Travel info; Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand

"As a traveller I might not always go where I initially intended to go, but somehow I always end up where I want to be"

Vietnam 2011
(the book = Lonley Planet)

MaiLinh Taxis are reliable, they always put on the meter and there was no extra fussing about. Vinasun Taxis were also recommened to us, but we didn't try them since there was always a MaiLinh on the corner.

At Ha Noi airport we took a taxi right infront of the exit, a sign said Fixed Fee 270 thousand dong. We had been told it should be around 150 thousand, but we were too tired to try and find a regular taxi. When we came to the centre we got the distinct feeling the driver was just circeling around to get the meter up to the asigned amount, and when Sonja communicated the dire need for a toilet he suddenly sped up and seemed to know exactly where to go. Walking around later we realized he had been biding his time driving around.. We recommend to look for a Mai Linh taxi at the airport and just pay by the meter.

We found this good-value restaurant on Ma May 72 (didn't figure out the name for the place), a backpacker place with good food, menu in english and quick, english speaking staff. It's not yet in the book, but we think it will be in the next one.

A local girl (replied to a question on couchsurfing) recommended us to go to what she said is the oldest Pho restaurant in Ha Noi on 49 Bat Dan, we did and it was Oh So Good!

On 18 Phan Boi Chau there is a resturant that serves a lot of different Vietnamese dishes, not the cheapest option, but the food was good. This one was recommended by the same girl.

Highway 4 restaurants we can also recommend, not the cheapest either but really good. They have several restaurants, just google and you'll find menu and all. (in the book)

And if the sun had been shining we would have gone to Fannys for ice cream, but we went in Saigon instead and it was worth it. :) (in the book)
Ha Noi; 48 Lethai To

We stayed at Asia Hotel, which we don't really recommend – a bit expencive and breakfast was horrible! But location was good.

We bought our tour to Ha Long from Vega travel on Ma May (in the book), it was the cheapest option we could find from a reliable looking place. We booked 3 days/2 nights for 106$/person, with full refund if weather was bad and trip cancelled. Our original trip was cancelled becauce there wasn't enough people on the boat (initially thay blamed the weather but then they told us the real reason). We were offered full refund, or a 2 day/1 night trip and to be payed back the full difference between the trips in dollars. We chose option nr 2.
The Junk/boat was clean, eventhough a bit cold, it was January after all, and heating didn't come on until the evening. The food served was ok, no gourmet but good enough, and the guide spoke very good english. He didn't tell us much about the Bay itself, he prefered to amuse us with jokes and funny stories.

We loved Ha Noi, and weather had been better than 8-10 degrees and a constant drizzle we would have explored more of the north, but we went looking for sun.

The Ha Noi – Hue night train, softsleeper tickets á 1.2million dong, was supposed to be in Hue at 8 according to the schedule, at 10 accorging to the train hostess and finally at 11.30 we arrived. The cabin was clean, the toilets weren't. In one end of the couch there was a western style toilet, and an eastern one in the other, both filthy and do bring your own paper. In the corridore there was a sink where we bruched our teeth, Tuomas with botteled water, Sonja with train water (didn't get sick). The beds were, as expected, short and we were happy that we had bought silk sleeping bags in Ha Noi (1 single + 1 double for 10$) 'coz the sheets weren't exactly enviting, and the mattress was quite hard.

In Hue we stayed at a hotel that a local girl we met on the train recommended called Thanh Thuy, 8$/night for a double (well two largeish beds). This is a great hotel! Clean, almost obsessivle so in for vietnamese standards, hot water (and enough of it!), tv, open WiFi at the neighbouring hotel, kind and helpfull staff. It's family owned. Laundry at the hotel 20 t/kg for the next day, more expencive for the same day.
6 Kiet 66 Le Loi str, Hue. Tel 054. 3824585 – 2241268 Cell 0909. 199816 E-mail

A couple of guys we met at the Ha Long cruise recommended Nina´s Cafe; 16/34 Nguyen Tri Phuong st, Hue. Phone:054 3838636 Moblie:01669752500. And we do too, good value, good food.

We also ate at Ganesh indian restaurant, which was excellent. Non-veg Thali set was soo good! :) We went to their restaurant in Phu Cuoc as well.
24 Tran Hung Dao st, Hoi An
97 Tran Hung Dao st, Phu Cuoc (+ two in Saigon and one in Mui Ne)

Thanh at our hotel organizes lots of tours, but we only asked him to help us get to Hoi An, we got bus tickets for 3$/person, pick up at hotel and then we did the journey in a local bus, quite tight legroom, we stopped once for toilet break, once in Da Nang and arrived in Hoi An after dark.
Thanh had resommended us a hotel in Hoi An, but we neglected to ask him to make a reservation for us, and there was no rooms left when we got there.

In Hoi An we satyed 2 night at Mai Pho Hotel 14$/night for double room. The room was ok, toilet a bit shabby and we needed a vire lock to close the window. We changed hotel to a cheaper one, which was a huge mistake – the whole hotel was moisture damaged! Everything smelled and the room and the bed was completely damp. Don't go to Nguyen Phuong hotel: 109 Ba Trieu street.

In Hoi An Sonja went to the Red Bridge Cooking Class, the Deluxe whole day course, 40$. I do recommend. The price included everything, even beer :) the guide spoke very good english and we got to do hands on cooking, eventhough prep was made for us, and we didn't have to wath the barbie either but could drink beer instead :). The Recipes were good, but the chef did do some things a bit differently, so I kept notes.

We had clothes made at the cloth market, and Sonja had a skirt made at Huong Lan II at 05 Hai Ba Trung which I'm really happy with. The shirts and trousers we had made at the market are good, but the dress Sonja made is not good.

We flew from Hoi An to Saigon, 58$/person on Vienam Airlines, on a 4 month old plane, talk about spik and span, the plane we flew on to Ha Noi wasn't half as nice.

In Saigon we stayed two nights in a hotel we didn't really like, so we changed to; Son Trang hotel at 39 bui thi xuan str, dist 1. phone: (84.8)3925 3237. This was a good one, 20$/night for a double though.

We met a woman from Holland with whom we rented a car and driver to take us to the Cu Chi tunnels, this was a quite costly affair. We payed 20$/person, and didn't get to see anything but the tunnels, eventhough he would have had time to take us somewhere else after the tunnels, but this wasn't negotiated whan the woman payed for the car so we got a bit sqrewed ower. We say, go by bus, or arrange your car and your deal yourself – don't trust others. The tunnels were ok, very touristy as well – but you do get a good picture of how they fought the war.

War Remnants Museum and Reunification Palace are both worth a visit. Which you can round up with a bowl of delicious ice cream at Fannys :), (also in the book)
Saigon; 29-31 Ton That Thiep dist 1

Restaurant Com Tam Moc (you'll find it on the web) served this absolutaly gorgeous half lean half fat pork dish that made Sonja jaleous of Tuomas's food. The Passion fruite juice here was excellent as well.

From Saigon we took a 1 day tour on the Mekong river to My Tho and Ben Tre (24$/person), the trip ended back in Saigon but we stayed in My Tho and used the tour just as means of transportation. It weas a very touristy tour, the scenary was nice but we didn't really enjoy ourselves. But still, a boat tour beast a bus trip any time!

In My Tho we stayed at My Tho mini hotel, it's in the book, it was ok. 8$/night for double (1 double bed + 1 normal) with fan, tv, cold water. Clean enough, good location.

We rented a moto, 5$ for a day, and went to Ben Tre where there wasn't much to see.

In My Tho we ate at a seafood restaurant recommended in the book, Quan Oc 283 at 283 D Tet Mau Than. Lots of fresh seafood, but everything we ordered came over done with exeption of the prawns, and we left disappionted and hugry so we filled up on butterfried chicken at the evening market.

Coffee 30/4 is a nice cafeteria, good Vietnamese iced coffee and it's blissfyully cool indoors.

And at Minh Quan Hotel they have a two storay roof top bar that serves breakfast, lovely views and if you're a cognac person you'll be a happy panda in that bar.

From My Tho we went by Minibus to Can Tho, 100 thousand dong/person. A quite comfortable and quick journey.

In Can Tho we can recommend Hotel Khai Hoan, 83 chau van liem, q. Ninh kieu, tpct. Phone: 0710 3824419. At 5$/night/double for a clean room with fan, tv, cold shower it was very good value.

From Can Tho we asked a local touris guide for some help to book us tickets to, and a hotel in Phu Cuoc. Mr Triet (mobile 091361805, e-mail had already approached us at the harbour and sold us a Mekong boast tour to the floating markets. 6 hour tour/15$, 2 floating markets, boatdriver with little englisg skills, and a lovley tour along a side river – we loved it!

He booked us bustickets to Rach Gia (65 t dong/person) and a speed boat ride to Phu Cuoc (250 t dong/person). And he called quite a few hotels in Phu Cuoc to reserve a room for us but everything was full, until a girl that walked by gave us a leaflet for The Lounge and we luckily got a room/bungalow there for 20$/night. This place is owned by a french guy called Mika, the bungalow was clean, double bed, fridge, fan, warm water. Why the toilet was built in without a door, just an opening is beyond us, but at least there was a wall between the toilet and the bed! Mika is buildning an outdoor kitchen now and will be serving breakfast and set menus in the future. Lot's of restaurants close by, and a 5minute walk to the beach with more restaurants. We recommend.
Guesthouse The Lounge, 118/4 Tran Hung Dao street Khu Pho 7, Kien Giang, Phu Cuoc island.
0773980913 mobile 0936071375,

We went diving one day, and after some shopping around we decided to use;
Flipper Diving Club, 42 tran hung dao -Kp7, Duong Dong, Phu Cuoc, Kien Giang. Office 0773994924, moblie (Neil Plater) 01697015819.
We enjoyed our day, the dive master was really good, the boat was nice (toilet wasn't the best) and the food was really good. The dive sights were somewhat boring maby (we went to the north of the island) mostly becauce the visibility was poor, 3-5 meters, and the currents were quite rough at places. We payed 55$ for 2 dives, including lunch and drinking water, pick up and drop off to the hotel and with some barganing we got a refresher cource for free at the same time :).

We rented a moto for one day, 5$, and got lost a couple of times driving north, but Sonja got to practice driving moto at a remote patch of asfalt at least:)

We bought a package deal for our border crossing to Cambodia; pick up at hotel, boat to Ha Tien, bus from Ha Tien to Kampt(Cambodia) + visa for 50$/person from a tour agent in Duong Dong. The harbour where the Rach Gia boat docks was nice, the one for the Ha Tien boat wasn't. The speedboat from Rach Gia was really nice, the boat to Ha Tien wasn't. But Ha Tien in itself was beautiful. There we gave away our passports and got them again at the border. Then we queued in many a different line, and filled in many a different paper before the group was split in to different buses, one for Phnom Penh and one for Kep/Kampot/Sihanoukville.

Cambodia 2011

In Kampot we stayed at The Magic Sponge in a nice spacious room with fan and cold water, 12$/night. The manager, a brit who has lived in Cambodia for five years (think his name was Martin) was really nice and really helpful. The food in the hotels restaurant wasn't that good though.
Tel: 017 946 428

The Lazy Farmer is a bar/restaurant just across the street from The Magic Sponge. It's a nice chillout spot, nicely decorated little bar with tasty and cheap food. The farmers wife cookes while he chats with the customers. Todays offer was Beef curry w. rice/bread + drink/beer for as little as 2$, this offer was on for the whole time we were there. The farmers own drink is a mojito made from ricewine, it was excellent!

At the river there is The Rusty Keyhole bar/restaurant, there are apperntly two Rusty Keyhole bars, we were in the newer one. The food is good, portions large. Not the cheapest place though.

In Sihanoukville we stayed at Mick and Craigs on Serendipity beach, 10$/night. We got a room at the back of the house, wich was good, this hotels bar wasn't that noicy, but the neighbours was. The room was ok, door broken and a bit crammy but the shower was nice, cold water, wifi, fan. Where we reserved the room on internet it said 10% off the food in the restaurant for guests – this apparently is not true. The staff hadnever heard of such a deal. The food was good even so, both the eastern and the western, but that didn't compensate for thoughtless service. We wouldn't recommend you stay here, but the restaurant was ok.

Otherwice we didn't like Sihanoukville/Serendipity beach – too touristy, too noicy, too dirty.

In Phnom Penh we took in at Okay guesthouse which the manager at our hotel in Kampot recommended to us. Clean room, quite tight space, fan, tv, hot water, wifi 10$/night. The location is ideal! A ten minute walk to the riverside, the presidental palace and major parks. The staff helpful, and booked us a tuktuk for the day (5$/person to go to S 21 museum and killing fields and russian market, day trip) and bus tickets to Ban lung, Ratanakiri (9$/person – about 10h trip) Strongly recommended place!
#5 Street 258, Phnom Penh
T: (012) 300 804, (02) 176 6624, (023) 986 534

For Tuomas the sports-fan the Irish sportsbar Paddy Rice was heaven :) They show all big games live and they are open 24/7. New, nice place on the more expencive side.
230 Sisowath Quay (corner of street 136)
Tel: +855 (0)17 773102 / +855 (0)23 990321

In Ban Lung we styed at. Tree Top Eco Lodge for 15$/night for a private bungalow with hot water and fan. (rooms are cheaper still) The bungalows are beautiful with a large terrace with a hammock and one of the nicest bathroom I've ever been in :) The staff are nice, although their english isn't the best, and hlped us to get bus tickets and rented us a moped. The food here ia good, and the prices reasonable. The views are great and the surroundings calm and quite quiet from human noices. Wifi in the rastaurant. If we go back to Ban lung i do hope this place still excists.
Tree Top Eco Lodge
Tel: 011 600 381 / 012 490 333

We did a 3 day/2 nights djungle trek in Ban Lung which we booked with Dutch couple tours. They do treks for 2-5 (in reality 6) persons with english speaking guide, ours was a local guy who had studyed tourism and spoke great english, and local rangers. The bigger group the smaller the price per person per day. With six people in the group we payed about 25$/day/person. All food and water is provided, as well as equipement such as hammock with mosquitoe net, backpack, water bottles ans more. The tours are kept quite ecological,no trash is left behind and the rangers make you local food, ok food, not great but filling :) Our rangers made us stew the last evening, of a rooster we bought earlier the same day in a hut we passed. (before the trip they asked seperatly if anyone was a vegetarian) We were very happy with our trek.
Dutch Co, Ratanakiri, Trekking Cambodia
Rik Henricks (General Manager)
Tel: (855) (0) 976792714

Geckorestaurant in Ban Lung has huge portions, they recommend a medium portion for one person but a small one is ample of you're not starving. The large once are really large! The burger was ok, the patty itself was nice but the bun was mushy and too sweet. The local food was delicious. Reasonable price.

In Siem Reap we stayed atMandalay Inn, double room, hot shower, tv, fan and/or AC. 9$/night. Good hotel, good food, and good tour office.
Psar krohm street, Siem Reap
Tel: (855) (0) 63761662
The tour office at the hotel is really good, the staff is helpful, speak good english and prices were fair. We got our Thai visas fixed there (17$ for two month visa delivered in three days), got a guide and a tuktuk (15$/day/three persons guiding at the small circuit) for Angkhor temples and bus from Siem Reap to Bangkok 6$/person. The guide was good, and even the tuktukdirver spoke english, and the busride to Bangkok went smothly.

Angkor temples: 20$/1 day, 40$/3 days, 60$/one week passes. Guide recommended for at least one day.

Thailand 2011

One of the best dinners we have had was at Tang Yai Yoo,85-89 Yaowapanich Rd., Chinatown, Bangkok. Here we had suckling pig roasted on a spit and glaced in soy sauce – YUMMY! We found this place by beeing fans of Anthony Bourdain's show No Reservations in which he ate here. It's actually a seafood restaurant but known for the excellent suckling pig. All the foos was delicious!

In Bangkok we stayed quite close to Kao San Road, and won't do that mistake again! Next time we head to Chinatown and stay there.

We took the night train from Bangkok to Chumpon + bus from Chumpon train station to the pier + Lompayah ferry to Koh Tao for 30$/person. We booked the somewhat cheaper upper bunks at the train, good beds with clean sheets. No AC but fans swirling all the time, quite warm still. There were racks for the bags up next to the upper bunks so no need to leave your stuff unwatched on the floor. There was both western and eastern toilets and a seperate sink where you could brush your teeth, clean enough but the floor was wet all the time so do use flipflops when you walk around.
The train was (ofcourse) behind schedule arriving to Chumpon but no worries the train attendant made sure we got aff at the right stop. He checked which bunk numbers were supposed to get off where and made sure we were awake.
The bustransfer to the pier was on time as was the ferry also, both rides smooth, no complaints. We found this a pretty convenient way to get to Koh Tao. We even got on an earlier ferry, had tickets to one o'clock but made it on to the eight o'clock one.
The ticket system is quite funny, they switch your paper tickets for colorful stickers that you out on your t-shirt, then they check by color that you get off at the right island :)

On Koh Tao we stayed one night at a bungalow right at the water, nice room, clean toilet, big balcony and great location. 600 baht/night/double, Queen Resort
Maehaad - Haad Sairee beach, Koh Tao, Surathani. 84280. Thailand. Tel: 077 456 002
The price just wasn't right for us so we stayed only one night, but we do recommend this place.

We chose to rent a room for two weeks at Tommys apparments for 6000baht/2 weeks + electricity and water for which we payed a 1500baht deposit. You pay extra if you go over the deposit sum, but we actually got moeny back since we used less than average I guess.
This was a very good place to stay, walking distance to Sairee beach and to Mae Haad town but still quiet. Our appatrment was close to the mainroad, they also have houses at the beach but we don't know anything about them.
Good room with double bed, tv, wifi, fridge, ac, balcony (where we hung our hammock) and great staff. There is a family who take care of the place, they have a couple of years old daughter who likes to get to know all the guests, you could hear ”Hello!” being shouted at all times of the day. But she didn't bother you if you wanted to be alone. The room is cleaned about every third day. The fridge has a small freezer as well so we kept ample supplies of both food and drink at the hotel and thus saved some money as Koh Tao isn't the cheapest place to eat and drink.
Tommy Resort, Maehaad Beach , Koh Tao , Surathani 84280 Thailand. Tel : 077 456 039 , 077 456 251

We rented a motorcycle for 170baht/day from DD Hut which was recommended to us by finns who live at the island. We got a flat tyre and the inner tube of the wheel was destroyed, it cost us only 200baht to change it at the rental shop – no hassle.
D.D. Hut Bungalows & RestaurantMaehaad beach, Koh Tao, Surathani. 84280. Thailand. Tel: 077 456 077 , 077 456 356
We dived with Koh Tao Divers, a finnish owned company, and we were very happy with their services. 900Baht for one dive, and cheaper the more you dive. Good staff, nice boat and we always dived in small groups. The visibility was not so good and might have been affected by a new oilrig that just started operating just 65km from Koh Tao. We recommend to check in to how the waters have been affected before paying for a extended diving trip here.
Koh Tao Divers, South Sairee Beach, 1/1 Mu 1, Koh Tao, 84360 Surat Thani, Thailand, +66 (0)86 0699 244,

For a good pizza go to Farango or Porto Bello, PB also had great pastas. For good local foor head away from Sairee beach and past Mae Haad, along the main road there are several good restaurants with local food. Tukta was one of our favourites, 10/1 M.3, Koh Tao. Pranee's in Mae Haad, 077 456 478, had great Masaman curry.

We bought ferry – and bus tickets from Koh Tao to Koh Pahyam as a package for 850baht/person. We took the night ferry from Koh Tao to Chumpon, bus from Chumpon to Ranong and boat from Ranong to Koh Phayam. Everybody told us the nightferry is horrible, dirty and uncomfortable but we decided on it anyways. And it was brilliant! Probably a quite new boat, really clean and nice beds and toilets. No complaints whatsoever. The boat was called Ko Jaroen 2 (or something quite close to that). The ride over the mainland was by minibus and then a ten minute walk from the busstop in Ranong to the pier. At the pier there is a nice café with wifi and goos coffee :)
We chose to take the slowboat to Koh Phayam, a nice trip of a couple of hours of enjoying the sun and the scenery.

At Koh Phayam we stayed at Palm Beach Bungalows at Aow Yai Beach, we have no exact address sorry. 300baht/night/double bed bungalow right at the water line. A bit rustic living, elecricity only at night, the windows were only openings in the walls and a frog with amazing hopping talents liked to cool off in our toilet – but we loved it! The staff was really nice, one had lived in Germany and spoke german better than english.

From Koh Phayam we made our way to Phuket, the ferry back to the mainland was 150baht/person and the bus from Ranong to Phuket was 300baht/person. The bus station is quite far from the pier so take a taxi and allow at least 20 minutes for the drive we payed 50baht/person.
The bus to Phuket took forever! We stopped and picked up passangers at any and every roadcrossing, definetly bring some food with you.

In Phuket we stayed at Na na Chart Mansion at 41/34 Montri road in Phuket town just next to the Pearl Hotel, 42 Montri Road, T. Talad Yai, A. Muang Phuket 83000, Thailand,
Couldn't find a webpage for Na na chart mansion.
Double room, cold shower, fan was 200baht/night, clean and walking distance from good shopping and good food.

We did a 6days/6 nihts liveaboard diving trip with Similan Liveaboards on MV Le Mahe,
We were very happy with this trip. Nice boat, good staff, both the boat crew and the dive masters. The food was good and there was plenty of it. We bought this trip on a last minute deal and ended up with a group of french divers and had a great time. We did Similans, Koh Bon, Koh Tachai and Richelieu Rock and some wreck dives the last days. Great trip!

From Phuket we took the bus to Hat Yai in the morning for just under 300baht/person and from there we had bought traintickets to Kuala Lumpur online at for 15$/person. We had topbunks also this time, but at this train there was no place for the bags except for the floor. Otherwice a good train, a good journey. The border is very close to Hat Yai, there we got off with bags and all, went through passportcontrols a.s.o and then there was a 20-30 minute wait before the train left.
In Kuala Lumpur we arrived at the cantral station from where it is very easy to get around on their LRT railsystem.