Memorable Vietnam & Cambodia
15 days / 14 nights
Overview: Hanoi – Ha Long – Hue – Hoi An – Saigon – Siem Reap
Day 1 Depart Dublin to Hanoi
Day 2 Hanoi Arrival
Arrival and welcome at Hanoi Airport. Transfer to the city for hotel check in. Your room is available anytime from 14.00. Early check in subject to room availability. Free time in the afternoon to explore the traditional streets of the Old Quarter and Hoan Kiem Lake vicinity. Meals on your own. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 3 Hanoi like a local (B)
Leaving the hotel early in the morning to take a walk through Hang Be. Then, start to explore the diversified architecture of Hanoi and its famous 36 streets of the Old Quarter by a walking tour.
Drive to the beautiful Museum of Ethnology to enhance your understanding of Vietnam’s diverse culture through its unique presentation of objects and dress from a variety of Vietnam’s 54 ethnic groups. After that, visit Vietnam’s first university, the thousand-year-old Temple of Literature. The balance of the day is free at your leisure. Meals on your own. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 4 Hanoi – Halong Bay (B, L, D) – Local guide on board only
In the morning, leave Hanoi for Halong Bay, a stunning UNESCO World Heritage site with its 3,000 islands of towering limestone dotting the bay and Gulf of Tonkin. After arriving at noon, you will board a beautiful boat for an overnight cruise on Halong Bay with an excellent menu of fresh seafood. Lunch and dinner are served on boat. Overnight on board in the open air of Halong Bay.
Day 5 Halong Bay – Hanoi – Hue (B)
Wake up early in the morning to enjoy aquamarine water of the bay at its best. After tea break, the boat continues to cruise quietly through spectacular limestone formations of Halong Bay. Enjoy spectacular and unique islands of the bay. Eventually, back at the pier you will disembark at around 11.00 am. We’ll head back to Hanoi, passing a vast expanse of rice fields of the Red River Delta. You will see scenes of farmers working in the fields, children going to school, and even little pigs being brought into town on motorbikes.
On arrival at Hue Airport, you will be met by a local driver and transferred without guide to your hotel. Meals on your own and overnight at the hotel.
Day 6 Hue – Cookery experience at garden house (B, L)
Your visit to Hue is a good opportunity to learn the art of Central Vietnamese cookery, renowned to be one of the finest in Vietnam. You will visit a lovely garden-house in Hue. The landlord will first of all give you a guided tour of the various centenarian buildings, which make up the house. Your hostess will then take you to the kitchen to teach you how to prepare a selection of traditional Hue dishes and how to play with the combinations of flavours, which later you will be able to use when you go home. During lunch you will be able to taste the dishes you have prepared yourself along with other Hue specialties prepared by your hosts.
Next, travel to Hue Citadel, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site; the city boasts an impressive cultural and historical richness: the imperial citadel, its scattered tombs and its walls surrounded by moats covered with lotuses and water lilies make a sumptuous landscape. Then, get into a trishaw (Cyclo) to go around Hue and soak up the refined and distinct atmosphere of the town. Dinner on your own. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 7 Hue – Hoi An (B)
Today we travel to Hoi An via the scenic Hai Van Pass to enjoy one of the most beautiful panoramas in Vietnam as you look out over the central coastline. You will also pass through the quiet, white sandy beach of Lang Co along the way. Check in your hotel then spend the rest of the day free at leisure. Meals on your own. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 8 Hoi An Ancient Town (B)
Take a stroll to visit Hoi An town, recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage site because of its unusually well-preserved ancient streets and homes. Set out to explore the quaint cobblestone streets of the town with the more than two-century-old Chinese houses. Sites include the Japanese Bridge, the Chinese Temple, and Phung Hung Chinese-trading house. Stop at the local market to see the daily activities of Hoi An people. You will be invited to taste some local foods.
Then take a short biking tour to the beautiful and peaceful villages in the countryside surrounding Hoi An. Free time in the afternoon for shopping and exploring Hoi An at your own pace. Meals on your own. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 9 Hoi An – Dinner at Mango Mango restaurant (B, D)
The whole day is free at leisure to relax. Lunch on your own. Dinner at a nice restaurant. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 10 Hoi An - Danang – Saigon (B) – No guide
Enjoy your time in Hoi An before transferring to Danang Airport where you catch your flight to
Upon arrival, transfer to your hotel for check in. Saigon is Vietnam’s biggest city in Vietnam. As soon as you get out of the airport, you will be struck by the bursting energy of youth and the flow of motorbikes ready to start at each traffic light.
The rest of the day is free at leisure to discover the former capital of French Indochina. Historic landmarks include the Old Saigon post office, Notre Dame Cathedral and the Opera House and City Hall. Continue your trip to visit China Town, bustling area in Saigon. Your discovery of Cholon will invariably take you to one of the traditional pharmacopeia boutiques, to the Thien Hau pagoda, the most majestic in the city, as well as Binh Tay market. This market is located in a vast ochre-coloured building designed by a French architect and financed by a Chinese merchant. It is famous for being the most impressive in Vietnam, with its thousands of stalls and its great variety of goods. It truly is the temple of commerce in Saigon. Meals on your own. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 11 Cu Chi Tunnels – Saigon (B)
This morning we will leave the city by private vehicle to visit the amazing tunnel network of Cu Chi built by Vietnamese fighters during the American War. This incredible system was shelter to over 16,000 Vietcong guerrillas during the wars. If you are interested you can even descend into the tunnels to learn more about the harsh conditions faced by Vietcong guerrillas who lived there. Travel back to Ho Chi Minh City in the early afternoon. Then you have free time to relax or further discover Saigon on your own. Meals on your own. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 12 Saigon – Mekong Delta (B, L)
Today, your driver will drive you from Saigon to Phong Nam in Ben Tre District, a journey of about 2 hours, where you will start your excursion into deep Mekong Delta area. You will cruise along the Chet Say River (a branch of the Mekong) and stop off at various local workplaces to give you a picture of how the local economy works.
The boat will then stop at a quiet village where you can take a short walk to experience real Delta village life, visit a mat weaving house, where straw mats are woven using a hand loom – you can even have a go at weaving yourself before boarding your xe loi (a kind of motorized rickshaw) or cycling into the village where you can see farms and rice fields before stopping at a local house for a delicious and filling lunch. You will then board a sampan for a relaxing trip along narrow canals. After that, return to your hotel in Saigon. Dinner on your own. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 13 Saigon – Siem Reap (B)
After your breakfast, transfer without a guide to Saigon Airport where you catch flight to Siem Reap.
Arrive at Siem Reap Airport and check in at your hotel. The balance of the day is free at your leisure. Meals on your own. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 14 – 15 Sunrise at Angkor Wat – Angkor Thom – Ta Prohm (B)
Meet your guide early this morning to enjoy the gorgeous sunset and explore the marvellous temple of Angkor Wat, a world heritage site featuring the most extraordinary towers and bas-reliefs. This is one of the most amazing monuments ever conceived by mankind, and was erected in the 12th century (1112-1152) in honour of Vishnu. You will also visit the smaller temple of Ta Prohm which has been left in its natural, un-restored state, with giant tropical trees bursting through the ruins, their roots clinging like vast tentacles across the walls and roofs.
In the afternoon, visit Angkor Thom (the Great City) beginning at the south gate and the famous Bayon of the 12th and 13th centuries, dedicated to Buddhism and composed of 54 gigantic towers featuring 216 smiling faces of Avalokitesvara. Then, visit the Elephant Terrace, which was used as a giant reviewing stand for public ceremonies and served as a base for the king’s grand audience hall; and the raised Leper King Terrace, built in the 12th century and which features many beautifully sculptured Apsaras. After that, visit the ancient Ta Prohm Monastery where immense branches have taken root in the stones – hence the nickname of the Jungle Temple.
In the late afternoon, enjoy the stunning sunset in Srah Srang, which means “The Royal Bath”; this is a large water reservoir situated at the East of Banteay Kdei temple; it is a gorgeous spot to end the day in the Angkor complex. The baray(or reservoir) was originally constructed in the 10th century and two centuries later remodelled by the famous King Jayavarman. Meals on your own. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 15 Siem Reap free day (B) – Without guide or vehicle
Free at leisure. Meals on your own. Overnight at the hotel.
Option 1: Excursion to Tonle Sap Lake (L)
Depart for Kompong Khleang where all the houses are on stilts offering an exceptional natural environment with breath-taking views of floodplains and rice fields as far as the eye can see. Walk through the village and meet the locals. Afterwards, travel by boat through the canals to a large lake where Vietnamese people live when they are displaced from their homes due to seasonal weather changes. Return Siem Reap in the early afternoon then you have free time to relax or further discover Siem Reap on your own. Dinner on your own. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 16 Siem Reap – Departure (B) – No guide
Free morning at leisure until your private transfer to Siem Reap Airport. Room is at your disposal until midday only. Meals on your own.
Day 17 Arrive Dublin