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Vietnam & Cambodia
Impressions of Vietnam and Angkor Wat - Frequently Asked Questions
February 6 - 20, 2025 

With such a rich and varied itinerary and so many aspects to touring Vietnam and Cambodia, it's easy to feel overwhelmed and unsure about where to start preparing for the tour. We are here to help. Below, you'll find some useful information you'll need as you get ready for your Vietnamese and Cambodian adventures.


Both Vietnam and Cambodia are 11 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time in the United States. There is no daylight saving time in Vietnam, so in October the time will be 11 hours ahead of EST. When it's noon in Saigon or in Siem Reap, it's 11:00p.m. in New York and 8p.m. in San Francisco.





There are many beautiful things to bring back with you from Vietnam and Cambodia, so make sure that you have enough space left in your suitcase. You do not need formal clothing for this trip. Some people like to dress up for dinner, but it is optional. Since we'll be walking quite a bit, you should pack your most comfortable walking shoes. There is quite a variation in weather conditions and in temperatures in Vietnam, between Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) in the South, and Hanoi in the North, so you may want to bring clothing for both hot and humid weather and for rainy and cool weather. Meanwhile, it will be quite hot in Cambodia when we visit, so you should bring breezy, lightweight clothing with you. You should bring both an umbrella for the rain and a hat for sun protection. We will be changing hotels and traveling by air several times during the tour, so your experience will be less stressful if your luggage is not too heavy and easily manageable. The domestic flights that we'll be taking allow checked-in luggage to be a maximum weight of 44 lbs., plus the carry-on luggage up to 15 lbs.


To enter Vietnam, visitors from the US, Canada and Australia need a passport, valid at least 6 months past the expected departure date from the country. A tourist visa is also required. You should obtain your visa online, at: and the cost is $25US. 

To enter Cambodia, visitors from the US, Canada and Australia need a valid passport, as well as a Cambodian visa. Your passport should be valid for at least 6 months past the planned departure date. Cambodian visa can be obtained on arrival at the Siem Reap airport. The cost of the visa is $30US payable in cash, and banknotes used for visa payment should be in good condition, clean and with no tears. You will also need two passport sized photos and a completed visa application. Visa applications are distributed during the flight prior to landing in Siem Reap, and additional forms are available at the airport. A Cambodian visa can also be obtained in advance from Cambodian embassies. The cost and requirements for getting a Cambodian visa from a Cambodian embassy are the same, but the process involves sending your passport to the embassy by registered mail.

Before traveling abroad, it's a good idea to make two photocopies of your passport, your driver's license and your credit cards. Leave one copy at home with a trusted person and another in your suitcase.


This tour starts in Hanoi (airport code HAN) and ends in Siem Reap, Cambodia (airport code REP).

This tour starts in Hanoi at 6:00PM on Thursday, February 6, 2025, so your flight should arrive no later than 4:00PM. Depending on which route you are flying, you will probably depart North America in the morning of Wednesday, February 5, 2025 or the evening of Tuesday, February 4, 2025. If you are prone to jet lag and travel fatigue, we recommend arriving a day early. We have arranged for individual airport transfers in accordance with your flight arrival time, and you will be met by a chauffeur on your arrival in Hanoi.

This tour ends after breakfast on Thursday, February 20, 2025 in Siem Reap. Siem Reap has direct connections with Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Beijing, Tokyo, Seoul, Bangkok, etc., and most Asian airlines operate flights from Siem Reap. 


To avoid jet lag (common when crossing more than five time zones), you should drink plenty of nonalcoholic fluids and eat light meals. Upon arrival, get exposure to natural sunlight, exercise and readjust your schedule (for meals, sleep and so on) as soon as possible.


To avoid paying the single supplement, we offer guaranteed roommate matching, and we will try to match you with a roommate of similar age. Otherwise, there are single rooms available on this tour, but they tend to fill up early. Please keep in mind that all shared rooms are non-smoking.


The Vietnam and Cambodia tour group is limited to the maximum of 16 women + the Tour Director. The minimum group size is 10 women + the Tour Director. In addition to the Tour Director, travelers will be assisted by professional local guides and bus drivers, who will accompany the group throughout the tour.


The main health concerns in Vietnam and Cambodia are tropical diseases carried by mosquitoes: such as malaria, dengue fever, and Japanese encephalitis. The best way to avoid mosquito-borne diseases is to avoid being bitten. Repellents that contain between 25% and 50% DEET are the most effective. Also be aware that malaria mosquitoes bite most frequently around dawn and dusk, so exercise caution especially at those hours (wearing long sleeves and long trousers and burning mosquito coils is a good idea). Dengue-fever mosquitoes bite during the day. However, visitors to the major cities and standard coastal tour areas in Vietnam have a very low chance of contracting malaria. Be sure to peel all fruits and vegetables and avoid raw shellfish and seafood. Carrying antiseptic hand-washing liquid is also a good idea. Air quality is not good in the larger cities like Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi, and visitors with respiratory concerns should be aware of this. Limit your exposure to the sun, especially during the first few days of your trip and between 11am to 2pm. Use a sunscreen with a high protection factor and apply it liberally. The only high-quality healthcare facilities are located in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon). In rural areas, the local apothecary shop often acts as a catchall triage for what ails you, and over-the-counter medications are available anywhere from small storefront pharmacists who, with little more than a brief chat and description of a problem (with the use of a phrase book or some creative charades), will dole out affordable prescriptions for anything from antibiotics to sleeping pills. Pack prescription medications in your carry-on luggage and carry them in their original containers, with pharmacy labels, otherwise they might not make it through airport security. Carry the generic name of prescription medicines, in case a local pharmacist is unfamiliar with the brand name.

There are no vaccination requirements to enter Cambodia, but you may choose to take extra precautions. It is wise to get certain vaccinations including hepatitis A, hepatitis B, typhoid, Japanese encephalitis, cholera, and tetanus. Staying healthy in Cambodia is largely about practicing good hygiene. You should drink only bottled water, and wash your hands before eating. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand gel. Avoid dairy products, unless you know they have been pasteurized. Avoid eating street food if you can. Protecting yourself against mosquito bites is crucial to preventing a variety of diseases, including malaria, although there is no malaria in the Siem Reap area. You should still use an effective repellent (with DEET), and wear long pants and long sleeves. To protect yourself from the heat of the sun, use a good sunscreen, cover your skin, try to stay out of the sun during the hottest part of the day, and keep up your fluid intake. If you can't avoid being in the sun, make sure you wear a hat. Keep properly hydrated with water. It's a good idea to carry rehydration salts with you.


Tap water is not potable in Vietnam and Cambodia. Outside of top-end hotels and restaurants, drink only beverages without ice, unless the establishment promises that it manufactures its own ice from clean water. Bottled mineral water, particularly the reputable La Vie and A&B brands, is everywhere. Counterfeits are a problem, so make sure you're buying the real thing, with an unbroken seal. Beware of big typos: "La Vile" water speaks for itself. Always drink bottled water (never use tap water for drinking). To be safe, you should even brush your teeth with bottled water.


You won't find public toilets or "restrooms" on the streets in most cities in Vietnam and Cambodia, but they can be found in hotel lobbies, bars, restaurants, museums, department stores, and gas stations. Some of the public toilets may be Asian style (squat). Be sure to carry tissues, as some of the restrooms may not provide toilet paper. Large hotels and fast-food restaurants are often the best bet for clean facilities.  Please keep in mind that some public toilets may require payment, so you should always have some small bills in the local currency with you to pay for them.


Overall, the security risk to travelers in Vietnam is low. Violent crime is almost nonexistent, and most incidents of street crime consist of theft of unattended items and pickpocketing. Try to stick to the well-traveled roads, especially at night walking down dark alleys is never safe in any country. Western visitors may attract curiosity, and it is not unusual to hear greetings from complete strangers or to be asked to pose for a photo. The Vietnamese concept of personal space may be different than what you are used to in the US, but if the attention is unwanted then politely but firmly excuse yourself from the friendly inspection.

Although Cambodia has a reputation for violence and lawlessness, the Angkor Wat area values its prosperity derived from tourism, and many consider it a safe haven within the country. You should still practice common sense and take the same precautions you would anywhere else. While there are still land mines remaining from the Khmer Rouge regime, the area around Angkor Wat is cleared of land mines, but if you do see the red "Danger. Mines!" sign, take it very seriously. Petty crime may still be a problem, so be aware of your belongings, and don't leave your purse hanging from a chair in a restaurant and keep it inside the vehicle when riding in a tuk-tuk.


Women traveling alone in Vietnam and in Cambodia face no particular safety issues, and common sense should keep anyone safe. No particular vigilance is required for female travelers, as violent crime is minimal in Vietnam and in the Angkor Wat area of Cambodia, but the usual precautions about walking alone at night and hitchhiking certainly apply, as anywhere. "Catcalling" happens but is rarely sinister or followed by any action.


During our time in Vietnam, we will travel by private bus, while some touring will be done by food, by a cyclo, and we will spend some time cruising Ha Long Bay by a boat. To be able to fully enjoy the tour and participate in scheduled activities, you need to be able to walk, at a leisurely pace, up to 4 miles throughout the day, frequently on uneven surfaces and on cobble stoned streets. You should be able to stand unassisted for up to 30 minutes, you should be able to climb stairs, get in and out of vehicles without assistance and manage your own luggage without assistance. Overall, this trip is not strenuous, although it is filled with outdoor activities, sometimes in hot weather.

In Cambodia, we will travel by private bus, but there will be quite a lot of walking inside the Angkor Wat complex, since it is accessible only by foot. Some of the walking will be on uneven, unpaved surfaces, including steps, but it will be at a leisurely pace. To be able to fully enjoy the tour and participate in scheduled activities, you need to be able to walk up to 4 miles throughout the day. You should be able to stand unassisted for up to 30 minutes, climb stairs, get in and out of vehicles without assistance and manage your own luggage. With the hot weather in Cambodia, we will be touring very early in the morning, to return to the hotel before the mid-day heat, so be prepared for very early starts. Overall, this trip is not strenuous, although it is very busy, as there is a lot to see during the short time we have in Cambodia.


Vietnam has a tropical climate with a hot, rainy season from May to September and a warm, dry season from October to March. Weather unpredictability is a major factor and it can rain any time during the year. The average daytime temperature for October in north Vietnam (Hanoi and Ha Long Bay) is about 77°F; in central Vietnam (Hoi An and Hue) is around 84°F; and in south Vietnam (Saigon, Mekong Delta) averages 86°F. Cambodia is also in the tropical zone, just 10-13 degrees north of the equator. It is warm to hot year-round, and the climate is dominated by the annual monsoon cycle with its alternating wet and dry seasons. The monsoon cycle is driven by cyclic air pressure changes: as the pressure drops during the summer months (June through October), moist air is drawn landward from the ocean bringing the southwest monsoon rains. Winter months (November through May) offer optimal touring conditions, as the air pressure rises, driving cool dry air back across the land and bringing on a largely rainless dry season. The mean daily temperature also rises and falls with the winter and summer months, but not exactly in time with the wet and dry season, effectively creating four annual seasons in Cambodia. We'll tour at the beginning of the dry season, when the only precipitation is short 'mango showers' in the afternoons. During October, the temperatures are usually in the high 80s. 


Internet access in both Vietnam and Cambodia can be quite sporadic, but in constant development. In tourist areas and developed cities, it is easy to find cyber cafes or public places providing wireless Internet. All hotels where we will be staying offer WiFi or high-speed Internet to their guests free of charge. Pre-paid cell phones can be bought with affordable international calling, as well.


Vietnam's and Cambodia's electricity carries 220 volts, so if you're coming from North America, you should bring a converter and adapter for electronics. Plugs are either the standard European type (C) with two round prongs or the standard North American type (A) with two flat prongs. If you're bringing a laptop, bring a surge protector. In Cambodia, the electricity can often be cut off without warning. It's a good idea to carry a flashlight, especially in more remote places and for exploring the dark recesses of the temples.


Vietnamese is the official language of Vietnam. Older residents speak and understand French, and young folks are busily learning Chinese these days. While English is widely spoken by people in the tourism and service industry in Hanoi and Saigon, it is harder to find in other tourist destinations. Khmer is the official language of Cambodia, but English is more and more widely spoken, especially by people involved in tourism. Some older people also speak French.


The Vietnamese currency is Vietnamese Dong (VND), and US dollars are widely accepted. During your trip, the most useful Vietnam Dong bills will be upwards of 10,000 VND. There are smaller bills (which are also physically smaller than the more frequently used bills of 10,000 VND and up) of 1,000 VND, 2,000 VND, and 5,000 VND, which are handy when making small purchases as drinks or snacks. For the most part, bills are distinguishable by color: The 500,000 VND is light blue, 100,000 VND is green, and 20,000 VND is dark blue. Be mindful of the 10,000 VND, 50,000 VND, and 200,000 VND notes: all are pinkish-red and are quite similar to each other.

ATM service is good in most cities and the machines accept four-digit PINs. Credit cards are widely accepted, though many smaller companies, such as tour agencies or boutique hotels, will charge a 2% or 3% commission. All hotels can do business in U.S. dollars. In some parts, everybody down to the smallest shop vendor quotes prices in U.S. dollars, and particularly the big-ticket items are best handled with dollars instead of large stacks of local currency.

While dealing in U.S. dollars can make things easier, always keep in mind the local currency values, so you know if you're being charged the correct amount or are given the correct change (usually in Vietnamese currency). Keep a good supply of $1US bills and/or 20,000 VND bills; these will come in handy when paying for cab and motorcycle rides.

The currency in Cambodia is the Riel, although the U.S. dollar is commonly used. Riel is what is used for small change. In the towns of the west, the Thai baht is also used. There are no coins in Cambodia, only notes, which come in 50, 100, 500, 1,000, 2,000, 5,000, 10,000, 50,000, and 100,000 denominations, but the red 500 riel note and the blue 1,000-riel note are the most useful and common. Be aware that the slightest tear on a dollar note of any denomination will render it useless, so you should check the condition of your change. The ATMs dispense both the riel and US dollars. The use of credit cards is increasing in tourist areas, though Cambodia remains very much a cash economy. Visa and MasterCard are accepted at most upscale hotels, shops, and restaurants. Most businesses will charge a 2% to 4% fee to accept credit cards. We recommend coming to Cambodia with a large stack of dollar bills, as they come handy for small purchases, tipping, tuk-tuk rides, and restaurant meals. Larger bills may be hard to break.


Tipping is common and expected in Vietnam and in Cambodia. Restaurants', drivers' and guides' gratuities are included in the Impressions of Vietnam and Angkor Wat tour price, but when you are dining on your own, some upscale restaurants add a service surcharge of 5% to 10%. If they don't, or if the service is good, you might want to leave another 5%. At the conclusion of the tour, it is customary to offer your Tour Director a gratuity. We recommend $15 per person per day if you feel that her services enhanced your experience of visiting Vietnam and Cambodia.


What should you bring home from Vietnam? The popular items include clothing made from quality silk such as ao dai, the traditional long blouse and pants. Conical Vietnamese hats are another common souvenir, and handicrafts are plentiful: lacquerware vases, trays, rosewood boxes, wood-block prints, oil or watercolor paintings, ceramics, and leather works. When buying expensive items, beware that counterfeit "antiques" can be found in the market, as well as fake gems - if you don't have an expert with you to certify authenticity, stick to highly recommended outlets rather than street vendors for high-end purchases. The art of bargaining is a good skill to have in Vietnam, but remember to be polite, and smile - vendors are happy to haggle, but the aggressive approach is not the way to go. In Hoi An, there are dozens of tailor shops where you can have custom clothing, or even shoes, made to measure at a very low cost. 

Encouraged by the government and aid organizations, Cambodians are rediscovering their natural talent as weavers and craftsmen. A number of co-ops train Cambodians who were disabled by landmines in making attractive items out of silk and cotton fabrics, rattan, bamboo, wood and clay. The result is a pleasing selection of quality handicrafts. The sale and export of registered antique pieces is strictly forbidden, so you are unlikely to come across genuine antiques openly on sale in Cambodia. Basket weaving is done mainly by women, many of whom cultivate and harvest the reeds by themselves, resulting in beautiful baskets, bowls and plates. The Betel Nut boxes are containers which once reflected the status of their user according to its size, design and the material from which it was made. Mostly made of silver, many carry ornate designs, and are often crafted into animal shapes. Originals usually contain a higher quantity of silver, but the newly manufactured varieties are still handmade, and a careful choice can provide you with attractive souvenirs or thoughtful lightweight gifts. Cotton t-shirts are inexpensive and have amusing designs which make for excellent small gifts or souvenirs. Rice paper prints, often with Temple Rubbings, are lightweight, decorative and inexpensive. They are made by placing rice paper over a mold taken from a bas-relief carving from one of the Angkor temples and lightly rubbing over it with soft charcoal. When framed and suitably illuminated, they look superb. There are also excellent reproductions and copies of Angkor Wat sculptures available at reasonable prices. The intrinsic skill of craftsmen, using the same locally mined stone used to build the ancient temples, produces sculptures of such quality that, with artificially induced weathering, have even fooled some experts. There are also bronze copies of small statues, Buddha figures, heads and apsaras for sale. These can be exported freely, but if you pass through Thailand on the way home, remember that the export of Buddha figures from that country is not allowed. Karmas are the typical and ubiquitous locally worn checkered scarf. It is uniquely Khmer, inexpensive and very practical. Silk in Cambodia is still handmade using traditional methods with the pattern dyed into the threads before the silk is woven, thus the task of dying and weaving a single piece can take several weeks. Older silk pieces (pre-1970) are increasingly prized. A traditional, if sometimes heavy, souvenir is carved wooden apsaras (nymphs), which can be shipped home. Since the quality and maturity of the wood dictates its value as much as the handiwork, care in selection is needed, especially for more expensive items.