You spend 16 days to explore the highlights of Vietnam and Cambodia by visiting UNESCO World Heritage Halong Bay, complex of Hue Monuments, Hoi An town and Angkor Site. The tour doesn’t view you some of the most well-known natural and historical sites but also introduces the culture and local daily lifestyles.
Arriving at Noi Bai airport in Hanoi, you’ll be met and driven to your hotel. You’ll have time to relax after your journey before having tickets for a performance of traditional Water Puppetry, an art form unique to northern Vietnam, and a good, light-hearted introduction to its rural culture. In the evening, you’ll have a welcome dinner at a Vietnamese restaurant. You’ll spend the night in Hanoi.
You’ll have the whole day to explore Vietnam’s capital city. Your guide will take you to the Temple of Literature, the first university in Vietnam dating back to the 11th century. You continue to the Hoa Lo Prison – better known by captured US pilots as the ‘Hanoi Hilton’. The excellent Ethnology Museum gives you an overview of Vietnam’s 54 distinct ethnic groups, their life, culture and traditional costumes.
The centre of Hanoi, including Hoan Kiem Lake, the Ngoc Son temple and the bustling Old Quarter, is a magnet for visitors – it’s noisy and hectic, but definitely a ‘must-see’ attraction. The Old Quarter is a maze of shopping streets and restaurants with a hotchpotch of architecture - traditional tube houses, religious buildings, artisans’ workshops and cottages, colonial houses and modern concrete edifices. You’ll spend the night in Hanoi.
You’ll leave for Ha Long Bay, one of the most spectacular UNESCO World Heritage Areas and the world’s largest marine limestone ‘karst’ landscape. There you’ll board your boat, a wide transom and rectangular superstructure, that will take you to the busy World Heritage area and then to some of the less well-known grottoes and caves. Weather permitting, you’ll be able to swim, fish, climb a hill (not a mountain!) for an overview of the Bay’s remarkable seascape, or venture into some of the sea level caves in a small sampan. All your meals will be provided on board, usually based on fresh seafood, and you’ll sleep in a twin cabin with an en-suite toilet and shower.
You’ll spend the morning cruising Ha Long Bay, followed by brunch just before docking around noon and leaving for Hanoi. You should arrive in the late afternoon and spend the night in Hanoi.
In the morning, you’ll have free time for shopping in the bustling Old Quarter of Hanoi or at your leisure before pick up to the airport for a noon flight to Hue. After pick up and check-in, you visit the Imperial Citadel of Hue, begin with a stroll around the area between the Citadel’s massive walls and the defensive moat, now filled with lotus flowers. You’ll then enter via the Noon Gate to wander around the Thai Hoa Palace, the Pavilion housing the Nine Urns of the Nguyen rulers, and the remains of the Royal Palaces. You’ll then visit the Museum of Antiquities.
Only in Hue, you can eat like a King in Vietnam, with only dishes served for the King, moreover with traditional classical Vietnamese music of Central Vietnam. You will spend the night in Hue.
Your morning will be taken up by a cruise along the Perfume River to the Thien Mu Pagoda, and then by road to the Royal Tombs of Emperor Minh Mang and, in the afternoon, Emperor Khai Dinh. The two mausoleums span the long reign of the Nguyen King’s imperial dynasty – the contrast is stark.
From there, you’ll return to Hue to visit one of city’s ‘garden houses’, visit the bustling Dong Ba market and then return to your hotel to freshen-up. You’ll spend the night in Hue.
In the morning, your car will arrive to drive you to Danang. On the way, you'll cross the high mountain pass of Hai Van. The views from the top are excellent – you should be able to see Lang Co beach and village, and the lagoon far below, with Danang spread out before you to the south.
Upon arriving in Danang, you’ll have a brief look at the remarkable Hindu statuary in the Cham Museum before leaving for Hoi An. After lunch, you’ll have a guided visit to the Ancient Town of Hoi An. You’ll spend the night in Hoi An.
Hoi An town is a UNESCO World Heritage area. An ancient trading port, once the largest in Indochina, Hoi An was a meeting point for many cultures that left their mark in the different architectural features of its wooden buildings. The original traditional street pattern still exists, as does the quay that once welcomed ships from all over East Asia and beyond. Many remained there for months at a time, waiting for favourable trade winds to carry them home. There are plenty of good restaurants offering a variety of cuisines and price levels. The town is also a good place for shopping for silk. You can have your clothes tailor-made within a day or two at reasonable cost.
After breakfast, your guide will meet you at your hotel to take you to the World Heritage My Son Sanctuary, show you the remains of the remarkable brick towers, and explain their origins and purpose. When you return, the rest of the day will be free. You’ll spend the night in Hoi An.
Once, the My Son Sanctuary was the spiritual capital of the Cham Kingdom that dominated SE Asia for nearly a thousand years. Although My Son was heavily bombed during the American war, its remarkable brick towers are still impressive, as is its remote valley setting in a quiet, richly forested area bisected by a clear stream. However, the tree cover is not complete and the valley acts as sun trap, so good sun protection is important.
You’ll have a free morning until you’re picked up for an afternoon flight to Ho Chi Minh City. After transferring to your Ho Chi Minh City central hotel and checking-in, you’ll be free for a preliminary wander around District 1. Your overnight stay will be in Ho Chi Minh City.
After breakfast, your guide will arrive to show you around Ho Chi Minh City. You’ll visit the History Museum where there is a special exhibition of the 5th century ‘Oc Eo’ civilisation. (Alternatively, you’ll visit the Fito Museum (First Museum of Traditional Vietnamese Medicine) is host to a large collection of relics, including traditional Vietnamese medicinal implements, and chronicles the history of medical practice in Vietnam from 2000 BC). The Museum of War Remnants provides a very partial, but riveting, perspective of the ‘American War’: not for the squeamish! The Binh Tay market is located in China Town which is the biggest one in Ho Chi Minh City.
You’ll also call in at the Jade Emperor Temple. It’s one of the best Taoist temples in Vietnam, with superb effigies, remarkable carved panels of the descent to Hell and somewhat incongruous terrapin and tortoise sanctuaries. You’ll then return your hotel for freshen up or wander around the huge Ben Thanh market, one of the liveliest areas of Ho Chi Minh City, is packed with every conceivable commodity. You’ll spend the night in Ho Chi Minh City.
After escaping from Ho Chi Minh City’s urban sprawl, you’ll travel to Vinh Long where a Mekong River cruise will take you to visit the fruit orchards, a traditional family-run brick kiln, and some long-established cottage industries. You’ll drive further into the Mekong Delta to Can Tho. Upon arrival you’ll call in at the Munir Ansay – an ancient Khmer style pagoda, renowned for its unique structural decorations. You’ll then drive to your hotel in Can Tho where you’ll spend the night.
Constructed in 1948 and modelled on Cambodia’s famous Angkor Wat complex, the’ Three Treasures’ tower, the Munir Ansay pagoda has many intricate statues and pillars. Today, approximately a million Khmer people live in Vietnam, mostly in the Mekong Delta provinces.
After breakfast and a boat cruise you’ll arrive at Cai Rang floating market on the Mekong Delta. Both the journey and the market provide insights into the rural Mekong Delta lifestyle. On your return to Ho Chi Minh City, you’ll call in at the beautiful and ancient Vinh Trang pagoda, 3 km from My Tho centre. You’ll arrive in Ho Chi Minh City in the late afternoon with time to freshen up in the hotel.
Vinh Trang Pagoda is renowned for its architectural mixture of Chinese, Vietnamese and Angkor styles. It’s Located on a 2 hectare block with 5 buildings, 2 ornamental yards, 178 pillars and many valuable statues (especially the statues of 18 arahants which were carved from wood and made in 1907) the pagoda will give you a deeper look into the relationship between Vietnamese art and Buddhist beliefs.
Free time until you take the international flight to Siem Reap. Your tour in Siem Reap begins when your local guide in Siem Reap meets at the airport. He then takes you to hotel for check in. Have dinner at local restaurant with Cambodian cuisine. Stay overnight at your selected hotel in Siem Reap.
This day is devoted the Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom, compulsive when you visit Cambodia, specific to Siem Reap. First, you visit the antique capital of Angkor Thom (12 century): the South Gate with its huge statues depicting the churning of the ocean of milk, the Bayon Temple, unique for its 54 towers decorated with over 200 smiling faces of Avolokitesvara, the Phimeanakas, the Royal Enclosure, the Elephants Terrace and the Terrace of the Leper King.
You are free for lunch and relaxing at hotel during sunny noon time.
In the afternoon, as it is cooler, you visit to the most famous of all the temples on the plain of Angkor: Angkor Wat. The temple complex covers 81 hectares and is comparable in size to the Imperial Palace in Beijing. Its distinctive five towers are emblazoned on the Cambodian flag and the 12th century masterpiece is considered by art historians to be the prime example of classical Khmer art and architecture. Enjoy wonderful sunset from the top of Pre Rup Temple.
Stay overnight at your selected hotel in Siem Reap.
Visit to Banteay Srey, known as Citadel of Women or a Pink Temple, and Banteay Samre Temples. Visit to the unique interior brick sculptures of Prasat Kravan, Srah Srang ("The Royal Baths" was once used or ritual bathing), Banteay Kdei (surrounded by 4 concentric walls), Ta Prohm, one of the area’s most beautiful temples. Ta Prohm has been relatively untouched since it was discovered and retains much of its mystery. Neak Pean, a fountain built in the middle of a pool (representing the paradisiacal Himalayan mountain-lake) and Preah Khan temple, Built by the King Jayavarman VII. Preah Khan is, like Ta Prohm, a place of towered enclosures and shoulder hugging corridors. Unlike Ta Prohm, however, the temple of Preah Khan is in a reasonable state of preservation and ongoing restoration efforts should maintain and even improve this situation.
Our evening tour takes you around Siem Reap to sample delicious Cambodian dishes in several different locations, from small family-run and local specialty restaurants to street-food stands at a busy night market outside of town. We start at 5 p.m. and sample everything from Cambodian BBQ to frogs stuffed with kroeung, a fragrant curry paste that is one of the defining ingredients of Khmer cuisine. You'll even throw in a few Cambodian beers if you're so inclined. The evening tour is a fun way to get acquainted with Siem Reap and Cambodian food. Stay overnight at your selected hotel in Siem Reap.
In the morning, we will enjoy a boat ride on the Tonle Sap Lake at Kampong Phluk village. This is the largest permanent fresh-water lake in South East Asia and flows into Tonle Sap River, joining the Mekong in Phnom Penh. It is same as a big village floating on the lake, and the "village" move from place to place following water levels and current.
You will be transferred to Siem Reap airport for your international departure flight.