Trip Report - Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia - 2019

cschaaf

DIS Veteran
Joined
Oct 19, 2013
Those pools are gorgeous!

Sayhello
They were an amazing milky bluey-green color. Our local guide did the unnecessary step of saying, "You should have seen them last month, they were amazing!" and showed pictures on his phone. lol

He wasn't wrong, they looked even more amazing lol

Ditto what @sayhello said--gorgeous! Funny that you mentioned the rice farm. On my Japan trip we were talking to someone about this trip and that was their favorite activity.
We figured it would be a 'yeah, that was alright' activity, but we really enjoyed it. The hosts were engaging and funny and it gave you a newfound respect for each grain of rice.
 

DCPhotoGal

Photographer and Mom to 2 Princesses
Joined
Mar 4, 2011
Enjoying your trip report! We got back this morning from our trip and I'm enjoying reliving the days as you post. We also had the itinerary change and our schedule was very similar except it looks like they made a small change on the last day in Hoi An--since we had a later flight they added a provided lunch and took us to the large Buddha on the hill to see the area around it.
 
  • cschaaf

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Oct 19, 2013
    Enjoying your trip report! We got back this morning from our trip and I'm enjoying reliving the days as you post. We also had the itinerary change and our schedule was very similar except it looks like they made a small change on the last day in Hoi An--since we had a later flight they added a provided lunch and took us to the large Buddha on the hill to see the area around it.
    The Lady Buddah? We were hoping for some free time to go there, but it was too far away from Hoi An (but close to the airport). I would have rather skipped Marble Mountain and the marble store and gone there instead.

    I'm very interested in hearing your thoughts on the trip!
     

    cschaaf

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Oct 19, 2013
    Day 9 of ABD –

    This day started very early with the Alms Giving ceremony. We had a spot on a quiet side street away from the masses. The monks walk by very quickly and the whole thing didn’t last very long.
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    There was an optional hike up Mount Phousi after that. It wasn’t too bad of a hike and gave us great views of the rivers and the hotel. We returned to the hotel for breakfast.

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    After a brief rest period, there was an optional trip to another temple. A few in the group took this opportunity and it was a nice tour. It was a much bigger temple than what we saw the when we first got to Laos.

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    Back to the hotel to check out, then off to lunch.

    We had pre-ordered at this place, but it still took a while. After lunch, we went to the airport to fly to Siem Reap. The Sofitel hotel was one of the best of the trip. It has a large pool and my wife and I did some swimming. Dinner was a buffet at the hotel that was pretty good.

    One great thing about finishing the trip in Cambodia is that it's easy to get US Dollars. Several got USD from the ATMs at the airport. My card didn't work there for some reason - could have even been user error.

    When we got to the hotel, Henry and Drew pointed the way to an ATM across the street from the hotel. They said it used to be a 5 minute walk to get to one, now it's simple.
     

    sayhello

    Have Camera, Will Travel
    Joined
    Oct 28, 2006
    What a beautiful temple! And that view is quite nice, but I can't imagine hiking *before* breakfast!! :eek:

    Sayhello
     

    cschaaf

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Oct 19, 2013
    What a beautiful temple! And that view is quite nice, but I can't imagine hiking *before* breakfast!! :eek:

    Sayhello
    They did give us some cookies, coffee, tea, and juice before we left the hotel. But it wasn’t ‘breakfast’.

    By this point in the trip, i’d eaten more than my share of food anyway lol
     
  • cschaaf

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Oct 19, 2013
    Day 10 of ABD –

    Angkor Wat day! The previous day, our local guide told us that shoulders and knees needed to be covered and that scarves were no longer acceptable. He said too many people draped the scarves over their shoulders just to get in, then would take them off.

    After breakfast, we headed out for Angkor Wat. The size and scale of the place is amazing. We spent about two hours walking around the grounds and through the temple. It was hot and humid and there isn’t much shade. Fortunately, we brought out umbrellas for some shade and that helped. Our local guide explained a lot of the carvings.

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    After, we went to lunch then walked to a temple for a blessing. I think after that, we had a short break at the hotel. I had dropped my sunglasses at the temples and they broke. Drew thought he had super glue in his bag, but couldn’t find it. He and Henry went out of their way to have someone from the hotel come to the room to try to fix my sunglasses. They took them and returned about 15 minutes later with them glued back together. Unfortunately, they broke again, but it was so nice of everyone to try to help.

    (continued in next post)
     

    cschaaf

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Oct 19, 2013
    (continued from previous post)

    That evening, we went to the sunset cruise. It was a nice, peaceful cruise. We sailed to a point where it looked like you couldn’t go farther, then the boats all pulled over in the shade. One of the rowers sang a few songs and looked like he had a great time doing it.

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    After, we were on our own for dinner. A bunch of the families grabbed tuk tuks to pub street where some did the fish massage (where the fish nibble at the dead skin on your feet) – my wife did it and was glad she tried it. A group of us went to eat at a restaurant on pub street and had a pretty good meal. My wife and I split a small pizza that was surprisingly good. Either that, or we really missed pizza. I'm sure it was a bit of both.
     

    lovetotravel

    Mouseketeer
    Joined
    Sep 23, 2005
    The previous day, our local guide told us that shoulders and knees needed to be covered and that scarves were no longer acceptable. He said too many people draped the scarves over their shoulders just to get in, then would take them off.

    ...It was hot and humid and there isn’t much shade. Fortunately, we brought out umbrellas for some shade and that helped. ...
    For the temples I am thinking of wearing a sheer duster kimono over shorts and tank top. I don't think I can survive the heat in anything long. I like the suggestion of an umbrella in the sun! Also maybe a water misting fan would help.
     

    cschaaf

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Oct 19, 2013
    For the temples I am thinking of wearing a sheer duster kimono over shorts and tank top. I don't think I can survive the heat in anything long. I like the suggestion of an umbrella in the sun! Also maybe a water misting fan would help.
    I'm a simple dude, so I had to look up what a duster kimono was, but that should work great. ;)

    There were a few that had water misting fans. Drew, one of our ABD guides, also had some mister that he would run around and spray you with if you wanted.

    We had meant to pack our frog togs, but completely forgot them. It was about day 3 of the trip before we even remembered that we forgot them. lol
     
  • cschaaf

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Oct 19, 2013
    Day 11 of ABD –

    After breakfast, they had tuk tuks waiting for us at the hotel to take us to two temples – The Bayon then Ta Prohm. Riding in the tuk tuks was so much fun. I thought it would be hot, but when you got moving, it was better than air conditioning. I started feeling bad for the people that were stuck in the busses! This was a much better way to see the area.

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    Bayon was spectacular – I think I enjoyed that one more than Angkor Wat. We moved a little fast through the temple and it was hard to watch your footing and take in everything around you at the same time. We did stop from time to time to learn about the temple and carvings.

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    After the temple, you had to find your tuk driver again, then they took you to the next one. Ta Prohm was also beautiful. By the time we got there, the crowds had picked up, but we were still able to enjoy it.

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    After the temples, we went to lunch. As we were headed to lunch, it started to rain. By the time we got to lunch, the rain was over.

    We re-ordered this meal the day before. I remembered what I ordered this time because I got a beef dish that had red ants on it. I tried the ants on their own and they didn’t really have any taste. The dish was very good, though.

    After lunch, there were 3 options: go back to the hotel, go to a market, or go to a local village. We chose the village. At the village, they had a cooking demonstration and served us some food – we were still full from lunch, so not much got eaten. What we tried was really good, we were just so full and felt bad we couldn’t have eaten more. They had a small area set up for archery and the locals helped us with our form. Then it was back to the hotel.

    From our room, we could see them setting up poolside for the farewell dinner. We could also see that a storm was headed our way. I needed to go to the lobby and it was pouring. There were about a dozen hotel workers with big squeegees clearing off the walkways. They had also set up sandbags on a few of the paths to divert the water from the main walkway. We figured there would be no way to have the farewell meal outside. When it was time for dinner, we went down and Henry and Drew directed us to a private conference room inside. They apologized, unnecessarily, about having to move indoors. As nice as it would have been out by the pool, I think many were happy to have the air conditioning. The farewell meal was really good – especially the grilled items. There was a beautiful dance performance followed by a nice recap video and speeches by Henry and Drew. They also went around and asked people what their favorite parts were.
     

    cschaaf

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Oct 19, 2013
    Day 12 of ABD –

    My wife and I had an early flight out – 11:30AM – so they booked us a car for 9:00. A group of people were planning to do Siem Reap at sunrise. We could have done that and made it back in plenty of time, but we had a long travel day (it would be 37 hours of travel that day), so we decided to skip that. I think only a few actually made it. We got loaded in the car and Henry, Drew, and about 6 – 8 hotel employees came out to waive goodbye.

    We had a 7 hour connection in Guangzhou, China so, before we left home, I bought a Priority Pass so that we could use one of the airline clubs. I found a 40% off code for the card, then we had to pay $32 each. Total, it cost about $140. We went to the best reviewed club and checked in. It was nice enough, but wasn't anything outstanding. It was nice to have our own space and a place to plug stuff in - except, I had packed all of my outlet converters in my checked bag. I think we only used one once during the trip. I asked at the desk and they found one in lost and found that I borrowed then returned.

    We had hoped they would have good internet and we could stream nextflix or upload pictures, but it was so slow, you'd have to re-try any website multiple times before you got it to load. In the end, I think it was worth the money just to be somewhere a bit more relaxing. The pass is good for a year, so maybe we'll get to use it again before it expires.

    This was such a great trip! There were so many highlights it was hard to pick favorites.

    The food was all really good. The only meal that wasn’t outstanding was at the hotel in Hanoi. In Hanoi, we also had lunch at the airport. There weren’t a lot of choices, but we had some banh mi that were pretty good. There were no lunch or dinner buffets or boxed lunches, to that was a huge plus! After our Viking China trip, we didn't eat Chinese food at home for months - we were so tired of it. Immediately after this trip, I am missing the SE Asia foods.

    The guides were really good. They have to balance a lot to make sure both kids and adults are entertained and happy.

    We’ll definitely consider ABD in the future for trips!
     

    CaliforniaGirl09

    DIS Veteran
    Joined
    Dec 4, 2009
    Day 12 of ABD –

    My wife and I had an early flight out – 11:30AM – so they booked us a car for 9:00. A group of people were planning to do Siem Reap at sunrise. We could have done that and made it back in plenty of time, but we had a long travel day (it would be 37 hours of travel that day), so we decided to skip that. I think only a few actually made it. We got loaded in the car and Henry, Drew, and about 6 – 8 hotel employees came out to waive goodbye.

    We had a 7 hour connection in Guangzhou, China so, before we left home, I bought a Priority Pass so that we could use one of the airline clubs. I found a 40% off code for the card, then we had to pay $32 each. Total, it cost about $140. We went to the best reviewed club and checked in. It was nice enough, but wasn't anything outstanding. It was nice to have our own space and a place to plug stuff in - except, I had packed all of my outlet converters in my checked bag. I think we only used one once during the trip. I asked at the desk and they found one in lost and found that I borrowed then returned.

    We had hoped they would have good internet and we could stream nextflix or upload pictures, but it was so slow, you'd have to re-try any website multiple times before you got it to load. In the end, I think it was worth the money just to be somewhere a bit more relaxing. The pass is good for a year, so maybe we'll get to use it again before it expires.

    This was such a great trip! There were so many highlights it was hard to pick favorites.

    The food was all really good. The only meal that wasn’t outstanding was at the hotel in Hanoi. In Hanoi, we also had lunch at the airport. There weren’t a lot of choices, but we had some banh mi that were pretty good. There were no lunch or dinner buffets or boxed lunches, to that was a huge plus! After our Viking China trip, we didn't eat Chinese food at home for months - we were so tired of it. Immediately after this trip, I am missing the SE Asia foods.

    The guides were really good. They have to balance a lot to make sure both kids and adults are entertained and happy.

    We’ll definitely consider ABD in the future for trips!
    Great trip report--sounds like a fantastic trip. Thanks so much for the write up :)
     

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