Sea Sunset Photos from a Magical Week on Rabbit Island, Cambodia

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Sunset with boys on a Boat Rabbit Island (Koh Tonsay) Cambodia

Boys mooring a boat before the sun sets off Rabbit Island, Cambodia – Photo © Chris P King

What makes a magical travel experience for you? Spending a week on Rabbit Island (Koh Tonsay) in Cambodia, watching beautiful, mesmerising, spectacularly colourful sunsets over the sea was certainly one for me.

To accompany this collection of sea sunsets from Rabbit Island, I’ve found some sunset quotes. Hope you enjoy the pics as much as I enjoyed being there and taking them.

“An intense copper calm, like a universal yellow lotus, was more and more unfolding its noiseless measureless leaves upon the sea.”
― Herman Melville, Moby-Dick

Red and Orange Copper Sunset Over the Sea with Phu Quoc in the Background from Rabbit Island (Koh Tonsay) Cambodia

Copper coloured sunset from Rabbit Island with Phu Quoc on the distant horizon – Photo © Chris P King

“Sunset is so marvellous that even the sun itself watches it every day in the reflections of the infinite oceans!” ― Mehmet Murat ildan

Pink Sunset on Blue Sea and Sky from Rabbit Island (Koh Tonsay) Cambodia

Calm blue Gulf of Thailand sea and sky with post sunset pink from Rabbit Island, Cambodia – Photo © Chris P King

“When I admire the wonders of a sunset or the beauty of the moon, my soul expands in the worship of the creator.” – Mahatma Gandhi

Purple Sea and Sunset at Phu Quoc Island from Rabbit Island (Koh Tonsay) Cambodia

Purple sea and sunset at Phu Quoc Island from Rabbit Island, Cambodia – Photo © Chris P King

“This unlikely story begins on a sea that was a blue dream, as colorful as blue-silk stockings, and beneath a sky as blue as the irises of children’s eyes. From the western half of the sky the sun was shying little golden disks at the sea–if you gazed intently enough you could see them skip from wave tip to wave tip until they joined a broad collar of golden coin that was collecting half a mile out and would eventually be a dazzling sunset.” ― F. Scott Fitzgerald, Flappers and Philosophers

Sunset on Calm Sea with Boats Rabbit Island (Koh Tonsay) Cambodia

Golden sunset on a calm sea with boats off Rabbit Island, Cambodia – © Chris P King

“The sky broke like an egg into full sunset and the water caught fire.” – Pamela Hansford Johnson

Pastel Coloured Sea and Sunset at Phu Quoc from Rabbit Island (Koh Tonsay) Cambodia

Orange pastel coloured sea and sunset at Phu Quoc island from Rabbit Island, Cambodia – Photo © Chris P King

“Keep looking up! I learn from the past, dream about the future and look up. There’s nothing like a beautiful sunset to end a healthy day.” – Rachel Boston

Boys on Boat off Rabbit Island (Koh Tonsay) Cambodia with Sunset

Boys mooring boat at sunset with pink and blue sea off Rabbit Island (Koh Tonsay), Cambodia – Photo @ Chris P King

“When the sun is setting, leave whatever you are doing and watch it.” ― Mehmet Murat ildan

Sunset Across the Sea at Phu Quoc Island from Rabbit Island (Koh Tonsay) Cambodia

Sunset across the sea at Phu Quoc island from Rabbit Island, Cambodia – © Chris P King

“A large drop of sun lingered on the horizon and then dripped over and was gone, and the sky was brilliant over the spot where it had gone, and a torn cloud, like a bloody rag, hung over the spot of its going. And dusk crept over the sky from the eastern horizon, and darkness crept over the land from the east.” ― John Steinbeck, The Grapes of Wrath

Sunset with View of Beach, Headland, Boats and Sea at Rabbit Island (Koh Tonsay) Cambodia

Sunset across the sea and land from Rabbit Island (Koh Tonsay), Cambodia – Photo © Chris P King

“The most beautiful sunset is when you have it with your beloved one and the most beautiful sunrise is quite the same.” ― Galina Nelson

Purple Sunset and Sea from Rabbit Island (Koh Tonsay) Cambodia

Purple sea and sunset with Phu Quoc island in the distant horizon from Rabbit Island, Cambodia – Photo © Chris P King

“If I can put one touch of rosy sunset into the life of any man or woman, I shall feel that I have worked with God.” ― G.K. Chesterton

Golden Yellow Sunset and Boat from Rabbit Island (Koh Tonsay) Cambodia

Golden yellow sea and sunset with boy on boat from Rabbit Island (Koh Tonsay), Cambodia – Photo © Chris P King

“There’s never one sunrise the same or one sunset the same.”- Carlos Santana

Sunset at Phu Quoc on a Copper Sea from Rabbit Island (Koh Tonsay) Cambodia

Sunset at Phu Quoc island with copper coloured sea from Rabbit Island, Cambodia – © Chris P King

“The point is that when I see a sunset or a waterfall or something, for a split second it’s so great, because for a little bit I’m out of my brain, and it’s got nothing to do with me. I’m not trying to figure it out, you know what I mean? And I wonder if I can somehow find a way to maintain that mind stillness.” ― Chris Evans

Pink and Blue Sunset and Sea from Rabbit Island (Koh Tonsay) Cambodia

Pink and blue sea and sunset from Rabbit Island (Koh Tonsay), Cambodia – © Chris P King

“Clouds come floating into my life, no longer to carry rain or usher storm, but to add color to my sunset sky.” – Rabindranath Tagore

Sunset and Calm Sea with Phu Quoc in the Background Rabbit Island (Koh Tonsay) Cambodia

Orange sunset at Phu Quoc island with calm sea from Rabbit Island, Cambodia – © Chris P King

“Get outside. Watch the sunrise. Watch the sunset. How does that make you feel? Does it make you feel big or tiny? Because there’s something good about feeling both.” – Amy Grant

Sea Sunset Photos from Rabbit Island and Sunset Quotes

If you enjoyed these sunset photos across the sea from Rabbit Island and want to relax in a way conveyed by the sunset quotes, I highly recommend visiting the island. You can find out more with our Rabbit Island, Cambodia travel guide.

It’s a wonderful place and I highly recommend it for kicking back for some time, one thing is for sure, you will not be disappointed with the sunsets.

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Rabbit Island, Cambodia – The Ultimate Travel Guide To Koh Tonsay

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Rabbit Island Cambodia Koh Tonsay Travel GuideRabbit Island (or otherwise known as Koh Tonsay) in Cambodia is one of those gems that you find when you’re travelling. It’s such a relaxing place and you’ll soon get down to the slow pace of life on the island. The local people are wonderful and friendly, the seafood is divine, it’s perfect for swimming, there’s things to do, or you can simply chill out and kick back.

Rabbit Island, Cambodia Travel Guide – Quick links

Rabbit Island Introduction

Rabbit Island is just two square kilometres and apart from some coconut tree lined beaches, it has dense jungle in the interior. It’s size makes it the perfect paradise getaway for more open minded and budget travellers. There’s no traffic on the island (or roads for that matter), just boats ferrying passengers and supplies to and from the mainland. With no rushing around it makes Rabbit Island quite unique, and an ideal place to spend some time going barefoot. With no electricity from dusk till 10.00pm (or sometimes a bit later) or wi-fi, it really is a great place to chill out and get away from it all. If you find it hard to switch off, and get in touch with more rustic living, it may not be the place for you.

Rabbit Island Koh Tonsay Main Beach Kep Cambodia

Boats arriving on the coconut tree lined main beach at Rabbit Island

If, however, you want to bask in the warm sea, eat delicious fresh seafood, sway in a hammock and completely switch off, you’ll be in paradise, so read on.

How to Get to Rabbit Island (Koh Tonsay) from Kep

Kep to Rabbit Island travel by boat

Rabbit Island is only 4.5km from Kep and just 20 minutes away by boat. You can arrange a return trip from your hotel in Kep. Tickets cost $7 for a day return, and $10 for a period return if you’re going to stay on the island. Most crossings occur at around 9am, and you’ll see groups of travellers and day-trippers waiting to board boats in the mornings at Kep Pier. Kep Pier is at the eastern side of Kep, near the Independence Monument which is a couple of blocks inland. If you buy a ticket from your hotel (which seems to be the easiest way), you’ll get picked up in a tuk-tuk and taken to the pier. You can also buy tickets at the pier for boat travel to Rabbit Island on the day or in advance. The boat trip to Rabbit Island is a lovely journey, with the island getting increasingly closer and great views backs to the mainland and Kep National Park. More boats leave throughout the day but you’ll may find that it costs more. When you’re on the island you can either use your return ticket, or you can arrange a boat to take you back when you want for just $5 per person.

Boat Rabbit Island Koh Tonsay Kep Cambodia

Boats moored up on Rabbit Island which you can take both ways to Kep

There’s plenty of boats returning to Kep throughout the day, so if you want to stay a bit longer, it’s cheap and hassle-free to get back to the mainland. Just ensure that arrange your visit back at one of the restaurants where there’s more chance that someone can speak English.

Rabbit Island Accommodation

Highly recommend staying on Rabbit Island and spending at least one night there. So many people just go for the day and they miss out on a wonderful experience. If you’re travelling, you can easily spend a week there or more, depending on how much you like the quite life. Accommodation is only available in basic, bungalow style huts on wooden stilts, made from bamboo, wood, straw and dried coconut leaves. Bungalows are only available on the main beach that faces Kep and the mainland. There are about seven sets of huts offering basic accommodation on Rabbit Island (Koh Tonsay). From the outside they all look pretty much the same with some a bit bigger than others, however, it’s inside where there are some marked differences. Prices range from $5 (outside shared toilets and shower and some without electric points) to $10 per night (Western style toilet and shower). Expect to pay $7 or $8 for a bungalow with your own shower, electric point and squat toilet. Expect to pay more over Christmas and New Year. Note that electricity only runs from 6pm to 10pm so a torch is handy at night. If you like photography and gadgets, ensure you’ve fully charged up before you come to Rabbit Island. At the time of our visit in February 2013, there was no wi-fi on the island. If you’re always online, take advantage of the break and get immersed in the real world for a few days! It’s not crowded at all on Rabbit Island, however, during high season it’s probably a good idea to book ahead. Also, it gets busier at weekends with Cambodian day-trippers and some who stay on for the weekend.

Beach Hut Rabbit Island Koh Tonsay Cambodia

Basic bungalows with hammocks on Rabbit Island, let’s face it what more do you need

It’s worth stressing that huts on Rabbit Island are very basic and you’ll be no doubt sharing with some of the local wildlife. If you’re more accustomed to hotel comforts, be warned it’s very rustic on Rabbit Island. If you love nature and swinging around in a hammock (all huts have them) then you’ll be in for a treat. It’s very relaxing listening to the sounds of ocean and birds, and expect to be up early with the locals. If you’re in luck, you may even have a gecko on your roof. At the time of our visit the huts furthest away from the mainland offered the newest huts with Western style toilets.

Restaurants and Eating on Rabbit Island

Accommodation doubles up as restaurants on Rabbit Island. For the best gourmet experiences, you must eat the yummy and fresh seafood which is cheap and available everywhere. Fish, shrimps, crab and squid are offered on all menus and it is all deliciously fresh, and cooked in a variety of styles. If you love your seafood you’re in for a delight, and it’s much cheaper than what you’ll get in Kep. The Amok is popular and one of the best Khmer dishes available. If you’re familiar with Indian food the Amok is perfect as it’s an Indian style curry with coconut, dry chilli and onion. You can also get dishes with local ‘Kampot Pepper’ which are simply divine. Try the local speciality Kep crab with Kampot pepper, which is simply divine. Western style dishes are also available everywhere for food at any time of day, with breakfasts consisting of muesli, cereals, eggs or omelettes.

Things to do on Rabbit Island (Koh Tonsay)

Rabbit Island is great for just chilling and relaxing, however, there’s plenty to do if you’re more active inclined.

Beaches on Rabbit Island

Main beach

The main beach on Rabbit Island golden sand and approximately half a kilometere long. It’s the beach that you arrive on Rabbit Island and you can see Kep across to the mainland. The beach is only a few metres wide, however, there’s room for sun loungers, deck chairs and plenty of hammocks on the trees hugging the shoreline.

Other beaches on Rabbit Island

There’s about half a dozen other beaches on Koh Tonsay which you can find by taking the walk around the island. Like the main beach, they’ve all got golden sand. Generally, they were clean when we were there, however, there was some plastic washed up on the shore. The only way to find them is to either go out and explore the island on foot or if that’s too much like hard work, you can take a boat to visit them.

Walking on Rabbit Island

There’s a couple of walks that you can do on the island or if you’d sooner take it easy you can stroll up and down the main beach.

Round the Island Walk

You can take a pleasant walk around the island, which takes about one and a half to two hours. Total distance is just under eight kilometres. If you time it right it’s a straightforward walk around the island, however, if the tide is higher you could end up getting wet and wading part of the way through mangroves. Just over half way round you will come to a beach with a long spit head of sand going out to the sea. It’s a great place to stop for a swim or a paddle. A local family live by the spit head beach and will ferry you back to the main beach for $5 per person. If you’ve got camera equipment you may need to take them up on their offer. If you’re in need of refreshments, they’ll also quite happily sell you a fresh coconut. If you’re feeling just slightly adventurous, however, you’ll get around the island just fine without the aid of a boat.

Rabbit Island Cambodia Beach from Round the Island Walk

Deserted beach on Rabbit Island, with the distinct ‘rabbit’ shaped headland

Walk into the interior

You can also do a walk into the small interior of the island. It’s quite hilly and you’ll need to take a guide to navigate through the jungle. You’ll be able to hear and see more birds and wildlife when you’re away from the main beach. There’s an old military pill box in the jungle which you can explore. Be careful if you go as apparently there’s lots of snakes inside the old military building (or that’s what the locals told us and they seemed quite adamant). A guide will cost around $5 per person.

Swimming on Rabbit Island

The main beach is ideal for swimming as the water warm and shallow due to a gentle slope that goes out to sea. It’s ideal for children and less confident swimmers. More accomplished swimmers will love the calm water around Rabbit Island, and the main beach at roughly half a kilometre long is ideal for swimming lengths. Every now and then you need to keep an eye on the boats which are moving around, however, the locals are used to tourists swimming in the water. If you do the walk around the island, there’s a few spots which are ideal for a swim.

Swimming at night on Rabbit Island

If you want to experience something truly spectacular, go for a dip at night from the main beach. The water sparkles and glistens from marine phosphorescence which is emitted from bio-luminescent plankton in the water. It’s wonderful to see this and if you’ve never seen it before, here’s your opportunity to see one of natures wonders. It’s a reason in itself to spend at least one night on Rabbit Island.

Fishing trips from Rabbit Island

Fishing can be arranged on Rabbit Island, either off the shore or in a boat. These can be arranged through the people who run the accommodation. Fishing equipment is often rudimentary with just some line coiled around a plastic bottle with a hook and weight. If you have a look around however, you can find proper boat and beachcaster rods which you can hire for $5 a day. If you catch anything, the local restaurants will more than happily cook it for you in whatever style you like.

Fishing boat trips on Rabbit Island

If you’d sooner spend some time on the water, boats can be hired from $15 to $25 for trips of two and a half to four hours. This gives you plenty of time to fish in a few spots, and it’s a great way to see the island. With the basic equipment you can catch some small and medium size fish. If you take your fishing more seriously, however, recommend that you hire a boat rod. Either way, you’ll be supplied with fresh squid as bait. For longer boat trips you will have time to fish off another of the many islands that are near to Rabbit Island. All fishing trips will include a boat trip around Rabbit Island, unless you specify any different. Don’t forget to pack some sunscreen and clothes that you can cover up whilst you’re on the water. There’s no cover on the boats and the sun is fierce when you’re out on the water.

Fishing off the beach

You can also fish off the headlands at either end of the main beach. There’s some rocks, so there’s a good chance of catching something. If you can get your hands on a beachcaster rod, you’ll have more options of where to fish, and more likely that you’ll catch something.

Snorkelling

Snorkelling is also available on Rabbit Island and equipment is available for daily hire. You can either take a boat for a few hours, or go off the rocks at either end of the main beach. There’s plenty of activity going on under water and as the water is calm, it’s ideal for snorkelling. Boat hire for snorkelling is a similar price as fishing, you’re more likely to see more sea life this way as the locals will take you to the best spots.

Kayaking on Rabbit Island

At the restaurant nearest to Kep you can hire kayaks. Rates are $5 for a double and $3 for single for an hour, however, I’m sure you can negotiate if you want to go out for longer. There’s plenty of shallow waters around the island that are ideal for exploring in a kayak.

Massage on Rabbit Island

Massage is available along the main beach with prices ranging from $5 upwards depending on the style of massage. Available types include Khmer, Thai and oil. If you like to switch off and just listen to the to the sounds of the sea whilst having a massage, Rabbit Island is the ideal spot.

Sunsets on Rabbit Island

Sunset Rabbit Island Koh Tonsay Cambodia

Sunsets from Rabbit Island are beautiful, throwing up vibrant and rich colours

Sunsets are spectacular on Rabbit Island and can be seen clearly every day from the main beach. They’re always colourful and throw up a myriad of vivid reds, pinks, purples, violets, oranges and more.

Doing nothing on Rabbit Island

If you’re just looking some rest and recuperation, Rabbit Island is the perfect setting to simply lie in a hammock or slump in a deckchair, whilst reading a book or dozing off to sleep. There’s plenty of hammocks hung on the trees which hug the shoreline of the main beach. The sound of the gentle waves lapping against the beach is an ideal tonic for those seeking some relaxation. The beach itself is quite small on the main beach on Rabbit Island, however, there’s plenty of space to lie on it or on a sun lounger.

Rabbit Island for peace and tranquility

If you’re looking for something a bit more rustic and away from the resort towns on Cambodia’s south coast, Rabbit Island fits the bill. Life is extremely slow on the island and you’ll soon find that you’ll be up with locals (or getting woken up by a cockerel!)and bedding down when the lights go out at around 10.00pm.

Local Life on Rabbit Island

One of the best things about Rabbit Island is the local families that live there as they’re friendly and don’t give you any hassle. As well as people, you’ll also be sharing the island with dogs, ducks, chickens and lots of native wildlife.

Local people

Man Making Beach Huts on Rabbit Island Cambodia

Local making a bungalow on Rabbit Island, it could be where you’re staying when you get here!

Rabbit Island used to be a fishing community, however, the locals have found tourism to be more lucrative. There’s less than a dozen families who live on Rabbit Island all year round. Many of the locals don’t speak English, however, there’s always at least one person at the bungalows and restaurants who will be able to speak in English.

Locals grow seaweed

Around the island you can see seaweed farms which the locals grow for export to China and Vietnam. It’s used for making sweet foods and helps the local economy.

Keeping Rabbit Island clean

If you’ve visited other beaches in Cambodia you’ll be refreshed to see how clean the main beach is on Rabbit Island. Unfortunately, you will see some plastic and other rubbish washed in from sea on other parts of the island. The water in the main beach is clean and crystal clear. We were also told that no sewage goes out to sea and that it’s dealt with inland.

Rabbit Island, Cambodia is a Must-See

If you’re heading to this part of Cambodia, you really must visit Rabbit Island (Koh Tonsay). You’ll love the place as it’s a perfect place to unwind for both tourists and travellers. I’ve done plenty of travelling in my time, and for sure it’s one of my favourite places. Be sure to visit Kem Leng, where you’ll definitely be treated to excellent food and service. Enjoy your trip!

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How To Travel From Can Tho (Vietnam) To Kep, (Cambodia) via Rach Gia and Ha Tien

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Vietnam to CambodiaDespite my best efforts to find out the best and quickest route to travel from Can Tho, Vietnam to Kep, Cambodia, I could not find any definite answers.

I thought, therefore, that I’d share my experience for other travellers who are taking the trip from Can Tho to Kep.

I took two buses and one moto taxi to do the trip, which took a total of eight hours. Contrary to what I thought before I set off, it was a smooth journey, with easy connections along the way.

Here’s how to get from Can Tho to Kep in one day.

Can Tho, Vietnam to Kep, Cambodia – Quick Links

Can Tho to Rach Gia by Bus

I reserved a seat on the Can Tho to Rach Gia bus via my hotel. They called this a ‘tourist bus’ which generally means this is more modern, cleaner and more often faster than ‘local’ buses.

At 7.30am I was picked up by an orange minibus. After a couple of more pick-ups we were taken to the Futa Phuong Trang office at the bus station in Can Tho.

I bought a ticket for 95,000 Vietnamese Dong to travel on the Futa Phuong Trang bus from Can Tho to Rach Gia.It was scheduled to leave at 8.00am, however, we departed at 8.15am.

After boarding the coach we were given a small bottle of water and a refreshing towelette. You can take local buses, however, I wanted to get to Kep as quickly as possible.

The journey time from Can to Rac Gia was just under three hours, which included the hotel pick-up, delayed departure and a 20 minute rest break along the way.

Arriving in Rac Gia – Moto Taxi Driver Shenanigans

As we embarked at Rac Gia, I encountered the only tricky part of the journey. Unfortunately, I was the only foreigner left to deal with the marauding swarm of moto taxi drivers.

I couldn’t get away from one insistent who was ushering me away and telling me I had to trarvel to another bus station five kilometres away, to get the bus to Rach Gia. I took on board his advice, smiled politely and ignored him.

He was not giving up, however, and continued to say ‘let’s go’ at least 10 times. Each time I smiled at him and firmly said that I was OK.

He was not going to give up that easily, no matter where I turned he was there in front of me. I got out Google Translate on my iphone and tried to communicate with a security guard followed by another moto taxi driver.

As it turned out the second driver spoke some English. Despite the best efforts of the first driver to continue his scam, I asked the second driver where I needed to go to catch my next bus. He pointed to the other side of the bus station.

Travel Tip: When dealing with moto taxi drivers at bus stations in Vietnam be polite and firm. Do not accept what they say, always get a second opinion from someone else.

When speaking to them always remain calm and keep smiling. Sometimes they offer useful advice, however, it’s also very common that they’re looking to make easy money from you.

Rach Gia to Ha Tien by Bus

The Futa Phuong Trang office instructed me to go to the Malinh Express counter to get a bus from Rac Gia to Ha Tien. At the Malinh Express office I bought a bus ticket from Rac Gia to Ha Tien for 65,000 Dong.

Whilst I waited for the bus, I saw a couple of local buses heading to Ha Tien. There are cheaper options available, however, you always need to weigh up time and convienience.

The Malinh Express mini-bus from Rach Gia to Ha Tien left on time. I’d been approximately one and half hours in Rach Gia before I’d departed.

The journey from Rach Gia to Ha Tien took two hours in total. On reaching Ha Tien, I knew it was just one transfer to complete the journey from Can Tho to Kep.

Ha Tien to Kep Moto Taxi

By the time we reached the Ha Tien bus station there was only a few of us left on the bus. I was the only foreigner, and was not surprised to see a scrum of taxi drivers waiting for me.

I started negotiating my onward journey to Kep, with the only English speaking taxi driver. I’d read about a difficult experience with the taxi drivers at Ha Tien, so to my surprise everything was agreed very quickly.

I agreed to pay $8 USD for the moto taxi from Ha Tien to Kep. I made it clear that I would not pay for any extras such as fuel or waiting time at the border.

Within minutes I was on the back of a moto heading towards Kep.

Ha Tien, Vietnam to Prek Chak, Cambodia Border Crossing

Ha Tien Vietnam and Cambodia Border

Ha Tien Vietnam border gate at the crossing with Prek Chak, Cambodia

The border crossing was straightforward. I went through the Vietnam gate at Ha Tien which only took a few minutes.

My moto taxi driver then ushered me on to walk towards the Cambodian border at Prek Chak. Just a few hundred metres later I arrived at the Cambodian side of the order.

I filled in the necessary forms and took it to the window to get my visa.

After handing over my passport, the immigration official requested a $30 USD fee, which was $5 USD more than I thought. I asked for a receipt, and quizzed the official on the $30 USD charge for my Cambodia visa.

I was told that the $5 USD was a stamping fee and that there was no receipts. After a long journey I was in no mood for arguing over the stamping fee, so paid the $30 USD.

After receiving my visa I started to walk away, when a Cambodian health official waved me to his counter.

I’d heard about this before, and thought it was a scam to get some more dollars from me. I made it clear that I was not going to pay.

The health official shone a light into my eyes, gave me the OK, and allowed me to get on my way. It was a slighly bizarre experience and am sure I would have been asked for money, had I not been clear I was not going to pay.

Ha Tien to Kep Moto Taxi

I got back on my moto taxi to continue my journey and we headed towards Kep. Immediately, I noticed that the roads were more basic in Cambodia.

The journey from the border to Kep despite the bumpy roads was a real treat. Everything felt more relaxed now, having crossed the border and travelling through beautiful Cambodian countryside.

My driver switched between pot-holed roads and dirt track country lanes to get to Kep. He had obviously done this route before and knew some short-cuts.

Just over an hour after I’d left Ha Tien, I arrived in Kep.

Welcome to Kep crab

The giant crab in the sea was a giveaway that I’d arrived in Kep!

I was happy to go with the flow whilst the moto taxi driver took me to a hotel as I didn’t have a booking. Within five minutes I’d accepted the room and paid my efficient and speedy moto taxi driver.

Travel Tip: Tuk-tuk and taxi drivers are more often than not useful if you need to find a hotel. It’s best to listen to what they recommend and reserve judgement until you arrive at the hotel.

The journey from Can Tho, Vietnam to Kep, Cambodia took a total of eight hours:

  • Can Tho to Rach Gia – three and a half hours by bus (including hotel pick up in Can Tho)
  • Rach Gia bus station – one and a half hours from arrival to departure on a different bus
  • Rach Gia to Ha Tien – two hours by bus
  • Ha Tien to Kep – one hour, including the border crossing

Have you done this journey? If so, how did you travel and how long did it take?

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10 Essential Things To Do In Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)

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Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) has a feast of things to do for the tourist and traveller. No matter what your tastes, there’s something for everyone in this exciting and energetic city.

I spent four weeks there and here’s my 10 essential things to do in Ho Chi Minh City.

Take a Saigon City Tour on a ‘Moto’

Vespa 'Moto' Scooters Saigon

The ‘moto’ is the heartbeat of Saigon, so get down with the local vibe and take a ride

The first thing that will strike any traveller when they arrive in Ho Chi Minh City is the amount of ‘motos’ (local term for a scooter) in the city. To get yourself orientated and to get into the local vibe, I’d recommend spending some time exploring the city on one.

There’s a number of options for your two wheel adventure depending on your riding skills and bravery.

The safest way it to take one of the many official tours that are available. Scooter tours are popular and rank highly as the best things to do in Ho Chi Minh City. You can either book direct or with a travel agent or when you’re in the city.

If you’d sooner go independent you can negotiate a day trip with one of the many moto taxi drivers.  Or, if you don’t have the time or inclination to take a full tour, you can just take a moto taxi ride across District 1 .

For the well accustomed motorbike rider and the brave, you can hire a scooter and ride yourself around Saigon.

However you decide to travel, take a journey in rush hour to get the maximum impact of the Saigon moto experience.

Feast on Saigon streetfood

Saigon Seafood Streetfood

Ho Chi Minh City has delicious streetfood, treat yourself to a seafood extravaganza

Food lovers are going to be in for a big treat in Saigon as it has every culinary delight that Vietnam has to offer. You don’t, however, need to go to an expensive restaurant to get delicious food.

The streetfood in Ho Chi Minh City is excellent and worthy of more than just a nibble. You can find streetfood vendors in all parts of the city.

It’s no surprise that many people think Vietnamese streetfood is the best in the world, and enjoying is one of the best things to do in Ho Chi Minh City.

Vue Bien in the touristy, backpacker area is a good starting point. Take a stroll down the street and sample fantastic streetfood. I can personally recommend the seafood (crab, shellfish and more) which goes down a treat with a Saigon Green (local beer).

If you want a more educational and local experience, take a recommended streetfood tour.

War Remnants Museum

War Remnants Museum Ho Chi Minh City

The War Remnants Museum is high on my list of things to do in Ho Chi Minh City

In Vietnam you can’t escape the Vietnam War (called the American War locally and at tourist sites in Vietnam). Throughout Vietnam you’ll find relics and accounts of the war, and this is particularly prevalent in Ho Chi Minh City.

If you want to understand the history of modern Vietnam, you must visit the War Remnants Museum. It brings to life the massive suffering and sacrifice that the Vietnamese people have undertaken to gain freedom from foreign rule.

The War Remnants Museum has a range of themed areas from war photography, liberating Vietnam, the treatment of political prisoners under French rule, war crimes and the aftermath of Agent Orange.

History buffs will be in their element (I certainly was), however, a word of caution some of what you see is very moving. Certainly, the section on the devastation caused by Agent Orange is not for the feint-hearted.

Outside in the forecourt, here’s an excellent show of American miltiary hardware that never made it out of Vietnam. If there’s one museum you’re planning to see this is it.

It’s a must see on your list of things to do in Ho Chi Minh City.

Jade Emperor Pagoda

Jade Emperor Pagoda Saigon

The Jade Emperor Pagoda is a great way to understand Chinese culture in Ho Chi Minh City

For something a bit different, the Jade Emperor Pagoda is well worth a visit. As well as the beautiful building and grounds, you’ll also see locals making their prayers and offerings.

Built by the Chinese community it’s the best temple of its kind in the city. If you’re an architecture fan, you’ll love the building and the ornate wood carvings inside.

The temple features both Buddhist and Taoist deities and is dedicated to Jade, the supreme Taoist god.

When you step inside the pagoda you’ll be instantly hit with the thick waft of incense and the thought provoking and grotesque figures guarding the temple.

It’s a bit tricky to find, however, I’d definitely add it to your list of things to do in Ho Chi Minh City.

Reunification Palace

Piano and Billiards Table - Reunification Palace Saigon

The Reunification Palace in Ho Chi Minh City has an eclectic mix of things to see

The Reunification Palace is synonymous with the end of the Vietnam War and the fall of Saigon. The image of a North Vietnamese tank smashing through the complex walls, is one of the most famous images from the war.

It’s based in large grounds and surrounded by parks, so it’s a welcome relief from the traffic on the streets. You’ll find some Soviet built tanks in the gardens and other relics from the war.

The Reunification Palace is a unique and interesting building both from the outside and inside. For this reason alone it makes a visit worthy of my top things to do in Ho Chi Minh City.

It was designed by an award winning, French trained, Vietnamese architect called Ngo Viet Thu.

When you step inside you’ll think you’ve entered a time warp from the 1970s, and you’ll be right as everything has been left unchanged since it was taken in 1975 by the North Vietnamese.

There’s some fantastic interior features in the rooms inside. From grand pianos, to lavish oriental carpets, vintage Mercedes, exquisite meeting areas and art deco lounge rooms, the Reunification Palace is a great place for fans of design.

You can also get onto the rooftop for some views across the city.  If that’s not enough there’s a ghost like, US military helicopter on the top of the building.

If you’re looking for something quirky this is one of the must see things to do in Ho Chi Minh City.

Ho Chi Minh City Nightlife

Apocalypse Now Nightclub Saigon

Dance the night away at the famed Saigon nightclub Apocalypse Now

Saigon is a great city at night with plenty of bars, karaoke joints and clubs to keep you entertained at night and through to the morning. There’s plenty on offer, whatever your budget and stamina levels.

Bars are dotted all around District 1, with clusters around the backpacker area in Pham Ngu Lao, and around the area near the Opera House.

Karaoke is big in Saigon so if you’re feeling bit more daring you can have a go at this. If you’re lucky you can go with some Saigon locals, who’ll be more than happy to see you sing in English or your native language.

For those who’re looking for more lively things to do in Ho Chi Minh City there’s some fantastic nightclubs. One of my favourites is Apocalypse Now which is packed full with a party crowd of locals, expats, tourists and backpackers at weekends.

Ho Chi Minh City shopping

Antiques Shopping in Saigon

Saigon has plenty of shopping opportunities, including some beautiful antiques and ornaments

Shopaholics and bargain hunters are going to love Saigon. From street markets to Western style department stores, the city is great for shopping.

Diamond Plaza is for the well-heeled, and a familiar experience experience as you would get with any upmarket department store at home. There’s also Saigon Plaza a not so pricey department stall type shopping mall.

Le Loi which runs through the centre of District 1 has something for everyone with a diverse range boutiques, designer brands, clothes, electronics and more.

Ben Thanh is the classic tourist market where you can buy clothing and souvenirs, however, the eating there is better than the shopping.

Relax in the parks and green spaces

Ho Chi Minh City Parks

Get some relief from the Saigon traffic in the numerous city centre parks and green spaces

Ho Chi Minh City is a frenetic place but it’s easy to get away from it all by visiting one of the parks and green spaces in District 1. For those of you who are not big city lovers, these can provide a welcome break from the hustle and bustle of the streets.

Whilst you’re relaxing there’s plenty of people watching and friendly faces to keep you entertained. You’ll even see live open air dance lessons, which are amusing to watch.

No doubt you’ll be approached by local students who are looking to practice their English. If you have time give something back to the city and help them with their tourism surveys. I certainly had some fun with them when I spoke to them.

Tao Dan Park is popular with locals and tourists and set amongst many of the cities sights. If you’re looking to do something more energetic you’ll find a swimming pool, tennis courts and other sports amenities there as well.

Get a ‘Birds Eye View’ of the city

Ho Chi Minh City Skyline

Saigon skyline seen looking east towards the high rise blocks taken from Pham Ngu Lao

I’m a big believer that one of the best ways to see a large city, and get some perspective, is to look down on it from above. Saigon is an expanding metropolis with diverse districts that stretch out far and wide.

Ho Chi Minh City’s most renowned view of the cities skyline is from the Financial Tower Skydeck. Here you can get an excellent 360 degree view of Saigon.

If you can’t stomach the $10 charge to go up the Skydeck, you can often find other ways to view the city from above. I was fortunate that one of my hotels had an excellent view from the 10th floor where they served breakfast.

However you manage to do it, I’d definitely recommend this in a list of things to do in Ho Chi Minh City.

Cu Chi Tunnels and Cao Dai Temple Day Tour

This is the most popular day tour from Saigon and I’d highly recommend you add it to your list of things to do in Ho Chi Minh City. Many tours just visit Cu Chi, however, it’s well worth doing the combined tour and visit the Cao Dai Temple as well.

Cao Dai Temple Tay Ninh Saigon

The Cao Dai Temple outside Saigon in Tay Ninh is a truly unique experience

On our tour we visited the Cao Dai Temple first and arrived in time to see the midday worship. The whole experience is truly unique from the religion itself, to the beautiful and colourful interior of the temple.

In fact, the temple you visit in Tay Ninh is the birthplace of the Cao Dai religion which was started in 1926.

When you attend the ceremony it leaves you thinking what is the most strangest sight, the Cao Dai worshippers themselves, or the tourists crammed into the viewing areas to see them.

After lunch you’ll visit the famous Cu Chi Tunnels which was a key battleground for the North Vietnamese which linked the Ho Chi Minh Trail to Saigon. In all of the wars, neither the French or Americans were able to take the area.

Cu Chi Tunnels Saigon

That’s me coming out of one of the tunnels at Cu Chi, luckily they’ve been expanded for overweight Westerners to experience them :-)

If there’s anywhere that epitomises the strength and resolve of the Vietnamese people, you’ll find it in abundance at Cu Chi.

At the beginning of the visit you’ll see a short film about the people of Cu Chi and the tunnels. Later on you’ll get to crawl in a tunnel to give you some idea of what it was like for the freedom fighters who fought there.

You’ll also see the rudimentary ‘man traps’ that the people of Cu Chi built to protect the tunnel area. These were often built just from bamboo and not something you’d want to walk over.

There’s also other relics from the war at Cu Chi such as weapons, bombs and an American tank.

What’s on your list of things to do in Ho Chi Minh City?

Saigon is a rich and diverse experience for tourists and travellers alike and there’s something for everyone to experience

I’d be interested to know your recommended things to do in Ho Chi Minh City. Did they make this list?

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