South East Asia’s most infamous travel route, the Indochina Trail traverses Thailand, Cambodia & Vietnam. This trip is very exciting, especially among travelers embarking on their first multi-country journey in the region.

I highly recommend it because you’ll be able to see many awe-inspiring sights including the Grand Palace & temples in Thailand, majestic Angkor temples in Cambodia & energetic urban scene in Vietnam. Of course, all the while enjoying the different cultures and cuisines along the way.

I’ve followed this trail (not in exact order) and been to these three countries separately a number of times. Because of its popularity, the trip is very doable even with little planning.

This itinerary guide will make it easy for you to enjoy your Indochina adventure. I’ve included important things to prepare and detailed step-by-step tips. Followed by budget estimates, recommended places to stay & extra tips that can help you save money and time.

Travel Checklist

Before we go on with the actual itinerary, here are things that you might need to prepare and bring for a hassle-free trip. I’ll be discussing these items in more detail on the extra tips posted at the end of this guide.

Passport & Tourist Visa  — The most important thing you need to bring is a passport that must not expire within the next 6 months. Specifically, on arrival in the last country you’ll be visiting (Vietnam, if you follow this itinerary in exact order). Fortunately, Pinoy travelers can enjoy Visa-free travel to all three countries. For short stays, there’s no need to apply for a tourist visa before going.

Accommodations

Have your confirmed reservations in hand before arriving. Book your stay online for rock-bottom prices & instant confirmation. Reserve your room as soon as you know you are going because prices rarely go down the closer you are to your trip.

Click below to compare prices & read reviews by other travelers.

Bangkok hotel booking

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Siem Reap hotel booking

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Ho Chi Minh hotel booking

See discountsCheapest rates

Tours & Attraction tickets

You can go about this trip independently. In case you want to enjoy a guided tour, pre-booking online will save you money, avoid the hassles of exchanging and bringing large amounts of cash. You can even show your tickets as proof that you are traveling as a tourist, at immigration checkpoints. Click below to check prices.

Bangkok tour discountsSiem Reap discountsHo Chi Minh discounts

Flights & transport

Flight tickets — This is first thing that immigration officers might ask you to show. You must have a confirmed return plane ticket back to your home country or an onward flight to a country you’re allowed to enter. Also book your flights well in advance if you want to grab cheaper airfares.

Compare all airlinesSee more cheap flights

Bus & border crossing transfers — This itinerary makes use of land border crossing between Thailand-Cambodia & Cambodia-Vietnam. To maximize your trip, book single journey transfers that includes the border crossing instead of separate trips (a.k.a DIY). The point-to-point shuttle/bus will save you a lot of time & inconveniences from multiple transfers & scammers at the border.

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Indochina Itinerary

The 1 week itinerary below follows the route in reverse. It starts in Vietnam, continues to Cambodia & ends in Thailand. You can follow any order, but this one is a bit more suited to those flying from the Philippines. On a 7 days trip, you can explore the highlights of 3 main cities — Ho Chi Minh, Siem Reap & Bangkok. This itinerary can be adapted to fit 5 days (at the least), but I recommend extending your trip if you want to enjoy a more relaxed pace & more time to visit each country.

Leg 1 — Vietnam

Ben Thanh Market in District 1, Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam

Formerly Saigon, Ho Chi Minh (HCMC) is Vietnam’s most populated and chaotic city. Don’t let that scare you because the most of the major tourist sites & the main hotel/backpacker district are found in one small area — District 1.

The relative ease of traveling here is one of the big reasons why it’s an excellent country to start your trip & get acquainted with the travel experience in Southeast Asia.

Day 1 — Ho Chi Minh arrival

9 pm — ETA Ho Chi Minh Airport

Flights arrive at Tan Son Nhat-Ho Chi Minh International Airport (SGN), which is around 45 minutes away from the city center. You can go with the convenient taxi or the more affordable airport shuttle.

Make sure to click on the “Show more” buttons below to see must-know travel tips.

How to get to District 1 (HCMC City Center) from Ho Chi Minh Airport

By taxi —  Metered taxi rates range from VND 150,000 to VND 170,000 per ride. Go with a reputable taxi company like Vinasun or Mai Linh. Always check if the meter is on. Mai Linh is the top taxi company. They offer airport-city taxi transfers from VND 300,000 per ride, which is 2x more expensive than the regular metered fare.

By Uber/Grab — Ride-sharing apps are popular in Vietnam. Make sure to take advantage of them if you want a secure and hassle-free ride.

By bus — Ride Bus #109, which makes a final stop at Pham Ngu Lao street in District 1. The fare is VND 20,000 per person. This route operates from 5:30 am until 1:30 am, perfect for late night arrivals. You can also go on Bus #49, which also passes by Pham Ngu Lao & & popular hotel areas beyond. The fare is VND 40,000 per person. The cheapest way to District 1 is via Bus #152, which drops off passengers at the bus station near Ben Thanh. This route only runs until 6 pm. The fare is VND 5,000 per person.

10:30 pm — ETA District 1 & hotel check-in

Drop-off at District 1 at Pham Ngu Lao, Ho Chi Minh’s hotel & backpacker district.

Search below to find discounts & top rated places to stay.

Day 2 — Ho Chi Minh City tour

7:30 am — Ho Chi Minh – District 1 Walking Tour

Ho Chi Minh (Saigon) City Hall, in Vietnam

Start the day right with Vietnamese breakfast and coffee/tea at the local market or streetside stalls. Then, see the city’s surviving French-colonial heritage sites and museums that offer insight into the war-time history / independence movement of the country. Most of Ho Chi Minh’s top sights are located near each other & can be easily visited on a whole or half day walking tour.

Ho Chi Minh walking tour places to visit & things to do

Breakfast at Pham Ngu Lao Market

Ho Chi Minh City Hall

Saigon Norte-Dame Basilica

Saigon Central Post Office

Reunification Palace — VND 15,000 admission fee per adult.

War Remnants Museum — VND 15,000 admission fee per adult.

Saigon’s Lunch Lady

Jade Emperor Pagoda

Saigon Skydeck — VND 200,000 admission fee per adult.

Saigon guided tours

Click below if you want to check prices/book a guided tour of the city.

5:50 pm — Saigon after dark

Head to Nguyen Hue Walking Street for a scenic evening stroll. If you’re not ready to call it a night, enjoy cool drinks & sweeping views from one of many rooftop bars in Ho Chi Minh.

Visit the Ho Chi Minh Itinerary guide to see detailed tips on how to plan a trip.

See more Vietnam blogs & guides

Popular Ho Chi Minh tours & discounts

Planning to spend 2 days, 3 days or more in HCMC? Check out these online deals.

Leg 2 — Cambodia

Huge trees growing out of Ta Prohm (temple), in Angkor, Siem Reap, Cambodia

Day 3 — Vietnam-Cambodia border crossing

The 460-kilometer land journey from Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam to the next destination, Siem Reap, Cambodia usually takes 13 hours. A whole day on the road, basically. Most budget travelers go on the long-distance buses/shuttles because it is the cheapest way to cross from country to country. If you want to maximize your trip, flights are the best way to go. There are many budget airlines that fly between major destinations on the Indochina Trail. Keep a lookout for cheap flights weeks or months ahead of your trip.

7 am — Ho Chi Minh-Siem Reap bus/shuttle transfer

The trip from Ho Chi Minh to Siem Reap passes through the border gates in Moc Bai (Vietnam side) and Bavet (Cambodia side). The hassle-free way of going about it is by booking the whole journey with a reputable bus company. Including Giant Ibis Transport, Mekong Express or Capitol Tours. The fare is around USD 32 per person per way.

Ho Chi Minh to Siem Reap tickets

Click below to see current prices you can book online.

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Carefully check the schedule, pick-up and drop-off areas. If available, book a trip that doesn’t include long stopovers in Phnom Penh.

Also, always remember that Pinoys enjoy Visa-free travel in Cambodia. Do not believe anyone who says that you have to pay to cross the border.

8 pm — ETA Siem Reap & hotel check-in

Drop-off at Siem Reap city center or nearest to your hotel.

Search below to find discounts & top rated places to stay.

Day 4 — Angkor temples & Siem Reap tour

The long land travel will be all worth it after you get to see Angkor Wat and other temple ruins in the Ancient City of Angkor. With a 1-day tour from Siem Reap, you can already see most of the major temples.

5 am — Start Angkor temples – Little Circuit tour

View of Angkor Wat (temple) from the lotus-filled reflecting pond, in Siem Reap, Cambodia

During your short visit, I recommend that you follow the Little Circuit route. It’s the most popular tour that includes the most impressive temples.

Greet the sunrise at Angkor Wat and spend the whole day exploring other must-see sights in the ancient city including Ta Phrom, the “tomb raider” temple, Bayon and sunset on the top of Phnom Bakheng.

Angkor Little Circuit Itinerary

5 am or earlier — ETD Siem Reap hotel

Buy Angkor Archaeological Park — 1-Day ticket costs USD 37 per person.

5:30 am — Sunrise at Angkor Wat

Sunrise at Angkor Wat

Prasat Kravan

Ta Prohm

Banteay Kdei

Ta Keo

Spean Thma

Chau Say Tevoda

Angkor Thom West Gate

Thommanon

Phimeanakas

Baphuon

Bayon

Angkor Thom South Gate

Angkor Wat

5 pm — Sunset at Phnom Bakheng

You can either hire your own tuk-tuk/motorcycle taxi/car transport. Or, go with a hassle-free guided tour.

7 am — Siem Reap at night

Pub Street at night, in Siem Reap, Cambodia

Siem Reap isn’t just a gateway to Angkor, it has its own exciting attractions too. There’s a lot of things to do here at night. Watch a traditional Khmer Apsara dance, which is usually packaged with a filling dinner buffet. Then, go shopping & explore Cambodian street food at the night markets. Enjoy the cosmopolitan nightlife along infamous Pub Street. Or, indulge in a relaxing spa/massage.

Popular Siem Reap tours & discounts

For more information on planning your day, check out the Siem Reap Itinerary guide.

Leg 3 — Thailand

River ferry along Chao Phraya in Bangkok, Thailand

Day 5 — Cambodia-Thailand border crossing

7 am — Siem Reap to Bangkok bus/shuttle transfers

The land journey from Siem Reap to Bangkok spans a bit over 400 kilometers and usually takes 9 hours. It’ll eat up the better part of your day. I also suggest that you book a hassle-free trip with a reputable company to avoid time lost changing buses & potential scams at the border. If you want a convenient drop-off in Bangkok, make sure that it is at Khao San Road area (not the northern bus terminal in Mo Chit/Chatuchak) or anywhere near your hotel. The fare is around USD 33 per person per way.

Siem Reap to Bangkok tickets

Click below to see current prices you can book online.

See discounts

4 pm — ETA Bangkok & hotel check-in

Drop off at Khao San Road. Search below to find discounts & top rated places to stay.

6 pm — Khao San Road and Bangkok at night

If you arrive early in Khao San Road, go on a stroll around the night markets in the area. There are lots of cheap bargains in Bangkok’s backpacker district, especially souvenirs, and Buddhist temples that you can see nearby.

Day 6 — Bangkok temples & markets

Grand Palace in Bangkok, Thailand

8 am — Damnoen Saduak Floating Market tour

Floating markets on the outskirts of Bangkok are one of the best attractions of the capital. The one at Damnoen Saduak is the most popular & touristic, but easy to visit on a short trip. Go with a guided tour that includes transport to maximize your trip.

Damnoen Saduak Floating Market itinerary & how to get there

7:30 am — ETA pick-up point in Bangkok

8 am — ETD Bangkok to Damnoen Saduak shuttle/transfer

10:00 am ETA Damnoen Saduak Floating Market

Boat ride/explore/shop around the floating market & lunch

12:00 pm ETD Damnoen Saduak

1 pm Drop off at Grand Palace

1 pm — Grand Palace & Bangkok temples tour

Temple exteriors at the Grand Palace in Bangkok, Thailand

This is the main highlight on your sightseeing tour of Bangkok. It’s easy to do and takes as short as half-a-day. Don’t miss a visit inside the public areas of the Grand Palace and a walking tour of nearby temples including Wat Arun (Temple of the Dawn) and Wat Pho (Temple of the Giant Reclining Buddha).

Bangkok 1-day walking tour itinerary

1 pm — Grand Palace tour — Admission is THB 500 per person. Remember to wear appropriate clothing. Women can wear a dress/short at least down to the knees or long trousers, and a top that covers the shoulders. Men need to wear long pants. No long shorts allowed. Covered footwear is advised, but not required. Don’t fret too much about it because you can rent clothes if the guards find yours inappropriate.

Walk from Grand Palace to Wat Pho

3 pm — Wat Pho (temple) tour — Admission is THB 100 per person.

Walk to Tha Tien pier & ride the local ferry to Wat Arun — The ferry costs THB 3 per person.

4 pm — Wat Pho (temple) tour — Admission is THB 100 per person.

Go on the ferry back to the other side of the river.

5 pm — Rest & watch the sunset at the riverside bars/restaurants with a good view of Wat Arun.

Popular floating market & Grand Palace guided tours
7 am — Bangkok at night

Bangkok is just as exciting if not more after sundown. Here are some ideas for your last night in Bangkok. Your itinerary will depend on what you like to do.

Top things to do in Bangkok at night

Drink & dine at Bangkok’s famous rooftop bars — Including Vertigo – Banyan Tree, Sky Bar, Octave Rooftop Bar, Park Society – Sofitel, Three Sixty – Millennium Hilton & more.

Enjoy a buffet with a view at rooftop restaurants — Including Baiyoke Sky Restaurant.

Explore the nightlife in Silom & Sukhumvit

See the infamous show in Patpong

Go mall shopping in Siam — Check out Siam Paragon, Central World, MBK, Gaysorn & Platinum Mall. You can also find cheap bargains at the Pratunam night market

Stroll & shop at Asiatique: The Riverfront Mall — Home of the famous Calypso Cabaret show

More Bangkok tours & discounts

Top tours in case you want to extend your trip in Thailand.

Day 7 — Bangkok departure

Suvarnabhumi International Airport near Bangkok, Thailand

5 am — Bangkok to airport transfer

This airport, which serves most airlines with international flights, is around 45 minutes away from Bangkok city center by car. You can either go there by BTS/MTR, taxi/Grab/Uber or the airport shuttles from Khao San Road. The airport shuttle fare is THB 150 per person.

Pre-book Bangkok airport transfer
6 am — Suvarnabhumi-Bangkok International Airport (BKK)

Some airlines, particular budget carriers, fly via Don Meuang International Airport. Review your plane ticket to make sure which airport your flight will depart from.

9 am — ETD Thailand

See also

Budget & Expenses

To help you set a budget plan, here’s a list of expenses to expect if you follow the Indochina itinerary above. Keep in mind that these are estimates. As you know, actual budgets/expenses may be different depending on a person’s traveling style & time of visit.

Indochina 1 week expensesBudget traveler. Per person.
USD 68.9Attractions & Tours
USD 71.2Transport — Including airport-city center transfers & all long distance transfers. Excluding short city center rides.
USD 60Food — Budget street food meals. USD 10 per day/person x 5 full days & 2 half days. One meal costs between USD 1 to 3.
USD 36Accommodations — Backpackers dorms. USD 6 per night/bed x 6 nights. A bed in a backpacker hostel starts as cheap as USD 1 to an average of USD 6.
USD 236.1Total — Approximately PHP 11,800.

Or, USD 33.7 / PHP 1,690 per day. The total budget above is for the entire 7 days trip. Excluding including flights. I’ve included backpacker budget estimates for food & accommodations to give you an idea of how cheaply you can do this trip. If you have money to splurge on mid-range hotels/food and luxuries, simply use the expenses posted on this page to calculate your own budget.

Can you travel cheaper? Yes, of course. These countries are some of the World’s cheapest places to travel. It’s possible to travel with a daily budget of less than USD 30. If you are not a heavy eater, you can spend half of the food budget above. There’s also a lot of dorms that cost less than USD 6 per night. Many offer free breakfast.

Long-distance transport is going to cost the same regardless of how long you spend on your trip. One way to maximize your money is to extend more days on each stop. You might spend more for the whole trip, but you’ll also enjoy more places & lower the cost per day.

With regards to attractions, the tour of Angkor alone eats up almost 1/5 of the total budget. It’s expensive, yes. You can easily achieve a budget of less than USD 20 per day if you skip it… DON’T! because the temples are really worth the price.

Transport breakdown
USD 1.8Ho Chi Minh airport to city center shuttle. VND 40,000 per person.
USD 32Ho Chi Minh to Siem Reap bus/shuttle transfer
USD 33Siem Reap to Bangkok bus/shuttle transfers
USD 4.4Bangkok city center to airport shuttle. THB 150 per person.
Attractions & Tours breakdown
USD 1.3Ho Chi Minh tourist spots admission fees — Including Reunification Palace & War Remnants Museum. Admission fee is VND 15,000 each museum per person.
USD 37Angkor Archeological Park 1-day pass.
USD 10Angkor temples motorcycle taxi (motodop) 1-day charter.
USD 20.6Bangkok Grand Palace & temples admission fee. Grand Palace admission is THB 500. Wat Arun admission is THB 100. Wat Pho admission is THB 100.

Other expenses not included in the budget estimates above.

USD 8.8Saigon Skydeck admission —  VND 200,000 per adult.

USD 21Damnoen Saduak Floating Market — Per person. Join-in tour including transport to/from Bangkok.

Manila to Ho Chi Minh flight
Bangkok to Manila flight
PHP 1,620Philippine Travel Tax – For outbound Pinoy tourists only.

Prices are accurate as of the time of writing. Kindly confirm current prices as it may change without prior notice.

Travel tips before you go

Here are extra tips to help you plan a trip. You can find more in-depth information on the travel guides of each destination/country.

Where to stay

In Ho Chi Minh

There’s no shortage of accommodations in District 1. Cheaper backpacker hostels are mostly found in the area of Pham Ngu Lao street. Meanwhile, many mid-range and high-end hotels are located along Nguyen Hue Walking Street and near the Saigon River banks.

See discountsCheapest rates

In Siem Reap

You can find most of the budget hotels and backpackers hotels near the night markets/Pub Street in Siem Reap city center. Meanwhile, high-end hotels are located along Charles De Gaulle, the main road leading to Angkor Wat. For peaceful yet accessible hotels & guesthouses, there are plenty along the Siem Reap Riverside.

See discountsCheapest rates

In Bangkok

The most popular place to stay for budget travelers is Khao San Road & nearby areas. There are a lot of hostel, travel agencies & transport options here, which makes it an easy base to explore Thailand. Want better views & comfort? Try the mid-range & luxury hotels on the Chao Phraya Riverside. If you’re after the exciting shopping scene in Bangkok, stay near the BTS (MRT) train stations preferably in the area of Siam BTS station.

See discountsCheapest rates

Where to book

See more places to stay on these trusted booking sites. Ibook with them frequently to grab rock bottom prices, often cheaper than walk-in rates. Click below to compare rates and book online.

AgodaBooking.comExpedia

Don’t forget to set the check-in/check-out dates to see current prices on your travel dates.

To view the best hotels/hostels, simply sort the results by guest ratings. Filter the results by “price per night” or “price range” to find rooms perfect for your budget. Carefully check the number of reviews, not only the review score.

To easily view the cheapest rooms, sort the results by price from lowest to highest. Again, be mindful of the review score and number of review to find the best options, as experienced by other travelers.

How to find cheap flights?

The easy way is to search on airfare comparison sites that can show you the lowest fares on many airlines in one go.

Click below to start searching:

MomondoWegoTripAdvisorSkyscanner

When are you going? See the cheapest flights that you can book right now. Enter your travel details and search.

Check promo alerts several weeks or months ahead of your trip if you are planning your trip early. The cheapest promos are sold up to a year in advance of the travel/flight departure date & are often only available if you book directly with the airline. Click below for the latest.

Thailand PromoCambodia PromoVietnam Promo

To learn more, visit the guide on how to book cheap flights.

Do I need a Visa?

Filipinos (Philippine passport holders) do not need to apply for a tourist visa before arriving in all three countries featured on this itinerary.

Pinoy travelers can enjoy Visa-free travel in Thailand for stays of 30 days or less. There’s a maximum of 2 visits annually if arriving by land. Don’t worry because you’ll only be crossing once. For Cambodia and Vietnam, the maximum stay is 21 days.

If anyone tells you that you need to pay anything when crossing the border, insist that Filipinos are not required to apply for a tourist visa and refuse their offer. Walk straight to the official immigration booths at the checkpoint. Before leaving, carefully check the new stamp on your passport & make sure that the date indicated is past your last day in the country.

For other nationalities, kindly visit the immigration website of each country.

How to get money/cash?

Bring US Dollars (USD) for the whole trip. Or, major currencies like Euros or British Pounds. Philippine Pesos has awful exchange rates in these countries. Don’t exchange a lot at the airport because rates are the city center are usually better.

You can also use your Philippine-issued ATM card to withdraw money in the local currency. Fees usually range between USD 3 to 5 per withdrawal. Since you are spending very little time in each country, I highly suggest that you bring USD cash instead. Make sure to activate your ATM card for international withdrawal because you can still use it as a backup.

To avoid bringing large amounts of cash or worry about exchange rates, book tours, transport & rooms online if possible.

Here are the local currencies for your reference:

Vietnam — Vietnamese Dong (VND / ₫)

Cambodia — US Dollar is the unofficial second currency. It’s accepted almost everywhere in the country & the exchange rate you will get is quite fair. Officially it’s Cambodia Riel (KHR / ៛) but you don’t need to worry about exchanging money to riel.

Thailand — Thai Baht (THB / ฿)

Useful travel apps

Google Maps — This travel app will make it a lot easier to navigate around Singapore on your own. The directions feature only works online.

Maps.me — Excellent offline maps.

XE Currency — Free & easy
currency converter.

Google Translate — Very useful to communicate with locals who do not speak English.

Can I do this trip shorter/longer?

Definitely! See the itineraries below for a quick look at how to plan your trip.

Indochina 5 days itinerary

Day 1

Early morning flight to Ho Chi Minh

Ho Chi Minh city tour

Day 2

Ho Chi Minh to Siem Reap bus/shuttle

Or, Ho Chi Minh to Siem Reap flight

Day 3

Angkor temples tour

Siem Reap night tour

Day 4

Siem Reap to Bangkok bus/shuttle

Or, Siem Reap to Bangkok flight

Bangkok night tour

Day 5

Bangkok Grand Palace & temples / floating market tour

Late evening flight from Bangkok

If you only have 3 or 4 days, consider visiting only one destination or doing a twin-city tour of Bangkok-Siem Reap. Come back and visit more places on a separate trip.

Indochina 2 weeks itinerary

If you have two weeks or more, here are more places you can include in your itinerary:

Vietnam — Mekong Delta, Phu Quoc, Mui Ne, Dalat, Nha Trang

Cambodia — Phnom Penh, Sihanoukville

Thailand — Ayutthaya, Pattaya, Chiang Mai, Krabi, Phuket, Ko Samui/Ko Tao/Ko Phangan

Where to book tours & attraction tickets?

As mentioned, booking online can save you money, time and let you enjoy cashless convenience. In case you want to see more discounts and options, here’s a list of sites that you can check.

KlookKKdayExpedia

Where to book bus tickets?

You can also book your Vietnam to Cambodia & Cambodia to Thailand bus tickets online. Pick one below that offers the best rates, schedule & comfort.

12go.asiaBookMeBus

Don’t stop here

See more blogs & travel guides:

Thailand travel tipsThailand travel tips

Vietnam travel tipsSiem Reap

Cambodia travel tipsSiem Reap

Check out these pages for more inspiration on places to go in Asia:

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