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- Day 1: Arrival in Siem Reap
- Day 2: Siem Reap – Full-Day Temple Exploration
- Day 3: Siem Reap – Further Temple Exploration
- Day 4: Siem Reap – Tonle Sap Lake – Flight to Phnom Penh
- Day 5: Phnom Penh – Speed Boat to Chau Doc
- Day 6: Chau Doc – Tra Su Bird Sanctuary – Can Tho
- Day 7: Can Tho – Cai Rang Floating Market – Ho Chi Minh City
- Day 8: HCMC City – Cu Chi tunnels & City Sightseeing
- Day 9: HCM City – Flight to Da Nang/ Hoi An
- Day 10: Hoi An – Walking & Food Tour
- Day 11: Hoi An – Da Nang – Flight to Hanoi
- Day 12: Hanoi – Full-Day City Tour
- Day 13: Hanoi – Sapa
- Day 14: Sapa – Ma Tra & Ta Phin Villages
- Day 15: Sapa – Bac Ha Sunday Market – Night train to Hanoi
- Day 16: Hanoi – Halong Bay
- Day 17: Halong Bay – Yen Duc Village – Hanoi
- Day 18: Hanoi – Departure
There’s no greater choice which lets you discover the very best of Vietnam and Cambodia than this itinerary! Warm up for the 18-day adventure with a visit to Siem Reap’s great temples and the renowned Tonle Sap Lake. Gain insight into the history of Cambodia as you enter Phnom Penh’s iconic sites before arriving in Chau Doc (Vietnam) on a speed boat. Discover diverse wildlife at the Tra Su Bird Sanctuary and the Cai Rang floating market – the largest floating wholesale market in the Mekong region. Visit Ho Chi Minh City’s key highlights, then explore Hoi An’s lovely streets on a walking and food tour. In Hanoi, learn about Vietnam’s charming capital and taste some of its most delicious dishes. Trek along through the scenic nature of Sapa and get to known the life on the ethnic groups in the region. Catch the remarkable sight of Halong Bay – a destination you can’t miss in Vietnam, and enjoy the breathtaking sunset on the bay from the cruise deck.
Arrival in Siem ReapDay 1
Susadei! Welcome to Siem Reap, Cambodia.
Upon arrival at Siem Reap Airport, your private guide and driver are waiting to meet you, holding up a welcome signboard with your names on it and take you directly to your hotel.
After checking-in, you will have time to relax and adjust to the pace of Siem Reap. If time permits, head out to visit the excellent Angkor National Museum. The visit serves as an excellent primer to the gems of Angkor before visiting the temples. The museum provides a potentially large collection of relics, texts and audiovisual presentations relating to the Angkorian era. With even a basic knowledge of the history and symbolism of the architecture, you will have a much richer and engaging experience visiting the temples.
There will be a short tour briefing this evening with your guide followed by a welcome dinner at Friends Restaurant, Marum. It’s a social enterprise based restaurant that empowers disadvantaged youth with vocational training amongst other support.
Please note: You must have both a passport and a visa to enter Cambodia. And your passport must also have at least six months’ validity remaining beyond the date that you enter Cambodia. You can get a visa on arrival in Cambodia. Make sure you have two passport-sizes photographs.
Overnight in Siem Reap
Siem Reap – Full-Day Temple ExplorationDay 2
Today with the help of your private and driver you will embark on a full day’s sightseeing around the Angkor Archaeological Park which stretches over some 400 square kilometres, including forested area. The park contains the magnificent remains of several capitals of the great Khmer Empire of the 9th to the 15th centuries.
Begin your day with an early visit (avoid the crowds) to the 13th-century Ta Prohm, a hauntingly beautiful temple where the roots of giant banyans and strangler figs enfold much of the stonework, creating scenes little changed since the French Adventurer Henri Mouhot re-discovered Angkor in the 1850s. This temple makes the ‘Tomb Raider Temple’ one of the most picturesque and memorable of the Angkor temples.
Continue your explorations by visiting the ancient capital city of Angkor Thom, the last capital of the Great Khmer Empire that once ruled much of Southeast Asia. This city is surrounded by an 8 m high wall drawing a perfect square. You will enter the city from the ancient South Gate, an impressive stone gate carved with Elephants and four giant faces. On each side of the entrance path, a row of 54 gods or demons is holding the sacred Naga snake.
Return to the hotel for a relaxing break during the midday heat.
Your exploits will continue as you visit Banteay Kdei (“Citadel of Chambers”), a Buddhist monastery from the late 12th Century, and Sra Srang, also known as the “pool of ablutions”. From here, move onto the Bayon Temple in the exact centre of the ancient city. This 12th-century masterpiece is a study in grandeur and is well-known for its 54 towers with enigmatic faces representing the 54 provinces of the Great Khmer Empire.
You will also visit the Terrace of the Elephants and the Terrace of the Leper King as they are both known for their intricate bas-reliefs. Stroll through the grounds of the former Royal Palace to discover some small hidden temples that are rarely visited.
Finish your day sightseeing with a leisurely gondola boat ride through the moats of Angkor Thom. In the tranquil solitude, visualize the royal city when it ruled over two million people nearly 800 years ago. As the sun approaches the horizon, make your way to Prasat Chrung, a small temple built in the style of Bayon, and climb an iron staircase to a quiet spot for excellent sunset views over the ruins.
Your tour guide and driver will transfer you to a local village on the outskirt of Siem Reap where you will enjoy a home-hosted dinner. Experience the simple Khmer village life, relaxing in a swaying hammock, or helping the local family to prepare dinner, picking fresh produce from their organic gardens. In this amiable and informal setting, feel free to ask the village elders about Khmer traditions and daily life in this community.
Overnight in Siem Reap
Siem Reap – Further Temple ExplorationDay 3
Today, you’ll continue to experience the temple relics but in a way that will really let you feel like you’ve escaped the 20th century and traveled a thousand years back to a time when life was simple and nature was surreal.
As first light dawns, you will be at the most important religious monument in the country, admiring the extraordinary Temple of Angkor Wat across a reflecting moat.
When the sun rises behind the triple towers, the crowds will thin out as most people return to bed or a hotel breakfast. We will make use of the cool temperatures and soft morning light to explore Angkor Wat in a more peaceful atmosphere.
After enjoying your takeaway breakfast (prepared by your guide) near the temple, you will start exploring one of the Seven Wonders of the World: Angkor Wat. At this point, you most probably have gotten glimpses of the towers over treetops and the gates in front of passing. But now you’ll finally get to satiate that curiosity that’s grown in the last few days.
Enter Angkor Wat and learn about the stories and amazing architecture that has stunned archeologists leaving more questions than answers. Angkor Wat possesses some of the most intricate and longest stone carvings in the world. This complex is four times the size of the Vatican City making it the largest religious site in the world. Spend the rest of the morning adventuring through the many passages, levels, and exploring chambers that once housed one of many treasures of the ancient world. It will be an experience you will never forget.
Leaving Angkor Wat behind you will travel to the countryside to see the “gem” of the Angkor area, the pretty temple of Banteay Srey. The so-called “Citadel of the Women” remains the best-preserved temple in Cambodia. It displays some of the finest examples of classical Khmer art as this small temple is noted for its truly remarkable fine bas-reliefs. Banteay Srey is unique in that it is constructed of pink sandstone, which is seen nowhere else in Angkor.
Continue your day by driving up north to Kbal Spean, one of the earliest Hindu pilgrimage sites in Cambodia. Upon arrival, you will take a short trek up the hill through dense jungle with excellent views over the plains and the Kulen hills. At the top, be surprised about the “River of 1000 Lingas” with some remarkable stone carvings of Hindu gods, animals, and other symbols in the river bed.
After enjoying a picnic lunch you can take a refreshing bath in the nearby waterfall, which is extremely popular with the local families.
On the way back to Siem Reap, make a quick stop at the Land Mine Museum which promotes mine awareness. Mr. Aki Ra, the museum founder, was trained as a child soldier during the Khmer Rouge regime and is working today as a de-miner. The museum serves also as a rescue centre for a number of land mine amputee children that Aki Ra has brought off Phnom Penh’s streets or from impoverished rural communities.
Your guide and driver will take you out to watch Phare – the Cambodian Circus, an amazing blend of traditional and modern theater, music, dance, acrobatic, juggling and contortion beautifully choreographed and performed in a story about Cambodian lives and society.
Overnight in Siem Reap
Siem Reap – Tonle Sap Lake – Flight to Phnom PenhDay 4
After breakfast, you will be picked up by your private guide and driver, and transferred in a Tuk Tuk southeast to one of the largest and least-visited villages on the Tonle Sap Lake, Kompong Khleang, about 55km from Siem Reap having a population of about 10,000 people, all of whom make a living from the fishing industry. On the way, you will stop for hot sticky rice and then take a detour off the main highway into the countryside. You’ll wind through dirt roads and, in the rainy season, witness families working their rice paddies.
Upon arrival board a private motorized boat to visit the Kompong Khleang, the two other floating villages, and the Great lake. Explore the canals (wet season) or streets (dry season) of this incredible town. In the wet season, the houses appear to be floating, as water laps at the verandas, but in the dry season towering stilts are revealed, the houses almost like wooden skyscrapers.
During the boat ride, you will make stops to see where Bridge of Lifeworks, visit a Cambodian pagoda and a stilted home in the village to learn a little more about local life. Cruise into the open water of the lake to see a small floating village and learn some more about this incredible natural flood barrier.
You’ll end your tour with a boat ride back to the harbor where your driver is waiting to take you back to Siem Reap airport to board a short flight to Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia.
Upon arrival, a new private guide and driver will greet you at Phnom Penh airport and take you to your hotel in the city centre.
After checking into your hotel room and having a short rest, head out to visit the infamous Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum (also known as Prison S21) and listen to English commentary en route. The prison comprises 4 buildings with exhibitions in several rooms. During your visit, you will barely meet a single person who didn’t lose a member of their family during these years, yet they are all willing to talk openly about it with you. They wish you to hear about it and see these places, to ensure that it never happens again.
Following the museum, take a 40-minute drive to the Killing Fields, see a documentary on the Khmer Rouge regime. Under the leadership of Pol Pot, his government caused the deaths of more than two million people. There will be around 1 hour and 15 minutes to explore the site. An audio guide is available in 15 languages along with a map of the fields.
End your day at Wat Phnom, the birthplace of the city, located on a small hilltop that forms the highest elevation of Phnom Penh.
Overnight in Phnom Penh
Phnom Penh – Speed Boat to Chau DocDay 5
After breakfast, meet your guide again and head out to visit the most remarkable sights of Phnom Penh in a Cyclo (a three-wheeled bicycle taxi), an original Phnom Penh means of transportation and a fun way to explore this lively city.
Begin with a visit to the Royal Palace Compound built-in 1866 by the Predecessors of King Norodom, the most conspicuous feature and also one of the most impressive colorful Khmer-style Palaces. Nearside the Royal Palace is Silver Pagoda (The Emerald Buddha temple), which displays plenty of Buddha Statues that were decorated and made by diamond, emerald, gold, and silver.
Next, proceed to visit Independence Monument which was constructed in 1954 after Cambodian took their country back from the French colony. Continue to visit the National Museum, the distinctive red building with a beautiful Khmer architecture was built since 1917 containing more than 5000 art objects made of sandstone, bronze, silver, copper, wood, and others. Pass through the River Front Park whose scenery is much worth shooting.
For lunch, you will be treated to a delicious Khmer meal at Le Lotus Blanc, a lovely charity restaurant where former street children are taught the principles of hospitality.
You will be taken to the docks for a 5-hour speed boat ride down the Mekong Delta from the Cambodian border to Chau Doc. After going through customs at Chau Doc, you are picked up by your private guide and driver and then transferred to the Victoria Nui Sam Lodge for check-in. Nestled on the side of the spiritual Sam Mountain, home to dozens of pagodas and temples, the 26 stone bungalow lodge offers a unique experience in a truly magnificent location.
Overnight in Chau Doc
Chau Doc – Tra Su Bird Sanctuary – Can ThoDay 6
After breakfast and check out, you are picked up and transferred to Tra Su Forest & Bird Sanctuary, a surprisingly beautiful and serene spot around 25kms away from Chau Doc. Upon arrival, take a motorboat to venture into the heart of Tra Su Forest. After that, switch to a sampan boat to discover the natural sights for about 15 minutes and then visit the wild bird sanctuary carpeted with green duckweed. Proceed to the observation post where you can take in the magnificent view over the forest and nearby mountains.
After enjoying lunch at a local restaurant near the forest, your private guide and driver will take you on a 3-hour drive to Can Tho, the largest city in the Mekong Delta of Vietnam famous for floating markets. The humble city of Can Tho rises high over the Mekong Delta, standing as the capital to a region of snaking rivers and luxuriant fruit gardens.
Arrive Can Tho in the late afternoon and check into the beautiful Can Tho Ecolodge, home to 12 thatched cottages spread over 2.7 tropical hectares on the banks of the Ba Láng River.
The remainder of the day is at your leisure. You are free to explore Can Tho night market and try some local food. The market streets come alive with dozens of bustling food stalls selling grilled meats and tofu on skewers, as well as grilled rice-paper banh trang nuong (‘Vietnamese pizza’)…etc.
Overnight in Can Tho
Can Tho – Cai Rang Floating Market – Ho Chi Minh CityDay 7
Rise early for a boat trip to Cai Rang market, the biggest floating wholesale market of the Mekong region. The market is filled with hundreds of small boats darting through the water as vendors sell their wares. Glide through the matrix of boats to see how the locals trade their fruits and vegetables and learn more about the floating marketing culture and the floating life on the boats. After that, you will be treated with a delicious local breakfast (rice noodle soup) on the boat just like the way the local people do. You will also have a chance to stop at a local boat to enjoy some of the succulent fruit in the season.
Leaving the market, continue your boat ride along narrow canals to visit a traditional homemade rice noodle factory where you can see how the locals make rice noodles, and enjoy the homemade “rice noodle pizza”.
Next, transfer to a local farm where you’ll spend the rest of the morning interacting with a local family. Take a tour around their property as they describe their daily tasks and responsibilities. Learn about the traditional methods of planting and watering vegetables, local herbs, and flowers. After some lessons you have a go at planting some vegetables and try to cross a challenging monkey bridge.
End your farming and country experience with delicious authentic Vietnamese lunch cooked and served by the family.
After lunch and a short nap, bid a fond farewell to the local family, and take a 4-hour drive to Ho Chi Minh City. En route, pause to visit Chua Vinh Trang, one of the most well-known pagodas in the Delta. Feast your eyes on this exquisite pagoda and the surrounding ornate gardens.
Overnight in HCM City
HCMC City – Cu Chi tunnels & City SightseeingDay 8
After breakfast, you will be met by your private guide and driven to Cu Chi, a small community located northwest of Ho Chi Minh City, known for its network of deep tunnels that provided shelter and an effective source of infiltration for the Viet Cong during the later years of the Vietnam War.
Upon arrival, you will watch a short introductory video from the period before exploring the tunnels, the most famous battlegrounds in the world. The hidden network of Viet Cong tunnels is believed to stretch to “hundreds of miles,” in total length, housed living quarters, storage rooms, makeshift hospitals, and kitchens…etc. Although originally very narrow, some parts have been widened for the tourists and you have the opportunity to explore parts of the system.
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.
Try some of the main food of the Viet Cong Soldiers with a cassava tasting served with tangy tea. After experiencing the Cu Chi Tunnels, transfer back to the city with lunch en route at Ben Nay restaurant.
Spend the rest of the day visiting some of Ho Chi Minh City’s key highlights. We’ll tailor your tour to suit you, but we particularly recommend visiting the Notre Dame Cathedral, the ornate City Hall (Hotel De Ville), the old Opera House, the historic Rex Hotel, the Central Post Office, renowned for its architecture, and Ben Thanh Market, where vendors display a vast array of goods and handicrafts, appealing to every taste.
Later stop at the Reunification Palace and the moving War Remnants Museum to for an insightful, yet sombre, look into Vietnam’s military history and turbulent past.
Proceed to the atmospheric Jade Emperor Pagoda before finishing the day in fine style with a sundowner at the top of the Bitexco Tower, the tallest building in Vietnam.
Overnight in HCM City
HCM City – Flight to Da Nang/ Hoi AnDay 9
After breakfast and check out of your hotel, transfer to HCM City Airport to board a short flight to Da Nang in the central of Vietnam.
Upon arrival at Da Nang Airport, your private tour guide and driver will meet you and escort you to your hotel near Hoi An Ancient Town for check-in. The former prosperous trading port of Hoi An dating to the 16th-17th century has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and is, without doubt, one of Vietnam’s gems. These days it is a delightful small market town, known throughout the region for its boasting well-preserved buildings, pedestrianised streets and world-class cuisine, allowing visitors a glimpse of its illustrious past.
Spend the rest of the day at your leisure. Hoi An is famous for its tailors, where a whole new wardrobe can be made to measure in 24 hours or less, at very reasonable prices. Hoi An has a pick of two beaches just 5kms (3 miles) away with so many beautiful beach resorts so please advise us if you prefer to stay on the beach.
Overnight in Hoi An
Hoi An – Walking & Food TourDay 10
The whole morning will be free at your leisure. Enjoy late breakfast and the comforts of your hotel.
Your tour guide will pick you up and take you to the Ancient Quarter of Hoi An, where you will embark on a walking tour visiting the major attractions such as Chua Ong Pagoda, Tan Ky Ancient House, Fujian Assembly Hall, and the Japanese Covered Bridge.
Continue to visit the Precious Heritage Museum, home to the permanent exhibition of Réhahn’s Precious Heritage Collection. While transporting you to the furthest reaches of Vietnam, the collection will unveil the rich cultural tapestry of the ethnic tribes
The highlight of the day is the visit to the Reaching Out Tea House, a welcome little oasis of calm in the busy, vibrant Old quarter, owned and operated by the mute and deaf people. Here you will be treated with delicious cakes and incredible tea in the Eastern style.
Move on to the house of a lantern craftsman. There, you can observe the lantern craftsman’s technique before hands-on work through each stage of lantern-making under the guidance of the enthusiastic craftsmen: from bending it into the frame, cutting cloth, gluing, to completing lanterns. Before this trip concludes, you will have your own lantern created by your own hands.
Now, it’s time for your Hoi An street food discovery tour. With your guide, you will weave in and out the tiny alleyways, get to chow down with the locals at stalls you’d never discover on your own. Every day at 4 pm, Hoi An’s streets filled with a myriad of street food carts, stalls, and vendors. The street food tour is a great introduction for you to enjoy a few of the Hoi An specialties cooked up by the locals, to introduce you to the faces behind the stock pots and to teach you how the Hoi An locals deal with those condiment trays!
Overnight in Hoi An
Hoi An – Da Nang – Flight to HanoiDay 11
After breakfast and hotel late checkout, you are driven back to Da Nang airport for a short flight up north to Hanoi, the capital city of Vietnam.
Upon arrival at Hanoi Airport, a new private guide and driver will greet you and take you to your hotel in the Old Quater of Hanoi for check-in. After that, spend the remainder of the afternoon at your leisure.
Start at 6 pm, stroll around the Old Quarter to discover the street food scene in Hanoi where it feels like you are never further than a few metres from a street food stall. Your guide will talk you through the ingredients and the different herbs of each dish, while you are crouching on tiny plastic stools in a back alley. You will taste the first famed Hanoi dish – Banh Cuon (Steamed Rice Rolls). Watch the skilled chefs demonstrate how this delicious dish is made before savoring it. Afterward, continue wandering the atmospheric heart of the Old Quarter then enjoy Banh My Hanoi (Vietnamese baguette), Banh Xèo (Vietnamese stuffed pancake), and Nom Du Du (green papaya salad) name to a few.
Overnight in Hanoi
Hanoi – Full-Day City TourDay 12
Today with the help of your private guide and driver, you will get to explore the city’s top attractions, and the secret sites away from the tourist trails.
Begin with a tour of Ho Chi Minh Memorial Complex where the Vietnamese people honour the country’s ‘Great Father’. Here you’ll visit Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum which contains the embalmed body of Ho Chi Minh and his House on Stilts to observe how he lived and how his life unfolded to become one of modern history’s greatest names. Nearside his house is the miniature 11th-century One Pillar Pagoda, a Buddhist temple of historical and cultural significance.
From HCM Complex, you will take a leisurely walk through the small laneways toward Huu Tiep Lake. Explore the grounds of a 400-year-old temple, followed by a stroll through traditional local market streets to see the B52 crash site at the lake. This US bomber was shot down during the 1972 bombing raids of Ha Noi, a poignant reminder of Vietnam’s recent history.
Take a short drive to the outskirt of Hanoi to visit the fascinating Museum of Ethnology which is both a research centre and a public museum exhibiting the 54 recognized ethnic groups of Vietnam. Some of them you will meet during your trip to Sapa.
Today you will have Pho for lunch, a Vietnamese Noodle shop. Some of the local people call this world-famous Noodle soup “Mac-Noodles” since it is as popular here as MacDonalds is in other parts of the world! At the restaurant, your tour guide will explain the routine during Vietnamese meal times, and also tell you which special ingredients are needed for you.
After lunch, continue to visit the millennia-old Temple of Literature and explore its role in the country’s past, as both a university and a Confucius temple. Next is Hoa Lo (so-called Hanoi Hilton), a prison used by the French colonists in Vietnam for political prisoners, and later by North Vietnam for U.S. Prisoners of War.
Embark on a fun cyclo (a three-wheeled bicycle taxi) ride through the French colonial architecture of the precinct known as the French Quater, past the French-style villas, the Vietnam History Museum, the heritage Metropole Legend Hotel and the Opera House, name to a few.
Enjoy a cup of unmissable Egg coffee at Pho Co Café with stunning views of Hoan Kiem Lake, Ngoc Son Temple, and the surroundings. Finish your day walking down the city’s railway tracks and then stop for a home-brewed beer, the renowned Bia Hoi.
Overnight in Hanoi
Hanoi – SapaDay 13
After breakfast, you will be collected at the hotel and transferred on the road for 5,5 hours to Sapa. Established as a hill station by the French in 1922, Sapa today is a must-visit destination in the Northwest. This is northern Vietnam’s premier trekking base, from where hikers launch themselves into a surrounding countryside of cascading rice terraces and tiny hill-tribe villages that seem a world apart.
After arriving Sapa and checking into your hotel, your private guide and driver will pick you up and take you (40-minute drive) to Tram Ton Pass, a height of 2047 meters above sea level, the highest pass in Vietnam. Enjoy amazing views of the surrounding mountains and lush forests of the Hoang Lien National Park. From there, you will trek 30 minutes through a tropical rain forest enjoying the wonderful flora and fauna. Continue to trek along a stream arriving at the Love Waterfall, a wonderful place to relax in Sapa. Return to Tram Ton Pass and drive back to Sapa where the balance of the day will be free at your leisure.
You can stroll around the town, visit the Old French Church, or climb the Dragon’s Jaw Mountain where you can enjoy the panoramic view of the Old town below.
Overnight in Sapa
Sapa – Ma Tra & Ta Phin VillagesDay 14
After breakfast, you will meet your tour guide again and begin the day with a 3km-trek through the breathtaking landscape to the village of Suoi Ho.
Continue your hike toward the stunning village of Matra. You will pass the impressive ruins of a French Catholic church built in the early twentieth century. Take a few minutes to explore this intriguing sight and take some photos as you wish.
Your hike will grow deeper until your arrival at Ta Phin Village, inhabited by the Red Dzao ethnic minority tribe, with their beautiful traditionally embroidered outfits and practice of shaving their hair and eyebrows as a sign of respect. Ta Phin village is also home to the Black H’mong minority who live their own way with no cultural mixture.
Pause at a Red Dzao family and over a cup of tea, have a chat with them learning about their lifestyle. Enjoy a delicious lunch cooked and served by the family.
After lunch, you have time to stroll around the village, take pictures and do some fun shopping. The Red Dao people are known for their expertise in herbal medicine as well as the usage of plants from the land to treat many illnesses. If you’re a bit sore from the activities of the day, sample a traditional herbal bath made by a local Dzao specialist, famous for its therapeutic qualities.
Leaving Ta Phin you will be picked by your private driver and taken back to Sapa town where the balance of the day will be at your leisure. You may take a stroll around the town, and visit the night market for some delicious local delicacies.
Overnight in Sapa
Sapa – Bac Ha Sunday Market – Night train to HanoiDay 15
After breakfast and check out of the hotel, you will be picked up and driven for three hours to Bac Ha for the colorful Sunday Market. Nestled deep in the mountains, Bac Ha town is a quiet backwater Monday to Saturday, but by Sunday crowds of locals from thousands of surrounding villages descend on the town for trading at the market.
Upon arrival, you will set out to explore the market with your guide. The market itself is a kaleidoscope of color, noise, and culture, where locals in an array of traditional dress barter for cows and show off delicately embroidered and embellished designs. Wander, camera in hand, and soak in the lively atmosphere while fending off the persistent sellers. The scent of fresh herbs and fragrant, strong tobacco wafts among the tented stalls and the overpowering smell of animals drifts down from the live market above.
After lunch at a local restaurant, you will drive downhill to Trung Do Village which is home to the Tay minority. Here you will visit a traditional Tay house then travel by boat through this amazing countryside to Bao Nhai Village. Finish the boat trip you’ll continue onwards to Lao Cai station for your night train journey back to Hanoi. You will have the opportunity to drop your bags at a local restaurant near the station where you can have dinner before boarding the train. Accommodation on the train will be on a shared basis in a four-berth soft sleeper compartment with air-conditioning. The train leaves around 20:00 and arrives in Hanoi at 06:00 the next morning.
Overnight on the air-conditioned train
Hanoi – Halong BayDay 16
Upon arrival at Hanoi Train Station your private guide will pick you up and take you to a nearby hotel where you will have the opportunity to take a shower and have some rest.
After breakfast, your private tour guide will pick you up and take you through the rich farmlands of the Red River Delta to the legendary Halong Bay where you will board a traditional-style Vietnamese Junk Boat that is your home for the evening. The limestone karsts and tropical islets rising up from the emerald waters of the bay provide an ethereal backdrop for your leisurely cruise.
Upon arrival you’ll be welcomed aboard your Stylish Junk boat, each with its own individual route, to begin your cruise around the bay’s thousands of limestone islets and caves.
After a delicious lunch on board, you will spend time to sunbathe on the sundeck and enjoy the peaceful tranquility of the bay.
Later you will visit Sung Sot Cave “Grotte des Surprises” a hidden gem of mother nature. Float peacefully through magnificent limestone formations containing thousands of stalagmites and stalactites.
Continue to cruise. As you weave your way through the islands, you’ll come across secluded bays, white sandy beaches, and floating villages.
There is plenty of leisure time to enjoy activities both onboard and around the fantastical scenery of the Bay. Pamper yourself at the cruise spa or swim in the emerald waters.
Toward the end of the day, you will sail to the overnight mooring area. During this time – the magical “blue hour” – Halong Bay reveals its true, magnificent beauty. You have a chance to attend the chef’s cooking demonstration or enjoy a mesmerising sunset on the top deck before a scrumptious dinner.
The rest of the evening will be at leisure. You can watch a movie or join the crew for squid fishing before retiring to your room for a restful sleep.
Note: If your time permits, we would highly recommend an additional night on board which gives you a lot more time to relax and take in the amazing landscape. You’ll get to cruise deeper into the Bay where it’s more beautiful and less crowded.
Overnight on board in Halong Bay
Halong Bay – Yen Duc Village – HanoiDay 17
The graceful practice of Tai Chi eases you into your day as is the local custom. Join a ‘Local Specialist’ on the deck of the Junk boat for a morning class in exquisite natural surrounds. You’ll have time for an early morning swim at one of Halong Bay’s quiet beaches and, if you’re feeling energetic, hop on a kayak and paddle through the Dark and Bright Caves admiring the glittering stone walls.
Back to the Junk boat. Check out of the cabin and then enjoy a full brunch buffet as you cruise back to port. Disembark around midday for your return drive to Hanoi.
En route, you will stop at Yen Duc, a beautiful and typical village of Northern Vietnam, and watch a 30-minute traditional water puppet show. It’s then followed by a leisurely stroll around the village, meet the locals, and learn about their daily life.
Leaving the village, wind your way back to Hanoi. The rest of the day will be yours to explore at leisure.
Overnight in Hanoi
Hanoi – DepartureDay 18
Your private transfer greets you at the hotel after breakfast and escorts you to Hanoi International Airport where you board your flight home or travel on to more adventures, we will help you with the planning.
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- Enjoy two days of fully guided Angkor complex tours in Siem Reap, with in-depth insights into the history of these extraordinary structures and plenty of time to see the spectacular Angkor Wat
- Visit the floating villages of Tonle Sap Lake with a guided boat tour through the biodiverse and aquatic heart of Cambodia.
- Delve into the dramatic Khmer legacy in Phnom Penh on a full-day guided tour around the Cambodian capital, passing by the sobering Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum (S21) and Killing Fields of Choeung Ek
- Discover the famous Cai Rang Floating Market and the Cottage Industries in the Mekong Delta
- Discover the spectacular maze of Cu Chi tunnels below the ground. See the Notre-Dame Cathedral and the Reunification Palace in Ho Chi Minh City
- Take a walking and food tour of Hoi An Ancient town. Try out traditional lantern making
- Discover Hanoi’s best-known landmarks, enjoy authentic local food
- Enjoy colorful Sapa hill tribe markets, local tribal villages and stunning landscape
- Sail the Emerald waters of Halong Bay on an overnight cruise
- 17 hotel buffet breakfasts.
- 9 lunches, 3 dinners and at well-selected restaurants
- 2 street food tours
- Your own private guide and driver for in-depth cultural touring based on your interests
- Firsthand, sophisticated destination knowledge and recommendations from our locally born travel specialists
- Itineraries that are customized according to your interests and preferences
- A seamless travel experience, including all logistics, hand-picked hotels and restaurants, private airport transfers, internal transportation, and entry visa assistance…etc
- Around-the-clock support from your travel designer and concierge before, during and after your trip
Private English speaking guide, accommodation, private tours and transfer, domestic flights, A/C vehicles, some main meals, all entrance fees, tax and service charge.
What’s Not Included?
Your international flights to Cambodia and from Vietnam, entry visas, personal expense, tips to guide and driver.
How to Plan a successful Trip to Cambodia, Step-by-Step
Why to visit Cambodia
Where to Go
When to Go
Obtain a Cambodia Visa
How to book a tour
Packing and Luggage Allowance
Why to visit Cambodia
The Kingdom of Cambodia is a land that continues to surprise and delight its visitors. Home of the Angkor temples (the magnificent legacy of the Khmer empire that ruled over much of Southeast Asia 1,000 years ago) there is much to discover in this country.
By day, learn about the history of the capital city Phnom Penh; by night, dine on traditional Cambodian feasts and experience Cambodian nightlife. Visit the islands that dot the Cambodian coast and the quaint little provincial towns that make up the beautiful countryside. Explore the UNESCO World Heritage site of Angkor Wat, travel the Mekong River by boat and relax on pristine beaches.
Learn about the tragic history of the Killing Fields, the Tuol Sleng Museum and other reminders of the Khmer Rouge regime. You will be amazed by the optimistic attitude of Cambodians, who have found the courage to continue smiling despite three dark decades of civil war. See for yourself what it means to live up to the saying “What doesn’t break us makes us stronger”.
Where to Go
Most popular sites of Cambodia
• Siem Reap – a cluster of villages with a French colonial center; the gateway to the Temples of Angkor
• Phnom Penh – the capital city of Cambodia, situated at the confluence of three rivers and offers an interesting mix of colonial buildings, temples, markets and broad avenues
• Tonle Sap Lake – one of the world’s largest freshwater lakes, home to floating villages, forests, and natural splendor
• Sihanoukville – a jewel of white sands, blue sea and fresh seafood, situated in the south of Cambodia
• Kampot, Kep and Bokor National Park – less known but worth a visit on longer itineraries or when crossing into Vietnam at Ha Tien
When to Go
The best time to visit Cambodia is between November and March. During this time the country experiences the least amount of rainfall without becoming too hot.
In general, the entire country is subject to the same weather patterns, with two main seasons: hot and dry, and hot and wet. If you are unaccustomed to the tropics, you will find Cambodia to be very hot and sweaty.
The dry season runs from November to April on the back of the northeast monsoon. November to January is cooler, while February to April is hot and dusty. November is the coolest month and April the hottest.
The wet season runs from May to October, courtesy of the southwest monsoon. The wet season provides 75% of Cambodia’s annual rainfall. July to September are the wettest months.
Obtain a Cambodia Visa
For most visitors to the Kingdom of Cambodia, a visa is obtainable upon arrival at either airport in Phnom Penh or Siem Reap. Crossing over from Thailand by land, visas are available at Poipet Banteay Meanchey and Cham Yeam (Koh Kong province). Visitors entering Cambodia from Vietnam by land through Bavet / Moc Bai, or Ka-Om Samnor / Chau Doc, will need to have already obtained their visas prior to their arrival through a Cambodian Embassy or Consulate overseas. Tourists can also obtain their visas through the online E-Visa. Regardless of the method of entry, a Cambodian tourist visa is valid for one month.
Note: your passport must be valid for 6 months beyond your travel date, and there must be several blank pages left on your passport. You should also have a 5 cm x 5 cm on a white or off-white background photo ready, as well as USD$30 for the stamping fee.
FYI, a departure tax is charged on all domestic and international flights.
The citizens of the following countries do not need a visa to enter Cambodia for a certain amount of time:
- Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam (maximum stay of up to 30 days)
- Philippines (maximum stay of up to 21 days)
- Myanmar, Thailand, Brunei (maximum stay of up to 14 days)
Unfortunately, citizens of the following countries are ineligible for an e-visa and will have to apply at their nearest Cambodian embassy / consulate:
Middle East – Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia
South Asia – Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka
Africa – Algeria, Nigeria, Sudan
How to book a tour
Booking your holiday with Indochina Pioneer cannot be easier! Follow our 3 simple steps:
Step 1: Browse our website www.indochinapioneer.com for tours, cruises and other destination information.
Should you find something that matches your interest, fill in the REQUEST A FREE QUOTE forms. Can’t find something that fits your needs? Then fill the BUILD YOUR OWN TRIP or CONTACT US form and click SUBMIT.
Then sit back! One of our travel experts will get back to you shortly with our customized package and most favorable offer!
In a hurry? Don’t like filling forms? Then call +84 982 116 630 (Mr. Lam) or +84 983 145 799 (Mr. Quyen). We’re available 24/7 and would be more than happy to talk! Certainly, your request will be carefully noted and a nicely crafted package with a pleasant price will follow!
Step 2: Reviewing/ Customizing our offer!
It’s your holiday so everything should be exactly what you want! We encourage your careful review of what we offer, letting us know what changes you would like to make. We’ll be more than happy to fine-tune the tour to fit best your interests, budget and time! This step may require several emails/call exchanges until perfect!
Step 3: Confirming/Paying/ Packing for the trip!
Once you’re satisfied with the customized tour, please let us know and Indochina Pioneer will need a few working hours to place reservations for all of the tour services. As soon as the availability and reservations of the services are confirmed, we will request a deposit. Please refer our Payment Guide for more details.
Once your deposit is received by Indochina Pioneer, we will send you the service voucher which confirms all the services of the tour and provides ground contact details and a guide for the final payment schedule.
And then you start counting down the day for your most fabulous trip!
Booking Amendment & Cancellations:
Booking Amendment: Flexibility is our strongest point. You can amend your booking even after it is made. Just contact your salesperson or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org with your booking number. Our reservations team is glad to amend your booking with your preferable alternatives. Please kindly note that you will be responsible for any change of the final price caused by your amendment requests.
Travel smart with Indochina Pioneer!
Packing and Luggage Allowance
Packing Checklist – Be sure to check them all 😉
- Travel documents (passport, visas, travel insurance certificate, air tickets, tour voucher)
- Money (cash, credit card, debit card, traveler’s cheques and money pouch)
- Day pack for your personal needs during the day
- Camera and extra memory cards and batteries
- Cell phone and cell phone charger
- Laptop charger (if you are bringing your laptop)
- Travel plug/international adapter
- Medication (including a doctor’s letter if you are carrying a large amount of medication)
- Prescription glasses / contacts and if necessary, contact lens solution
Best to bring along
- First aid kit
- Insect repellent
- Refillable water bottle with filter
- Comfortable walking shoes
- Comfortable clothing, either light or heavy options, depending on the season you are travelling
- Clothes suitable for visiting temples (long pants / skirts, long sleeved tops)
- Waterproof jacket / raincoat / umbrella
- Hat & sunglasses
- Bathing suit
- Ear plugs & eye mask
- Sleep sheet for home stays / trains
- Lightweight travel towel
- Local language phrasebook
Reviews on Our Service
We are committed to giving our customers unforgettable experiences in Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia and beyond, not just something staged for tourists. Read reviews written by our customers about their experiences in Indochina after they have returned home. These include the ratings and comments on attractions, guides, activities, hotels and food.
We had a wonderful 7-day trip last July; Kata was awesome to work with. So professional, reliable and helpful!
"Lifetime of Memories"
Lam did an amazing job putting together an itinerary based on phone/text conversations. We told him the where and what and he did the rest. The accommodations were beyond expectation, the guides were unbelievably friendly, and the places we were taken were spectacular. Having guides and drivers is worth every penny. So much time and money would have been wasted had we tried to accomplish this ourselves.
We got to experience so much more because of our guides local knowledge. Lastly, how great it was not to worry about how we were getting to the next adventure. Had we not used Indochina Pioneer I truly believe I wouldn’t have as many astonishing memories.
"Amazing 30 Day Journey with Indochina Pioneer"
If you are looking for a private tour of SE Asia, look no further than Indochina Pioneer. I recently returned from a 30-day private tour of Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand all arranged by Indochina Pioneer and could not have been happier with everything they arranged for me. They are top-notch from working directly with you on planning your trip, arranging visas, having individuals at the airports to meet and walk you through everything when entering the countries, having amazing tour guides and drivers as well as organizing everything for you on the ground and being there to help you all along the way if you have any questions or problems. My tour was amazing with not only the normal tourist sights, but many off the beaten track sights and with your own guides, you learn so much more from these individuals who actually live in the places you will visit. I can’t recommend this tour agency enough. If you are looking to travel to any of the locations Indochina Pioneer has tours, you must book through them, you will not be disappointed.
"Excellent from the very beginning"
We had 21 days on a private tour and every detail was perfectly arranged. Perhaps, the Spanish speaking skills of guides can ve improved, but overall they were very helpful and committed with their job. I want to highlight the performance of Juan (Hanoi), Miguel (Hoi An), Chao (Ho Chi Minh City) and La (Luang Prabang, Laos).
Hotels were as we asked and the timing for the visits was very good.
I recommend this travel agency!