Southeast Asia is one of the most travel-friendly regions in the world. Their tourism is booming, the prices are low compared to our standards and the weather is always great.
However, moving around big countries with relatively poor infrastructure is time-consuming and most travelers cannot commit to visiting more than one spot in one go.
The Cambodia vs Vietnam dilemma is one that Asia aficionados struggle with the most. The two countries’ histories are intertwined, yet they both managed to have kept their distinct culture and voice.
We have assembled a list of reasons to visit one over the other. See for yourself which country’s strong points you find more convincing. Or better even, find enough time to visit both – you will (only) need several weeks.
20 Cambodia: The Best Beaches And Islands In SE Asia
Cambodia has white sand tropical beaches and the best ones can be found in the country’s many islands. The photograph above was taken on Koh Rong, the second largest and one of the most popular ones as there are beaches and activities for all kinds of travelers.
19 Vietnam: Treat Yourself To A Yummy Bowl Of Pho
While traveling in Vietnam, it is virtually impossible to not try pho (pronounced as ‘fuh’) at some point. Pho is a tasty and healthy broth with noodles, chicken or beef and an array of garnishes. You can find it anywhere: people sell it both on the streets and in high-end restaurants.
18 Cambodia: The Concept Of Tourist Traps Hasn't Reached Cambodia (Yet)
Everyone who has been to South East Asia knows that it can be intense: people try to haggle with tourists on every step of the way and scam their gullible souls – especially in taxi cabs. In Cambodia, however, you are less likely to get conned without you knowing it.
17 Vietnam: A Versatile And Geographically Dynamic Destination
Vietnam has it all. Whether you are looking for a city-break or a secluded time offline, you are covered there. Also, its geography spans from mountains, jungles, and caves to beaches and rivers. Consider yourself informed though: Both the urban and the rural areas are well-worth visiting!
16 Cambodia: It Is Hard To Find More Authentic And Friendly Locals Than Cambodians
Travelers who go to Cambodia often come home with an important realization: the people’s warmth and friendliness are a reason enough to visit. We live in a world where we often forget to be considerate to people around us and Cambodian locals might teach us a lesson in compassion and human kindness.
15 Vietnam: Halong Bay Is The Ultimate Bucket List Item
Halong bay’s emerald waters and limestone islands became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1994. Located close to Hanoi, most travelers take time to see this natural gem and take a kayaking tour there. If time allows it, consider going to the nearby Cat Ba island as well.
14 Cambodia: Sihanoukville Welcomes Backpackers Looking To Have Some Fun
Those who are passing through Cambodia cannot avoid Sihanoukville as it is a gateway to get to the previously mentioned tropical islands. Those who seek a fun night out or some rest often stick around the city itself as it is a prominent hub of hostels and bars.
13 Vietnam: Night Buses Are An Amazing Game Changer In Transportation
Vietnam has made sure that long-distance bus rides don’t discourage travelers. Bus tickets can often be bought at hotels and they even pick up travelers there. Once aboard, you have as much legroom as those who fly first class. Often, there are even curtains, so you can enjoy some privacy.
12 Cambodia: The World-Famous Sunrise At Angkor Wat
Angkor Wat is one of the top tourist sites in Cambodia. It is especially mesmerizing during the sunrise when you can see the temple’s silhouette against the early morning sky. This huge Hindu temple complex is almost a thousand years old and it is the world’s largest religious building.
11 Vietnam: The View Of Rice Fields In The Mountainous Town Of SaPa Are Worth The Drive
Sapa is located in the far northwestern part of Vietnam, close to the Chinese border. Many travelers choose to do a detour to this town in order to do some hiking and see the Hoang Lien National Park. The visit is not complete without visiting the famous paddy fields.
10 Cambodia: The Country's History Needs To Be Heard
Cambodia is rich in both ancient and modern history. The area was populated 40,000 years ago! We recommend learning about the glorious era of the Angkor kingdom from the 9th to 15th century and the tragic destiny of approximately 2 million people during the Khmer Rouge era in the 1970s.
9 Vietnam: If You Can Only Visit One Place, Visit Hoi An
No city in Vietnam is as picturesque as Hoi An, a city filled with colorful lanterns and water canals. The old part of town is full of quaint shops, markets, and restaurants. Tourists often treat themselves to a tailored piece of clothing while in town and do some shopping.
8 Cambodia: Cardamom Mountains Are An Amazing Place To Do Some Jungle Trekking
Jungle trekking in Cambodia is for thrill-seeking adventurers and environmentalists. The rainforest there is essentially untouched and boasts amazing biodiversity. It is home to many endangered species, such as tigers, sun bears, and leopards. Worry not, you are very unlikely to run into one if you choose to visit!
7 Vietnam: The Motorcyclist's Dream Ride
The coolest way to travel Vietnam is on a motorcycle. The idea is to buy yourself a bike in Ho Chi Minh City in the south and ride it all the way up to Hanoi or vice versa. You will not miss a single vista that way!
6 Cambodia: All The Animal Lovers Get Some Quality Time With Elephants
Cambodia has many elephant sanctuaries. By visiting one of them, you support elephant conservation and get to see some friendly giants while you are at it. The animals are not exploited and tourists may not ride them. For those passionate about saving the elephants, some organizations offer volunteering positions.
5 Vietnam: The Huge Mekong Delta Offers An Insight Into A Simpler Way Of Life
The Mekong is one of the longest Asian rivers and in the south of Vietnam, its delta becomes a maze of swamps, smaller rivers, and islands. The biggest city in the delta is Cần Thơ, famous for its floating markets and a starting point for visiting smaller agricultural communities.
4 Cambodia: The Hidden Gem Of Battambang Offers The True Cambodian Experience
Battambang is Cambodia’s second-largest city and many tourists skip it. But they are missing out: it is a place of immense history where everyone can learn something about the local culture. Do not miss out on taking a ride on the quirky bamboo train, depicted in the photograph above.
3 Vietnam: The Imperial City Of Hue Is Hauntingly Stunning
History buffs should not miss Hue, located in central Vietnam. This architectural jewel used to be the capital in times when Vietnam was a kingdom. Sadly, some of the historic sites were damaged during the Vietnam War. There is also a cool abandoned water-park that tourists can visit.
2 Cambodia: Proper Khmer Cuisine Is Hard To Find Outside Of The Country
While some of the world’s cuisine can be found in almost any given developed country, authentic Khmer restaurants are very hard to find. While there, make sure to try some of their traditional dishes, such as fish amok and lap Khmer. The food is not as spicy as Thai.
1 Vietnam: The Coffee Is Out Of This World
Vietnamese coffee is a definite gourmet highlight. It is strong, refreshing and tasty. You can get it with sweetened condensed milk – it is a treat! It comes in many varieties: there’s the egg coffee, coconut coffee, and more adventurous flavors. When there, you can try the famous weasel coffee as well.