Enjoy two marvellous feature stays – an overnight cruise in Halong Bay on a traditional junk-style boat and a 3-night stay at a resort in Siem Reap, offering a tropical oasis escape.. Travel Phnom Penh to Siem Reap on a charming riverboat then enjoy two guided days exploring the unbelievable temples of Angkor, including a morning accompanied by a private photography coach to help you capture lasting memories.. Experience authentic cuisine when you eat at Cambodia’s first farm-to-table restaurant, and enjoy a privately catered breakfast on the shores of the Srah Srang Lake and take part in a cooking class with a local chef in Hue.. Delve into history when you visit the sobering Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum and the Killing Fields of Choeung Ek and the Cu Chi tunnels in Ho Chi Minh City.
Discover the incredible diversity, delectable cuisines, dramatic histories and natural beauty of Cambodia and Vietnam on a 20-day Premium adventure. Delve into the confronting Khmer legacy in Phnom Penh, view Vietnam’s colourful history on the busy streets of Ho Chi Minh City and explore the colonial-era grand architecture of Hanoi. This trip offers places of breathtaking beauty, from the backwaters of the Mekong Delta, to the ancient temples of Angkor and the natural limestone wonder of Halong Bay. Add to that a mix of friendly locals and age-old traditions for the ultimate South East Asian experience.
Breakfast Included: 19 Lunches Included: 7 Dinner Included: 5
Sua s'dei! Welcome to Phnom Penh, Cambodia’s lively capital city. You’ll be met on arrival at the airport and transferred to your hotel. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6pm where you’ll meet your tour leader and fellow travellers – the hotel reception will let you know where this meeting will take place. If you arrive early, there’s no shortage of things to see and do. Why not go for a stroll to discover the city’s gorgeous French colonial architecture, or check out the National Museum and its fascinating collection of classic Khmer craftsmanship. After your meeting, join your leader and small group for dinner at the wonderful restaurant run by Friends International, which provides training and sustainable employment skills to at risk youth. Enjoy a creative range of Cambodian inspired tapas, then perhaps cap off the night with a cocktail at the Foreign Correspondents' Club.
Today your leader will introduce you to the sights of Phnom Penh during a full day city tour. The private quarters of the Royal Palace are home to King Sihamoni and closed off to the public, but you will be able to visit the sacred Silver Pagoda that lies in the palace complex. Your included visits to the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum and the Killing Fields of Choeung Ek will tell the story of the tragic legacy of the Khmer Rouge. There is an optional visit to Wat Phnom, the temple that gave rise to the foundation of the city in the 15th century. Later you will head out of town to a working monastery to gain a special insight into the life of a monk and Theravada Buddhism. You will get to meet the monks, enjoy a sacred water blessing for good luck and prosperity and have a red band tied around your wrist to keep you safe in your travels.
After breakfast this morning, set sail in style and begin the journey to Siem Reap on a comfortable riverboat. A world away from the hustle and bustle of Phnom Penh, sit back and relax as you float peacefully down the Tonle Sap river. This unique form of transport exposes you to a side of Cambodian life most tourists don’t get to see. Pass by rural villages and watch quiet moments of daily life play out in front of you on the water. After disembarking, you will continue the journey to Siem Reap by road, with plenty of interesting stops along the way. Arrive in the late afternoon and check in to the Navutu Dreams Resort & Wellness Retreat, your feature stay accommodation in Siem Reap. Hidden away on the quiet fringe of the city, this tropical oasis boasts three pools and an excellent restaurant with a focus on wellness. Bright and spacious rooms are in harmony with the lush grounds, and feature a veranda, private garden and rain showers. After settling in, visit Cambodia’s first farm-to-table restaurant for dinner and enjoy a wonderful menu of new Mekong cuisine. The restaurant is run by a talented local chef with a passion for sharing sustainable and seasonal food using organic ingredients grown on site. The rest of the evening can be spent exploring the bars of Siem Reap, or relaxing in laidback luxury at your resort.
Siem Reap – Angkor Wat
Spend a full day visiting the amazing temples of Angkor on a guided exploration with your leader. The memories of seeing some of the world’s most important ancient sites are ones you’re going to want to preserve forever, so for the first half of the day you will also be accompanied by a private photography coach who will teach you how to take that one-in-a-million shot. Begin at Angkor Wat, the largest and most complete structure, and the only one of Angkor's temples that has its entrance facing west – the others face east. Then there is Angkor Thom, the 'Great Royal City', a temple famous for its series of colossal human faces carved in stone. Of all the temples visited today, Bayon temple is the centrepiece, with over 200 smiling carved faces and more than 50 gothic towers. Your leader will let you in on the secrets of the temples and share their remarkable stories. For lunch you'll visit the Sala Bai Hotel School where underprivileged local youths learn skills that enable them to find gainful employment in the hospitality industry. Here you can enjoy a meal prepared by students at the school. After lunch it’s off to the Ta Prohm temple, which has large trees embedded in the stone foundations of the structure – powerful symbols of nature.
Siem Reap – Angkor Wat
Embrace a very early start today if you wish to experience a sunrise visit to the Angkor complex (this is optional). After sunrise this morning, head to the shores of the Srah Srang Lake. Here you will be treated to an incredible private catered breakfast – take a moment to soak in your stunning surroundings and enjoy a meal as wonderful as the landscape itself. After breakfast, you’ll continue your explorations of the temples of Angkor. Visit Banteay Srei to snap some enviable pictures of the temple’s intricate stone carvings. You can head back to the resort or use your ticket for the Angkor ruins to continue exploring the site and try out your new photography skills. The vaulted corridors of Preah Khan are well worth a visit, or you may prefer to spend the afternoon getting to know the town. Tonight you will enjoy a final dinner at a great restaurant in town serving local cuisine.
Ho Chi Minh City
Today you will depart Cambodia and catch a flight to Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam. On arrival, you will be transferred to your hotel where a meeting will take place at 6pm to welcome any new travellers joining you for the next part of your journey. After your meeting, head out for dinner with your small group and leader. As you arrive at your restaurant you’ll step straight into a piece of Vietnamese history – the building was an old opium refinery station built in 1861, and nods to its past still visible today. Here you’ll enjoy a menu bursting with classic dishes and southern Vietnamese favourites – your leader will be on hand to provide recommendations for your first foray into this exciting food scene.
After breakfast, drive south towards the Mekong Delta via the region of Ben Tre. Here you will board a private boat and cruise the delta, stopping off at some coconut gardens to visit a local home where you’ll sample tropical fruits and coconut jams. Afterwards, return to the waterways of the delta on board sampans (small rowing boats) and row past the coconut trees and stilt houses that flank the river. Back on land, take a tuk-tuk tour around the villages for a glimpse at rural life and to learn how the coconut industry plays into local life. Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant then return to Ho Chi Minh City for an evening at leisure.
Ho Chi Minh City
Today you’ll see Ho Chi Minh City through the eyes of a local during a bus and walking tour with your leader. Visit the famous Reunification Palace and hear the story of the end of the war, take a sobering trip to the War Remnants Museum and stop by the beautiful Romanesque Notre Dame Cathedral. Stroll the city’s captivating streets and admire its many French colonial buildings along the way, including the main post office, and the gorgeous Ho Chi Minh City Hall, modelled on Paris’s Hotel de Ville. The rest of the evening is yours – be sure to ask your leader for recommendations on some great local spots for dinner.
This morning after breakfast, head on a half-day trip to the Cu Chi Tunnels – an extensive underground network (some 200 kilometres) of tunnels dug initially by the Viet Minh and later expanded by the Viet Cong. They contained hospitals, dwellings and schools and were used extensively for refuge and storage, as well as being a military base. As you explore this extraordinary labyrinth your leader will explain more about its history and the 1968 Tet Offensive. A section of the tunnels has been widened to allow visitors to get a feel for what the underground life must have been like. Please note that these tunnels will be hot and can get claustrophobic, so there is an option if you’d like to view from above ground. Later this afternoon, fly to Dalat.
Dalat is high in Vietnam’s southern highlands, and is surrounded by hills, pine forests, lakes and waterfalls – it is a natural mountain paradise. Dalat, commonly known as the City of Flowers, is part of a region ideal for growing crops and flowers that cannot be otherwise grown in Vietnam, because of its temperate climate and high rainfall. Today you will have the chance to learn some more about your morning brew and see behind the scenes of speciality coffee production during a tour of a local family-run coffee farm. Follow the journey from growth to harvesting and roasting, and taste some of the carefully crafted final result yourself, leaving with a new appreciation for the humble cup of coffee. Sit down for lunch with the group, then enjoy a free afternoon. You may like to visit the historic Bao Dai palace, or perhaps take a wander around the vibrant local markets.
Enjoy a free morning in Dalat – perhaps head to the Crazy House – a bizarre guesthouse commissioned by avant-garde architect Hang Nga, who still lives on site. In the afternoon, take a short flight to Danang. From here you will embark on a short ride by private vehicle to Hoi An. Hoi An was originally a Cham port town and many Cham descendants are still living in Hoi An today. This afternoon you will have the unique opportunity to visit the home of a Cham local for a special insight into their origins and way of life. Be welcomed with a warming cup of Cham tea, try some traditional sweets and deserts, enjoy some folk singing and chat to your host about the history of the Cham people and how the culture lives on today.
Join your leader on a walking tour this morning to discover the Hoi An’s stunning architecture and unique mix of influences. With its charming low tiled houses and tranquil feel, this is a delightful town to walk around. Start with a visit to an opulently decorated historic house that was once home to a prominent trader. Cross the Japanese Covered Bridge, stop by the Chinese assembly hall and pay a visit to a local museum to learn more about the history you uncovered on your walk. Afterwards, sit down to a delicious lunch with the group. This afternoon you are free to make the most of Hoi An and its surrounding areas. Your leader will be able to help with suggestions for extra activities in Hoi An and the nearby countryside.