What To Take Away From Our Trip To Indochina
It’s been a few days since we came back from our trip to Indochina and we are already full steam ahead. However, I wanted to take a few moments and write this post to remember the highlights of this time away and maybe give you a few pointers in case you decide to head that way.
First of all, was it all worth it?
The answer to that is a big fat yes. Even though sometimes it can get very touristic, you still can get an authentic experience.
What was our route?
If you haven’t followed all our posts, here’s a sum up of our trip: We flew to Bangkok (Thailand) — bus to Siem Reap (Cambodia) — bus to Phnom Penh (Cambodia) — car to Ha Tien (Vietnam) and a ferry to Phu Quoc island (Vietnam) — plane to Phuket (Thailand) and a cab to Ao Nang (Thailand) — plane to Bangkok.
Mostly found it on Airbnb, just one on Booking and it wasn’t ok. We stuck to superhosts. We also booked three experiences with Airbnb and they turned out amazing.
When we left London, we had booked three things, less than half of our time spend in Indochina. Airbnb is good this way because it’s flexible and we needed to make some changes to the reservations. The other places we visited, we booked along the way. It’s sometimes good to travel without any plan.
1. Do not forget to sign travel insurance. You never know.
2. It’s better if you have e-visas where possible. Makes it easier at the border.
3. Do not underestimate the costs of vaccines. Can’t remember exactly how much but depending where you live (what country) and what vaccines you decide to get, can go up to a few hundred GBP per person.
4. Get a pouch where to put your money and passport.
5. Wear good sandals. I have to thank Alin for introducing me to Teva. I never took them off. On the beach, in the water, in the city, everywhere. These bloody sandals were amazing.
6. Install Grab. It’s UBER’s equivalent for Asia. It helped us many times. It saves you from haggling for prices or for paying cash. Not to mention you don’t have to explain your destination to someone who, in most cases, doesn’t speak English.
7. When possible, choose a place that has a pool. It helps in that blazing heat.
When to go?
Usually, travel blogs/agencies recommend going in the dry season — October to April. We went there at the beginning of the wet season — end of April and May. Even though we had some rain we highly recommend you strongly consider avoiding the peak season. There are fewer people around, prices go lower and generally, you have space to breathe. Not to mention, it’s not as hot.
What we saw / memorable things.
It’s difficult to advise people on what to do on their journey. It really depends on their style. We like to visit things, stay off the beaten path but we also like to lazy around and do nothing. What I will say here is that 30 days were just about right to rest our minds and souls. And this we wanted the most out of this trip. More than that, I would have liked to also be able to work every now and again. You know, to give me a sense of purpose. We tried this in Marrakech earlier this year and it was great.
1. Bangkok is truly amazing. Even if tens of thousands (?) of people visit it every month, it doesn’t seem to lose charm or authenticity. You can easily get lost and discover things.
2. Angkor Wat & the other temples. It’s been a long time dream to make it there. We visited Siem Reap with the only purpose to go to the temples. Out of inertia, we bought a three-day ticket. It was totally worth it because the area is absolutely huge and every square meter is worth exploring.
3. The Genocide Museum in Phnom Penh. We didn’t like the Cambodian capital much. Had a strange vibe. However, it’s worth going there for the Genocide Museum. Its raw emotional charge is nothing we have ever experienced. It will be with me forever. Not necessarily because of the atrocities that happened there but because of the sense of dignity the Cambodian people have when they talk about it.
4. The warmth and smiles of the Vietnamese folk. We have made friends at Bambusa Resort on the Phu Quoc island. Everywhere we traveled in Vietnam, people were extremely helpful and friendly even if sometimes the language seemed a problem.
5. Saigon is exactly as you imagine if you have seen those pre-war movies. Saigon is like a well dressed and shaved man, smelling like whiskey and cigar, hugging you with his eyes (and undressing you with his mind).
6. Vietnamese tea is not something many talk about. However, tea culture in Vietnam is just as important as in China or Japan, maybe a bit more relaxed. If you ever make it to Vietnam, ask around for good tea and maybe go to a tea tasting experience. I promise you, if you thought you know tea before (as I did), you were terribly mistaken.
7. The turquoise and emerald waters of Thai beaches. Visit any island. Enough said.
8. Driving on a scooter, feeling like Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible. Wherever possible, rent a scooter and explore the jungle. There are tens of National Parks that await to be discovered. Nothing compares to the freedom you feel on a scooter.
9. Thai pancakes. What the bible doesn’t say is that in the eighth day, god created pancakes. For Thai pancakes, he took one whole afternoon.
10. The person who cut my hair in Bangkok. I had a hunch Thai people are good at hairstyling, I was proven right. I went there with a picture and it turned out awesome. I am the proud owner of a mohawk now.
The story doesn’t end here, obviously, but it’s no point in telling you more.
If you do have questions, don’t hesitate to ask us. Otherwise, go out and explore this beautiful planet. Oh, and don’t for to refuse plastic bags or straws whenever you can. And let them now you do this for the planet.
Thank you for reading!