I went to the Vietname and Cambodia in October of 2012 with a friend from Durban.
The cities of Saigon and Hanoi were very busy and a scooter world. Shops were opened till midnight and restaurant kitchens close at 9.30pm which was a bit of a shelp.
We rode on motor bikes on a night tour run by ladies who work at night to subsidise their studies. Halong Bay is absolutely beautiful. We went swimming, climbing up the mountains to see the caves and kayaking was also available.
The weather was very hot with temperatures over 30C and humid. People in Vietnam are absolutely fantastic. Having been through the wars 30 years ago, they have built up and moved on creating a life that looked so stress free. Lots of spas around for cheap massages and relaxing therapy.
Food was lots of veggies with chicken, beef or pork. Very healthy cooking methods. We enjoyed the food.
There were interesting people in Sa Pa unlike the other cities. They accompany you all the way through the mountains to villages approximately 11kms from the hotel. They offer their umbrellas.
The women worked hard in the rice fields and are always smiling and greeting you, wanting to know everything they can with the limited English they know. We found young and old folks walking, jogging, dancing along the lake side keeping fit.
Cambodian food was good. There were contrasts of Buddhism and Hinduism. Pub street was buzzing was was the night markets open till midnight. The atmosphere is electrical and free.
Lots of walking to see the temples but it was enjoyable also with elephant rides and tuc tuc's.
Travel light, bring lots of sunblock and a pair of good walking shoes. Bargain in the markets as this is a way of trade here. Cambodia is very cheap but Vietnam not so cheap.
We traveled by train to Sa Pa from Hanoi, by bus to Halong Bay, boats to the islands and we traveled on tuc tuc's and scooters around the towns. Taxis were not too bad, reasonably priced.