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The best side trip from Ho Chi Minh City is a trek to Siem Reap, Cambodia, a short one-hour flight away. If you’re not in a hurry to get there, traveling by bus can take anywhere from 10 to 15 hours, and you can also get there by boat from various points on the Mekong Delta. No matter how you travel, you’ll need to obtain a visa either before arriving in Cambodia or once you reach the border — if you choose the latter option, be sure you have extra passport photos on hand.
Once you’re there, our Forbes Travel Guide editors recommend staying at the Golden Banana Boutique Hotel & Resort, which is located just across the river from the main part of town and is an easy five-minute walk from the city center. You’ll enjoy a much quieter stay here than you would at a hotel near busy Pub Street. The Golden Banana has luxe two-floor villas with private balconies and a host of other wonderful amenities such as free Wi-Fi, satellite television and an outdoor hammock. The landscaping here is beautiful, breakfasts are filling and a dip in the large saltwater pool is a superb way to cool down after a long day exploring the ancient temples of Angkor Wat.
The Angkor Archaeological Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site with magnificent remains of the Khmer Empire, which ruled many parts of Southeast Asia from the 9th to 15th centuries. Plan to spend at least two days exploring the temples — renting a bike is a great way to cover lots of ground — and be sure to visit Ta Prohm, the temple featured in the 2001 action film Lara Croft: Tomb Raider. If biking around in the sweltering heat doesn’t sound appealing, we recommend hiring a guide who’ll pick you up at your hotel, take you to the most fascinating sites and tell you the history behind the temples, carvings and statues.
Two of our favorite places to eat in Siem Reap are Khmer Kitchen and Old House; we highly recommend the Khmer fish curry, a local specialty bursting with flavor. After dinner, head to Miss Wong Cocktail Bar to sip lemongrass and rose-petal martinis under glowing red lanterns. There are plenty of other bars and restaurants lining Pub Street, too, many of which have large outdoor spaces ideal for prime people watching.