Culture & Wonders of Vietnam and Cambodia 18 Days
Starts : Siem ReapCity , ends : Hanoi City
Trip code: CWOVAC18D
Ages: Minimum age for children on this trip is 8 years old.
Accommodation: Hotel 4 & 5 stars
Transport: Boat, Private Van /Car, Plane
Tour Type: Private (min 2 persons)
Day 1: Early Discovery
Welcome to Siem Reap, considered to be the modern gateway to Angkor. The city stands on the sleepy banks of Siem Reap River. You notice the plethora of tuk-tuks, simple motorbikes with trollies attached, that hum along the main roads. The scent of the city is filled with a mixture of traditional spices and French pastries, from croissants to baguettes, dating back to an age of French Colonialism. You are met at the airport by a private transfer and taken to your comfortable accommodation at Journeys Within Bed and Breakfast. The charming grounds are a continued mixture of colonial architecture within the temperate jungle surroundings. In the evening you can walk through the energetic streets of the city, delighting on traditional cuisine at dinner and enjoying the Khmer movements of Aspara, masked, and folk dance, along with the sensational intricacies of shadow theater.
Day 2: Exploring the Ancients
The morning becomes flush with the predawn as you are met by private transfer to take you to the sensational temple complex. The early hours of the morning bring the cool, misty air around the streets which seem oddly active before sunrise. The energy comes from the anticipation of the temple and temples to come. You arrive at the bridge that leads to one of the new Seven Wonders of the World, Angkor Wat. The bridge is made of solid stone, flanked by large swaths of water and the imposing tower of the entrance gate. When you enter the courtyard you can see monks standing in bright orange robes like an imitation of the sunrise, their color reflected in the lily pond behind them which sits before the stunning architecture of the temple.
Five stupas rise like hives from the long stretch of stone pillars that create the fabulous picture. The temple itself dates back to the 12th century and symbolizes the sacred universe of Hindu cosmology. As the sun glints over the largest central stupa you venture into the first gallery to find square pillars and the spiced aroma of incense burning. The ceiling showcases lotus rosettes and carved figures of men and animals dance and prance along the walls. You have the entire day ahead of you, ready to discover the hidden niches and intricate artistry throughout the complex; but for now you are enthralled with Angkor Wat.
Day 3: Deeper into the Ancients
The delicious flavors of breakfast, from fresh tropical fruits of bananas, oranges, and jackfruit, to delicate baguettes and rich coffee brings brightness to the morning. After your meal you will once again venture out of Siem Reap with a private guide to the remarkable temple of Banteay Srei. The 10th century Hindu temple complex has resounding dark red sandstone along the low walls and rising peaking towers. The morning cool begins to shift into afternoon warmth. The temples sit in the open plaza surrounded by lush trees and swaying leaves.
The closer you come to the rising structures the more complicated the reliefs and the more detailed and delicate their artistry. Each tells a different ancient tale of Hindu belief. The eastern pediment of the central tower shows Indra the god of heaven, while a walkway reaching over 131 feet connects the remains of corridors to the third enclosure. The sandstone continues to add red light to the open blue sky as you travel deeper into the complex’s magnificence finding the art, the architecture, and the landscape blending in to one great moment.
Day 4: Healing Pasts
Delight in a breakfast of sweet fruits and fresh coffee before being taken to the airport by private transfer for your flight to Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia. The quiet demeanor of the city stretches along the Mekong River lined with shady palmed walkways. The French Colonial past is present within the energetic café culture and delectable cuisine that often fuses the flavors of Southeast Asia with the delicate techniques of France. Upon your arrival you will be taken to your hotel before meeting your guide who will tour you through the Tuol Sleng Prison Museum. The Khmer Rouge was the ruling party of Cambodia from 1975 to 1979 during which time the country became a shell of its former richness. Tuol Sleng Prison, also known as S21 is a representation of a tragic past from which the capital is still healing.
The prison was once a high school that became the center for detention that at one time held over 17,000 people. The schoolyard is surrounded by the buildings that turned classrooms into cells, now displaying the living conditions of the time through replication of chambers, photographs, and even the list of prison rules. Although a somber connection to the capable inhumanity of a people, the rise of Cambodia and Phnom Penh from the barbarity of its past brings an understanding to the vivacity of the streets and the captivating pleasures of the eateries. In the evening you will be able to sit along the calm waters of the Mekong and enjoy the unique tastes of Phnom Penh while watching the moon reflect off of the river.
Day 5: Finding the Capital
Your guide meets you after breakfast ready to show you the beauty stretching within the cityscape of Phnom Penh. The early energy of the streets isn’t just filled with motorbikes but also the calls of fisherman along the river while making the day’s catch. When you come to the Royal Palace you notice classic Khmer roofs with ornate gilding. Constructed in the 19th century for the king, it was expanded in the 1960s to include solid silver tiles inlaid along the floor within the high walls around the manicured tropical garden. The interior also holds an Emerald Buddha revered for its dedicated opulence. Made from Baccarat crystal and stemming from the 17th century, it catches the light in various ways bringing a rainbow coloration to the walls.
You will also find spectacular architecture and collective history within the National Museum of Cambodia, plush with Khmer styled roofs of a terracotta structure design and housing a millennium’s worth of history. Four pavilions help display the remarkable collection of artifacts from pre-Angkorian collections, including an eight-armed Vishnu statue that dates to the 6th century. Steeped within the opulence of its past Phnom Penh continues to heal with great admiration. In the evening you will once again sit beside the Mekong, this time at the Foreign Correspondence Club restaurant known for its charming terrace, delicious cocktails, and sweet Tempura Prawn Shooters, with a hint of spice.
Day 6: Rolling Down the Great River
The morning comes fast and light giving you the opportunity to spend the early hours of the day as you please within the streets of Phnom Penh. Whether revisiting the central market filled with lovely spices or enjoying a coffee in one of the many cafes of the city, soon you will find yourself on the Victoria Boat cruising down the river into Vietnam. The comfortable and luxurious boat will glide you down the waterway where you can watch the quintessential landscape pass you by.
The rising mountains and lavish greenery are coupled with villagers riding their bicycles beside the banks. You arrive in Chau Doc, a small town in Vietnam where you can see the Khmer and Cham influence continue as an everyday part of the community of temples, mosques, and churches. Floating houses drift on empty metal drums raising fish in nets that drift beneath the boat. You are guided to the Victoria Hotel where the lovely façade resembles the French Riviera promising you a relaxing stay along the riverbanks where you can watch the lights shimmer on the water.
Day 7: Riverside to Street Side
After breakfast your guide will meet you at your hotel and ferry you through the exciting sites of Chau Doc. The city is calm and small, which adds a particular elegance to the atmosphere. Sam Mountain rises in the distance to a height made impressive by the low plains of the Mekong Delta. Within the mountain you can find tremendous shrines and temples including Ba Chua Xu, dedicated to the goddess and protector. The temple contains a statue that dates back to the 6th century found in the forest by local villagers. The Chinese characteristics of the construction include four roofs colored with blue tiles. The courtyard is calm within the confines of the nearby mountain giving you a chance to enjoy the view before making your way to Ho Chi Minh City, the commerce capital of Vietnam, and checking in to the Majestic Hotel.
Day 8: Once Southern Capital
The energetic streets of Ho Chi Minh City, formerly Saigon, are not surprising considering that this is the commercial capital of the country. The shadow of the skyline rushes against the banks of the Saigon River. After breakfast you are met by your guide who will take you through the historic culture that often hides within the bustle of the modern city. Near the remnants of French Colonialism at the elegant construction of the Cathedral of Notre Dame you will find the Jade Emperor Pagoda.
Constructed at the turn of the 1900s the migrant Cantonese community wanted a pagoda that would represent their particular branch of Buddhism. The exterior contains a deep mixture of pink and red within the lush leaves that surround the outer courtyard. When you step into the main hall you notice that the temple is in living and working order, popular with the local neighborhood and the surrounding city alike. The scent of incense climbs through the gallery while the figures of the afterlife are represented in great detail by intricate carvings along the walls.
Day 9: Within the Labyrinthine Grounds
There is a different world outside of the modern city of Saigon, one which you will be able to experience as your guide meets you at your hotel after breakfast. A short distance outside of the city brings you to the Cu Chi Tunnels, a large network of channels burrowed beneath the earth. The network runs almost 125 miles in length, deep enough to have not been effected by tanks and air raids during the Vietnam conflict. Learn about the history of their construction and venture into the network filled with hideouts and passageways. The air becomes cool, filled with a subtle breeze while the clay walls are cold and smooth. You can’t help but want to follow the path deeper along to see where it leads, whether out into the jungle or along the riverbanks.
Day 10: Time in the Capital
The morning rush of Saigon swirls around the streets and you are awoken with the lingering aroma of fresh brewed Vietnamese coffee. Your private transfer will take you to the airport where you will make your flight to Hanoi, Vietnam’s capital. After settling into your hotel your guide will take you through the diverse neighborhoods that date back do the 11th century. Motorbikes glide through the French Colonial streets while women in conical hats stroll through the Old Quarter carrying poles balanced with woven baskets stuffed with spinach or oranges.
The Old Quarter is filled with colonial architecture and Buddhist temples showing the range of the city’s history that displays traditional riches and customs mixed with modern commodities as well. Stroll through the preserved shops constructed over a century ago; long and narrow styles with openings facing the street and numerous courtyards within. In the evening you will enjoy the famous Water Puppet Theater, whose genesis reaches back a millennium, when farmers once stood in flooded paddy fields entertaining their families and the villagers with puppet mastery of well-known legends.
Day 11: Before the Mountains
The day is at your leisure to enjoy the diversity of Hanoi. After breakfast you can venture out for a stroll along Hoan Kiem Lake, home to the charming Ngoc Son
Temple. You can also choose to explore the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum Complex. The marble stone mausoleum towers over Ba Dinh square and is an important site for Vietnamese pilgrims from all over the country. The impressive façade stands on a towering portico with pillars holding the canopy. If you follow the path leading behind the structure you will come to manicured gardens and a swooping opulent yellow façade that dates back once more to the colonial era.
The Presidential Palace was home to the celebrated Ho Chi Minh; however, not within the structure but close to the property. In a modest wood home on stilts that sits next to a quaint pond draped over with vibrant leaves and lily pads you will find the old electrician’s home. Ho Chi Minh chose this house to be his residence as leader of Vietnam. The air is scented with herbaceous greenery while the interior contains elements of Ho Chi Minh’s life, from the chairs surrounding the communal table to the upstairs bookshelf where you can find his typewriter.
Day 12: Hanoi to Sapa by private car
Our adventure starts with the drive to the mountain town of Sapa. The journey to Sapa will take the best part of the day. The drive is worthwhile though, as the scenery on your northward journey into the highlands is both dramatic and breathtaking.
Using a private car is more convenient and more flexible. The travel time is shorter because you don’t have to wait for others as by train , and it allows you some breaks for photographs, refreshments or a toilet stop along the way.
The road connecting from Hanoi to Lao Cai is Highway and take 3hours driving
From Lao Cai to Sapa. The car ride uphill takes a bit more than an half hour, giving you a glimpse of the region’s stunning vistas and impressive rice terraces along the way. When you reach Sapa, Check in Hotel and have a lunch at local restaurant
Your today trek departs from Sapa to Ta Phin valley. Walk with your experienced guide through the town for about 20 minutes before turning down a dirt road to Ma Tra, a Black Hmong village defined by its traditional clothing and customs. The moderate hiking route through this rural community offers more picturesque vistas of vegetable gardens and rice terraces flanked by green mountains rising in the background. You have time to visit with local families and learn about traditional fiber processing before continuing your trek to Ta Phin village, located in one of the most scenic valleys in Vietnam. Exploring the village, admiring the embroidered clothing and red headscarves worn by the tribal women of this ethnic group called the Red Dao. you’ll return to Sapa by private, air-conditioned car to check in to your hotel and eat dinner. You’re free to explore the charming town’s sloping streets or the market with many colorful handicrafts, or head up to Ham Rong peak for a fantastic photo op over Sapa .
Day 13: Sapa
Following a hotel breakfast, meet your guide in the morning and depart on a second trek from the town of Sapa to Golden Stream valley. Today’s hike offers more stunning views of rice terraces and gardens as well as Mt Fansipan, whose summit rises 10,312 feet (3,143 meters) above sea level. After crossing a suspension bridge, marvel at the breathtaking scenery as you continue through the Golden Stream valley, stopping at Lao Chai village for lunch. After your meal, follow your guide on a walk through this village where Black Hmong people reside, and continue on to Ta Van village, home to the Dzay tribe. This part of the hike is relatively easy, though the trail can be quite slippery if it rains, so good footwear is recommended. You’ll visit with some local families and learn about their daily lifestyle and fascinating culture, before departing to the main road to meet up with your driver and return to Sapa.
Stay overnight at hotel in Sapa
Day 14 : Sapa sightseeing > Drive back to Hanoi
Today We begin our Sapa experience with an orientation walk along the town ’s historic boulevards, passing some of its most interesting sights as Stone Church, Flower Park and smile of little red Dzao girls follow your step with their innocent eyes.
Stop at the Market to see the busy of trade of tribes fresh produce as fruits, vegetables, domestic animal.
Continuity with a steep and very beautiful hike down to Cat Cat Village ; if you’re too exhausted or unfit to hike back up, our car ready and willing to car you back to your hotel.
Cat Cat Vilage is Black Mong Vilage, Traditionally, they were the poorest of the poor, hut have rapidly learnt the spirit of free enterprise. Most of the Montagnards have had little formal education and are illiterate. Take a change to communicate with Black Mong by your guide’ s help to experience the Montagnards nature life. ” Dragon water fall ” is the best to stop for ” Kodak at moment” before we hike through the Green Rice field before back to Sapa.
Say Goodbye Sapa and we take our private car for 4hours driving back to Hanoi
Stay overnight at hotel in Hanoi
Day 15: Hanoi – Halong Bay
Explore one of Vietnam’s most intriguing UNESCO World Heritage-listed sites on a 2-day cruise of Halong Bay. Marvel at the spectacular sight of more than a thousand limestone peaks rising from the emerald waters of the ocean as your junk boat sails past mysterious caves and blissful bays. Soak up the soothing sunshine on the tanning deck; plunge into the crystal clear waters during a refreshing dip or kayak ride; and pleasure your palate with delicious Vietnamese cuisine throughout the 2-day expedition. Enjoy the luxurious facilities of the junk boat, which include: hot and cold running water; en-suite bathrooms with powerful showers; an elegant dining room and licensed bar serving an extensive selection of wines; a courteous crew; and a sun-tanning area and relaxation deck.
After early morning pickup from your hotel, depart from the capital for Halong Bay – an approximate four-hour drive by comfortable air-conditioned vehicle. Upon arrival at Halong Bay around midday, you’ll be greeted by a tour representative and transferred to the traditional junk boat. Settle in with a complimentary welcome drink as you begin your cruise around majestic Halong Bay. Meet the expert crew and get acquainted with your small group while you dine on a delicious seafood lunch, including tea and coffee. After lunch, unwind and soak up the sun on the top deck – a great spot for photographing the natural wonders of the bay – as your captain finds a secluded area, perfect for swimming in the clear waters. You’ll have the chance to try your hand at kayaking and explore some of the ancient limestone caves dotting the bay. As you glide along the most secluded lagoons, admire the surrounding limestone karsts amid unforgettable scenery only accessible by kayak! The modern kayaks are lightweight and easy to maneuver, and all participants will be issued water buoyancy vests. The junk boat will be nearby at all times, serving as a back-up vessel for those who need it. After exploring, retire to the boat for more relaxation on the deck and enjoy a refreshing drink from the bar if you’d like. In the evening, your cook will prepare a splendid meal comprised of fresh seafood dishes as well as traditional Vietnamese fare as your crew weighs anchor in the heart of the bay. Afterward, you’ll have the opportunity to try some night fishing from the boat.
Overnight: Ensuite twin cabin aboard traditional junk boat in Halong Bay
Day 16: Halong Bay – Ninh Binh
Rising to the tranquil beauty of the bay, there’s time for an early morning dip followed by breakfast. Then, head to the Cave of Surprises – the biggest cave in Halong Bay – where you’ll discover magnificent stalagmites and stalactites as you walk along the lit paths on a guided tour. After another delectable lunch around midday, start your cruise back to the main harbor before transferring to your awaiting vehicle for the four-hour journey to Ninh Binh. Explore the stunningly lush scenery of Ninh Binh Province, a region many consider to be an inland version of the world-famous Ha Long Bay
Arrive at Ninh Binh, check-in to your hotel and enjoy free time.
Have dinner and stay overnight at hotel in Ninh Binh.
Day 17: Ninh Binh Cruise – Hanoi
Today, We learn about the important role the area played in Vietnam’s history. This city was the ancient capital of the country in the 10th and 11th centuries and was built by the Dinh and Le dynasties. Hoa Lu is surrounded by limestone mountains and the Hoang Long River, naturally protecting it and making for an incredibly picturesque setting. At 11am, head for the ruins of the temples left by the Dinh and Le dynasties. Explore the excavation area at the Le Dai Hanh temple and the remains of the 10th-Century Royal Palaces.
We then have a 40-minute bike ride from Trang An to the to Tam Coc, known for its resemblance to famous Ha Long Bay and gorgeous rise paddies. Meaning ‘three caves,’ Tam Coc is the perfect place for countryside exploring, a total of 5km cycling that passes along a country road through lush rice paddies.
Get in 2-person sampan boats and drive up the river to three different caves. Explore their natural wonders and then return to the dock, where our private car will be waiting to drive back to Hanoi. The guide will return you to your hotel and enjoy free time.
Stay overnight at hotel in Hanoi
Day 18: Recent Discoveries
The morning comes to Hanoi with a light energy to the streets and a subtle breeze across Hoan Kiem Lake. You are met at the train station and taken to a delicious breakfast readying you for the day. Soon you will be departing the airport with your flight soaring through the sky homeward bound but for the moment you can sip your fresh coffee, indulge in the aroma of flakey, butter French pastries, and watch the capital city come to life.
All accommodations (with Twin/Double rooms) while on tour
The tour price includes all hotel accommodations with private baths. Our standard is to provide the best available accommodations without sacrificing value. Although the quality may vary slightly from one hotel to another, our commitment to your comfort is unwavering. Two-bedded rooms and One-beded with Queen size rooms are reserved in most hotels. Triples are accommodated in two-bedded rooms plus a rollaway cot where available, and are not recommended for comfort.
All transfers and road transport in modern, air-conditioned vehicles
– For a private smaller groups (2pax -10pax), modern sedan cars and minibuses are used.
– For tour groups of 11pax or more travelers, air-conditioned Hyundai with 19- 25-35 seats are used on all road journeys. These vehicles are designed with excellent viewing windows and a high roof. All our vehicles are modern, spacious, comfortable, well-maintained, and safe
•Complimentary airport transfer on arrival and on departure days
All Breakfasts & Lunches on tour
• Breakfast – Is always included on all Vietnam Royal Tourism – European Continental breakfasts are supplied at the hotels where you stay. The Continental style usually consists of rolls, butter, jams, tea or coffee and juices.
• Lunch – Your Lunch meals are included and generally served at a local restaurant
• Dinner – is not included and is always up to you – allows you the freedom to eat what you want and enjoy the local flavors.
Please note: If you have special dietary requirements (eg Vegetarian), let us know so we can notify restaurants and prepare appropriate food for you.
Experienced, friendly and knowledgeable guides.
Your tour guide is a professional, fully trained employee of Vietnam Royal Tourism
All sightseeing as specified including entrance fees
Airfare While on Tour
– All on-tour flights must be purchased through Vietnam Royal Tourism as part of your tour package . From the moment you land in the starting city to the moment you are transferred to the airport in the end city, all transport arrangements are taken care of by us.
– The cost of international flights from your country to Asia (starting city) is not included in our prices. We believe we are giving all our customers, wherever you live, the flexibility to travel from regional airports, in any class of travel and include a stopover en route if you so wish. It also allows you the opportunity to use your frequent flyer points if you so wish
Visa Approval Code or Visa on Arrival
– After approval, we will fax or email you a copy of the Approval letter as an attachment
– Our Service do not include the Stamping Fee of about US$25-165/ 1pax to be submitted directly to the Embassy or Consulate (the stamping fee vary from Embassy to Embassy) or pay at Airport for Stamping Fee with Visa on Arrival
+ International airfare& airport taxes
+ Travel insurance
+ Surcharges for compulsory gala dinners during festive seasons and peak season surcharges (which will be advised at time of booking) ,
+ Personal expenses
+ Tips & gratuities
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Ho Chi Minh
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