Cambodia & Vietnam In Depth

Cambodia & Vietnam In Depth

From $ 6,755 AUD

Description

Take an unforgettable journey and delve deeper into local life through Cambodia and Vietnam. From the fascinating temples of Angkor to the confronting history of the Khmer Rouge, Cambodia is a country full of wonder. Between Phnom Penh and Siem Reap, you’ll discover the heart and soul of the country through the country’s provinces. You’ll then travel to Vietnam where you’ll uncover the mysteries of the Viet Minh in Ho Chi Minh City, traverse the lakes and boulevards of Hanoi and meet the locals on the Mekong Delta. Experience historical temples, enjoy delicious banquets and explore everywhere from lively cities to serene rural towns on this 26-day experience through South East Asia.

Trip Name
Cambodia & Vietnam In Depth
Last Updated
2020-02-17
Days
26
Capacity
12
Highlights
  • Witness the magic of Angkor – the legendary Khmer temple complex. Two days at the site allows for in-depth viewing of marvels such as Bayon, Ta Prohm and the renowned Angkor Wat.
  • Relax on a sunset cruise along the Kampot River and discover local tastes and sights in rural Battambang on a remork (tuk-tuk) ride.
  • Learn kitchen secrets of local Khmer, with a Cambodian cooking class and three-course meal out in the countryside around Siem Reap.
  • Discover Vietnam's astounding histories, both modern and ancient, from the Cu Chi war tunnels in Ho Chi Minh City to the old-word heritage and architectural marvels of Hue.
  • Explore the French influence of the northern city of Hanoi. Be treated to an exclusive Hat Xam performance – an ancient musical art form.

Itinerary

ITINERARY CHANGES: Our itineraries are updated regularly throughout the year based on customer feedback and to reflect the current situation in each destination. The information included in this Essential Trip Information may therefore differ from when you first booked your trip. It is important that you print and review a final copy prior to travel so that you have the latest updates. Due to weather, local conditions, transport schedules, public holidays or other factors, further changes may be necessary to your itinerary once in country. The order and timing of included activities in each location may also vary seasonally to ensure our travellers have the best experience. Your tour leader will keep you up to date with any changes once on tour. OPTIONAL ACTIVITIES: A selection of optional activities that have been popular with past travellers are listed in the day-to-day itinerary. This isn't an exhaustive list and should be used as a guide only for some of what might be available. Prices are approximate, are for entrance only, and don’t include transport to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated. All activities are subject to availability, and may be on a join-in basis. It may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination, so some pre-planning for what you are most interested in is advised. When it's recommended that travellers pre-book these activities, look for a note in the Special Information section of the day-to-day itinerary. For most, they can either be organised independently on the day, or let your leader know you are interested and they can assist. Where activities are considered medium or high risk, we work with operators whose safety and credentials we have sighted and assessed. Although it is possible that you may find the same activity cheaper with another operator on the ground, we cannot vouch for the safety or quality of that operator. Medium and high risk activities not listed above have not been assessed by us and as such our staff and leaders are unable to assist you with organising these activities. Activities that contravene our Responsible Travel policies are also not listed. Please remember that the decision to partake in any activity not listed is at your own discretion and risk.

Day 1 - Phnom Penh
Sua s'dei! Welcome to Phnom Penh, Cambodia. You'll be transferred to your hotel, and in the evening, there will be an important group meeting where you will meet your group leader and fellow travellers. 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 social enterprise Friends International. Afterwards, perhaps go for a drink at the Foreign Correspondents' Club – a bar overlooking the Tonle Sap River.
Day 2 - Phnom Penh
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. Confront Cambodia's tragic past today with a guided tour of the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum (S21), a former school which served as a Khmer Rouge torture centre. It's estimated that more than 20,000 people were held and tortured here. You will also head out to the Killing Fields of Choeung Ek, where a stupa made up of some 8,000 human skulls marks this infamous site, the execution ground for the torture victims of Tuol Sleng. Today you also travel out of town to a working monastery to learn more about the life of a monk and Theravada Buddhism. Meet the monks and hear about their daily life and why they joined the Pagoda, make merit by burning incense and offering lotus flowers, enjoy a sacred water blessing for good luck and prosperity, receive a red band around your wrist to keep you safe in your travels, and see the pagoda art depicting the life of Buddha and his teachings.
Day 3 - Kampot
Drive south along National Road 2 in a private minibus through the town of Takeo towards Kampot, one of Cambodia's most charming old towns (approximate travel time is 4 hours). During the drive, your group can choose to stop at one or two additional Angkor era sites. There is a small additional cost for these visits. Arrive in Kampot, where the afternoon is free for your own relaxation – perhaps enjoy some coffee on the riverfront. Then, in the late afternoon, you will take off on a local river boat up the Kampot River. See fishing boats returning home and people’s daily life on the banks of the river. As the sun sets over the Elephant Mountain Range, the engines will be turned off so the sounds of rural Cambodia can be enjoyed. As you head back to town you may be lucky enough to see fireflies in the bushes lighting up the night sky.
Day 4 - Kampot
Enjoy a day out in the countryside. You will visit the Kampot Pepper Project and learn why Kampot pepper has been acknowledged by international chefs as the world’s best. Also visit the Kampot salt field, the only salt field in Cambodia. A short walk through the rice fields, and a climb, provides a lovely outlook over the surrounding countryside. A few steps later and you enter the mouth of Phnom Chhnork limestone cave which has a small 7th-century brick temple inside it. You will also enjoy a walk along the beach at Kep, by the old buildings near the ocean front. The town was Cambodia's most popular and prestigious beach town from the early 1900s until the 1960s. During the Khmer Rouge years many of Kep's mansions and villas were destroyed, but the ghostly remains of many still stand as a silent reminder.
Day 5 - Phnom Penh
Enjoy some free time in the morning. Return to Phnom Penh by private vehicle (approximate travel time is 4 hours). After lunch, it's time for an essential Phnom Penh experience – a cyclo ride through the city's streets. This exhilarating activity allows you to see Phnom Penh from a different angle, through the eyes of the locals. The town is an interesting mix of romantic Indo-Chinese influences, modern bustle and friendly folk, and you will notice things on two wheels you wouldn't otherwise.
Day 6 - Battambang
Travel by private vehicle through the countryside to Battambang (approximately 4.5–5 hours). There will be stops along the way to see local pottery-making and silversmithing. You will also gain an insight into claypot making in Kampong Chhnang en route. Cambodia's second-largest city, Battambang, (pronounced Battambong) is a riverside town with traces of French elegance, friendly Khmer people and well-preserved colonial architecture.
Day 7 - Battambang
On a remork (tuk-tuk), ride into the countryside to see some cottage industries producing rice paper, dried banana, sticky rice cooked in bamboo, and fish paste (Cambodia’s equivalent of Vegemite or Marmite). In the afternoon, take a visit to a heritage house in the village; an interesting example of a traditional Khmer house, which the owner will show you around and explain some of the history surrounding these buildings. The village of Wat Kor is known for its historic stilted wooden houses some of which pre-date French colonial times. The large wooden floorboards are shiny from generations of feet walking across them and the owner’s small collection of antiques and agricultural tools paint a picture of Cambodia in the early 1900s. Be ready in the early evening to head to Phnom Sampov, also known as the Battambang Bat Caves. At around 5.30 pm each night, an incredible swarm of bats will spill out of the caves for around 30 minutes for their night of hunting. Enjoy a drink with a small crowd to watch the sunset over the valley, and this unusual sight.
Day 8 - Siem Reap
Drive from Battambang to Siem Reap by private vehicle (approximately 4 hours). In the afternoon, at around 4 pm, take a trip into the Cambodian countryside and show off your cooking skills with a hands-on culinary adventure. You prepare a three-course gourmet meal, get to experience local village life, and enjoy your culinary creations afterwards. Delicious!
Day 9 - Siem Reap - Angkor Wat
Spend a full day among the amazing temples of Angkor on a guided tour. Angkor Thom, the 'Great Royal City', is famous for its series of colossal human faces carved in stone. The impressive Bayon temple is the centrepiece. The famous Angkor Wat is the largest and most complete structure, whereas Ta Prohm, with trees embedded in its stone structure, has a different kind of beauty. Later, if you have time, perhaps indulge in a traditional Khmer massage back in town – a great way to unwind after a day's walking.
Day 10 - Siem Reap - Angkor Wat
Embrace a very early start today if you wish to experience a sunrise visit to the Angkor complex. Spend further time touring this incredible site throughout the day. You might see temples such as 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. Preah Khan is another interesting structure to observe. This temple contains a maze of vaulted corridors and is another complex that has been largely reclaimed by the jungle. For lunch today, enjoy a meal prepared by students at the Sala Bai Hotel School. In the evening, you have the option to attend a performance of Phare, the Cambodian Circus; a riveting way to end the day.
Day 11 - Siem Reap
This morning, travel into the countryside to a local village, take a walk through the rice fields and learn about Cambodian stilt homes and life in a typical farming village. Watch as farmers work with buffalo and cows in the fields, and (season depending) see how rice and other crops are grown. Return to town and enjoy a break for tea and coffee. This afternoon is free for you to relax, do a little shopping, or maybe visit a museum. This evening join your group at a local restaurant for a delicious farewell meal.
Day 12 - 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. This evening you will gather together for another briefing with your Vietnamese tour leader. This meeting is followed by a group dinner at one of Ho Chi Minh City's excellent eateries.
Day 13 - Mekong Delta
After breakfast, drive south to Ben Tre 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.
Day 14 - Ho Chi Minh City
Today you'll return to Ho Chi Minh City, and take 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). Ho Chi Minh City is full of history and you will visit many of the major sites today.
Day 15 - 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 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. 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 (approximately 1 hour).
Day 16 - 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, visit some of these plantations, including the renowned flower and vegetable gardens, a coffee plantation, and an interesting visit to a cricket farm, where you may have the chance to taste these delicacies. Afterwards, see the process of silk making at a silk farm, then head deep into nature in search of some stunning waterfalls. Today is a jam-packed day, so perhaps choose to relax this evening. If you still want to keep exploring, there are some vibrant night markets in the centre of town, spilling into the streets around Nguyen Thi Minh Khai.
Day 17 - Hoi An
Enjoy a free morning in Dalat to perhaps explore the Bao Dai Summer Palace and gardens, or 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 (approximately 1 hour). 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 traders from many 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 narrow lanes.
Day 18 - Hoi An
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 and the surrounding countryside.
Day 19 - Hoi An
The day is yours to spend as you please in this historic haven. 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. If you feel like getting active, beautiful Cua Dai Beach is located nearby and is easily accessible by bicycle (you can rent them in town). Otherwise, book in a tour to My Son Cham to explore the ruins dating back to the 4th century. 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 mentioning feasting on the fruits of your own labour!
Day 20 - 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 you'll gain some insight into the horrific damage endured during the war.
Day 21 - Hue
Venture out this morning for a local breakfast, feasting on a popular dish called bun bo hue, which contains rice vermicelli (bun) and beef (bo). This is a signature of the city, and is a fresh and delicious start to the day. Head in a private vehicle to Tam Giang lagoon – one of South East Asia’s largest freshwater areas, which provides this part of the country with a rich ecosystem and fruitful fishing ground. It is where the region’s three largest rivers – Huong, Bo and O Lau – meet before they reach the sea. Take a boat trip on the lagoon, passing by local fisherman on their daily catch, and then head to a local home for a prepared seafood lunch. If your fishing adventure did not provide much to eat, not to worry – the locals will ensure that there’s enough food to go around, including vegetarian options. 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. Afterwards, travel back to your hotel for a relaxing evening.
Day 22 - Hanoi
Fly from Hue to Hanoi today (approximately 1 hour and 10 minutes). Your departure will mostly likely be in the morning but can vary a little depending on flight schedules. After some free time on arrival, be taken through the ancient 36 Streets and discover a varied selection of shop-lined alleys that sell everything from souvenirs to exquisite silk clothing, jewellery and beautifully embroidered tablecloths. In the afternoon, be treated to a traditional Hat Xam performance. Hat Xam is an artform of Northern Vietnam dating back to the Tran Dynasty, and literally translates to ‘singing in darkness’. 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 takes around 90 minutes, and includes some story telling aspects, performances and possibly interaction with guests, so be ready to get involved!
Day 23 - Hanoi
Enjoy a guided half-day tour of Hanoi, visiting the major sights, including 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. In your free time, the Vietnam Fine Arts museum is well worth a visit. Walking is a great way to explore the city, many lakes and parks provide enjoyable escapes. 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 24 - Halong Bay
Leave your luggage at the hotel and pack an overnight bag as you drive to Halong Bay (approximately 3 hours). Take in glorious views of this World Heritage-listed beauty and its spectacular limestone islands. You will travel to Tuan Chau Port (Halong City West) and board a boat for an exploration of the karsts and caves in the bay, stopping to explore Surprise Cave on foot. Access to Surprise Cave is via staircases. Once inside the cave the pathways are a little uneven and slippery. On board your ship, enjoy a seafood lunch and dinner, with other dietary options available. 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. A candle-lit dinner on the deck of the boat (weather permitting) is a truly memorable experience, as the views at sunset are stunning.
Day 25 - Hanoi
In the morning, sail back to the port, disembark and take a bus back to Hanoi (approximately 3 hours). Arriving back in the capital, there will be a few hours free 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, enjoy a dinner in a Hanoi restaurant, sharing stories with your newfound friends.
Day 26 - Hanoi
After breakfast, you are free to leave at any time, as there are no activities planned today. If you would like to spend some more time in Hanoi, we’ll be happy to organise some additional accommodation for you (subject to availability).

Trip Dates

StartEndPrice FromRoom Type
07-03-202001-04-2020AUD $ 6,755-
04-04-202029-04-2020AUD $ 6,755-
19-09-202014-10-2020AUD $ 6,755-
03-10-202028-10-2020AUD $ 6,755-
17-10-202011-11-2020AUD $ 6,755-
21-11-202016-12-2020AUD $ 6,755-
28-11-202023-12-2020AUD $ 6,755-
19-12-202013-01-2021AUD $ 6,755-
26-12-202020-01-2021AUD $ 6,755-
16-01-202110-02-2021AUD $ 7,090-
13-02-202110-03-2021AUD $ 7,090-
13-03-202107-04-2021AUD $ 7,090-
17-04-202112-05-2021AUD $ 7,090-
15-05-202109-06-2021AUD $ 6,755-
12-06-202107-07-2021AUD $ 6,755-
17-07-202111-08-2021AUD $ 6,755-
14-08-202108-09-2021AUD $ 6,755-
11-09-202106-10-2021AUD $ 6,755-
09-10-202103-11-2021AUD $ 6,755-
23-10-202117-11-2021AUD $ 6,755-
06-11-202101-12-2021AUD $ 6,755-
20-11-202115-12-2021AUD $ 6,755-
11-12-202105-01-2022AUD $ 6,755-
18-12-202112-01-2022AUD $ 6,755-

Accommodation

Hotel (17 nights),Guesthouse (1 night),Overnight boat (1 night),Resort (6 nights)

Transport

Boat,Plane,Private minibus,Taxi

Map