Uncover the true essence of Cambodia and Vietnam as you travel from the farthest corners in the north to deep in the south. Create lasting memories as you meet the people, taste the food and embrace the culture. Stay in French colonial boutique hotels and cruise the waters on traditional junks and converted rice barges.
On arrival in Phnom Penh, you will be welcomed by your English speaking guide and then transferred to the hotel for check in.
Begin your half-day tour with a visit to the Royal Palace overlooking the confluence of the Mekong and Tonle Sap Rivers. Built in 1866 by King Norodom, the palace is now home to the reigning monarch. Within the palace grounds you will find the Silver Pagoda, its floor covered by 5,000 silver tiles each weighing 1kg. But that’s not all, there is a beautiful emerald and crystal Buddha sitting on top of a gilded pedestal, and life-sized Buddha made from solid gold weighing 90kgs and encrusted with 9,584 diamonds, the largest weighing in at 25 carats!
Next you will visit the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, which documents the atrocities of the Khmer Rouge against both their political enemies and many thousands of everyday Cambodians. In 1975 this former high school was taken over by Pol Pot's security forces and converted into Security Prison 21 (S-21). It soon became the largest detention and torture centre in the country. Please note that the images on display are quite graphic and unsettling.
End you day on a lighter note at the city’s art deco inspired Central Market. This main market sells everything from fresh fish to flowers. You can buy gold jewellery, precious gems, silk, t-shirts, souvenirs and more!
Overnight in Phnom Penh.
After breakfast, transfer to the airport for your flight from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap. On arrival in Siem Reap, your local English speaking guide will greet you and accompany you to the hotel for check in.
This afternoon, start your visits to Angkor by visiting the ancient city of Angkor Thom. Angkor Thom was the last capital of the Great Khmer Empire under the reign of Jayavarman VII. This city is surrounded by an 8 m high wall, with each side of the city being 4 km long, drawing a perfect square. You will enter the city through the ancient South Gate, an impressive stone gate carved with Elephants and four giant. On each side of the entrance path a row of 54 gods or demons is holding the sacred Naga snake.
From here, continue to Bayon Temple in the exact center of the city. The particularity of this monument is the 54 towers with four faces representing the 54 provinces of the then Great Khmer Empire. The Terrace of the Elephants and the Terrace of the Leper King are also must-visits as they are both known for their intricate bas-reliefs. Return to the hotel.
Overnight in Siem Reap.
Full day tour to visit Phnom Kulen where the river of 1000 ling features thousands of carvings engraved into the sandstone rocks under the water. We also visit the rock temple with a large reclining Buddha. There will be a picnic lunch by the waterfall. And the way back will be visit the oldest temple in Angkor, Banteay Srei. This temple has the best engravings among all the ruins
Overnight in Siem Reap.
After breakfast, free till transfer to the airport for departure flight from Siem Reap to Ho Chi Minh Arrive in Ho Chi Minh City and transfer to hotel. After pick-up at your hotel, you enjoy a half day excursion to the famous Cu Chi tunnels. This network of tunnels, which stretched for over 200km, became legendary during the 1960s. Cu Chi tunnels played a vital part in the U.S.-Vietnam War in that they allowed the Viet Cong to control a large rural area only 30 to 40 km from former Saigon . At its height, the tunnel system stretched from Saigon to the Cambodian border. The network, parts of which were several levels deep, included innumerable trap doors, specially constructed living areas, storage facilities, weapons factories, field hospitals, command centres and kitchens. Today the remaining tunnels have become a major tourist attraction giving the visitor a unique experience and feel of what underground life during the war must have been like. The tunnels have been widened for our benefit (otherwise we would not be able to enter them!) For those interested there's even the opportunity to try an AK47 or MK16 at the nearby rifle range. Overnight in Ho Chi Minh City.
Start your day trip with a visit to Tan Dinh church. Tan Dinh church is a complete contrast to traditional Notre Dame Cathedral, but equally impressive with it's high steeple and distinctive pink desgin. It is one of the most beautiful and unique churches in Ho Chi Minh city with its dazzling architecture and sculpture patterns and inside is just as dramatic. Next you are driven to the the city’s Central Post Office, which was designed by the renowned French architect Gustav Eiffel, take a short stroll along Dong Khoi Street to the Opera House. From a bomb shelter to housing the parliamentary Lower House, the Opera House has had an interesting history. Restored in 1995 the Opera House has returned to its roots and is once again a theatre. Continue visit the Reunification Palace, once a symbol of the South Vietnamese Government. It was here on 30 April 1975, that the war ended when a North Vietnamese Army tank crashed through its gates. See the war room, the banquet hall and the presidential office with the unusual gifts which have been received. In the afternoon continue on to the War Remnants Museum. Here, your guide will tell the story of the city’s darkest and most tragic hours during the Vietnam War. The museum contains displays of military aircraft, weaponry and many photographs - some that are quite graphic in nature. Head to Cholon the city’s Chinatown and Thien Hau Pagoda which is dedicated to the Goddess of the Sea. With intricate friezes, carved tableaus and impressive incense coils make for some great photos. Then observe street life with a cyclo ride through the narrow streets to Binh Tay market that sells everything from hats to dried squid! Overnight in Ho Chi Minh City
This morning, leave bustling Ho Chi Minh for the 2 hour drive to the delta town of My Tho. The Mekong Delta is the southernmost region of Vietnam. This region is known as the rice bowl of Vietnam as it cultivates up to 3 harvests per year. The fertile Mekong Delta is also famous for tropical fauna. The Delta area marks the end of a 4,500km journey made by the Mekong River after crossing six countries. Traditional transportation in the Delta is by boat along a vast network of canals and channels. Boating along these canals and observing daily life has been proved to be a fascinating and rewarding experiences for all visitors. Drive from Ho Chi Minh City to My Tho then continue the day with a walking route around the village. This will be a good chance to explore daily local life Start by a visit to Chuong Duong eco tourism site, then to bee farm, try some honey tea, enjoy variety of tropical fruits while listening to traditional Southern Vietnamese folk songs (Don ca tai tu Nam Bo) performed by local artists. Continue to wander around the village, then stop for a while to visit a family making coconut candy, taste some local confectionery and take a fresh and relaxing walk in the garden. Then, take a sampan to enjoy the charming Mekong scenery before enjoying lunch in a local restaurant. This afternoon, continue your peaceful cruise on Tien Giang River and visit a floating fishing village and a local fish market. Disembark at Chuong Duong pier then drive back to Saigon. Overnight in Ho Chi Minh City.
After breakfast transfer to Tan Son Nhat Airport for the short flight to Danang. On arrival in Danang transfer to your hotel in Hoi An, a major Asian trading port in the 17th and 18th centuries whose architecture and relaxed lifestyle has changed little over the years. In the afternoon, take a walking tour of the ancient town centre to visit the former merchants’ homes, the 400 year-old Japanese Covered Bridge and the colorful market. Overnight in Hoi An or Danang.
Leave Hoi An for Hue, the former imperial capital of Vietnam. Its mesmerizing tombs and mausoleums of the last emperors of Vietnam reveal fascinating insights into the lives of the imperial families and their subjects. Our half day tour starts with a trip to the ancient walled Citadel containing the former Imperial Palace. The Citadel was closely modeled along the lines of the Forbidden City in Beijing. After that, we will set out on a tour to see the final resting place of the Emperors by visiting Tu Duc Royal Tomb. Overnight in Hue.
Start your day with a visit to the city’s vibrant Dong Ba Market to see it’s abundance of fresh produce. After exploring the market take a cyclo through the ‘Old City’ to Tinh Tam Lake where the Emperors used to come to relax, full of lotus flowers in summer there are many local style coffee shops around the lake where university students come to study. Continue to former emperor Minh Mang’s tomb located in a tranquil setting of gardens and ponds. Journey on to Khai Dinh’s Tomb designed in traditional Vietnamese style with a European touch making it unique from the other tombs in Hue. From here transfer 30-minutes to Hue Airport for the 1-hour flight to Hanoi. On arrival transfer to your hotel. Overnight in Hanoi.
After breakfast leave Hanoi for a 4hour drive to Halong Bay including a 20-minutes stop on the way. Arrive at your jetty in Halong City towards noon and proceed with check-in formalities. After your welcome onboard, a lunch will be served while cruising towards the bay itself. In the afternoon, enjoy some visits and/or activities (depending on each boat’s itinerary) or just spend some time relaxing on board. Towards the end of the day the boat sets anchor for the night among the karst formations. Dinner is served on board. Overnight on the boat in Halong Bay.
Take a traditional rowboat to the floating fishing village of Vung Vieng. Watch as the people go about daily lives shaped by the ageless rhythms of the sea. Enjoy your last glimpses of Halong Bay over an early lunch as you cruise back to the port. While returning to Hanoi, stop at Yen Duc Village to see a traditional water puppet performance, an ancient art form of the Red River Delta. Afterwards continue to Hanoi, arriving in the late in the afternoon. At 5pm we will take you to go inside the small lane and alleys inside the Hanoi Old Quarter and show you how real Hanoians live, work and eat. The old quarter of Hanoi formed the core of the legendary “Hanoi of 36 guild streets” where goods and crafts were traded in specialized streets formed by traders and craftsmen from clans and villages all over the country. In the course of their migration to the city they brought along their culture, habits and local delicacies that were gradually adopted in the Hanoians’ way of life. So, it is here that the street food scene is overwhelming and should not be missed during your journey of life time to Vietnam as a whole and to Hanoi in particular. Embark on a walking/street food tour through Hanoi’s best culinary spots alongside a renowned food blogger. This local insider possesses an enormous passion for his country's cuisine, resulting in a blog that has gained a large following both in Vietnam and internationally. Join the specialist street food guide with the walking street food tour of Hanoi; a comfortable pair of walking shoes is recommended! By far our most popular tour, this tour is great fun and perfect way to discover some of the lesser known dishes that the locals love to eat. From Bun Bo (Sauteed Beef Rice Vermicelli), Banh Cuon (Steamed rice rolls), “Banh Mi” and end with unique Ca Phe Trung (Egg Coffee) which will round off our four courses perfectly. Local life, local stories; local food and local drink tasting. It's the little things that make all the difference in your travel experience! Overnight in Hanoi.
Begin the morning with a visit to the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum. Here, you will hear about the man who led Vietnam’s campaign for independence from French colonial rule. After dedicating his life to the liberation of his country from foreign rule, Ho Chi Minh died in 1969 and his body was preserved for posterity. Every October the mausoleum is closed for a month and Uncle Ho is given a bit of a spruce up! Hear the legend of the one pillar pagoda built by an emperor to honour the goddess of mercy. This small pagoda is built over a pretty lotus pond and is rumoured to have healing powers. Next, visit the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long, the apex of regional political power for more than a millennium where research and excavation is still underway, and then head to another 11th century relic, the Temple of Literature, which was built in homage to the Chinese scholar Confucius. At leisure for shopping until your transfer to Noi Bai Airport for departure flight.
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