HomeToursAsia Tours 〉Vietnam

Epic Vietnam to Cambodia


Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand. Markets, all the good street food, beaches, temples, snorkelling, more food, ancient sites, homestays, drinks, long-tail boat rides and more food. If that sounds good, it’s time to take a 20-day adventure through Southeast Asia to the incredible Angkor complex, the bustling streets of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City and the serene waters of Cat Ba Island. Get active with cycling tours and hiking options and learn about everyday village life in Sambo Prei Kuk. Tour the incredible natural beauty of Ninh Binh and kick back on the paradisial beaches of Koh Rong Island. End it all in Bangkok, Thailand, where you can jet set home (to brag of an awesome trip well-travelled) or extend your stay and beach-it-up in another Southeast Asian gem.

20 days, from

$1,410

per person

GROUP SIZE

16 people max

ACTIVITY LEVEL

 
2
Trip code: TVYSC
Style: Basix
Theme: 18 to 35s

Details

Countries Visited:  Cambodia Thailand Vietnam
Accommodation: Hotel (11 nights), Lodge (1 night), Overnight sleeper train (2 nights), Bungalow (2 nights), Homestay (1 night), Hostel (2 nights)
Transportation: Boat , Overnight sleeper train , Private minibus
Included Meals:

  • 2 breakfasts
  • 3 lunches
  • 2 dinners

Group size: Minimum 1, Max 16

  • A little touch of France here, a little bit of China there – and all in Vietnam! Chill out in the cultural mixed bag of Hoi An. Hit up the local beach, cycle through rice paddies or get some sweet threads tailor-made.

  • Who'd have thought green seas and giant mossy rocks could be so pretty? Cruising on Lan Ha Bay is bliss.

  • A homestay in Chambok puts you right in the heart of everyday village life in Cambodia.

  • Is Angkor the most incredible thing in South East Asia? Decide for yourself as you temple-hop with an expert local guide around the entire archaeological complex.

  • Cut loose in Bangkok, a frenetic wonderland of delicious street food and tuk-tuks, and the ideal launching pad for further travel in Thailand.

Itinerary

Show Full Itinerary

Day 1: Hanoi

Xin chao! Welcome to Vietnam. This adventure kicks off with a group meeting at 6 pm. Get to know your leader and your group mates and see who’s up for grabbing some food and a fresh bia hoi at a roadside stall and watching the motorbikes zoom by tonight.

Day 2: Hanoi

You do you in Hanoi today. The day is yours to explore however you’d like. Check out your reflection in beautiful Hoan Kiem Lake, wander along shaded boulevards or relax in a public park with some delicious street food (spring rolls inside rice paper rolls, anyone?). Museum-wise, you could visit the Mausoleum of Ho Chi Minh, drop into the serene Temple of Literature or get arty at the city's Fine Arts Museum.

Day 3: Cat Ba

Travel by bus and ferry (approximately 3.5 hours) to Cat Ba Island, the largest island in the UNESCO-listed Halong Bay. With thousands of little limestone islands scattered around, this area is one of those quintessential Vietnamese scenes in which bright green water is dotted with traditional junk boats and limestone karsts. Take a cruise around Lan Ha Bay and enjoy a seafood lunch prepared by your on-board chef. Hop off the boat to get up close and personal with this other-worldly landscape by kayak.

Day 4: Ninh Binh

This morning, ferry back to the mainland and head to Ninh Binh province, once the site of Vietnam’s capital which is now a protected UNESCO World Heritage Site. Hoa Lu was the capital of Vietnam in the 10th and 11th centuries. Join a local guide on a cycling tour to visit the ancient citadel. This once covered 300 hectares of land, however the passage of time has left few remains of this once glorious capital. You’ll pay a visit to the 17th century temples built in honour of King Dinh and King Le among other temples, pagodas, monuments and lush grounds surrounded by mountains.

Day 5: Ninh Binh - Overnight Train

The day is yours to explore the many other wonders of Ninh Binh. You might choose to lace up your hikers to trek to the incredible Mua Cave. While the cave sits at the base of a mountain, be sure to make the trek up the 500 steps to the mountain peak for amazing views of Hoa Lu and Ngo Dong River. Or maybe get out on the water and take a boat tour past limestone karst peaks, caves, temples and maybe even the locations of scenes from a King Kong movie. Tonight, board an overnight train to Hue (approximately 13 hours).

Day 6: Hue

Arrive by train in Hue, the former imperial capital of Vietnam. You have today free to do as you please. You can easily spend a couple of hours exploring Hue’s massive walled citadel and the Forbidden Purple Palace that's enclosed within it. Perhaps jump on board a dragon boat and enjoy a cruise up the Perfume River to visit the Thien Mu Pagoda. You could also check out Dong Ba Market, which offers locally made goods, fresh produce and some tasty street food. This is a good place to try the dishes that Emperor Nguyen used to feast on: the banh khoai royal rice. If you like being on two wheels then maybe cycle out to one of the royal tombs such as the tomb of Emperor Tu Duc (one of the most excellent remaining examples of its kind). Tonight, head into the home of a local family and enjoy a prepared dinner. You’ll be chatting and laughing over your chopsticks in no time!

Day 7: Hoi An

Continue along the coast to Hoi An by private bus (approximately 3 hours). Once in Hoi An, your leader will take you on a walking tour of this unique town which has been influenced over the years by Europe, China, Vietnam and Japan. The town was a major trading port from the 17th century onwards, and its old-school flavour is written all over its architecture. For a small town, it's pretty lively in places. In others, it's chilled out. The tour will take you down the streets that are being restored and look a lot like they did 100 years ago or more. You'll check out a historic house (formerly home to a prominent trader), the Japanese Covered Bridge, a Chinese assembly hall and a museum.

Day 8: Hoi An

Start the day by cycling through the beautiful surrounds of Hoi An to the organic vegetable and herb gardens of a local chef. See, smell and taste what makes Vietnamese food so delicious. After a tour of the gardens, enjoy a freshly prepared lunch using some of the ingredients you picked during your tour. Much of the food waste here is composted, recycled or reused. The rest of the afternoon is free for your own explorations. Maybe wander to the Central Market and browse the paintings, woodwork, ceramics and lanterns. Hoi An is also famous for its talented tailors, so if you’ve been wearing the same shirt every day (who hasn’t), why not hit one of the same-day tailors and get yourself something new? Or, if you're still feeling adventurous, hire a bicycle and tour the surrounding countryside, or take a ride to the coastline for an afternoon on the South China Sea – this is one of the best ways to travel in and out of town.

Day 9: Hoi An - Overnight Train

Lucky you, it's another free morning in this historic haven. You could take a trip out to the My Son temples (World Heritage-listed beauties that reflect the rich cultural traditions of the Cham civilisation), join a cooking class or take the stairs or the escalator up the Marble Mountains to explore the many pagodas, tunnels, caves and shrines. Afterwards begin your overnight train journey to Ho Chi Minh City (approximately 16 hours).

Day 10: Ho Chi Minh City

Arrive in Ho Chi Minh City very early (approximately 5:45 am) and transfer to your hotel, then leave your gear in a day room at the hotel. Formerly known as Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City is a whirl of sights and sounds. You can still see the French influence in the top-notch baguettes and coffee on offer. Compared to the north, the food here is spicier, sweeter and more varied. Perhaps take advantage of the early morning by checking out the markets and tucking into a bowl of pho with the local traders. Your leader will let you know the best places to check out during your free time. Well worth the visit are the Reunification Palace and War Remnants Museum. Included for today is a visit to a local market, where you can browse the exotic street foods and maybe take the chance to try some. Then finish the visit by sitting down to try the iconic Saigon café sua da (iced coffee with condensed milk) amid the market’s everyday bustle as your leader shares stories about life in Ho Chi Minh City. Tonight, why not get your group together for a meal and some drinks on Pham Ngu Lao Street?

Day 11: Ho Chi Minh City

Today you may be required to move to a different hotel in Ho Chi Minh City, for the next section of your trip. Your leader will let you know if this is the case, and will help with the transfer to the next hotel. You will have a free day today for many optional activities. The Cu Chi Tunnels are an extremely interesting day trip nearby – ask your leader about how to book. As this is a combination trip, your group leader and the composition of your group may change at this location. There will be a group meeting to discuss the next stage of your itinerary and you're welcome, as ever, to attend.

Day 12: Phnom Penh

Today, travel to Phnom Penh by public bus (approximately 10 hours), which includes two border crossings and a stop for your own lunch. Your guide will assist with formalities at both sides of the border. After your long bus ride to Phnom Penh, why not treat yourself to a traditional Khmer massage? Look no further than Seeing Hands, a great cause supporting visually impaired masseurs.

Day 13: Phnom Penh

Today, wake up and enjoy an authentic local breakfast near one of the markets. Afterwards, the group will head to Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum (S21) and the Killing Fields of Choeung Ek on an included visit – both very sobering but important and informative experiences in Cambodia. Afterwards, you may like to explore some other Phnom Penh sights in your own time, like the Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda, which both offer brighter aspects of Cambodia's past. You might also head for the National Museum or Wat Phnom – a Buddhist temple built in 1372. Later on, if your riels are burning a hole in your pocket, look no further than the Central or Russian markets, both great places to interact with the locals. In the evening, don’t miss the opportunity to celebrate the start of your journey in Cambodia at a rooftop bar with views over the junction between the Tonle Sap and the Mekong.

Day 14: Kampot

This morning, it’s time to head south. Take a private vehicle to the township of Kampot, approximately 3.5 hours from Phnom Penh. Once arrived and settled in, time to look around. Take a heritage walk with your group around the city, and discover the architecture of this quaint town, all from the French Colonial era. You’ll have the opportunity to learn a little of the history of Kampot, plus find some places you’d like to check out on your free day tomorrow! Afterwards, capture a spectacular sunset from the water as you embark on a cruise on the Kampot River. Keep your eyes peeled when the sun goes down, as fireflies may begin to swarm and flicker in the night sky – such a cool sight to see!

Day 15: Kampot

Good morning Kampot! Life is laidback here, and with your full day of freedom, you can do what you want. Kampot is far less overwhelming or touristy than the big cities of Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, and has some great restaurants and bars along the river to chill out in during the day. It also acts as a good base for some of the best activities in southern Cambodia. There are several options available for you to take up, including a hike in the thickets of Kep National Park, followed by a visit to the veranda restaurant for panoramic scenery, and hopefully a colourful sunset! Otherwise, take a day trip to Rabbit Island for a beach day, or head to a pepper plantation in Kep Province on the mainland. You’re living on Kampot time now, so take your time and see the Cambodia past all the temples.

Day 16: Chambok

Travel by private vehicle (approximately 3 hours) into countryside Cambodia to Chambok: a village in the region of Kampong Speu. Chambok is very close to the beautiful Kirirom National Park and the serenity and peace of the jungle is also felt in town. A homestay tonight is your chance to really immerse yourself in everyday life with the locals. You and your group will have the option to trek to an awesome 40-metre waterfall nearby. lt is a 60 to 90 minute trek and access is weather dependant. At night, feast on a traditional Khmer dinner, prepared by the talented women of the community, and enjoy a celebration of traditional dancing.

Day 17: Kampong Cham

Kampong Cham in a nutshell is frontier charm with French-colonial character. Take a private vehicle there (4.5–5 hours) and soak it all up. Included today is bicycle hire to explore the surrounds, and potentially ride across to the island of Koh Pen (weather permitting). Your group leader will also take you to the 11th-century Wat Nokor temple – one of the lesser-known ‘wats’ in Cambodia. If you’re feeling extra adventurous, a little further away are the twin mountain temples of Phnom Pros and Phnom Srei which, as well as being fascinating sites of religious, historic and spiritual significance, are more than worthy of a picture or two.

Day 18: Siem Reap

Take a public bus to Siem Reap (approximately 5 hours). Your leader will take you on an orientation walk to get your bearings of the town. Afterwards, you might want to hit the markets or head to a restaurant for some cheap and tasty street food, like some lort cha (fried egg noodles) or chive cakes, then get some rest and relaxation before tomorrow's visit to the crowd favourite: Angkor Wat.

Day 19: Siem Reap/Angkor Wat

Get your camera ready, strap on your walking boots and get ready: it’s temple time. The Angkor complex is arguably South East Asia's biggest highlight. This area has been made famous by films such as Tomb Raider, but more importantly has a deep history spanning six centuries from around AD800 as the site of different capitals of the Khmer Empire. The obvious attraction is the world-renowned Angkor Wat, which is every bit as amazing as everyone says it is, especially at sunrise and sunset. As a group, you'll have a guided tour of the whole site, and depending on the weather and the group’s desires, your leader can tailor the time of day and the parts of the complex you’ll see. There’s also plenty of time to visit the other monuments of this sprawling complex, like the giant carved faces of Bayon and the peculiar Ta Prohm – a temple being swallowed by the grip of tentacle-like tree roots.

Day 20: Siem Reap

Kick back in Siem Reap and wander around town, visiting its markets, shops and restaurants. Depending on the season, you might like to visit Tonle Sap, the big freshwater lake, for a glimpse of local life. Adventure-seekers and adrenaline-junkies can do the Angkor zip-line course that will have you soaring like an eagle over the lush rainforest. For even more bragging material, you can learn the tricks of the trade in a Khmer cooking class. And if you just can't stay away from Angkor, longer passes than the standard one-day option are available. Ask your leader for more information as they can hook you up with a good deal. 

Day 21: Bangkok

Goodbye Cambodia, hello Thailand. Drive from Siem Reap to Bangkok in a private minivan (approximately 10 hours, including a border crossing and lunch stop). Again, your leader will assist with the border crossing formalities. If you expect a soothing and charming day, think again – it's go, go, go in Thailand's frenetic capital, but that’s all part of the fun. The khlongs (canals) are a great way to escape from all the chaos – maybe take a boat to the popular Chinatown for a delicious street food dinner. A traditional Thai massage may also be a good option to relax into the evening. Bangkok has some great nightlife and rooftop bars, so be sure to stake out a place with your travel buddies and watch day turn to night.

Day 22: Bangkok

With no more activities planned, you're free to depart at any time. Bangkok is full of things to do, including the Grand Palace, Temple of the Emerald Buddha, or the very cool Jim Thompson museum. If you wish to spend more time in Bangkok, we’ll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability).