Asia is renowned for its awe-inspiring natural beauty and captivating culture. From the enchanting Hindu temples in Bali to the ancient structures of China and the richly flavored dishes of India, this region offers a plethora of travel options. Among the many incredible destinations, two countries stand out – Cambodia and Vietnam.
While these neighboring countries share similarities in tradition, cuisine, and scenery, they each possess their own distinct natural wonders, concrete jungles, and captivating cultures. Choosing which one to visit first can be a tough decision, but fear not! We have created a comprehensive comparative list to help you make the right choice.
Cambodia boasts diverse and unique landscapes that will leave an indelible mark on your heart (and inundate your camera roll). From expansive forests and powerful rivers to captivating mountain ranges and breathtaking lakes, Cambodia’s natural beauty is unparalleled.
Prepare to be amazed by the country’s national parks, such as Ream National Park, which teems with diverse wildlife and vital ecosystems. Bokor National Park boasts dense jungles with cascading waterfalls and tranquil mountain streams. And let’s not forget the paradise-like islands such as Koh Totang and Koh Thmei, where you’ll feel like you’ve discovered a hidden gem.
Halong Bay, Vietnam
Vietnam’s landscapes are equally famous, with natural wonders like Halong Bay, adorned with rising islets and unspoiled nature, and Mai Chau, known for its picturesque rice paddies and misty mountains. While the geography and environment of Vietnam resemble Cambodia’s, its landscapes are simply out of this world.
Featuring majestic mountains that seem to touch the clouds, dense forests teeming with fascinating flora and fauna, and sharing the mighty Mekong River with Cambodia, Vietnam’s scenery is extraordinary. The untouched beauty of Vietnam’s terrain makes you feel like an explorer, discovering its picturesque landscapes for the first time.
Market food, Cambodia
Cambodia’s cuisine defies expectations and offers delightful surprises. While you may anticipate rice, noodles, and stir-fries, the culinary delights of this eccentric country will astonish you. Cambodian dishes are known for their bold flavors and mouthwatering taste. Whether you indulge in tropical fruits like jackfruit, mango, and watermelon or savor a serving of fish amok, Cambodia’s national dish, you’ll never go hungry in this country.
Street food in Vietnam
Vietnamese cuisine, influenced by neighboring cultures, emphasizes freshness and the use of herbs and vegetables. While traces of French colonialism can still be found in Vietnamese cuisine, it has evolved into its own vibrant and delicious style. From delectable noodle soups and savory pancakes to baguettes filled with traditional meats and mixed vegetables, Vietnam offers a variety of flavors and textures. Whether you prefer sweet or sour, steamed or fried, crunchy or soft, Vietnam has it all. Your taste buds will sing praises long after you return home.
Angkor Wat, Cambodia
Cambodia’s culture is deeply rooted in ancient traditions, kindness, and humility. With Buddhism as the predominant religion, you can expect to witness various religious festivals and everyday celebrations during your visit. The warm and humble hospitality of Cambodians will make your journey memorable. You’ll encounter orange-robed monks praying at small shrines and explore magnificent temples such as Angkor Wat, Bayon, and Banteay Srei, each showcasing unique architectural designs and intricate sculptures.
A traditional Citadel in Hue, Vietnam
Vietnamese culture, similar to Cambodia’s, emphasizes family connections and draws inspiration from various neighboring cultures. Ancestral respect and traditional celebrations are integral parts of daily life. Whether Buddhist, Confucian, Taoist, or Catholic, the Vietnamese people prioritize harmony and modesty. Disagreements are rare, and optimism and humility prevail. Experience the vibrant festivities and rituals that bring families together during festivals and national holidays.
Siem Reap, Cambodia
Cambodia’s cities are vibrant and brimming with beauty. Chaotic yet charming, they offer bustling markets, ornate temples, colonial-style buildings, and vibrant riverfront bars. Phnom Penh, the capital city, presents a unique blend of history and modernity. Battambang offers an authentic and peaceful experience, while Siem Reap boasts trendy restaurants and an epic street food scene. If you crave serenity, Cambodia also offers small towns and charming villages, from Kampot with its cascading waterfalls to the captivating ruins of Angkor.
Hoi An, Vietnam
Vietnam’s cities are a perfect blend of chaos and charm. From the rooftop cafes and bustling streets of Hanoi to the impressive imperial sites and scented river of Hue, each city offers its own unique experience. Hoi An enchants with its ancient town and vibrant lanterns, while Ho Chi Minh City dazzles with its bustling markets and modern skyscrapers. Whether you seek romance in Dalat’s serene lakes and forests or a beach getaway in Qui Nhon’s sleepy coastal town, Vietnam has a city to suit every taste.
Cambodia’s climate is tropical, with hot and humid temperatures prevalent throughout the year due to monsoon winds. The country experiences two distinct seasons – the wet season (May to mid-November) and the dry season (mid-November to April). Even during the wet season, temperatures can reach the mid to high 30°Cs (or even 40°C), so staying hydrated and protecting your skin from the sun’s UV rays is essential. The dry season offers the best weather for exploring, but the wet season showcases Cambodia’s lush landscapes with vibrant rice paddies and tropical foliage.
Halong Bay, Vietnam
Vietnam’s climate is influenced by tropical monsoons and its diverse landscape. Like Cambodia, Vietnam experiences two distinct seasons – the wet season (May to October) and the dry season (November to April). However, temperature variations depend on the region. Northern mountainous areas can drop to a chilly 4°C in winter, while Ho Chi Minh City can reach a scorching 36°C during the dry season. Regardless of the season, Vietnam’s diverse geography ensures great weather somewhere in the country.
Deciding whether to visit Cambodia or Vietnam first is like having to choose between dinner and dessert – you want both! Therefore, we propose the only acceptable solution: visit both countries on the same trip.
Experience the best of Southeast Asia with our Vietnam and Cambodia tours. From exploring iconic landmarks to immersing yourself in vibrant cultures, this holiday of a lifetime will leave you with unforgettable memories. Embark on an adventure that showcases the beauty and wonders of Cambodia and Vietnam.
Ekilove is ready to make your dream journey come true!