The Balanced Babe wellness travel guide to Vietnam and Cambodia is finally here!
I recently embarked on a three and a half week trip throughout Asia.
This wasn’t any old trip just putzing around. We got deep into the culture experience and went to learn about how residents in various communities in Cambodia, Vietnam, and Thailand live.
My whole trip is what inspired my “Simplifying Life” series. I was seriously so surprised how happy and content the residences of these poor villages in Cambodia were. I took a bunch of videos and I’m planning on making a little mini movie of the trip which will be published soon.
The first half of our trip was spent in Vietnam and Cambodia, which was extremely educational and fascinating to say the least.
SO I’m sharing our itinerary below with a Balanced Babe twist, because you know I was always on the hunt for something health-conscious to do! This travel guide to Vietnam and Cambodia is simple but offers some great ways to stay healthy while on vacation.
Balanced Babe Wellness Travel Guide To Vietnam And Cambodia
First Stop, Hanoi – We landed in Hanoi and went directly to lunch and a tour. When we arrived it was 1am in my mind so I was on a legit hunt for coffee. When we got to the lunch spot I saw Vietnamese Coffee on the menu, and figured well why the hell not. So my Greek and I both ordered Vietnamese Coffee with “Sweet Milk” on the side. I figured the sweet milk was dairy, obviously, so I opted to add just a bit. Once I took a sip – the skies opened up and God himself reached out to bless my taste buds. It. Was. Amazing. I’m not even joking. I gulped it down in 2.5 seconds then reached for my boyfriends cup and gulped his down too. Not knowing how much caffeine was in it obviously.
The end result? I had an anxiety attack for about 2 hours after that. Woops.
Anyway, we stayed at the Sofitel which was beautiful. The property was gorgeous and the pool area was inviting and ultra relaxing. We also ate there at their in-house restaurant, the Bamboo Bar, and I will say the food was great! Unfortunately we were only in Hanoi for an evening so we didn’t get to do much else. I will warn you that the traffic there is INSANE. No street lanes, about 1000 mopeds per block, and just organized chaos. If you want to cross the street, you just have to go for it and stick your arm out – in – traffic. People just go around you, yes. It’s crazy.
Halong Bay – After a night in Hanoi we drove down to Halong Bay to enjoy a one day cruise. We booked through Pelican cruise and loved the food and experience. I got a one hour massage for 40$ that was sooo nice (More on cheap massages later).
The Halong Bay cruise had a buffet every day filled with local cuisine that was tasty (also had an abundance of fruits and juices – always healthy options of course).
Activities included kayaking near the floating market and hiking up to a huge cave in one of the mountains. It was truly a beautiful and serene experience.
Siem Reap, Cambodia – I personally loved Siem Reip. When we landed at the airport and stepped out of the plane, the air smelled like a sauna. To be more specific, like cedarwood essential oil. Yasss.
Everything was so stinkin’ cute from the quaint airport to the local restaurants. We found out that just a few days prior, it was Cambodia’s New Years celebration (so maybe that’s why the air smelled like cedar wood, fireworks of some sort?). We stayed again at the Sofitel and boy was it beautiful!
The resort grounds were filled with beautiful gardens and ponds. There was also a cozy little jazz lounge that had live music, so we moseyed on over there our first evening there and I enjoyed a freshly squeezed green juice. If you stay in Siem Reap, I definitely recommend booking your hotel here.
The food was awesome – there were so many different healthy options and veggie dishes. This is also where I experienced fresh coconut juice for the first time during the trip and I was hooked. I had about 4 coconuts a day.
Angkor Wat – Our full day in Siem Reap was spent touring the ancient temples. This was an incredible experience, but it was over 100 degrees out. Once you stepped outside, you were sweating immediately. I personally did not mind this because this meant I was getting rid of water weight – heh. I think I lost around 10-15 lbs of water weight during this specific day. We saw a few temples, one being the temple that Tomb Raider was filmed at, and ended up at Angkor Wat. Visiting these temples is a MUST!
Lunch at Angkor Wat – We stopped at a place called Angkor Cafe and I ordered yet another big coconut to enjoy pure coconut water (as they call it over there, coconut juice) and then I had a cashew shake which tasted incredible! Similar to cashew milk that we have here, but with less “milk” and more chunk. Ugh – so good.
Cambodia + Vietnam Cruise on AMA Waterways– After our time in Siem Reap we took a 4 hour drive to embark on a week long river cruise traveling through Cambodia and Vietnam.
During the cruise, we toured a bunch of little villages in Cambodia: a silk farm, a school, a silver smith, and Cambodia’s largest Pagoda.
The food on the cruise? Never ending (which is good and bad). I found out that in Cambodia they use a common sauce “fish sauce” that tastes alright but absolutely does not smell pleasant. So if your sensitive to smell, this is your warning! During lunch, there was always a fruit based chilled soup that was absolutely amazing. I could’ve enjoyed it as a meal in itself. The spa services on board were also divine. I enjoyed a 1 hour massage for $30 and a 1 hour carrot facial for $30. I think I went a bit crazy with the spa services. They are so incredibly cheap in these parts of Asia, and sooo nice too. I think I got better massages in this part of the world over Chicago! Can you believe it!
The cruise allowed us to see so many areas of Vietnam and Cambodia that would otherwise quite frankly be a pain in the butt to see. We didn’t have to pack and unpack every other day to travel to a new city which really alleviates a ton of stress. Definitely recommend this cruise line if you decide to explore the Mekong Delta in an upcoming trip.
Ho Chi Minh City
We stayed in Ho Chi Minh for two Days so I was able to experience a bit more – here are my highlights!
Hotel – We stayed at Hotel Des Arts & Gallery which definitely had a luxe vibe. The gym here was my favorite – it was the largest and nicest facility that I’ve seen thus far. They also have a rooftop pool that is incredibly breathtaking. At night they had a DJ who would spin real groovy tunes up there. I’m pretty sure it turns into a hip rooftop lounge at night.
This hotel also had fresh juice which I drank daily. My favorite was their passion fruit juice that was out of this world good. I think I was on a 30 day juice cleanse without even knowing it.
Food – We discovered a cool rooftop restaurant next door to our hotel called Shri which had really great vegetarian options. I ordered the crispy tofu and green beans and sipped on yet another fresh coconut while I overlooked the city skyline.
There is also a pretty well known vegetarian restaurant, Hum, that had pages and pages of creative veggie selections. There were at least 3 pages of solely fresh juices and smoothies. If it were up to me, we’d be eating there every day.
Spa – This was the absolute highlight of Saigon. I found a spa called Temple Leaf and I enjoyed a 3 hour spa package, the “healing package” for guess how much…$40. Only $40!! This spa package included reflexology, a 1 hour full body massage with hot stones, a facial, and a body scrub. The body massage was out of this world. My masseuse walked on me, elbowed me, pretty much beat me up but I felt great. The facials are also a different experience as well. It starts with a cleanse, an exfoliation, an application of some sort of moisturizer that is oil based, and a 30 minute face massage. It’s absolutely divine. The typical mask that I received during each facial was a chilled pack instead of the average clay mask.
YOGA – I also found a yoga center called Sivananda that was highly rated. I didn’t get a chance to try it out for myself but if I ever make it back to that part of the world it will be on my list!
My packing essentials for this part of the trip:
The weather is extremely hot and humid, so if you’re planning on making a trip to Cambodia or Vietnam I recommend packing these essentials.
Leesi B Cream Foundation Quad-Color Corrector– Now this was a lifesaver. This concealer was created to cover up bruises and redness from botox and fillers, which means this product does not mess around. I love it because it stays in place no matter what type of weather environment you’re in. It does a fabulous job of covering up blemishes and acne scars. It doesn’t look caked on either and the different shades allow you to “contour” as well. In my honest opinion, I think it does a better job of covering up my blemishes a lot better than my Bobbi Brown concealer stick. Now even though I was gifted a product sample from Leesi B, I am telling you my honest opinion. It’s the bomb.
70 SPF sunscreen – Obviously #1 priority. Seriously, this part of the world is near the equator and if you’re in the sun for even 15 minutes you’ll get burnt to a crisp.
Kind bars – I packed about 30 of these in my suitcase and munched on them throughout the trip. There’s tours to go on and places to walk around which means food isn’t always an arms length away. When I’m hungry I need to eat. Since I was a bit too afraid to eat the street food, these bars came in handy.
Wide Brimmed Fedora Hat – to shade your face, duh.
So there you have it! A quick and healthy travel guide to Vietnam and Cambodia. Have you been to any of these parts of the world? What are your favorite spots?