travel guide Vietnam

Getting from Ho Chi Minh City to Siem Reap (and return)

Located in northern Cambodia, Siem Reap is the main access point to the Angkor Archaeological Park. The number of travelers who travel from Saigon Angkorwat is increasing so this route has become quite popular (especially among those who also prefer to travel by bus and pass through Phnom Penh to visit the Golden Pagoda and Silver Pagoda).

Quick summary

Most travelers definitely prefer to take either the direct bus between Ho Chi Minh City and Siep Reap or travel to Phnom Penh by bus and then take a boat to Siep Reap. This takes quite a long time but it’s scenic and cheap. Alternatively you can travel in 1 h and pay from US$173 for a train ticket.

Flights from Ho Chi Minh City (airport code: SGN) to Siem Reap

Tan Son Nhat International Airport (SGN) serves Ho Chi Minh City and is Vietnam’s largest airport. It is also hub for Air Mekong, Jetstar Pacific Airlines, VASCO and Vietnam Airlines. Siem Reap is served by an international airport (REP), the second largest in Cambodia.

Direct flights between the two cities are run by Cambodia Ankor Air and Vietnam Airlines. Single adult tickets start at US$173. The travel time is 1 h.

>> read more about Cheap Flights to Ho Chi Minh City

Bus or bus and boat from Ho Chi Minh City to Siem Reap

Starting with April 2009 there’s a direct bus service between Ho Chi Minh City and Siem Reap. It passes through Phnom Penh, Cambodia’s capital. The one way adult fare is US$18. The bus departs at 7 a.m. daily from both cities.

Alternatively you can take the bus to Phnom Penh – there are several departures daily, with fares at US$12-14 one way – and then travel by bus or boat to Siem Reap. Buses take 6 hrs and tickets cost about US$10, while the boat ride also takes 6h but the ticket is about US$35.

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travel guide Vietnam

Getting from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City (and return)

Ho Chi Minh City – commonly known as Saigon – is the largest city in Vietnam. It used to be the capital of South Vietnam. It is filled with museums and religious sites. It is also popular for its markets. Many travelers choose to visit both Hanoi and Saigon, making traveling between the two cities a very popular route.

Quick summary

Traveling by train and flying cost about the same, but if you choose to fly you’ll get between Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi in little over 2hours. Trains take 30-35 hours and it’s a good choice if you want to see the countryside while you travel.

Flights from Ho Chi Minh City / Saigon (airport code: SGN) to Hanoi

Tan Son Nhat International Airport (SGN) is Vietnam’s largest airport and serves Ho Chi Minh City. It is hub for Air Mekong, Jetstar Pacific Airlines, VASCO and Vietnam Airlines. Hanoi’s airport is the largest in the north part of the country and is also hub for Air Mekong and Vietnam Airlines.

Flights between the two cities are run by Air Mekong, Jetstart Pacific Airways and Vietnam Airlines. Single adult fares start at US$87 on Jetstar, while return fares start at US$155 (on the same airline). The flight time is 2h 10 min.

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>> Cheap Flights to Hanoi
>> Cheap Flights to Ho Chi Minh City

Trains from Ho Chi Minh City to Hanoi

The North – South ‘Reunification’ Main Line connects the two cities, Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi. During the entire year there are 5 trains, while over the Tet holiday more trains are added. The travel time between the two cities is about 30 -35 hours.

It’s advised to choose the SE1 (7 p.m. daily) and SE3 (11 p.m. daily) trains, as they have three types of sleepers , all with AC and a restaurant car. Tickets range between 1008000 dong / US$48.50 (soft seat AC) and 1565000 dong / US$75 (soft sleeper AC).

>>read more about Train travel in Vietnam

Buses from Ho Chi Minh City to Hanoi

There are buses connecting the two cities. Instead of seats, they have beds inside. And there are also toilets. The total travel time is about 30 hours and the single adult fare is US$43-50. Buses are run by Hoang Long Company (which doesn’t have a website). In Hanoi , they depart from Luong Vien bus station.

>>read more about Bus travel in Vietnam

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travel guide Vietnam

Getting from Hanoi to Hue (and return)

Hue, the former imperial capital of Vietnam, is located in the center of the country. It is directly connected to the Nguyễn Dynasty. During the Vietnam War it went through hard times when it was conquered by Viet Cong and then bombarded by the Americans. Many travelers visit the city for the Imperial Citadel and the Tombs of the Emperors.

Quick summary

Trains are the best choice for traveling between Hanoi and Hue. You’ll spend 13-15 hours traveling but you’ll be in a comfortable bed with AC and also have access to restaurant car. If you are in a hurry, consider flying (about three times as expensive as the train).

Flights from Hanoi (airport code: HAN) to Hue

Noi Bai International Airport (HAN) is the airport serving Hanoi , a hub for Air Mekong and Vietnam Airlines. Hue is served by Phu Bai International Airport (HUI) and only receives flights from Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City.

Flights between the two cities are run only by Vietnam Airlines, which means there’s no competition on the route and the rates are not very low. If you book via large booking engines (such as Kayak), a single adult fare starts at US$200. On local websites you can find flights (for the same dates and airline) from US$87. The flight time is 1h 10 min.

>>read more about Cheap Flights to Hanoi

Trains from Hanoi to Hue

Hue is located on the North – South ‘Reunification’ Main Line, which connects the capital of Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City. Over the years this route has seen some improvements, all trains having AC cars.

There are 6 main trains connecting Hanoi to Hue daily (more connections available during the Tet holiday period). The travel time between the two cities is between 13 hours and 15 hours, depending on the train you choose. Overnight trains are available.

The SE1 (7 p.m. daily) and SE3 (11 p.m. daily) trains are the best choices as they have three types of sleepers , all with AC and a restaurant car. Tickets range from 442000 dong / US$21.20 (soft seat, AC) to 748000 dong / US$36 (soft sleeper AC).

>>read more about Train travel in Vietnam

Buses from Hanoi to Hue

There are frequent buses connecting Hanoi to Hue, a route which is mostly popular among locals. The travel time is 13-14 hours and if you have problems with motion sickness it’s advisable to choose another means of transportation. For this route, tourists are advised to take the train as it offers a more comfortable alternative at good prices.

>>read more about Bus travel in Vietnam

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travel guide Vietnam

Getting from Hanoi to Sapa (and return)

Sapa is a picturesque village located in northern Vietnam, close to the border with China. It is a major travel destination and is appreciate both for its landscape and cultural diversity. The surrounding countryside is characterized by lush vegetation, rice terraces and you can also find the highest peak in Vietnam here. Along with Halong Bay, Sapa is another popular side trip from Hanoi.

Unless you plan to rent a motorbike and drive 10 hours from Hanoi to Sapa, the only way to travel between the two cities is by train (followed by a short bus ride).

Trains from Hanoi to Sapa

The trains to Lao Chai depart from part “B” of Hanoi’s main railway station. Lao Cai is about 40 km from Sapa and that’s where the train station is (Sapa doesn’t have one). From there you can take a shuttle bus for the remaining part of the trip (ticket: 40000 dong / about US$2, but you can bargain to 30000 dong).

The train journey – on tourist (private) trains – from Hanoi to Lao Cai is between 7 h 30 min and 8 h 30 min, depending on the type of train you choose. All are night trains (leaving Hanoi from 8:35 p.m. to 9:55 p.m.) and fares range from US$35 (4 berth cabin, AC) to US$85 (VIP cabin, express train).

The normal Vietnamese railways trains take 10 hours to get from Hanoi to Lao Cai. There are 5 (five) departures a day, the earliest at 6:10 a.m. There are also 3 night trains (9:10 p.m., 9:50 p.m. and 10 p.m.). The single adult fare on overnight trains ranges from 210000 dong / US$10 (soft seat AC or hard sleeper) and 450000 dong / US$21.60(soft sleeper, AC). The single adult fares on daytime trains are: 110000 dong / US$5.30 hard seat and 133000 dong / US$6.40soft seat.

>>read more about Train travel in Vietnam
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travel guide Vietnam

Visit Vietnam this September and enjoy the beach

Not many travelers know that Vietnam is one of the cheap beach destinations in the world. China Beach, located close to Da Nang – the country’s third largest city -, is a surfers’ paradise and thanks to its location, swimming and other water activities are possible here year round.

So why not head to Vietnam this September? In general, getting tickets to Vietnam is not a very expensive deal. Consider flying through one of the large travel hubs in Asia, such as Bangkok. Flights from London to Ho Chi Minh City start at US$1068 return , while if you leave from New York you’ll pay from US$1030 return. Both flights require a stopover (either in Bangkok or in Hong Kong).

From Ho Chi Minh City, travel to Da Nang by plane, train or bus. Unless you want to see the country while you travel and don’t plan to make additional stops along the way, you can get a domestic cheap flight between the two cities. Otherwise, buses are the cheapest option.

You should look for budget accommodation in Da Nang , as it’s the closest large town to China Beach. Expect to pay from US$30 per room, per night in mid-range hotels.

Another option in Vietnam is Nha Trang, the most famous sea side resort in the county. Aside from swimming and soaking up the sun, you can try diving and snorkeling or see some of the waterfalls located near-by.

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travel guide Vietnam

Getting from Hanoi to Halong Bay (and return)

Halong Bay is located in northern Vietnam, about 170 km from the capital of Hanoi . It is famous for the rock formations jotting out of the water. The site is best seen by boat and that’s why most travelers come here on a boat tour or cruise from Hanoi. However, it’s also possible to travel to Halong Bay independently and then tour the bay by boat.

Buses from Hanoi to Halong Bay

There are public buses departing every 30 minutes, from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.., from Hanoi. Buses depart from Gia Lam Station and Luong Yen station. The price is 50000 dong (at the time the article was written). The travel time is 5 to 6 hours, depending on how often the driver stops.

>>read more about Bus travel in Vietnam

Driving from Hanoi to Halong Bay

You can rent a car in Hanoi and drive to Halong Bay. The shortest driving route between Hanoi and Halong Bay is 144 km and it can be covered is less than 3 hours.

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Croatia travel guide

Post-Breakup Vacation Destinations: What about Croatia?

Of the many things that inspire people to pack a bag and get out of town, breaking up with a long-time love is definitely among the major reasons. When the choices are to wallow in self-pity or get into unfamiliar surroundings to take your mind off of things, travelers often choose the latter. But are some places better destinations for the broken-hearted than others?

Oh, yes.

There’s no stopping the recently-de-coupled from going to Paris or Venice or Hawaii, and there’s a chance they could have a fantastic time. There’s also a distinct possibility that being surrounded on all sides by honeymooners, second-honeymooners, and just random couples taking advantage of their romantic surroundings to get all smoochy in public might not be the right vibe if you’re trying to forget that you’re suddenly solo.

For a destination with equally gorgeous scenery that happens to (for the moment, anyway) rest way down the honeymoon-destination ladder, may we humbly submit Croatia for your post-breakup holiday?

If you’re going to need to get used to living on a single income, picking a place that won’t cost a fortune is a good idea to begin with – and in Croatia, you’ll get many of the perks of Western Europe without the high Western European prices. Airfare to Croatia may be a little higher than airfare into Frankfurt or Paris or other major European hubs, but once you’re in the country you’ll pay far less for similar views, meals, and hotel rooms than you would in the coastal towns of Italy or France.

There are plenty of opportunities to simply relax and soak up the sun in Croatia, but if you want to be active it’s a great destination for that, too. Going for hikes through the country’s glorious national parks can help you keep your mind focused on the right-now rather than wafting back into a melancholy past.

And should you want to be shaken out of your reverie, it isn’t hard to find people to chat with, either. Croatia may not be on the top-10 list of countries visited by American tourists, but it’s well-known as a vacation spot by people all over Europe, so if you’re up for a conversation there will be people around to chat with. You may have better luck finding friendly travelers in the more popular cities and towns – it may be easier to meet people in Dubrovnik, for instance, than a smaller town inland from the coast – but there are friendly people everywhere.

Croatia may not heal your broken heart completely, but if it takes your mind off your troubles for a little while to help you get past the worst of it, that’s a pretty good deal.

photo by Mike-wise

Planning a Trip Portugal

Getting from Lisbon to Seville (and return)

Lisbon , the capital of Portugal , has started to gain even more popularity among travelers. It is one of the rare Western European capitals which faces the water and surely knows how to use this for its own advantage. The hidden alleys, the superb views and the contemporary culture make it a desired travel destination year round.

Seville is the cultural capital of Andalucia, Spain. It lies on the bank of Guadalquivir River, which creates a romantic background. There are many places to visit in Seville and a lot of things to do.

Quick summary

Flights between the two cities are on the pricey side, so your best bet is taking the bus. Or you can rent a car and drive between Lisbon and Seville.

Flights from Lisbon (airport code: LIS) to Seville

Seville Airport is hub for both Ryanair and Vueling but neither offer flights between Lisbon and Porto. TAP Portugal and Spainair offer direct flights between the two cities. A single adult ticket starts at €217 while a return adult ticket starts at €279. The flight time is 1 h.

>>read more about Cheap Flights to Lisbon

Trains from Lisbon to Seville

Traveling by train from Lisbon to Seville is not exactly an option, as you have to connect in Madrid. Plus, you’ll be spending a lot of time traveling as you need to stay overnight in Madrid.

Buses from Lisbon to Seville

There is one bus company which offers direct connections between Lisbon and Porto: ALSA . There are two departures a day (9:30 a.m. and 9 p.m.). The travel time is 7 h 15 min. An adult single ticket is €37 while a return ticket is €63.

Driving from Lisbon

Probably the easiest way to get between the two cities is by rental car . Ask the company whether you can take the car to Spain and enjoy the drive. The driving distance is 462 km and you should be able to get between the two cities in 4 hours.

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Alaska travel guide

Seeing the Northern Lights in Alaska

The Northern Lights, or Aurora Borealis, are a phenomenon that occurs near the north pole during the Northern Hemisphere’s winter. Charged particles collide with atoms in the high altitude atmosphere, causing an aurora, or light display.

These can be green, red, yellow-green, or purplish-red and may show up as lines, curtains or waves that remain still or gently undulate in the sky. Seeing the lights is a “bucket list” experience for many people who many plan northern trips in the hopes of seeing them.

The best time to see the lights is generally from late September to early March, and one of the best places to see the Northern Lights is in Alaska. Bear Lake , located near the town of Seward offers some of the best viewing, as there is very little light pollution nearby. For this same reason, some dedicated viewers choose camping in Alaska rather than staying in a city. However, they can still be seen in cities on the clearest of nights. For example, Fairbanks, the largest city in the interior region of Alaska, is also ideal thanks to its high altitude.

Many companies arrange Northern Lights viewing tours, but really these aren’t necessary. The guide will help you find the best vantage point and arrange all the logistics, but with a little research and preparation you can do this on your own. Of course, even with all the preparation in the world, you’re still left at the mercy of the weather and the atmosphere when it comes to your chances of viewing the Lights. You can fly to Alaska, camp out in a prime viewing spot or spring for a pricey tour, but if heavy clouds decide to blanket the skies, you’ll have no hope of an Aurora Borealis experience. In some respects, it all comes down to luck.

Photo by Beverly & Pack

Sweden Things to Do

Visiting Stockholm can be affordable

Stockholm is a lively, cosmopolite and beautiful European city. Sweden’s capital sits on 14 islands, connected by 500 bridges and offers an interesting Old Town, along with many parks and gardens. However, Sweden is not exactly a very cheap place to visit, and, as a result, tourists often avoid planning a vacation here.

Most of the city’s attractions are located in the inner city. Norrmalm is the commercial district and where you should look for shopping opportunities. The Old Town is dominated by the Royal Palace and the Riksdag (the Parliament). But if you want to see most of the attractions, then you are better off using a Stockholm Card. The 72 hours one costs about US$100 but most entrance fees start at US$15 so it will quickly pay for itself.

Planning to visit Stockholm on a budget means you should use the public transportation ; plus if you use the tub, the cost of transportation is included in the Stockholm Card. Also, when planning to eat out, avoid the Old Town where everything is overpriced. Most Stockholm hostels also have a common kitchen so you can buy groceries at the store and cook for yourself. Not to mention that you’ll also save on accommodation, if you choose a hostel.

Aside from accommodation, airfare to Stockholm will also burn a hole in your pocket. So, plan your vacation a bit in advance (4 to 6 weeks before the departure). And also look for low cost carriers which fly into Stockholm.

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