We are 2 women from the USA traveling to SE Asia for the first time and unfortunately we only have the first 2 weeks of October. Because of a great deal for the ticket, we are landing in Bangkok and flying out of Ho Chi Minh. I am having trouble figuring out an itinerary. Our last trip was to Costa Rica, where a big chunk of it was washed out by rain. We don't mind sightseeing in the rain, but monsoons are a different story. Traveling through Cambodia seemed like the logical choice at first, but then I read that this is a rainy time. Then I saw $50 flights to and within Vietnam as well as the over night trains and my focus went there since it seemed like better weather and we could see more easily.
Angor Wat seems amazing, but so does Halong Bay and Hoi An. Ugh, I don't know what to do.
Any advice on our itinerary for the time frame and the time of year would be great.
We are into nature, culture, food.
Thank you so much!
"Ugh, I don't know what to do."
First off know that Thailand may be a lot bigger than you may think. (Bigger than the UK for instance.) Tourists visit every single day of the year no matter if it is rainy, hot or mild weather. The rain usually does not fall everywhere in the country at the same time. Often the rain stops in an hour or two. Some cities may not have rain and for others it may be pouring outside. If it rains you do inside things - visit a mall, eat lunch, hit a pub or bar, catch up on sleep or visit a covered tourist site. Have a small fold up umbrella in your walk-around bag. (Also in this bag have some TP and some wet-wipes for cleaning hands off when away from your hotel. Not all toilets will have TP, sometimes no water to wash hands - hence TP and wet-wipes! Cheaper to buy wet-wipes in Thailand from supermarkets and pharmacies.)
"Because of a great deal for the ticket, we are landing in Bangkok and flying out of Ho Chi Minh."
Does this mean you will enter with a one way plane ticket or fly back from Saigon to Bangkok and then fly home?
Thailand is big enough for someone to spend 30 days just in that country! All of Thailand has summertime type weather. Even during the rainy season it is rare you can't find some sunshine for a tan. Below weather link and other research will show better on a laptop/desktop computer than a smart phone.
Two weeks and 2 countries is sort of doable but you don't get your money's worth spending a lot of time on the road or in airports! Fly to Saigon from Thailand. If you enter Thailand with the free Visa Exemption stamp you get at the airport your departure airport may ask for you to produce a plane ticket out of Thailand within 30 days!
Bangkok, beach area (Hua Hin 4 hours from Bangkok) and fly to Saigon. Or skip the beach and go for Bangkok, Chiang Mai and Saigon HCM. Visa required for Vietnam. Unless you can change the flight out of HCM save Cambodia for next time! Research distance between Bangkok and any other city you want to visit.
Do a forum search and Google search for hints for traveling this area. For Thailand changing dollars in Thailand gives you the best exchange rate. No old currency, no tears, no writing or stains on your hundred dollar bills. If you plan on using a debit card notify your bank first. Don't leave Vietnam with their money, hard to change in another country. US dollars are used in Vietnam but you should have a little VN dong for cheap purchases and making change.
You can't escape all of the rain. Some days you are lucky with little rain and some days not so lucky! When I was in Vietnam it seemed to rain at lunch time and supper time pretty often. It is warm rain and you just get used to it. (Restaurants are covered, rain shouldn't stop you from eating.)
Make the best of what you get!
1 night in Halong Bay
2 nights in Hanoi
3 nights in Hoian
If you have 2 nights more, you can visit Hue.