn that Hanoi is absolutely teeming with beauty, history, and culture.
This is a city that has something for everyone. History buffs can learn about the city’s thousand-year past, architecture fans can admire the red-roofed temples and pagodas of the Old Quarter, and culture enthusiasts will enjoy visiting the city’s excellent museums.
Hanoi is a capital that buzzes with life, and you can spend weeks here and still barely scratch the surface of what it has to offer.
Foodies will be in their element here too, as Hanoi has a reputation for culinary excellence. Whether you want to feast on steaming bowls of mouth-watering pho from street food stalls or enjoy fresh baguettes and Vietnamese coffee in a cool cafe, there’s something for every palate here.
Sample the delights of Hanoi
5. Mekong Delta
When people imagine Vietnam, it’s often images of the Mekong Delta that first spring to mind.
From the endless emerald paddy fields, cone-hatted farmers, swaying palm trees, and houseboats drifting slowly along shimmering rivers, the Mekong Delta is quintessentially Vietnamese – and it’s also one of the prettiest, most authentic, and least developed places in the country.
Here, the mighty Mekong River breaks up into countless tributaries and rivulets, and though life feels like it goes by slowly, the waterways are a hub of activity.
A world away from the bustling cities, sailing along these waterways allows you to get a glimpse of rural life in Vietnam. You can observe rare birds in the mangrove forests, spot water buffalo in the shallows, and barter for goods with locals in the fascinating floating markets.
Explore the best of the Mekong Delta
Perched on the edge of a dramatic plateau and circled by looming mountains, Sapa is the tourism centre of northwest Vietnam. It’s also the adventure capital, and if you’re a keen hiker you won’t find a better place to trek.
Here, lush terraced rice fields seem to flow down hills and hazy mountains lurk behind rolling fog. And even on cloudy days the landscape is breathtaking. Sapa is home to the Hoang Lien Son Mountain range, where you’ll find Vietnam’s highest mountain – so if you’re looking to stretch your legs, you can certainly do that!
But this spectacular part of the country also boasts plenty of culture and history, and meeting the local people – many of whom are ethnic minorities – can give you an insight into another, lesser seen side of Vietnam.
The tiny tribes and villages here couldn’t be further away from the country’s spirited cities, and if you’re looking to pick up colourful, authentic souvenirs and handicrafts, the famous Sapa market is one of the best places to do so.
See the mountains and rice terraces of Sapa
7. Ho Chi Minh City
It may not be the capital, but Ho Chi Minh City is Vietnam’s largest city – and arguably the most exciting and characterful, too. Formerly known as Saigon, this is a city that’ll overwhelm you from the moment you arrive.
From the ceaseless buzz of a million motorbikes to the tantalising aroma of freshly baked bánh mì, Ho Chi Minh City is a metropolis on the move, and it pulses with positive energy.
If you’re not sure that big, chaotic cities are for you, there’s a good chance that Ho Chi Minh City will convert you – and you’ll leave feeling energised and enthused, not exhausted!
You can learn about Saigon’s past at the city’s many fascinating historical and cultural attractions, admire ornate temples and pagodas, browse lively food markets, and enjoy what’s said to be the best food in all of Vietnam.
Visit Saigon, the gateway to the Mekong Delta
8. Temples of Angkor
It’s impossible to downplay the beauty and grandeur of Cambodia’s most popular attraction – the legendary temples of Angkor.
The enormous Angkor complex was the seat of the Khmer Empire from the 9th to 15th centuries, and today, it’s home to one of the Ancient Seven Wonders of The World. There are 72 temples to explore here, from the overgrown Ta Prohm to the atmospheric Ta Nei.
But of course, the jewel in the crown is Angkor Wat. This vast temple is the largest religious monument in the world, and because it was never abandoned, it’s also the best preserved of all the Angkor temples.
From a distance, you can marvel at Angkor Wat’s incredible symmetry and soaring towers, and when you get up close, the intricate sculptures, mysterious passageways and detailed carvings will dazzle you even more.
Explore the incredible Angkor Wat
To visit Angkor Wat, you’ll want to stay in the nearby city Siem Reap.
9. Tonle Sap
Just outside lively Siem Reap and near to Angkor Wat is Tonle Sap – the largest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia.
At 250km long and 100km wide, it looks more like a vast ocean than a lake, and it’s home to hundreds of floating villages whose inhabitants make their living off the lake’s bountiful resources. Here you can visit the absorbing local communities and get a feel for the traditional Khmer rural way of life.
If you’re interested in wildlife, there’s lots to see here. Tonle Sap has one of the world’s most vibrant ecosystems, and the Prek Toal bird sanctuary here is home to an incredibly diverse range of birds, fish, mammals and reptiles.
You can glide by bobbing houses, schools and markets, sample local fruits or fresh fish sold by local fishermen, and explore the eerie flooded forest of Kampong Phluk.
Book a tour through Tonle Sap
To visit Tonle Sap, you’ll want to stay in the nearby city of Siem Reap – where you’ll also be on the doorstep of Angkor Wat.
10. Phnom Penh
Cambodia’s capital Phnom Penh is a city of contrasts – a place where modern skyscrapers sit beside historic palaces, where French colonial houses adjoin classic Khmer architecture, and where a bright future has arisen from the harrowing past.
While this is a big, sprawling city, it’s more easygoing than it seems, and strolling along the river or taking a tuk-tuk ride are two great ways to get around.
Cambodia’s dark history is impossible to ignore in Phnom Penh, and it’s here that you can learn about the atrocities of the Khmer Rouge at the Killing Fields and Tuol Sleng Museum.
But, while these attractions are sobering, the city today is thriving and has an excellent food scene and many top restaurants. Beautiful, trendy, historic and heart-wrenching, this is a city like nowhere else.
Visit the phenomenal Phnom Penh
As you can see, Cambodia and Vietnam are truly captivating countries. Whether it’s their astonishing natural beauty, the delicious and fragrant cuisine, the welcoming optimism of the local people, or the fact that both countries have endured heartache in relatively recent years, Vietnam and Cambodia have a way of getting under your skin like few other places. And once you’ve visited, it’s safe to say you’ll want to return.
But these countries are also big and diverse, and seeing the best of both in a single trip can sound like a big ask! That’s why taking a tour is arguably the best way to discover the delights of these two different countries.
Wendy Wu’s Classic Mekong tour is the ultimate Southeast Asian adventure. You’ll begin in Cambodia at the breathtaking temples of Angkor before sailing down the Mekong River and getting a glimpse of authentic Khmer life on the river. Then you’ll head into Vietnam where you’ll enjoy time in Ho Chi Minh City, elegant Hoi An, and historic Hanoi, before sailing along the astonishingly green waters of Halong Bay.
Alternatively, if you’d like to explore other tours in these countries, you can check out Wendy Wu’s Vietnam tours or their Cambodia tours below.
Browse all Vietnam tours
Browse all Cambodia tours
All of Wendy Wu’s tours include flights, 4 star centrally-located hotels, authentic local dining, guided sightseeing, immersive experiences, and even visas. They’re also accompanied by a National Escort throughout and use English-speaking local guides to bring destinations to life.
But what makes Wendy Wu Tours really stand out is the cultural experiences included in every tour. From cooking classes and cyclo tours to shopping in floating markets and learning Zen meditation, you won’t just visit these incredible destinations, you’ll get under the skin of what makes them so special.
After all, authentic, meaningful travel isn’t just about seeing – it’s about experiencing, too.