As well as a guided tour, you’ll also have a three-day Angkor pass to cover your whole time in Siem Reap, so that you can explore this incredible temple complex as much and as often as you like.. Discover the temple ruins at Sambor Prei Kuk and enjoy a local village homestay to experience everyday life in rural Cambodia.. Learn the confronting yet important history of Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum (S21) and the Killing Fields of Choeung Ek in Phnom Penh.. Sample local food wherever you go – from a seafood dinner on Halong Bay, a meal at a Buddhist monastery, coconut candy in the Mekong Delta, and dinner at KOTO restaurant, you won’t go hungry!
Pique your interests and satisfy your appetite with a fast-paced and far-flung adventure through the heart of Vietnam and Cambodia. Spend 18 days traversing the diverse South East Asian countryside, through local villages, past stunning coastline and into bustling cities. Beginning in the manic capital of Thailand, Bangkok, you’ll focus your attention on memorable experiences, the local people, and, of course, the delicious cuisine, all the way to Hanoi in Vietnam’s north. An Angkor temple tour here, a Mekong Delta homestay there, and plenty of time to forge your own path – what’s not to love about this fascinating part of the world?
Breakfast Included: 15 Lunches Included: 3 Dinner Included: 3
Sa-wat dee! Welcome to Thailand. Your adventure begins with an important welcome meeting at 6 pm. Bangkok has so much to offer those with time to explore, so perhaps arrive a day or two early and take a riverboat to Chinatown to wander the crowded streets, uncover the magnificent Grand Palace and the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, pay a visit to Wat Pho (home to the country's largest reclining Buddha), wander down the tourist mecca of Khao San Road, or indulge in some Thai massage. After the meeting tonight perhaps gather your fellow travellers together and tuck into some world-renowned street food.
It's a long drive from Bangkok to Siem Reap by private minibus today (approximately 10 hours including border crossings and lunch). The small but expanding town of Siem Reap is the gateway to Angkor. This is the most popular destination for travellers in all of Cambodia, perhaps even in South East Asia. You'll probably notice a change of pace here, so take a walk and enjoy the atmosphere. Perhaps start by hitting the local markets to try some delicious street food.
Siem Reap/Angkor Wat
Spend a full day temple-hopping with your local guide to make the most of your visit to the world-famous Angkor complex, built between the ninth and 13th centuries when the Khmer empire was the pre-eminent influence in South East Asia. The ruins are scattered over an area of some 160 square kilometres, but the main cluster of temples is close to Siem Reap so you'll have plenty of time to fully appreciate the great archaeological sites. These include Angkor Wat, Bayon and Ta Prohm. The temples were believed to represent the cosmic world and were set in perfect balance, symmetry and composition. The intricately carved bas-reliefs and architectural designs are mind-blowing and there are spectacular photographic opportunities at any time of day – watching a sunrise or sunset is a must.
Siem Reap/Angkor Wat
Continue your exploration of the Angkor Complex this morning on a half-day tour. The constructions you’ll see yesterday and today include the eponymous 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 that is famous for its series of colossal human faces carved in stone. Of all the temples visited, Bayon temple is the centrepiece, with over 200 smiling carved faces and more than 50 gothic towers. You’ll also visit Ta Prohm temple, where nature has taken over again and large trees are interwoven in the stone foundations of the structure. After the tour, you will then be free to do as you please in Siem Reap. There are a load of optional activities to choose from, or otherwise, go exploring the creative and cultural scene in the markets in town.
Today is free for you to choose your own adventure in Siem Reap. If you’d like, you can head back into Angkor Wat, as your site pass covers you for another day of exploring. Instead, if you feel like some adventure, maybe do the Angkor zip-line course, which gives you a birds-eye view of the beautiful rainforest – and an adrenaline rush, of course. Depending on the season there may be a chance to visit Tonle Sap Lake and its floating villages. Your group leader has all the right people in the right places, so be sure to ask them for their recommendations and what’s possible to do today.
Sambor Prei Kuk
Travel by private minibus to Sambor Prei Kuk and your homestay (approximately 3.5 hours). You will embark on a tour of the village with your local guide. The guide will introduce you to the way of life of the local people, your homestay facilities and your hosts for tonight. Facilities are simple at your homestay, but this is a fantastic opportunity to experience everyday life in rural Cambodia. The temple ruins at Sambor Prei Kuk just nearby are some of the oldest in the country (dating back to the sixth century) and are well worth a visit, if you choose to do so. In the evening, relax and unwind as you enjoy a traditional Khmer dinner with your host family.
After breakfast, leave the village and travel to Phnom Penh in a private minibus (approximately 4 hours). The journey is a great opportunity to see the real Cambodia, with several stops at points of interest along the way. It may be possible to see the cottage industry at Santuk Silk Farm and sample the local cuisine of deep-fried spiders at Skuon. Cambodia's capital is set on a major junction of the Mekong and Tonle Sap rivers and boasts some fine examples of French-influenced architecture. This afternoon, enjoy some free time for optional activities. Perhaps explore Wat Phnom – a peaceful temple situated on a local hill. A great way to see the city's key landmarks is a cyclo tour, which generally covers the Psar Thmei (Central Market), US Embassy, Wat Phnom, Mekong riverfront, Independence Monument and Royal Palace. If you're in the mood for shopping, stop in at the Psar Thmei (Central Market), or travel out to Psar Tuol Tom Pong (Russian Market) for the best range of local souvenirs.
Phnom Penh remains a living relic of the country’s past struggles and successes. Your day includes visits to the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum (S21) and the Killing Fields of Choeung Ek, which tell the story of the tragic legacy of the Khmer Rouge. S21 is a former school that served as a Khmer Rouge torture centre, and it’s estimated that more than 20,000 people were held and tortured here. The Killing Fields of Choeung Ek are home to a stupa made up of some 8000 human skulls, marking the execution ground for the torture victims of Tuol Sleng. After visiting both sites, you’ll have free time for the rest of the day. Perhaps learn about a brighter period in Cambodian history with a visit to the Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda, while the National Museum, housed in a beautiful traditional building is a great place to see some excellent Khmer craftmanship. An ideal way to spend the late afternoon and evening is to stroll along the famous Sisowath Quay and enjoy a coffee or cocktail at one of the many riverside cafes.
Ho Chi Minh City
You will be transferred to the airport, where you will say goodbye to Cambodia and hello (or xin chao) to Ho Chi Minh City in vibrant Vietnam. Please note that you will be unescorted on this flight. On arrival, you will be picked up from the airport and transferred to your hotel. Tonight, another group meeting is planned, where you’ll meet your Vietnam group leader and new travel pals who will join you for the next stage of your South East Asian adventure. This briefing is generally followed by an optional group meal out at one of Ho Chi Minh City's many fantastic eating spots – your group leader will have some delicious options up their sleeve.
Mekong Delta - Ho Chi Minh City
Today you'll travel south by private minibus (approximately 3 hours) for a day trip to explore the Mekong Delta. When you arrive, you’ll board a private boat and explore the intricate waterways of the Mekong Delta. Often referred to as ‘the rice bowl’ of Vietnam, the fertile delta is where rice, tropical fruit and flowers are grown for the whole country. The views along the canal will take your breath away. Disembark at Ben Tre and visit the coconut gardens, stopping at a local home to sample tropical fruits & coconut jams. Afterwards, paddle in sampans (small rowing boats) past water coconut trees along the Mekong. Take a tuk-tuk tour around the villages, learning about local rural life and how they make their living making coconut products like brooms and coconut fibre mats. Eat lunch at a restaurant in the heart of the delta, sampling regional specialties such as the famous elephant ear fish. Then it’s back to the boat to cruise the delta’s major waterways to Ben Tre boat pier. After the cruise return via bus to Ho Chi Minh City.
This morning, say goodbye to Ho Chi Minh City and fly north to Danang (approximately 1 hour 30 minutes). From here you’ll take a forty-five minute bus ride to Hoi An with the five spectacular peaks of the Marble Mountains as a backdrop. Once in Hoi An, your leader will take you on a walking tour of this unique town, influenced over the years by Europe, China and Vietnam. The town was a major trading port from the 17th century onwards, and the outside influences can be seen all over its architecture, with pagodas and assembly halls found across the town. For a small place it has a liveliness alongside its charm and serenity. The tour will take you down the streets that are being restored and look much like they did over a century ago. Past low tiled buildings, you'll take in a historic house (formerly home to a prominent trader), the Japanese Covered Bridge, a Chinese assembly hall and a museum.
Enjoy a free day in the world heritage listed Hoi An. You may like to wander the Central Market and the street stalls selling paintings, woodwork, ceramics, lanterns and much more. Hoi An is also famous for its talented tailors who can make beautiful items to order within a few hours. For those still feeling adventurous, why not hire a bicycle and tour the surrounding countryside? This is one of the best ways to get an insight into rural Vietnam. Other optional activities include a day trip to My Son Cham (elaborate World Heritage-listed temples that reflect the rich cultural traditions of the Cham civilisation), a cruise along the Thu Bon River and a trip to the nearby Cua Dai Beach.