Inc. Halong Bay Cruise

Cambodia & Vietnam Explorer

14 day Small Group Tour - from £1829

The best of Cambodia and Vietnam, with many magical highlights on the way. Begin in Cambodia, where Angkor Wat is sure to captivate you, and continue to Vietnam to experience her most important highlights from south to north finishing up in the beautiful coastal scenery of Halong Bay.

Highlights:

  • Killing fields
  • Angkor temples
  • Saigon city site and Cu Chi Tunnels
  • Hue and Hoi An
  • Halong Bay overnight cruise
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Your Itinerary

Day 1 - Phnom Penh

As you exit the airport, you will be met and transferred to your centrally-located hotel. Tonight meet your fellow travellers over welcome drinks while your Tour Leader (or local guide). After the tour briefing, join your guide and savour some tasty Khmer dishes at a local restaurant, or discover Phnom Penh independently. The choice is yours!

Hotel: Sunway Hotel, Phnom Penh

Day 2 – Phnom Penh

During colonial times, Phnom Penh was a stylish city pocketed with cinemas, grand catholic churches and smoky opium dens. After years of war and terror in the 1970s, the capital of Cambodia is now a city reinventing itself. Begin the day’s discoveries with a fun cyclo ride through the backstreets of Phnom Penh, giving you a glimpse of local life as well as the city’s diverse architectural styles, including the Art Deco Central Market (or Psah Thmei).

After the market visit, your private tour bus will take you to the Tuol Sleng Museum of Genocidal Crimes (aka S21 Museum) and to The Killing Fields of Choeng Ek. At both sites, you’ll gain an insight into the insanity and cruelty of the crimes carried out by the infamous Khmer Rouge army under the commands of dictator Pol Pot. Visits to these sites are sombre, but are an important reminder of Cambodia’s turbulent history. The visits also highlight the incredible resilience of the people and how far they’ve come in a short amount of time.

Return to town for lunch before exploring the Royal Palace and its famous landmark, the Silver Pagoda. Built in 1892 and largely spared sacking by the Khmer Rouge, the Silver Pagoda has a tiled floor that’s lined with 5,000 solid silver tablets. It also enshrines a ‘Golden Buddha’ encrusted with more than 9,000 diamonds and a revered ‘Emerald Buddha’ – akin to Thailand’s Emerald Buddha that resides in Bangkok’s Grand Palace.

End the day promenading along the breezy riverfront watching locals doing aerobics, playing hackysack, badminton, and a myriad other activities. Enjoy a sunset drink on the terrace of the FCC overlooking the Mekong River.

Hotel: Sunway Hotel, Phnom Penh
Meals: Breakfast

Day 3 – Siem Reap

Take a short flight to Siem Reap, gateway to UNESCO World-Heritage protected Angkor Archaeological Park, which includes Angkor Wat. On arrival in Siem Reap, travel to the edge of Tonle Sap Lake, the second largest freshwater lake in the world.

This beautiful lake is the lifeblood of the country and the primary source of fish and protein for most of the Cambodian population. At the peak of the wet season, an incredible natural event occurs where, the connecting Mekong River gushes into the lake, reversing its current and swelling the lake to more than 12,000 square kilometres (almost a five-fold increase).

Take a short boat trip on the lake and see floating houses, schools and local shops which move around the edge of the lake, as water levels rise and fall during the year. Afterwards, continue to Siem Reap town for lunch, and a free afternoon to explore Siem Reap at your own pace. You might like to explore the vibrant old market for souvenirs and old photos, visit the excellent Angkor National Museum, or simply relax by your hotel pool enjoying a few cool drinks.

Hotel: Somadevi Angkor Hotel, Siem Reap
Meals: Breakfast

Day 4 – Temples of Angkor

The temples of Angkor represent six hundred years (802-1432) of Khmer civilisation – one of Asia’s greatest empires. You will have the entire day dedicated to exploring the most magnificent and most famous of the Angkorian temples. The adventure begins with a pre-dawn departure from the hotel as you board your tuk-tuk (a scooter-drawn carriage, with a roof and comfortable seating) for the short ride to the most famous temple of them all – Angkor Wat. Enter through the seldom-visited eastern entrance and wander in to the temple in relative darkness and gaze at the gloriously silhouetted central spires.

As you walk around to the western side of the temple complex, you’ll see hordes of people, poised on the edge of the lotus ponds with camera in hand, ready to capture that iconic photo of sunrise over Angkor Wat. There’s still plenty of vantage points from which to watch the sunrise and to capture incredible photos of the temple. So take your time to find your spot and settle in for the experience.

After sunrise, then spend time venturing into the central chambers of the temple, where your local guide will reveal the history, myths and stories depicted on the stone bas reliefs. Your knowledgeable guide will ensure that your visit to Angkor Wat leaves you with a rich understanding of the history and purpose of the great temple, and also of the mighty Angkorian civilisation.

After exploring Angkor Wat, rest your feet while enjoying a freshly cooked local breakfast at a restaurant located just outside the temple. With revitalised energy, we enter the west gate of the walled city of Angkor Thom. Explore the eerie, carved stone heads at Bayon temple and evocative bas-reliefs at the Terrace of the Elephant and Leper King. Escape the heat and return to your hotel for a rest or a refreshing swim.

Early afternoon, drive for approximately one hour to visit the intricately carved and well-preserved pink sandstone Banteay Srei Temple, also known as the ‘Citadel of Women’ and ‘Ladies Temple’. The detailed carvings at this smaller sandstone structure are regarded as the finest and most skilfully-crafted in the Angkor kingdom. Banteay Srei temple has only been accessible since the late 1990s after the Khmer Rouge left the area, and is regarded by archaeological experts as the ‘jewel in the crown’ of the Angkorian temples.

Continue to nearby Ta Prohm – aka ‘Tomb raider Temple’- one of the most atmospheric of all temples in Angkor. Once home to 2,740 monks, Ta Prohm was ‘rediscovered’ in the 1850s by French explorer Henri Mouhot, and is a photographer’s delight because of the encroaching trees roots that are reclaiming many parts of this ancient monastery buried deep in the jungle.

On the way back to Siem Reap, stop at a small street side village, known for producing palm sugar, a key ingredient in South East Asian cooking. Today is a long but fulfilling day, leaving you with a lifetime of memories of one of the world’s great wonders. This evening we’ve included a delicious group dinner at one of our favourite local restaurants, to celebrate the end of a short but memorable holiday in Cambodia.

Hotel: Somadevi Angkor Hotel, Siem Reap
Meals: Breakfast and dinner

Day 5 – Siem Reap to Saigon

Depart Siem Reap for a short flight to Ho Chi Minh City. Nowhere is Vietnam’s rush to modernise more visible than here. Despite this, Saigon, as it is still known, is a friendly and welcoming place with many reminders of its turbulent past and a palpable momentum towards the future.

Tonight meet your new group of fellow travellers over welcome drinks while your Tour Leader (or local guide) briefly explains some important details and logistics of the journey ahead. After the tour briefing, join your tour leader and savour some tasty Vietnamese dishes at a local restaurant, or discover Saigon independently. The choice is yours!

Hotel: Grand Hotel Saigon, Saigon
Meals: Breakfast

Day 6 – Cu Chi Tunnels Tour

Ho Chi Minh City or Saigon as many locals still call it, is a city of extraordinary energy; it is Vietnam’s largest city and the country’s commercial capital. Nowhere is Vietnam’s rush to modernise more visible than in Saigon, yet despite this, the city is a friendly and welcoming place whilst still containing many reminders of its recent turbulent past.

This morning drive out to the remarkable Cu Chi Tunnels located in an area known during the Vietnam War, as the ‘Iron Triangle’. Established as a means of waging guerrilla war against superior French (and later American) fire power; the tunnel network stretched over 250 kilometres (155 miles) and extended to three levels below ground and provides an insight into the method and determination of Communist forces during the war years.

Spend a few hours exploring the various tunnels before returning to Saigon for lunch, where you must try Pho (pronounced ‘fur’), a mouth-watering Vietnamese noodle-soup which has become somewhat of a national dish, now enjoyed all over the world.

After lunch, visit a few of central Saigon’s main landmarks and attractions including the moving War Remnants Museum, the impressive architecture of French-built Notre Dame Catholic Cathedral, Post Office, and Municipal Theatre. Stroll down nearby Dong Khoi Street filled with local boutiques, walk past Ho Chi Minh Square and the famous Rex Hotel.

There’s no better way to end a day of sightseeing in Saigon than with a beer or cocktail in hand, as you watch the sun set over this historic city, looking down at the whirl of traffic below, from one of the city’s many hidden roof top bars favoured by your Tour Leader or local guide.

The rest of the evening is free for you to explore. Indulge your tastebuds at either a fine-dining restaurant or pull up a stool at a street-side eatery and meet some local characters. Your local guide and tour leader will share their local favourite tips to help you explore the city’s vibrant nightlife at your own pace.

Hotel: Grand Hotel Saigon, Saigon
Meals: Breakfast and lunch

Day 7 – Mekong Delta

This morning travel south of Saigon to the Mekong Delta, known as the ‘rice bowl’ of Vietnam. The delta is the most fertile region in the country and is the main producer of rice and tropical fruits for Vietnam. Once you arrive in the delta, transfer to your private boat to begin your exploration of the area, cruising along palm-fringed tributaries of the mighty Mekong River.

Explore some of the regions narrow canals, and get a glimpse into the lives of the local people. Get real insights into the main local industries of the area including a visit a local factory to see bricks being hand-made the old-fashioned way using traditional kiln technique.

Stop at a riverside coconut processing factory and in the home of a local family who weave mats using local materials. Feast on a delicious lunch featuring local specialties including Elephant Ear Fish. On your return from the Delta, make a brief stop at a Cao Dai pagoda, a uniquely Vietnamese sect that is a dizzying combination all the world’s great religion’s including Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, Hinduism, Christianity and Islam.

You will arrive back in Saigon in the late afternoon where the evening is free for you to explore and discover the city’s countless dining options at your own pace.

Hotel: Grand Hotel Saigon, Saigon
Meals: Breakfast and lunch

Day 8 Saigon to Hue

This morning, transfer to the airport for your flight to Hue. Located on the banks of the Perfume River, Hue was the imperial capital during the Nguyen Dynasty and is the country’s centre of Mahayana Buddhism and scholarship. Hue was the setting for some of the Vietnam War’s most brutal fighting, and the city provides a unique window into Vietnam’s culture and its complex past.

Begin your exploration of Hue by visiting the elaborate tomb of the former emperor, Tu Duc. Explore the grounds of this large complex, and learn a little bit about the history of this colourful period. Next, visit the imposing Citadel and Imperial Palace, the impressive home of the emperors of the Nguyen Dynasty, who lived here with their families between 1802 and 1945. Much of the Citadel was destroyed during the Tet Offensive in 1968 but since then has gradually been restored to its beauty.

After time exploring the Citadel, visit the much revered and tranquil Thien Mu Pagoda – Hue’s oldest and most beautiful religious monument situated near the banks of the Perfume River. End the day with a visit to a unique organisation called Spiral Foundation where you’ll meet workers who have a disability. These workers will assist you to create your own take-home souvenir, which are made from 100% recycled materials. The S.P.I.R.A.L. Foundation’s operations are inspired by the principle of “aid from within the country”.

Since 1999, the Foundation has financed humanitarian aid projects with proceeds generated from the income of the handicraft workshops. All workshop employees are paid a fair, hourly rate instead of on per-piece basis. All the revenue raised from handicraft sales is returned to fund primary health care, medical, and educational projects. The work gives the employees a great sense of pride, knowing they’re helping and sustaining others who are even less fortunate than themselves.

Hotel: Saigon Morin, Hue
Meals: Breakfast

Day 9 – Hue to Hoi An

This morning, drive south to the beautiful town of Hoi An via the spectacular Hai Van Pass. This drive is considered one of the most beautiful in Vietnam and takes you through a combination of both rural and coastal settings. The World Heritage listed old part of Hoi An town was Vietnam’s most active trading centre over many centuries and has been largely preserved. The architecture of the city reflects the influence of Chinese, Japanese, Portuguese, French and British traders. Hoi An is also the town where French Missionary Alexandre De Rhodes introduced Catholicism to Vietnam as well as the Romanised script that has become the standard Vietnamese script.

Arrive in Hoi An in time for lunch before exploring the historic centre on a walking tour in the afternoon. Visit an old merchant house, a Chinese assembly hall and the famous Japanese Covered Bridge. Check-in to your centrally-located hotel and enjoy the rest of the evening exploring Hoi An.

Hotel: Hoi An Historic Hotel, Hoi An
Meals: Breakfast

Day 10 – Hoi An

Hoi An is famous for its clothing tailors and distinct local cuisine. You have an entire day free to explore the town’s many clothing shops, colourful fish market and river life. Alternatively spend the day enjoying the nearby beach or simply relax by the pool at your resort. Have a good night’s sleep for an early start tomorrow morning.

Hotel: Hoi An Historic Hotel, Hoi An
Meals: Breakfast

Day 11 - Hoi An to Halong Bay

An early airport transfer and flight takes you north to either Haiphong or Hanoi (arrival airport is subject to flight schedules). On arrival, venture north-east to Halong City, the gateway to Halong Bay. Considered Vietnam’s greatest natural wonder, Halong Bay boasts over 3,000 islands that rise out of the sea to provide a spectacular natural landscape.

En-route to the bay, catch the first glimpses of karst-limestone-mountains appear in the distance as Halong Bay draws nearer. Halong Bay’s beauty received international exposure as the prime location in the 1992 French film ‘Indochine’ starring Catherine Deneuve. The bay has assumed an important position in Vietnamese legend for many centuries, with stories of a giant mythical dragon residing in the bay with the limestone peaks representing the dragon’s spine. These legends continue to capture the imagination of locals and visitors alike.

On arrival at the port, board your deluxe Indochina Sails junk boat, your home for the night, and begin your exploration of the bay. On board feast on a fresh seafood lunch whilst soaking in the beautiful surrounds.

Boat: Indochina Sails
Meals: Breakfast, lunch and dinner

Day 12 – Halong Bay to Hanoi

Today, rise early to make the most of Halong Bay’s stunning scenery. After a light breakfast, continue your exploration and discover what makes this area so unique. On the cruise back to Halong City, enjoy a tasty brunch.

This afternoon travel to Hanoi. Take a walking tour of the Hanoi backstreets to visit some local markets and specialty food stores. You will have the opportunity to try some local dishes and in the process learn more about daily life and culinary customs and habits of the Vietnamese people. Sample “Che” a local dessert served with crushed ice, and made with sugar cane, green bean, black bean, glutinous rice, and lotus seed. Perhaps try Banh Tom or “shrimp cake”, a local Hanoi specialty, sold in a small tucked away food alley.

We make a fun stop at a local ‘Bia Hoi’ establishment. Available throughout Vietnam but originating from Hanoi, these small roadside cafes are not just about beer but are a social outlet for many Hanoians. These local establishments offer a wonderful opportunity to interact with the friendly and sometimes boisterous patrons! Afterward, sample a Hanoi specialty called “Banh Cuon”, a Vietnamese-style cannelloni, made with steamed rice pancake, filled with mince pork and crunchy black fungus pork, and served with fresh baby herbs and sweet and sour fish sauce, Yum!

Hotel: Silk Path Hotel, Hanoi
Meals: Brunch

Day 13 – Hanoi

Today’s exploration begins with a walking tour through the bustling Old Quarter – 36 ancient streets where you can observe the daily bustle of life around the markets where peddlers continue to trade as they have done for centuries.

Continuing, we visit the infamous Hoa Lo Prison Museum, aka ‘Hanoi Hilton’ – Hanoi’s former central prison made famous first for the incarceration of the leaders of Vietnam’s National Liberation movement and later US Air force pilots shot down over North Vietnam. Drive across the city to Hanoi’s first university – the Temple of Literature – dating back to 1070. This historical centre of learning is now dedicated to Confucian worship.

Later visit the Ho Chi Minh Quarter, starting at Ba Dinh Square, site of the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum and where Ho Chi Minh first declared the goal of attaining independence from French rule in 1945. Ho Chi Minh is arguably one of the great figures of 20th century history and the ‘father of modern Vietnam’. You’ll visit the humble House on Stilts where ‘Uncle Ho’, as he is affectionately known, led North Vietnam until his death in 1969. You’ll also visit the nearby Presidential Palace, and One Pillar Pagoda.

This evening we’ve included a delicious group dinner at one of our favourite local restaurants, to celebrate the end of a memorable holiday in Vietnam.

Hotel: Silk Path Hotel, Hanoi
Meals: Breakfast and dinner

Day 14 – Depart Hanoi

It’s time to say your final goodbyes, but just think of all the wonderful stories you will take home. Transfer to the airport for your onward travels.

Meals: Breakfast

14 day Small Group Tour - from £1829

With flights from £2550

Include this Small Group Tour in an Asia holiday
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All prices are per person, based on 2 sharing a twin room, and include meals where shown. Talk to an Asian Expert for departure dates and availability.

Cambodia & Vietnam Explorer Small Group Tour Map

Your Touring Experience

Make friends along the way as you discover the sights and experience the culture of this fascinating region.

Your small group tour includes:

  • 12 nights hotel accommodation
  • Overnight cruise
  • Sightseeing & entrance fees
  • Arrival/departure transfers
  • Max 16 passengers
  • Breakfasts daily, 3 lunches, 3 dinners
  • 4 internal flights
  • Western tour guide based on minimum 4 travellers

Departure dates:

2019:

Jun: 4 & 18*
Jul: 9 & 23*
Aug: 6* & 20*
Sep: 10*, 17 & 24*
Oct: 8*, 15* & 22
Nov: 5*, 12* & 19
Dec: 3*, 17 & 24*

2020

Jan: 7, 14 & 21
Feb: 4, 11, 18 & 25
Mar: 3, 10, 17 & 24

*Guaranteed departure

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For advice or to start planning your holiday

talk to an Asia Expert on 0333 234 3112