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Premium Cambodia & Vietnam in Depth


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.

20 days, from

$5,521

per person

GROUP SIZE

12 people max

ACTIVITY LEVEL

 
2
Trip code: TKPJC
Style: Premium
Theme: Explorer

Details

Countries Visited:  Cambodia Vietnam
Accommodation: Hotel (18 nights), Overnight boat (1 night)
Transportation: Boat , Plane , Private Minibus
Included Meals:

  • 18 breakfasts
  • 9 lunches
  • 7 dinners

Group size: Minimum 1, Max 12

  • 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 from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap on a charming riverboat then enjoy two guided days exploring the temples of Angkor, including a morning accompanied by a private photography coach (Premium Exclusive Experience).

  • Get to the heart of Vietnamese culture with Exclusive Experiences, including a soul-stirring Hat Xam performance, an afternoon in an ancient pottery village, and a cooking class with a local chef in Hue.

  • See the important sights of Phnom Penh on a full day guided tour. Visit the sobering Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum and the Killing Fields of Choeung Ek, then stop by a working Buddhist monastery to meet the resident monks, a Premium Exclusive Experience

  • Experience authentic Cambodian cuisine when you dine at the restaurant run by Friends International, visit the Sala Bai Hotel School for lunch, eat at Cambodia’s first farm-to-table restaurant and enjoy an exclusive privately catered breakfast on the shores of the Srah Srang Lake.

Itinerary

Show Full Itinerary

Day 1: Phnom Penh

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 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 Malis Restaurant, an upmarket dining spot that is committed to preserving and serving Cambodia's traditional cuisine. After dinner perhaps cap off the night with a cocktail at the Le Moon Rooftop at Amanjaya Pancam Hotel.

Day 2: Phnom Penh

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.

Day 3: Siem Reap

After breakfast, embark on a journey of discovery from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap in a comfortable private vehicle. Discover traditional Cambodian life at Skun Village and learn about the town’s deep fried tarantulas and other insects which the locals consume daily. You’ll also visit Santuk Silk Farm to learn about silk production and its work as a social enterprise, employing local women as artisan weavers. Share a simple, rustic local lunch prepared by the weavers before you continue to Siem Reap, stopping to see historic bridges along the way, before arriving at your hotel at approximately 5pm. 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. Tonight, you’ll enjoy delicious home-style Cambodian dishes.

Day 4: Siem Reap – Angkor Wat

After breakfast, you'll spend the day discovering the amazing temples of Angkor. 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. 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, visit 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. From here, you will head out of town to an ancient 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. The rest of the evening can be spent exploring the bars of Siem Reap, or relaxing in laidback luxury at your resort.

Day 5: Siem Reap – Angkor Wat

Embrace a very early start today to experience a sunrise visit to the Angkor complex. After sunrise, 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, it’s off to the Ta Prohm temple, which has large trees embedded in the stone foundations of the structure – powerful symbols of nature. Next, 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, enjoy a final dinner at Lum Orng Cambodia's first Farm to Table restaurant and raise a glass to toast your Cambodia adventure with free flow pre-dinner cocktails and canapes before dining on delicious 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.

Day 6: Ho Chi Minh City

Today you'll check out of your hotel and fly to Ho Chi Minh to begin the Vietnam portion of your trip. After your unescorted flight. you'll be met and transferred to your hotel. If you do have time, get out and acquaint yourself with the city beforehand – it is a bustling centre of shopping, historic sites and traffic mayhem. 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.

Day 7: Mekong Delta

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.

Day 8: 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.

Day 9: Dalat

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.

Day 10: 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.

Day 11: Hoi An

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, originally a Cham port town. Hoi An is renowned for its specialist tailors and some do same-day turnaround, so perhaps take this opportunity to get some clothing made from some unique local fabrics. You might also like to visit a local workshop to learn how to make your own rice paper. A Vietnamese cooking class too is a great way to familiarise yourself with some age-old culinary techniques, not to mention feasting on the fruits of your own labour!

Day 12: Hoi An

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.

Day 13: Hoi An

A significant port of the Champa Kingdom for centuries, many Cham descendants are still living in Hoi An today. This morning your leader will guide you around My Son Cham, a collection of temples constructed by the Kings of Champa and dating back to the 4th century. In the afternoon, head out to the Thanh Ha Pottery Village – dating back to the 16th century, this is one of the oldest pottery villages in Vietnam. Stop by the home of an artisan couple. Now both in their 90s, they were once the only artisans in the village and have passed down traditional techniques and practices. Continue your explorations of the village, meet descendants of the artisan couple and find out how traditional pieces are made. Finally, sit down with a cup of tea and perhaps take the chance to test out your own skills and paint on a traditional pottery mask. Return to Hoi An for an evening at leisure.

Day 14: Hue

Depart Hoi An today bound for Hue, the former imperial capital and hub of Vietnam's historic past. En route, pass through the Hai Van Pass – a scenic mountainous stretch of highway with views across Lang Co beach. Arrive in Hue and discover its eclectic mix of frenetic streets and peaceful beauty. In the afternoon you will visit the Imperial Citadel, including the Forbidden Purple City. The latter was almost completely destroyed during the Tet Offensive in the Vietnam War, but its humble, foliage-covered ruins remain a testament to its proud history. Here your leader will provide some insight into the horrific damage endured during the war.

Day 15: Hue

Loosen your belt and ready your appetite as today you will be diving into Hue’s fabulous culinary scene. First up, head to a street food eatery for a seriously tasty breakfast – Bun Bo Hue. This spicy noodle soup is usually made with beef and pig knuckles and is an absolute must-try while in Hue. Then, meet with a local chef and explore a bustling local market where you will taste and smell all the wonderful herbs and ingredients that bring local dishes to life, while learning more about the culture of Vietnamese cuisine along the way. Stop for lunch and enjoy some of Hue’s most celebrated dishes. Continue to the local chef’s delightful home where you will learn how to cook up some simple and delicious dishes using the fresh ingredients you picked up at the market. Take your new knowledge and local recipes back home with you so you can recreate meals that will take you straight back to Vietnam. Later in the afternoon, take a visit to the Thien Mu Pagoda, the unofficial symbol of Hue. The Pagoda is an active Buddhist monastery that dates back to 1601. You will also visit the elaborate royal tomb of Emperor Tu Duc, with its beautiful lake, frangipani and pine trees, and the Imperial Citadel.

Day 16: Hanoi

Fly from Hue to Hanoi today. Your departure will mostly likely be in the morning but can vary a little depending on flight schedules. Settle in on arrival, then your leader will guide you through the ancient 36 Streets to discover a varied selection of shop-lined alleys that sell everything from souvenirs to exquisite silk clothing, jewellery and embroidered tablecloths. In the afternoon, you will be treated to a traditional Hat Xam performance – this is truly an experience like no other. Hat Xam is an artform of Northern Vietnam dating back to the Tran Dynasty. Originally, this was performed by blind performers, and was enjoyed by local working-class audiences, right up until the late 1950s, when a wave of communism deemed all art forms to be corrupting influences. Today, this style of performance occurs rarely, but you and your group will be taken to a private club house for an exclusive performance; one of the few places where such artists still perform acoustically. The performance includes some story telling aspects and possibly interaction with guests, so be ready to get involved!

Day 17: Hanoi

Enjoy a guided half-day tour of Hanoi with your leader, gaining insights to the city’s history during visits to the Temple of Literature, One Pillar Pagoda and the former residence of Vietnam’s most famous revolutionary, Ho Chi Minh. Enjoy a delicious lunch at KOTO restaurant – an Intrepid Foundation supported program that teaches disadvantaged youth hospitality skills. Enjoy a free afternoon for further explorations. The Vietnam Fine Arts museum is well worth a visit, and walking is a great way to explore the city and its many lakes and parks. You'll see that this enchanting northern capital can be quieter than its southern counterpart, and the West Lake, north of the main city, is an ideal place to interact with the locals and relax by its banks.

Day 18: Halong Bay

Today you will drive to Halong Bay – this World Heritage listed wonder is undoubtedly one of the world’s most spectacular sights. There’s no better way to appreciate the bay’s beauty than on board a junk-style boat – your Feature Stay accommodation for the evening. Carefully designed with traditional touches and modern amenities, you can sit back in complete comfort as you weave through stunning limestone islands, karsts and caves. Stop by Surprise Cave to discover its interesting rock formations with you leader, then retire to the boat for a marvellous seafood lunch. During the warmer months your leader will discuss the option for swimming from Ti Top Island. There is also the option for kayaking to get up close to the towering limestone karsts. This evening’s dinner is sure to be a standout – dine on the deck of the boat by candlelight and watch the sun go down over the magnificent landscape.

Day 19: Hanoi

In the morning, enjoy breakfast on board the boat and perhaps take part in some optional Tai Chi to start off the day. Sail back to the port, disembark and travel back to Hanoi. Arriving back in the capital, enjoy some time to wander around and enjoy some of the city’s attractions you may have missed the first time. You can shop on Hang Gai Street or perhaps enjoy some afternoon tea at the Metropole Hotel. In the evening, join your group and leader for a final dinner in a Hanoi restaurant, sharing stories and reflecting on the highlights of your adventure with your newfound friends.

Day 20: Hanoi

Your adventure comes to an end after breakfast this morning. If you would like to stay on in Hanoi, we’ll be happy to organise some additional accommodation for you ahead of time (subject to availability).