Delve into the dramatic Khmer legacy in Phnom Penh on a full-day guided tour around the Cambodian capital. The Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum and Choeung Ek (Killing Fields) are sobering experiences you won’t forget. Enjoy two days of fully guided temple tours in Siem Reap, with in-depth insights into the history of these extraordinary structures and plenty of time at Angkor Wat. Stroll through the countryside of a farming village and learn about the wonderful work of a non government organisation (NGO) that is striving to improve the quality of life of Cambodian families.. This trip serves up a wealth of South East Asia’s breathtaking beauty, from the jungles of Cambodia, beaches of Nha Trang and the backwaters of the Mekong Delta, to the wonder of Halong Bay
Discover the incredible diversity, delectable cuisines, dramatic histories and natural beauty of Cambodia and Vietnam. Delve into the dramatic Khmer legacy in Phnom Penh, view Vietnam’s colourful history on the busy streets of Saigon and explore the colonial-era grand architecture of Hanoi. This trip offers places of breathtaking beauty, from the beaches of Nha Trang and the backwaters of the Mekong Delta, to the jungles of Cambodia and the wonder of Halong Bay. Add to that a mix of friendly locals and age-old traditions for the ultimate Indochina experience.
Breakfast Included: 19 Lunches Included: 6 Dinner Included: 6
Sua s'dei. Welcome to Phnom Penh, Cambodia. You'll be transferred to your hotel – check with hotel reception for more information about your important group meeting this evening. If you have free time in the afternoon, perhaps stroll the streets of Phnom Penh and explore the city, taking in the interesting French colonial architecture. The National Museum, with its collection of classic Khmer craftsmanship, is well worth a visit. Dinner tonight will be at the restaurant run by Friends International. You might decide to go for a drink at the Foreign Correspondents' Club afterwards.
Notes: The restaurant run by Friends International is closed on public and school holidays. Alternative dinner arrangements will be made during these times.
Today a full city tour introduces you to the sights of Phnom Penh, a city that lies near the confluence of the Mekong and Tonle Sap rivers. The private quarters of the Royal Palace are home to King Sihamoni and are closed to the public. You will, however, be able to visit the Silver Pagoda that lies in the palace complex, which is the most sacred temple in the country. Phnom Penh remains a living relic of the country’s past struggles and successes. Your included visits to the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum and the Killing Fields of Choeung Ek 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 head out of town to a working monastery to learn more about the life of a monk and Theravada Buddhism. Buddhism in Cambodia is a way of life that most people incorporate into their daily life. You will get to meet the monks, enjoy a sacred water blessing for good luck and prosperity, have a red band tied around your wrist to keep you safe in your travels and see the temple’s fascinating Pagoda art.
Note: The Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum and Killing Fields of Choeung Ek are major parts of the experience here, but if you don't wish to visit them, please inform your tour leader.
Fly north to Siem Reap (approximately 40 minutes) where the great temples of Angkor await. After a relaxing morning at your hotel, travel into the countryside to a local farming community, walk through rice fields and learn about Cambodian stilt homes and life in a typical farming village. Hear about the myriad ways a non-government organisation called Husk Cambodia works directly with this community to improve the lives of Cambodian families. End the day with a stop for a sunset drink at a scenic point overlooking the countryside.
Siem Reap – Angkor Wat
Spend a full day visiting the amazing temples of Angkor on a guided exploration. Angkor Wat is 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. 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.
Note: The Sala Bai Hotel School is closed on public and school holidays, so on these days an alternative restaurant will be used.
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). From here, continue onto Banteay Srei. You'll see it's not a huge temple, but thanks to its intricate stone carvings it is sometimes referred to as ‘the jewel in the crown of Angkorian art’. At this point you can either head back to your hotel or carry on exploring more temples, such as Preah Khan. This temple contains a maze of vaulted corridors and is another complex that has been largely reclaimed by the jungle. Your ticket for the Angkor ruins also lets you spend more time exploring this site. Otherwise you might like to take a free afternoon to explore the town. If you have time, perhaps indulge in a traditional Khmer massage. Tonight you will enjoy a final dinner at a great restaurant in town serving local cuisine.
Ho Chi Minh City
Leave Cambodia behind today with a transfer to the airport and a short flight to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. Please note that you are likely to be unescorted on this flight, but you will be met in the arrivals hall of the Tan Son Nhat International Airport by a local representative and transferred to your hotel.
Please ensure you’ve checked your visa requirements for Vietnam prior to departing your home country. Further details about visas can be found in the Essential Trip Information.
This evening you will gather together for another briefing with your Vietnamese tour leader. This meeting is followed by a group dinner with your group at one of the Ho Chi Minh City's excellent eateries.
Sit down to a leisurely buffet breakfast at KOTO this morning. This restaurant is designed to give disadvantaged youth an education in hospitality. Then you'll drive south to Cai Be for a boat cruise along the intricate and beautiful waterways of the Mekong Delta. En route you'll stop and visit an orchard and sample some local tropical fruit, and visit some local cottage industries. As the sun starts to drop, continue to your local guesthouse, your place of rest tonight. Here you will enjoy a beautiful home-cooked meal of local specialties.
Ho Chi Minh City
Today you'll return to Ho Chi Minh City for a bus and walking tour around the city. You'll visit Reunification Palace, the War Remnants Museum and the Notre Dame Cathedral. Admire the many beautiful French colonial buildings along the way, such as the main Post Office and the former Hotel de Ville (city hall).
This morning after breakfast it's time for 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 you will learn more about its history and the 1968 Tet Offensive. A section of the tunnels has been widened to allow tourists to get a feel for what the underground life must have been like. Note that this will be hot and can be a little claustrophobic. Later this afternoon, fly to Nha Trang (approximately 1.5 hours).
With palm trees, white sandy beaches and a hip cosmopolitan atmosphere, Nha Trang is often referred to as the Cannes of the Orient. Venture out on a boat to explore the nearby islands today. From the main boat, you will take basket boats to shore and visit a fishing village. There's also the chance to snorkel in the warm waters, feast on an included fresh seafood buffet lunch and enjoy the sunshine on the deck of the boat.
Take a short flight to Danang (approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes). From here you will embark on a short ride by private vehicle to Hoi An (approximately 1 hour). Hoi An was originally a Cham port town, but has been influenced by a myriad of traders from various cultures. With its charming low tiled houses and tranquil feel, this is a delightful town to walk around. You'll notice a distinctly Chinese appearance here, with pagodas and assembly halls scattered along the small lanes.
A morning walking tour today takes you to a historic house (formerly home to a prominent trader), the Japanese Covered Bridge, a Chinese assembly hall and a museum. 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.