Visit the major sights of Vietnam and Cambodia, the very essence of Indochina, experiencing their captivating blend of French colonial history, unique local culture and beautiful rural scenery.
Overwhelming imagery retained by visitors to Vietnam is that of a country blessed with an extraordinary beauty. It’s a mosaic of mist-shrouded mountains, vibrant green forests, a patch-work of rice paddies and pristine white beaches, whilst its villages and cities are custodians of the culture and monuments of a unique 2,000 year old civilisation.
What You’ll Love
- Enjoy peace of mind with Flexible Booking*
- Happy by day two or we’ll bring you home with a full refund
- Return flights & transfers
- Stay in hand-picked five-star and four-star accommodation, including all local taxes, with daily breakfast and five meals
- Stay in Hanoi, Vietnam’s beautiful capital and enjoy a tour by cycle rickshaw, seeing the Temple of Literature, colonial belle-époque villas and Ho Chi Minh’s thought-provoking mausoleum
- Take a leisurely cruise in UNESCO-listed Halong Bay aboard a converted Chinese junk
- Be inspired by the hauntingly beautiful and inspirational countryside with shimmering rice fields
- Stay in Hue, Vietnam’s last royal capital, and visit its awe-inspiring Citadel and Forbidden City
- Stay in the heart of exciting Saigon, visiting the fascinating Cu Chi tunnels, the former Vietcong underground stronghold and a poignant reminder of the US-Vietnam conflict
- Enjoy a full-day trip on the mighty Mekong delta, the world’s 10th-largest river system
- Stay and tour in Phnom Penh, Pearl of Asia, considered the most beautiful of Indochina’s French colonial cities
- Stay in Siem Reap, the gateway to the Angkor city ruins
- Visit the Angkor ruins, a UNESCO-listed temple complex and one of the world’s greatest ancient sites
- Services of an expert tour manager
Subject to availability. Single supplements apply.
*Full terms and conditions can be viewed here.
Day 1 – Departure
You should arrive at Heathrow airport to take your overnight direct flight to Hanoi on Vietnam Airlines.
Day 2 – Arrival in Hanoi
After our morning arrival, we check in to our hotel before we have a wonderful introduction to Hanoi on our trip into the city’s old town by cycle rickshaws with time for some lunch before returning to our hotel. The rest of the day is at leisure. (B)
Day 3 – Hanoi
Today we explore Hanoi, past and present. The French created this gorgeous colonial city of tree lined avenues, belle epoque villas, grand public buildings and an Opera house, all built around more than a dozen enchanting lakes. This graceful scene blends beautifully with its old quarter, a tangle of narrow streets, the commercial heart of the city for hundreds of years and now full of tiny shops, pagodas and the ever-present populace astride their bicycles and mopeds.
During our guided tour we also see the beautiful Temple of Literature dedicated to Confucius and Vietnam’s first university, and the imposing marble mausoleum of Ho Chi Minh himself, embalmed and eerily on display. This afternoon is free for you to explore this beautiful city as you wish. You could even visit a traditional water puppet show (book and pay local) – a real spectacle where, as the name suggests, with the aid of fireworks and music, folk stories are played out by skilful puppeteers.
Day 4 – Halong Bay Cruise
Today we visit Vietnam’s greatest natural wonder, the UNESCO World Heritage site of Halong Bay. Leaving Hanoi, we enter a timeless landscape of rice paddies, following the Red River delta to the emerald seas of the Gulf of Tonkin. Just offshore, some 3,000 limestone islands and outcrops rise almost vertically from the sea, forming one of the most extraordinary and spectacular bays in the world.
As we board our converted Chinese junk and glide along the jade-green waters it’s not hard to imagine how the myths of their creation began: a dragon is said to have plunged into the sea and its thrashing tail sculpted the craggy islands. We visit some of the vast and beautifully illuminated caves and grottoes before having lunch on board. We return to Hanoi late afternoon.
Day 5 – Hue
Today we fly south to Danang and then drive over the stunning scenery of the Hai Van Pass before descending to Hue, Vietnam’s last royal capital and its traditional centre of religion, culture and education. It’s one of the country’s most beautiful small towns, bisected by the serene Perfume River and dominated by its immense Citadel. This houses the ancient capital, encircled by an amazing 6 miles of high, 65 foot-thick walls and a moat. Tonight we stay for two nights on bed and breakfast basis at the excellent five-star Imperial Hotel Hue.
Day 6 – Hue Imperial City
This morning we start with a leisurely river cruise to the magnificent seven-storied Thien Mu pagoda, a working Buddhist shrine, affording beautiful views towards the mountains on the border with Laos. We then visit the incredible complex of the Citadel and within it, the Imperial City. We see the Palace of Supreme Harmony, which contained the emperor’s throne and was the site of the most important official ceremonies and functions. Everything is painted in the royal colours of red and gold and the whole building is a stunning example of the magnificent lifestyle enjoyed by the Vietnamese royal family.
In the afternoon we visit Emperor Tu Duc’s mausoleum. More interested in poetry than running the country, Tu Duc’s lifestyle suggests he had plenty of free time – he had 104 wives, 50-course meals and tea made from the dewdrops of lotus blossoms! It took 3,000 workers three years to build his amazing mausoleum, which includes a large lake, pavilions and a theatre. Lunch is included today and the evening is at leisure.
Day 7 – Saigon
Today we fly to Ho Chi Minh City, or Saigon as the locals still insist on calling it. Brash and boisterous, it has real zest for life. Built virtually from scratch by the French, on a bend of the wide Saigon River, we stay three nights on bed and breakfast at the excellent, five-star Equatorial Hotel. Saigon is Vietnam’s culinary capital offering a very wide variety of excellent dining experiences, from top class restaurants in swish luxury hotels to French, Italian, Chinese, Japanese and Indian options, plus everything in between.
Day 8 – Cu Chi Tunnels
This will be a day to remember! We visit the famous Cu Chi tunnels, a complex underground network stretching for 200 kilometres, which included hospitals, meeting rooms, sleeping quarters and kitchens. Begun during the last years of French rule and vastly expanded during the 1960’s, the tunnels provided a base for the Vietcong from which to attack US forces within just 30 miles of Saigon. Our visit here is a fascinating insight into these times: we see the tunnels themselves and examples of the many mantraps and stake pits which protected them. Despite being carpet-bombed, the tunnels were never really penetrated and should you wish, you may even try out real period weapons on a firing range.
We continue through rural farming communities back to Saigon. In the afternoon our city tour covers all the major sights including the colonial-style central post office, the cathedral and the Reunification Palace where famously in 1975, a tank burst through its gates in the final defining moment of the Vietnam War. We also see the War Remnants Museum and the lively Ben Thanh market a fascinating insight into Saigon daily life, you can find anything here, all at extremely good prices!
Day 9 – Mekong River Delta
Today we drive out of Saigon towards the great Mekong River delta. The first stop is at one of the many islands where we walk through a typical village and try out several different types of tropical fruit that are grown in the area. Travelling in small boats we continue our exploration through the narrow canals by visiting the aptly named Coconut Island, where locals specialise in producing rice paper, coconut cakes and other local delicacies. Dappled sunlight filters through the wide leaves of the mangroves as we arrive at a typical local restaurant for lunch of local Mekong specialities, including the famous and delicious deep-fried elephant ear fish! We return to Saigon in the afternoon.
Day 10 – Fly to Phnom Penh
Our last morning in Vietnam and we have just enough time for a morning walk round Saigon centre, a coffee and a delicious pastry in one of the many cafés before taking the short flight to Phnom Penh and our hotel, the centrally-located four-star Palace Gate Hotel for two nights on bed and breakfast.
Day 11 – Phnom Penh
Today we’ll visit the majestic Royal Palace with its silver pagoda and the fascinating National Museum. After lunch in a local restaurant, we visit the Tuol Sleng Museum – originally a school, turned into the country’s most notorious prison by the Khmer Rouge, it now charts the terrible suffering during their occupation of the city. Finally there’s time for a stop at one of the local markets before we return to our hotel for the evening.
Day 12 – Phnom Penh to Siem Reap
Today we journey through the heart of rural Cambodia stopping at Kompong Thom for an included lunch en route to Siem Reap. (B, L)
Day 13 – Angkor
Today we visit one of the largest religious structure in the world, Angkor Wat. We see the haunting soft morning light rise over the eerie temples of Angkor. At its height in the thirteenth century, Angkor had a staggering one million inhabitants. The incredible state of preservation, the beauty of its design and sculptures have, for many, made Angkor one of the great wonders of the world.
We visit the fortified 13th century city of Angkor Thom, with its five monumental gates, and 300-foot wide moat – its centre containing the temple of Bayon. We’ll also visit the smaller temple of Ta Prohm which has been left unrestored, with giant tropical trees bursting through the ruins, their roots clinging like tentacles. (B, L)
Day 14 – Siem Reap Free Day
Today we have left free for you to return to the many monuments of Angkor, explore Siem Reap or relax around the attractive pool at the hotel. Alternatively, you could take an interesting tour to the nearby lake of Tonle Sap to visit a floating village (subject to season and water levels – book and pay local) or try your culinary skills by taking an optional half day cooking class (book and pay local).
Day 15 – Return Flight
At the appropriate time you will be taken to the airport for your return flight via Saigon (change of aircraft) connecting to our homeward direct flight to Heathrow.
Day 16 – Arrive Home
We arrive back in the UK in the morning after a truly unforgettable tour.
Vietnam & Cambodia
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