Each month, we’ll touch on valuable travel information and offer some insights to a few destinations we believe are 100% worthy of our attention. Picking which countries to travel is like trying to make a decision in a candy store – there are a plethora of choices with differing colors and delightful tastes, all of which can fulfill our desires to savor the many flavors. Going around the world will certainly offer the widest variety; otherwise hitting up a couple places like Vietnam and Cambodia, both conducive to lots of appeal, are valuable alternatives or fine additions.
Resting in Southeast Asia, the pair is surrounded by many outlets for all types of travelers, and many deals of high value can be had there. Unlike parts of Western Europe where travel related costs will be considerably high across the board, Vietnam and Cambodia can still yield great bargains on accommodations, transport and food – spare change can go a long way. With mystical temples – some intended to harmonize the earth and the stars (Angkor Wat) – jungles and a mountainous countryside, lively city streets, long stretches of tropical beaches along with the impressive dive sites of Nha Trang, Vietnam and Sihanoukville, Cambodia, which are full of unspoiled biodiversity and pleasant surprises, are a few of the small striking pieces that shape a complete puzzle.
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The very narrow “S” shaped land of Vietnam, approximately 1,000 miles long and in some areas only 30 miles wide, means traveling its distance can easily be accomplished. The country is very mountainous and is home to an extensive river system with the Red River in the north and Mekong River in the south, creating lush environments for enjoyment by the adventurous.
Train tracks form the spine that ties the north with the south, making way for the North-South Railway line that runs between Ha Noi to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon). A little on the slow side, the Reunification Express will take riders along an unraveling landscape while hugging the South China Sea to the east. Some travelers journey this distance beginning in the south and move through the north to Hanoi. Booking at the train station is generally the safest bet, but tickets should be purchased 3-7 days in advance to avoid any potential sale out. Once aboard, it is truly a back-road experience that opens visitors to the countryside and the lesser known cities of Nha Trang and Hoi An. Although this railway is not at all comparable to the European rail system, the 30-plus hour journey to Hanoi goes even further up through the People’s Republic of China, offering the nomad plenty of vantage points for a unique and rewarding overland experience.
For a glimpse of distinguishing properties in Vietnam or anywhere else in the world check out Global Basecamps. The people at GBC have revamped the process of finding sustainably unique properties from around the world, displaying them neatly as a tasty tray of options.
Cambodia is Vietnam’s southwestern companion. Again, this is another small country, resting at the foot of Laos and adjacent to Thailand’s south-eastern side. Long gone are the horrific days that created the Killing Fields of Choeung Ek, which took place about 20 minutes outside of Phnom Penh. A visit there puts into perspective how inhumane a few heartless soles can write our world’s history books, but it can also remind us how resilient Cambodia’s people are for overcoming that history.
Up in the north above Tonle Sap Lake, Siem Reap’s Angkor Wat is probably the symbol most closely associated with Cambodia and represents a well preserved example of Khmer architecture. More importantly, it is one of the great masterpieces of world architecture and is an absolute must see for any itinerary that includes Siem Reap. This UNESCO World Heritage Site is a striking scene with many intricate details on Hindu mythology, and it’s a great place to stand in awe. After visiting the attraction(s) step away to drift through other corners of Cambodia, maybe even adding Thailand to ones itinerary since Southeast Asia is at arm’s reach and has an appeal that keeps travelers from wanting to return home – varying distinct cultures and colors captivate and lure visitors like an enthralling candy store. The well traveled girls from “the lost girls” blog share close encounters about their time in Cambodia along with many other inspiring stories about traveling the world – Hope you enjoy.