It looks like Anna and I will be visiting Siem Reap (Angkor, Cambodia) and Vietnam in early May. Initially we were going to do a tour to Angkor, then just travel on our own through Vietnam. However the cost of the tour + flights to Saigon, Hanoi, and back to Siem Reap were about $400 more than flights going from LAX->Siem Reap->Saigon->Hanoi->LAX. The relatively low travel cost in these countries made that extra money seem like a lot to spend. Doing it from the tour would have also meant more travel time overall. So.. Flight package it is.
It looks like our itinerary will be something like this: 4 days in Siem Reap (Angkor), 4 days in Saigon, 3 days in Hanoi, 2 in Halong Bay. Anyone who has traveled in these countries is probably screaming “not enough time!” I know, but there never is. I have two weeks to spend. I’d like to spend them here. There are many other places in the world to visit, but I feel a sense of urgency about these countries.
Much like Peru, I see Cambodia and Vietnam as very changed by tourism in the last decade, but posed for even greater infrastructure and cultural changes as they become tourist destinations. It is already too late in some respects – 4 star resorts and all that jazz. I know from my experience at Machu Picchu that my enjoyment of ruins in particular is directly related to how much free space I have to roam. Selfish? Of course. I hope we can avoid some of the rush by going in a lower season – its going to be hot, and it will be just before the summer break. Angkor is also a very large area, so I hope there will still be many opportunities to explore away from the crowds. Time will tell.