Essential Cambodia and Vietnam Tour will bring you to two of the most attractive countries in Southeast Asia. Joining some thousands tribal peoples from different ethnic groups in their colorful traditional costumes in Sapa, admire the captivating limestone of Halong Bay before the ancient beauty in Hoi An as well as the capital of Hue with royal architecture. Experience bustling modern capital of Ho Chi Minh City and the life of local peeple on Mekong River with the colorful floating market in the river, the folk songs of the singer resound between the river culture, the historical iconic war crimes. Take a speed boat to visit the most remarkable sights of Phnom Penh and head to Siem Reap to be impressed by the magnificent temples of World Wonder Angkor Wat.
Upon arrival, meet our driver/tour guide and transfer to hotel. Rest of the day is free at leisure
Today, you will discover the story of Hanoi by exploring its top sites and labyrinthine Old Quarter. See the Presidential Palace, the One Pillar Pagoda and the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum – the resting place of Vietnam’s founding president. You’ll also see the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long, an 11th century archaeological site, and the famous Temple of Literature.
End of the afternoon, you will view Long Bien Bridge, which was partially bombed during the Vietnam War, then take a breezy cyclo ride through the Old Quarter’s 36 streets, finishing up with a coffee in a local café. Tonight, you will board the overnight train to Sapa.
Upon arrival, your guide will be waiting to transfer you to local market where you join some thousands tribal peoples from different ethnic groups in their colorful traditional costumes who gather at regional markets for their most important event of the week, you will quickly absorbed by festive atmosphere and understand the important role of these markets in spiritual life of local ethnic peoples. This is a can-not-be-missed experience for who are interested in discovering new cultures and especially for photo hunters.
Today’s trekking offers more stunning views of rice terraces and gardens as well as Mt Fansipan, whose summit rises 10,312 feet (3,143 meters) above sea level.
After crossing a suspension bridge, marvel at the breathtaking scenery as you continue through the Golden Stream valley, stopping at Lao Chai village for lunch. After your meal, follow your guide on a walk through this village where Black Hmong people reside, and continue on to Ta Van village, home to the Dzay tribe. This part of the hike is relatively easy, though the trail can be quite slippery if it rains, so good footwear is recommended. You’ll visit with some local families and learn about their daily lifestyle and fascinating culture, before departing to the main road to meet up with your driver and return to Lao Cai train station.
It’s an early arrival into Hanoi with stop to freshen up and have breakfast before driving drive through rural northern Vietnam to the site of Vietnam’s first capital, Hoa Lu. After visiting Hoa Lu, if time and energy levels permit, choose to take a half-hour walk up one of the surrounding limestone karst hills. The climb is rewarded with spectacular views.
In the late morning, depart for Tam Coc Town to enjoy a Vietnamese lunch. Along the way, stop to take pictures of local villages and the stunning landscape.
After lunch, you will visit Trang An Landscape Complex, a UNESCO World Heritage Site to admire a spectacular landscape of limestone karst peaks permeated with valleys, some of which are submerged, and surrounded by steep, almost vertical cliffs. Take a relaxing boat ride on a peaceful river passing through a series of caves. Officially designated as an ‘eco-tourism’ area, the only interruptions here are the sound of birds and the gentle paddle of the oar upon the crystal clear river.
For those feeling adventurous, there’s a climb up to Bich Dong Pagoda on nearby Ngu Nhac Mountain. The pagoda dates back to 1428 and is comprised of three structures: Ha, Trung, and Thuong Pagodas, in ascending order. After that, take a boat trip back by sampan back to Tam Coc Town for overnight.
Following an early breakfast, you will leave Ninh Binh for a 4-hour (approximately) drive to Halong Bay, Vietnam’s most popular UNESCO World Heritage site! The name ‘Ha Long’ means ‘Bay of Descending Dragons’ and owes its origins to a Vietnamese myth. The towering limestone karsts represent the dragon’s back, surrounded by jade green water creating an unforgettable site. There are more than 1,600 limestone islands and islets with different shapes jutting out from the sea.
Arrive at the Halong Bay jetty around noon, you will proceed with check-in formalities before boarding a boat for an unforgettable overnight cruise on Halong Bay. After being welcomed onboard, a lunch of Vietnamese food is served while cruising towards the bay itself. Explore caves, kayak, swim, sunbathe and dine on traditional Vietnamese seafood dishes.
Enjoy a new day with complimentary tea and coffee served for light breakfast on board. Then you’ll have free time while the vessels cruises slowly through the magnificent rock formations and back towards port. Disembark and transfer back to Hanoi for a flight to Hue. On arrival, you will be picked up and taken to your hotel.
After breakfast, you will start the tour at the Imperial Citadel where the Nguyen Dynasty ruled between 1802 and 1945. From here take a cyclo through dai noi ‘Old City’ to Tinh Tam Lake where the Emperors used to come to relax. The lake is full of lotus flowers in the summer and there are many local style coffee shops around, perfect for soaking in the local scene.
Next, pay a visit to the Thien Mu Pagoda overlooking the Perfume River, which is constructed in 1601, the 21-meter tower is the centerpiece of the pagoda and represents seven reincarnations of Buddha. On the pagoda grounds is the famous Austin car a resident monk drove to Saigon in 1963 to protest against the southern regime. The photo of his self immolation is one of the most well known images of the war.
Continue to former emperor Minh Mang’s tomb located in a tranquil setting of gardens and ponds. Afterwards, 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.
Before heading back to the hotel, take time to stroll around Dong Ba Market, another of the must see sites in Hue, with stalls teeming with color and life.
Today, journey from Hue over scenic mountainous roads with spectacular views over the coastline. Passing Lang Co beach, a lovely stretch of beach curving outwards between a clear blue lagoon and the East Vietnam Sea to admire the dramatic Hai Van Pass, the high dividing line between the climate zones of north and south Vietnam.
In the evening, set off on a culinary adventure in Hoi An to discover the flavours and dishes that make this coastal town unique. Alongside an expert local guide, your journey introduces you to the stories behind Hoi An’s most iconic dishes at the town’s most famous eateries. Throughout the evening you’ll try white rose dumplings, banh can and Cao Lau and you’ll stop by a local Ancient House.
With its stunning mix of architecture that tells a story of days gone by, to the colourful boats bobbing in the harbour, Hoi An is has a charm and style all of its own. This UNESCO listed site was once a 15th century fishing village, but now is renowned for its tailors, galleries boutiques and of course its food! Take a guided walking tour and see the Chua Ong Pagoda, the Phuc Kien Assembly Hall and take a stroll across the often photographed 17th century covered bridge built by Japanese craftsmen. All living links to Hoi An’s ancient past.
Afterwards, head out toward Cam Thanh Village, a small community located in the outskirts of central Hoi An. Your destination is a small village home to meet a local family. On the nearby river, hop in a bamboo basket boat to visit a water coconut forest and then on board a boat bound for central Hoi An.
After breakfast, you will take a flight to the bustling modern capital of Ho Chi Minh City formerly Saigon. Discover the story of Saigon, from the days of the French rule to the war years with America – this is one city with a tale to tell! See all the main sights including the Reunification Palace, the Post Office and Notre Dame Cathedral. End your day with a speedboat trip down the river to see a different side of the city.
In the evening, head back to the Saigon Opera House, to watch the spectacular A O Show. This performance is a showcase of Vietnamese culture and art, and combines, in beautiful precision, elements of both old and new.
Travel by speedboat from Ho Chi Minh City to the Cu Chi Tunnels, an underground city for Viet Cong soldiers during the Vietnam War. Cruise the Saigon River, taking in the scenery and river life as you leave the bustling city behind. In the tunnels, discover how the Viet Cong survived underground and see various man traps, bomb craters and other remnants of war.
You will be picked up at your hotel and transferred to Cai Be by road. Meet us at Cai Be Jetty at 10:00 am where the crew will be ready to welcome you aboard with cold towels and a refreshing drink while the Cai Be Princess Sampan sets off for its leisurely cruise on the busy waterways of the Mekong Delta.
Observe from the comfort of your sampan life as it plays out on the riverbanks the people, the stunning landscapes while your attentive crew serves you tea and seasonal fruit. Visit an ancient house built in the 19th century. We’ll make stops along the way to explore local cottage industries including the making of coconut candy and puffed rice (the local equivalent of popcorn).
Lunch is served in this exquisite colonial-style villa set in a lush tropical garden by the river and surrounded by fruit trees, giving you a sense of privileged life during Indochinese times. After lunch, re-board the Cai Be Princess and continue your cruise towards Vinh Long, via the Dong Phu Canal, before arriving at Binh Hoa Phuoc and An Binh, small islands renowned for their fruit orchards. Stop on the way to visit historic An Binh Church. After crossing the Co Chien River, your sampan docks at Vinh Long Pier at around 4:30 pm, where your personal vehicle awaits for the drive to Can Tho.
Wake up early for a breakfast cruise to the colourful Cai Rang Floating Market which bustles with wholesalers on big boats. During the early morning market hours, large boats anchor and create lanes that smaller boats weave in and out of. The main items sold here are fruit and vegetables, and every boat has a long upright pole at its bow from which samples of the goods for sale are hung. The waterway becomes a maze of hundreds of boats packed with mango, bananas, papaya, pineapple, and even floating pho vendors.
This afternoon drive approximately 20 km from Chau Doc to Tra Su Forest and travel by sampan through endless waterways flanked by mangroves and lush greenery. This eco reserve spans 850 hectares and is an ecological haven for fauna and flora, with more than 100 species of water birds and colonies of bats. The best time to visit Tra Su is from September to November when the water is high, although it is accessible all year round. On the way to the forest you will visit a small village of ethnic Khmer, where you will learn about the importance of Buddhism in the community and have the opportunity to chat with monks at the local monastery.
After breakfast, you will visit Chau Doc’s local market which overlooks the confluence of three rivers. The Cham minority, who dominated coastal Vietnam from the 2nd to the 9th centuries, were originally Hindu, but became Muslim as a result of contact with Arab seafarers and merchants in the Middle Ages. The Chams also practice silk weaving and there may be an opportunity to see them at work. The architecture here is rather distinctive. Visit a beautiful Khmer temple and the floating houses that double as catfish farms, which are a huge industry for the country.
Late in the afternoon, you visit Sam Mountain, an important pilgrimage site that is frequently visited by pilgrims from all over the Mekong Delta. There are dozens of pagodas and temples around Sam Mountain, and reaching the peak is the highlight of the visit. The views from the top are spectacular. If weather permitting, you can easily look out over Cambodia.
Depart early in the morning for a 4-hour boat ride to Phnom Penh. It’s an hour to the border. After clearing immigration and completing visa formalities, continue on into Cambodia.
Upon arrival in Phnom Penh, be welcomed by the local guide and be accompanied to the hotel for check in.
After a relaxing break, be greeted by a driver and head on a tour to the most remarkable sights of Phnom Penh in a cyclo, an original Phnom Penh means of transportation and a fun way to explore this lively city.
First, head to Wat Phnom Temple, the founding place of the city on a small hilltop. Then continue along the riverfront to the Royal Palace. This palace dates back to 1866 and houses the Silver Pagoda, named for the over 5,000 heavy silver tiles that cover its floors. Its original name is Wat Prakeo, meaning Temple of the Emerald Buddha. In this temple,l view a collection of Buddhas in gold, silver, crystal, and bronze.
Late in the afternoon, enjoy an atmospheric sunset river cruise and watch how Phnom Penh’s popular riverfront comes to life in the early evening. Enjoy fresh coconut juice on board.
After breakfast at the hotel, we will continue our visit the Toul Sleng Prison Museum and the Killing Fields of Choeung Ek – both grim reminders of Cambodia’s bloody past under Pol Pot. It is almost inconceivable to confront the nature of true evil here in this gentle land, but the Buddhist memorial at Choeung Ek, commemorates the 1.7 million victims of the 1975-79 Pol Pot regime. This excursion may prove distressing for some. It is, however, an important piece of this country’s historical and cultural puzzle. Then we discover Phnom Penh’s Psar Toul Tom Pong, known as the Russian Market, a great place to hunt for souvenirs, curios, and silks.
Afternoon, transfer to the airport for flight to Siem Reap. Upon arrival, meet our tour guide/driver and transfer to the hotel. Rest of the day is free at leisure.
Suggested activities: Night Market in Siem Reap (tour guide will advise you in detail)
Around 8:00 am, our local tour guide will meet you at the hotel to start full-day exploration of Angkor Complex. After short transfer, we will reach Angkor Wat – the world’s largest religious monument with 402 acres (163 ha) of ancient Hindu-Buddhist architecture.
From Angkor Wat, continue the trip to Angkor Thom where stone figures greet you at the ancient city’s monumental southern gates. Inside Angkor Thom, stroll towards Bayon—identified by a series of smiling faces etched into its upper terrace and central peak. Before concluding your visit to Angkor Thom, explore the famous Terrace of the Leper King and the Terrace of the Elephants.
Next, enjoy lunch at your own expense before visiting Ta Prohm—a mystifying temple that is being overtaken by Cambodia’s lush jungle landscape. Finally, revel in sunset at lovely Pre Rup—a temple built in dedication to the Hindu god Shiva in Phnom Bakkeng Hill—before returning to your hotel for the evening.
Pick-up at hotel. Start the tour by visiting Rolous Group Temples.
And then, we visit the floating village of Kompong Pluk where you will take the wood boat to explore the Cambodian houses on stilt and the flooded forest before reaching to Tonle Sap lake to take a glimpse of fishermen and other activities. We spend the rest of day visiting the “Chantiers Ecoles – Les Artisans d’Angkor” which provides training to young Cambodians in an effort to revive the ancient Khmer traditions of stone carving and wood sculpting.
Day at leisure until to transfer to the airport to take flight back to your country.