Vietnam with Cambodia
Duration: 15 Days / 14 Nights
Vietnam is a Southeast Asian country on the South China Sea known for its beaches, rivers, Buddhist pagodas and bustling cities. Hanoi, the capital, pays homage to the nation’s iconic Communist-era leader, Ho Chi Minh, via a huge marble mausoleum. Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon) has French colonial landmarks, plus Vietnamese War history museums and the Chi Chi tunnels, used by Viet Cong soldiers.
Explore Phnom Penh, a chaotic, energetic and always fascinating city. Graceful tree-lined boulevards and riverfront promenades are reminders of bygone eras; today they teem with life and activity, as motorcycles weave in and out of traffic, vendors hawk their wares, and pedestrians go about their business. Start the tour with an insight into Cambodia's cultural heritage with a visit to the Royal Palace, still the official residence of King Norodom Sihamoi and the adjacent Silver Pagoda, also known as the Pagoda of the Emerald Buddha. Continue to the elegant National Museum, which contains a comprehensive collection of Khmer Art. Finally, explore the modern-day city, visiting one of Phnom Penh's two great markets, the Central Market, located in a distinctive domed Art Deco building or the sprawling Russian Market, a labyrinth of stalls selling everything from CDs and DVDs to silks, crafts, jewellery and more.
The crown jewel of Khmer architecture, Angkor Wat is the national symbol and the highlight of any visit to Cambodia. The largest, best preserved, and most religiously significant of the Angkor temples, Angkor impresses visitors both by its sheer scale and beautifully proportioned layout, as well as the delicate artistry of its carvings. To approach the temple, first cross the vast moat, continuing along a broad causeway lined with naga balustrades. Upon entering the main structure, ascend through a series of galleries and courtyard before reaching the central sanctuary, which offers beautiful views back over the causeway and across the surrounding countryside. On the way, stop to enjoy the intricate stone carvings that adorn nearly every surface of the temple, with some 1,700 Apsaras, or celestial dancers, sculpted from the walls. Along the outer gallery walls run the longest continuous bas-relief in the world, which narrates stories from Hindu mythology, including the famous Churning of the Ocean of Milk. Angkor Wat is stunning at any time of the day, but sunrise and sunset are especially beautiful times to watch the play of light on the stones.
Seemingly miniature in comparison to the other Angkor temples, BanteaySrei is considered to be the jewel of classical Khmer art. Built in pink sandstone, the walls are covered in exquisitely preserved carvings of unusual delicacy. Because of its small size, wondrous atmosphere and extraordinary examples of Khmer sculpture, this temple is often a favourite with visitors. Visit BanteaySamre BanteaySamre is a mid-12th century temple dedicated to the god Vishnu. Visit Ta Prohm Ta Prohm is one of the most popular attractions of Angkor as much of the jungle has not been cleared and it looks very much as most of the Angkor monuments would have appeared when European explorers first stumbled across them. Visit Ta Keo Ta Keo was built by Jayavarman V who ruled from 968 to 1001, it was the first Angkorian monument built entirely of sandstone and was dedicated to Shiva. The summit of the central tower is 50 metres high and is surrounded by four lower towers. Overnight in Siem Reap.
Chau Say Tevoda was built during the second quarter of the 12th century opposite Thommanon, it was dedicated to Shiva and Vishnu. Visit BanteayKdei Temple A massive Buddhist temple dating from the second half of the 12th century, BanteayKdei is surrounded by four concentric walls, the outer walls measuring 500 by 700 metres. Visit NeakPean Temple NeakPean was built by King Jayavarman VII (ruled 1181 to 1201), it is a Buddhist temple consisting of a square pool with four smaller square pools arranged on each axis. In the centre of the large central pool is a circular island encircled by two nagas with intertwined tails. Visit SrasSrang SrasSrang is a basin east of BanteayKdei measuring 800 by 400 metres with a tiny island in the middle where only the stone base remains of what was once a wooden temple. Visit PrasatKravan PrasatKravan: the five brick towers were built for Hindu worship in 921 and are notable for the bas-reliefs cut into the bricks on the interior walls. Transfer Flight from Siem Reap to Saigon Arrival in Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) Transfer Overnight in Saigon. .
A vibrant metropolis, Saigon teems with energy, activity and motion. Everywhere you look, you see the meeting of traditional and modern life. Begin with a tour of the historic centre, strolling along Dong Khoi Street, formerly known as the Rue Catinat, the main shopping thoroughfare and heart of old colonial Saigon. Pass by classic European-style landmarks such as the ornate City Hall (Hotel De Ville), the old Opera House (both may only be viewed from the outside), and pay a quick visit to the neo-Romanesque Notre Dame Cathedral and the Central Post Office. Afterwards dive into modern history with a tour of the Reunification Palace. Formerly the Independence Palace of the South Vietnamese president, this 60s style was famously stormed by tanks on April 30, 1975 signifying the fall of South Vietnam. It has been preserved in its original state, and the original tanks remain on display near the entrance gates. Continue to the harrowing War Remnants Museum, which comprehensively documents the travails of the long Vietnam- American War. Inside are detailed photographic exhibitions; outside is a collection of tanks, planes and weapons. A powerful experience, this museum is guaranteed to provoke strong emotions. Finally, visit the Emperor Of Jade Pagoda, one of Saigon's most interesting pagodas. Excursion to Cu Chi Tunnels Never discovered by American forces, the Cu Chi Tunnels were an important Vietcong base during the American War. Stretching over 200 km, this incredible underground network, dug by hand out of hard laterite, connected command posts, hospitals, shelter and weapons factories. Today, walk through the area and learn about the day to day life of the Vietcong, bear witness to the cleverly disguised entrances and elaborate booby-traps, and even venture inside the tunnels, some of which have been modified to accommodate tourists. Overnight in Saigon. .
After a journey through Ben Luc and Tan An, proceed to Ben Tre to take a boat trip on the Mekong River to VamXep canal where local handicrafts and coconut sweets are produced. Enjoy fresh seasonal fruits, a performance of traditional songs, and observe the local life. Take a short ride on motor cart to a typical local house to taste some homemade honey-tea. Proceed by sampan through the small canals to observe the daily life of local people along the riverbanks with some stops for a leisurely stroll. Overnight in Saigon. .
Journey south past the Marble Mountains and small villages. Visit Cham Museum The Cham Museum houses probably the best collection of Cham art to be found anywhere in the world. There are more than 300 artefacts in the museum, many dating to the 4th century. There are beautiful sculptures reflecting the 1000 year Cham period. Visit Non Nuoc Beach Non Nuoc Beach was a famous surf spot for American soldiers during Vietnam War in 1960s. The beach gently slopes towards the calm, clear, blue sea and the clarity of the water attracts visitors who come to bathe and enjoy the seafood. This fine sandy beach with sunshine all the year round makes it suitable for holiday-makers in all four seasons. Visit Marble Mountains The Marble Mountains consist of 5 stone hillocks, once islands, made of marble. Each is said to represent one of the five elements of the universe. The largest and most famous, Thuy Son, has a number of natural caves in which Buddhist sanctuaries have been built over the centuries. When the Champas ruled this area, these same caves were used as Hindu shrines. Sightseeing in Hoi An (Half day) Hoi An, a picturesque riverside town, was one of South East Asia's major international ports during the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. This walking tour includes many of the town's highlights. Visit the Japanese Covered Bridge, constructed in 1593 by the Japanese community to link the town with the Chinese quarters across the stream. Near the bridge is Sa Huynh Museum which houses exhibitions from the earliest period of Hoi An's history. Wander into the Tran Family Chapel, a 200 year old house built for worshipping ancestors. Visit PhuocKien Assembly Hall, a Chinese pagoda built around 1690 and enlarged in 1900. It is typical of the Chinese clans in the Hoi An area and is dedicated to ThienHauThanh Mau, the Goddess of the Sea and Protector of Sailors and Fishermen. Also enter into a Lantern Making Workshop to see how the frame is made and the silk cloth put onto the lantern. Overnight in Hoi An .
By vehicle from Hoi An to Hue Drive from Hoi An to Hue along scenic mountain roads with spectacular views over the coastline. Highlights along the way include the dramatic Hai Van Pass, the high dividing line between the climate zones of North and South Vietnam; Lang Co, a lovely stretch of beach curving outwards between a clear blue lagoon and the East Vietnam Sea; and the large coastal city of Danang. Sightseeing in Hue Hue served as the capital of Vietnam for more than 140 years. It houses ancient temples, imperial buildings and French-style edifices. It was established in the 17th century. Visit the Imperial Tombs of TuDuc and KhaiDinh Venture into the countryside around Hue to the Imperial Tomb of TuDuc. TuDuc, the longest reigning Vietnamese emperor, designed and built this elegant tomb during his lifetime, using it as a retreat for meditation, reading and theatre performances. Take some time to soak in the tranquil atmosphere, wandering among the gracefully proportioned pavilions, courtyards and lotus ponds. Afterwards visit the Imperial Tomb of KhaiDinh, dramatically located on a hillside. The last of the monumental tombs of the Nguyen dynasty, completed in 1931, this tomb incorporates distinct European elements into traditional Vietnamese architecture. Overnight in Hue. .
Excursion to Thien Mu Pagoda and Tomb of Emperor Minh Mang with boat trip Enjoy a leisurely boat ride down the Perfume River, stopping first at the iconic Thien Mu Pagoda, an elegant seven-tiered octagonal tower which has become Hue's most widely recognizable monument. Continue cruising into the countryside to the Imperial Tomb of Minh Mang, a majestic complex of courtyards, pavilions and temples in a beautiful natural setting. Sightseeing in the Old Imperial City Located in the heart of Hue is the Imperial Citadel, a vast complex built in the early 19th century and modelled after the Forbidden City of Peking. The original walls stretched for 10 km and were surrounded by a wide moat. Today, most of the buildings have been destroyed due to bombing during the Vietnam-American War, but the monuments that remain provide a fascinating glimpse into the court life of the Nguyen Dynasty. Approach the city past the striking Flag Tower, where a giant Vietnamese flag waves proudly overhead, to the imposing Ngo Mon Gate, the main entrance to the Imperial Enclosure. Enter into an area of spacious courtyards and serene lotus ponds, and stroll around the DienTho Residence (DienTho Palace) where the Queen mother lived. Visit the Thai Hoa Palace, the magnificently decorated reception hall, the Halls of the Mandarins, and the original Nine Dynastic Urns, among other sites. Overnight in Hue .
Visit the HoanKiem Lake to see Ngoc Son Temple and the tiny Tortoise Pagoda. Walk through the Old Quarter, a fascinating network of narrow alleys and shop houses also known as "The 36 Streets" - each street being named after the merchandise traditionally sold there, ranging from fabrics to crafts and from medicines to tombstones. A handicraft-lover's paradise and a endlessly interesting place to explore local life. Afterwards, visit the Vietnam National Museum of History (Bao Tang Lich Su QuocGia) a museum of the EcoleFrançaised'Extreme-Orient which was built in 1926 and completed in 1932. In 1958, the Vietnam Government officially took over this cultural building and started to research, collect and supplement materials and objects, converting the contents from eastern arts into national history. The main exhibition system is the historical books of Vietnamese nation from the prehistory (about 300,000-400,000 years) to the August 1945 Revolution. The basic storehouses now keep more than 100,000 specimens and artifacts of different materials, including many rare and valuable items, especially the collections of objects dating back the ancients cultures (HoaBinh-Bac Son, Dong Son), Vietnamese ancient glazed ceramics, Champa stone sculptures, bronze items under the Le-Nguyen Dynasties. Overnight in Hanoi. .
The capital city of Laos, Vientiane, still feels like a sleepy city with relaxed charm, tree-lined boulevards, and interesting temples and colourful markets. Tour the many highlights of the city, including Pha That Luang, a gleaming golden stupa which is perhaps the most important national monument in Laos; Ho PhaKeo, the formal royal temple, now a museum with beautiful examples of Buddhist sculpture; Wat Si Saket; and Patuxai, a monumental arch inspired by the Arc de Triomphe, but executed with Lao motifs. Overnight in Vientiane. .
Set between the Nam Khan and Mekong rivers, LuangPrabang is an enchanting town filled with historic temples and colonial style buildings. The entire town was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1995. Begin your tour with WatVisoun (WatWisunalat). The oldest living temple in LuangPrabang, WatVisoun dates back to 1513 and contains a collection of antique wooden Buddhas. Visit the nearby WatAham before continuing to WatXieng, the crown jewel of all the monasteries and temples in the city. Its many ornate buildings feature exquisite mosaic and gold-stencilled murals. From there, stroll down the main street (Wat Street) of LuangPrabang. Time permitting, stop at some of the many temples that line its sides, including WatSibounheuang, Wat Si Moungkhoun, Wat Sop and WatSene. Visit Mount Phousi for sunset Climb 328 steps starting from the entrance on the opposite side of National Museum, or 410 steps on the other side of Khan River to the small temples atop Phou Si. The hill is 150m high and sits in the middle of the town, offering beautiful views over the temples and river. Overnight in LuangPrabang. .
Travel up the Mekong River to the steep limestone cliffs overlooking the Mekong and Nam Ou rivers, home to the Tham Pak Ou Caves. These extraordinary caves are filled with Buddha images, of every style and material imaginable. On the way to Pak Ou Cave, stop at Ban Xang Hai Village (If time permits, open 6.00 am 15.00 pm and closed every major Buddhist holiday), a local village famous for the production of laolao, the local rice wine whisky. Visit the weaving village of Ban XangKhong Visit Ban XangKhong, a village near LuangPrabang well known for its traditional handwoven cotton and silk, as well as production of the local sa (mulberry) paper. Overnight in LuangPrabang
Visit the National Museum (Royal Palace), a modest but graceful building which combines traditional Lao and French beaux-arts motifs. This turn-of-the century royal residence has been preserved as it was when the royal family last lived here and provides unique insights into the history of Laos. Then, visit HorPhrabang. In the right front corner room of the Palace which opens to the outside, is a collection of the palace's most prized art, including the Phrabang, cast of a gold, silver and bronze alloy. This Buddha stands at 83 cm tall and weighs around 50 kg. Excursion to Kuang Si Waterfalls From LuangPrabang, travel by vehicle to toKuang Si Waterfall. This waterfall is located in a perfect natural setting near LuangPrabang, this multi-tiered waterfall tumbles over limestone formations into a series of turquoise pools. Enjoy swimming in the clear water or just relaxing in the natural environment. Visit a local village (Ban Ou or Ban Na Ouane) on the way, before returning to LuangPrabang by vehicle. Overnight in LuangPrabang.
On the last day, have breakfast and Time at leisure. Tour Ends here.
Visa: All visitors entering Cambodia must possess valid passports. Your passport has to be validated for at least six months after the issued date. The e-visa, valid for a thirty-day stay, is available only for a typical tourist visa for single entry.