Highlights of Cambodia and Vietnam

Day 1: Arrival Siem Reap - Roluos Group

Upon arrive in Siem Reap, welcome at the airport and transfer to hotel for check in. The room is at your disposal from 13.30 pm. In the afternoon discover one of the most ancient sites of the region: the Roluos group. Begin your visit with the impressive Bakong Temple, a 9th century temple, then Preah Ko and Lolei which today houses a small monastery. This is an ideal introduction to Angkor because it allows you to understand how the Khmer City was structured. Take a bicycle ride around Bakong and the surrounding countryside. Return to the hotel. Meals on your own account. Overnight at the hotel. Note: A short stop is necessary to organize your Angkor entry tickets (a photo is required and is taken free of charge on site).

Day 2: Angkor Wat - Banteay Srei - Ta Prohm (B)

Your day starts with a visit to Angkor Wat, a world heritage site with soaring towers and extraordinary bas reliefs. It is one of the most amazing man-made monuments in the world, erected in the 12th century in honour of Vishnu. In the afternoon, leave for Banteay Srei where a most impressive jewel of Khmer art exists. Erected in the 10th century, this small pink sandstone temple is known as the Citadel of Women. On the way back, visit the ancient Ta Prohm Monastery where immense branches have taken root in the stones – hence the nickname of the Jungle Temple. You will find some splendid sculptured Devatas and an atmosphere that is unique. Meals on your own. Overnight at the hotel.

Day 3 : Preah Khan - Neak Pean - Thommanon - Chau Say Tevoda - Angkor Thom (B)

In the morning leave by tuk-tuk for the northern end of Angkor, beginning the day with Preah Khan Temple, built by Jayavarman VII in 1191 in honour of his father. This monument was both a city and a place for Buddhism studies. Of the same era is Neak Pean, the only island temple of Angkor, and also known as Entwined Nagas. The large central basin is linked with four smaller basins which represent the four great rivers flowing from the earth’s four cardinal points. One of the most interesting features of this site is the superb statute of Balaha, representing the legendary saviour of shipwrecked boats. Continue your exploration of Angkor by heading further south to visit the two very beautiful temples – Thommanon and Chau Say Tevoda – dating from the 12th century and built during the reign of Suryavarman II. They stand out because of their very beautiful sculptured images honouring Shiva and Vishnu. In the afternoon, visit Angkor Thom (the Great City) beginning by 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. Meals on your own. Overnight at the hotel.

Day 4: Siem Reap - Hanoi (B, L)

In the morning, we leave for Kompong Khleang. Here all the houses are on stilts offering an exceptional natural environment offering breathtaking views of floodplains, rice fields and water views as far as the eye can see. After walking through the village and meeting the locals, travelling by boat over the canals to a large lake where Vietnamese people live when they are displaced from their homes because of the seasons. Return to the village and have a picnic lunch in a villager’s home. In the afternoon, return to Siem Reap Airport for your flight onward to Hanoi. Arrival and welcome at Hanoi Airport. Transfer to check in at your hotel. The balance of the day is free at your leisure. Meals on your own account. Overnight at the hotel.

Day 5: Hanoi Sightseeing (B)

Full-day tour of Vietnam’s capital city, including Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum (closed on Monday & Friday), traditional stilt house, One-Pillar Pagoda, and the thousand-year-old Temple of Literature also known as the First University of Vietnam. After lunch break (your expense), visit the Ethnology Museum (closed on Monday) where you could learn a lot about diversified cultural of 54 ethnic groups in Vietnam. Return to city centre and enjoy a walking tour to discover the colonial side of the city, the city’s traditional 36 streets in the Old Quarter, Hoan Kiem lake and Ngoc Son Pagoda at the edge of the lake. Meals on your own account. Overnight at the hotel.

Day 6: Hanoi – Halong Bay (B)

Leave Hanoi this morning and head straight to Halong bay a stunning UNESCO World Heritage site with its 3,000 islands of towering limestone dotting the bay and Gulf of Tonkin (180km – 3.5 - 4 hour driving). 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.

Day 7: Halong Bay – Hanoi - Danang – Hoi An (B)

Wake up early in the morning to enjoy aquamarine water of the bay at its best. After tea break, the boat continue to cruise quietly through spectacular limestone formations of Halong Bay. Enjoy this more isolated bay’s spectacular and unique islands of the bay. Return to Halong habour at around 11.00 and transfer back to Hanoi’s Old Quarter for some free time shopping. Then you will be picked up again to the airport for your flight to Danang. Upon arrival, welcomed by local guide and transferred to your hotel in Hoi An Town (30km - 45mins driving) for check in. Meals on your own account. Overnight at the hotel.

Day 8: Hoi An (B)

In the morning take a walking tour in Hoi An town, recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage site because of its unusually wellpreserved ancient streets and homes. Set out to explore the quaint cobblestone streets of the town with more than two-century-old Chinese houses. Sites include the Japanese Bridge, the Chinese Temple, and Phung Hung Chinese-style trading house. Then take a short biking tour to the beautiful and peaceful villages in the countryside surrounding Hoi An (transfer by cyclo or by private vehicle are also the options). Free time in the afternoon for shopping and exploring Hoi An at your own pace. Meals on your own account. Overnight at hotel.

Option: Half-day tour to Tra Que Ecovegetable village

From Hoi An, embark on a bike ride or cyclo is also an option to the village of Tra Que. It is a very easy 30-minute ride, and the view is splendid or if you like, cyclo is another interesting option. You will ride across plains of flooded rice fields and you will have the opportunity to observe picturesque scenes of the local’s daily life with a background of verdant countryside. Tra Que is famous for the quality and the flavour of its aromatic herbs. Once there, a local family will show you their agricultural techniques and you may also be asked to take part in the work for a while. If you are not green-fingered, don’t worry, they are very patient and will guide you through various tasks, such as digging, watering or harvesting. The atmosphere is simple, and the key words are conviviality and good spirits. You will also enjoy a very relaxing traditional foot massage. It is a custom here that is performed using the family’s special technique. After that, learn to cook some local specialities and enjoy what you have made after the cooking lesson. Return to Hoi An. Dinner on your own. End of services.

Day 9: Hoi An - Danang – Ho Chi Minh City (B)

At a good time, transfer to Danang Airport for the flight to Ho Chi Minh City. Upon arrival, warmly welcomed at the airport by our local guide and transferred to your hotel at the city centre. The balance of the day is free at your leisure. Meals on your own account. Overnight at the hotel.

Option: Cooking class at Ms. Van’s (L) - join in group

In the morning, you are picked up at the hotel and then go to the market with Ms Van, a cuisine expert living in Hoi An who loves to share her passion for food, especially Central Vietnam food, to everyone. The morning market is where you can be in the thick of the actions and get explanations for local ingredients, as well as witness daily local life. After that, you can enjoy ice coffee before go to Ms Van’s home. Ms Van’s home is a charming house with beautiful bamboo decoration. In the kitchen, she will demonstrate to you how to cook a dish of your choice. Her fun, enthusiast nature and her dedication will surely make the class more special than many others. And when you have finished cooking your meal, it is time to enjoy it with all others classmates. The best thing about this class is you can choose one recipe from the list of 50 dishes and more than 20 vegetarian dishes to learn. Everyone can try to cook their personal favorite recipe, not a preset menu! After the meal, back to your hotel. Dinner on your own. End of services.

Day 10: Cu Chi Tunnels - Ho Chi Minh City Sightseeing (B)

After breakfast, meet up with our guide at hotel’s lobby. This morning we will leave the city by private vehicle to visit the amazing tunnel network of Cu Chi (60km - 1.5 hours driving). This incredible system, covering almost 250km in length was shelter to over 16,000 Vietcong guerrillas during the wars. Initially started in 1948 to provide shelter against the French air and ground sweeps, the network went on to serve as communication routes, storage facilities, hospitals and living quarters for Vietnamese fighters throughout the American war. If you are interested (and game) you can even descend into the tunnels to learn more about the harsh conditions faced by Vietcong guerrillas who lived there. In the afternoon, we set out on a city tour of the former capital of French Indochina, once known as Saigon but now officially named Ho Chi Minh City. Historic landmarks include the Old Saigon post office, War Remnants Museum, Dong Khoi Street. Round off your day with a visit to the Ben Thanh market. Be sure to use your bargaining skills to get the best price on anything you buy there. Meals on your own account. Overnight at the hotel.

Day 11: An excursion to Mekong Delta (B, L)

Morning: Travel from Ho Chi Minh City to the picturesque Ben Tre Province, known as the land of coconut trees. Then, begin biking along village-paths and take in the many sights of the villagers performing their everyday activities and the peaceful landscapes of the Ben Tre countryside. Continue biking through the village to the boat pier and take a rowing-boat along the palm canal. On the way you can see the homes and activities of the people that live by the waterside. Stop to visit a local house ‘s coconut gardens where you can enjoy tropical fruits. Keep up the cycling along a village road with the vast gardens of coconuts on either side. After such an engaging morning of biking and paddling you should be ready to enjoy a specially prepared lunch featuring traditional dishes of the Mekong River region in a small beautiful local restaurant. Afternoon: Your afternoon starts with a walk to the departure point for your motorboat journey. The trip will take you along Ba Lai Legend River which is beautifully fringed with palm trees. As you head along the river you will stop to visit the coconut coir manufacturing facility to see the interesting processes first hand. Take in the feeling of the peaceful, simple life that the inhabitants of the riverside enjoy. You will also discover some of the coconut processing workshops which are located along the banks. At the end of the boat tour you will be picked up by your bus. Then, travel back to Ho Chi Minh City. Dinner on your own account. Overnight at hotel.

Day 12: Ho Chi Minh City Departure (B)

The morning is at leisure until your transfer to the airport for your departures flight. Room is at your disposal until noon time only. Meals on your own account. End of services.

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