Mother Indochina Trip Notes

At Imaginative Traveller we always aim to provide accurate information for our travellers. Unfortunately information such as the price of optional activities is occasionally subject to change, and this means that we are constantly revising our trip notes. In order to ensure that you have the most up to date information for your trip we suggest that you check the trip notes for your tour around one month before departure.

Trip code : GTMM
Trip valid from : 01/01/2014
Trip valid until : 31/12/2015
Trip length : 26
Trip starts in : Bangkok
Trip ends in : Hanoi
Maximum group size : maximum 16

highlights

  • Vietnam's northern capital Hanoi
  • Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Phnom Penh
  • The tailors and market traders of UNESCO World Heritage-listed Hoi An
  • Bond with your local guide in Thailand
  • Learn new road rules in Vietnam
  • The bustling streets and cyclos of Saigon
  • 'Junk' boat cruise among the limestone karsts of UNESCO World Heritage-listed Halong Bay

Never heard of Indochina? Don't stress. You'll come for Angkor Wat, but you'll stay for the pho/amok/spring rolls (we could go on).

itin

Day
1

Bangkok

Markets, tuk-tuks, temples. What's not to like?Arrive in Bangkok and get to grips with this awesome city. There will be a pre departure meeting at approx. 6pm tonight!

Day
2-4

Siem Reap

Angkor Wat is the obvious highlight but you’ll get a real kick out of counting the faces of Bayon and the jungle of Ta Prohm. There’s a bit of temple overload here, so take some free time to haggle for souvenirs at the market or get a pedicure from thousands of tiny fish.Take a bus to Siem Reap (approx 8 - 9 hours)Optional Activities:Visit the South Gate of Angkor Thom, Bayon, Elephant Terrace, Baphoun, the Royal Enclosure, Phimeanakas, Terrace of the Leper King, Ta Prohm and, of course, Angkor Wat. A sunrise or sunset at the temples is a mustKick back in Siem Reap and just wander around the town, visiting its market, shops and restaurantsDepending on the season, perhaps visit Tonle Sap Lake to see local life

Day
5

Kampong Cham

Kampong Cham. Frontier charm, French-colonial character, etc. Hire a bike and pedal to Koh Paen island, if you want, or visit some nearby mountain temples.Travel by public bus to Kampong Cham (approx 4 hrs) - once an important trading hub and now a laid-back small townOptional Activities:Explore the serene 11th-century Wat NokorHire a bike to explore the island of Koh Paen, linked to Kompong Cham by a bamboo bridge (passable only in the dry season, take a ferry in the wet)Get a better understanding of ottage industriesPerhaps travel further to the twin 'mountain temples' of Phnom Pros and Phnom Srei.

Day
6

Phnom Penh

Phnom Penh is somewhere you should go at least once in your life, which is good, because you're going there today. Visit the Killing Fields and Choeung Ek Museum. Cambodia puts hardship and horror into perspective so you don't have to.Optional Activities:Join a bus to visit a reminder of the Khmer Rouge atrocities, the Choeung Ek Museum and the Killing FieldsVisit the Central Market, located in an old French colonial building - a good place to look for clothing or sarongsEnjoy the rest of the day exploring Phnom Penh cityPerhaps stop by the Silver Pagoda, the temple of Wat Phnom, the National Museum and the French Quarter

Day
7

Homestay

Meet and stay overnight with a local family, who will have you feeling welcome, humbled and lucky all at once. Tuck into a home-cooked Khmer meal. It's ace.Travel by private bus to rural Cambodia (approx 3 hrs)Witness everyday Cambodian life and enjoy a traditional-style dinnerFacilities are basic and multishare with mattresses, bedding and mosquito nets provided.

Day
8-9

Sihanoukville

Visit the quiet beaches of Sihanoukville or scoot out to the nearby islands on a boat tour. You can even go on a tropical safari in Ream National Park, if you want.Take a private bus to Sihanoukville (approx 3 hrs) - named for the Cambodian royal familySihanoukville is a beach town with warm, welcoming people.Optional Activities:Take a boat to one of the nearby islands, perhaps enjoy a barbecue lunch and relax on the beachMake a trip out to the Ream National Park - home to a variety of animal and bird species

Day
10

Phnom Penh

Shake the sand off your 'nads and jump on a bus back to the capital. Soak up more reminders of the country's horrific past in Tuol Sleng Museum, or visit Seeing Hands for a massage.Take a local bus to Phnom Penh (approx 4 hrs)Optional Activities:Perhaps visit the infamous Tuol Sleng Prison or indulge in a traditional massage at the Seeing Hands Massage parlour. An initiative set up to support the visually impaired masseurs, who also some of the best in the city

Day
11-12

Ho Chi Minh City

Take a bus to Ho Chi Minh City and submerge yourself in an ocean of motorbikes and madness. Explore this hub of vibrant life, smile at the locals and count yourself lucky for being in such an awesome place.Take a local bus to Ho Chi Minh City (approx 6-7 hrs) - a fascinating blend of old and new, East and WestSpend free time visiting all the city’s restaurants, bars, nightclubs and most interesting sightsReunification Palace, the War Remnants Museum, Ben Thanh Market, Notre Dame Cathedral and the adjacent Gustav Eiffel designed Central Post Office are all within walking distance of each otherConsider hiring a ‘cyclo’ (bicycle rickshaw) for touring the city sights

Day
13-14

Mekong Delta - Ho Chi Minh City - overnight train

Take a boat down the Mekong River. It's an experience that will fill you with joy, as will staying with a local family in the evening.Head down to the Mekong Delta and visit Ben TreOn arrival, board a private boat and cruise along the waterways to visit local cottage industries. Head to our overnight homestay along the water.Sleep on simple camp beds in dorm-style rooms. Bedding and mosquito nets are provided. Shared toilet and bathroom facilities are basic.Rise early and enjoy a simple breakfast before boarding the boat, and catching a bus back to Ho Chi Minh City.Board an overnight train to Nha Trang - conditions are basic, but this is the best way to travel long distances in Vietnam. The berths sleep 4- 6 and you may be sharing with locals and different genders

Day
15-16

Nha Trang - overnight train

Top up your criminally bad tan lines on the beaches of Nha Trang, take a boat to some islands or go for a mud bath (it's like a regular bath, but in wet dirt). You'll be chowing down on a seafood feast this evening.Enjoy plenty of time to worship the sun during two full days in Nha TrangA great optional excursion (at additional cost) is a day to cruise around the islands where you spend stacks of time swimming and snorkelling and indulging in a lunchtime feast of freshly caught seafoodBoard an overnight train to Danang

Day
17-19

Hoi An

Words like "untouched", "enthralling" and "atmospheric" get thrown at Hoi An all the time. They're not wrong, but we reckon "one of the best places you'll ever visit for reasons that are too complex and at the same time too perfectly simple to summarise in a tiny box of text such as this", is a much more accurate description.Enjoy free time - there’s such a broad choice of things to see and do, and they can all be experienced without difficultyPerhaps join an optional Vietnamese cooking class?Perhaps rent bicycles and set off to explore the surrounding countryside, take a boat trip on the river, relax on the nearby beach, enjoy the cuisine on offer at some of the town’s numerous cheap cafes or have some clothes made upWhy not venture further afield to Vietnam’s world famous ‘China Beach’ and the adjacent Marble MountainsAn optional visit to the Kingdom of Champa, the ancient ruins at My Son, can be completed in half a day

Day
20-22

Hue - overnight train

Time for Hue. See ancient imperial ruins. Eat degustation-style Vietnamese cuisine. Take a cyclo tour. Sleep well. Repeat.Travel across Hai Van Pass to the fishing village of Lang Co. After a quick stop, continue on to Hue (approx 5 hrs including stops).Enjoy some free time, perhaps visit the Dong Ba marketCheck out the Forbidden Purple Palace and some royal tombsTake a ‘Dragon Boat' cruise up the Perfume River to visit the Thien Mu pagodaPerhaps cycle out to one of the Royal tombs such as the tomb of Emperor Tu Duc, one of the best remaining examples of its kindBoard overnight train to Hanoi

Day
23

Hanoi

Take an orientation walk through Hanoi's Old Quarter. Then go shopping (we recommend the Pho Hang Gai or Don Xuan Market). A water puppet show is a must for those who have an aversion to land, but a fondness for puppetry.Take a walking tour of the Old Quarter,Visit the Dong Xuan market, and stroll through the ancient '36 streets'

Day
24

Halong Bay

Visit an initiative that supports local people with disabilities, head out to the limestone karsts of Halong Bay, sleep on the jungle-clad Cat Ba Island (with a massive smile on your face).Drive through the Red River Delta to Halong Bay (approx 4 hrs), stop on the way for refreshments at a handicraft village run by disabled peopleHalong Bay is a breathtaking secluded harbour with 2,000 limestone islands rising from the waterBoard a boat and cruise the bay with its limestone karsts rising from the clear emerald watersEnjoy a seafood lunch on board, explore some of the limestone caves in the area and go swimming during the warmer monthsStay on Cat Ba Island. The foreshore is a great place to have a drink and watch the sunset

Day
25-26

Hanoi

Head back to Hanoi and spend time doing whatever the hell you want, unless it's illegal. Doing illegal things here can get you in the kind of trouble you'd rather avoid. Eat, shop, drink and relax. What more could you possibly want to do anyway!?Enjoy some free time, wander around town and check out the lifestyles of Hanoi’s peoplePerhaps visit One Pillar Pagoda near the Soviet-inspired mausoleum of Ho Chi MinhOr walk to the Temple of Literature - Vietnam’s first educational instituteThe trip ends in the morning on Day 26

itin-variation

While the information presented here details our planned itinerary, including routes taken, activities included, accommodation and meeting times, please accept that unforseen changes may occur. We are constantly on the lookout to improve our program and further enhance your experience. Naturally, we will keep you up to date with any last minute amendments to your tour.

trip-grade

RAW

Our Raw tours are best suited for those with a sense of adventure, are willing to step outside their comfort zone and don’t mind being thrown in at the deep end. For independent travellers who want to travel with others. Just the ticket for those aged between 18-35 or anyone young at heart who has an open mind, an eye on the budget and a nose for adventure. Authentic experiences that expand the mind rather than hold the hand.

Style Facts

  • The freedom to explore without breaking the bank
  • Time to do your own thing – or join in optional group activities
  • YOU choose where YOU want to eat
  • Basic accommodation
  • A variety of public transportation
  • Fully trained and experienced leader

Basic

Our Basic tours offer superb value and are ideal for those who are happy to forgo some creature comforts in favour of an authentic and fun experience. Under the leadership of a fully trained tour leader, you will enjoy all the highlights and freedom of independent travel with the convenience, security and companionship of a small group.

Style Facts

  • Plenty of free time to explore independently
  • Optional activities to suit your budget
  • Freedom to choose your own meals
  • Simple famliy run hotels
  • Mostly public transportation
  • Fully trained and experienced leader

 This tour is operated by our partners Geckos Adventures

included

  • Expert English-speaking local tour guides throughout the tour.
  • Free time to explore Hanoi, Hoi An, Nha Trang, Ho Chi Minh City, Phnom Penh, Sihanoukville, Siem Reap, the temples of Angkor and Bangkok.
  • Local homestay experience in Cambodia.
  • Sightseeing (including entrance fees where relevant): Hanoi; Hoi An’s 'Old Town'; and the Cu Chi Tunnels.
  • Bike ride around Hue and boat cruise up the Perfume River.
  • Free time to explore Hanoi, Hoi An, Nha Trang, Ho Chi Minh City, Phnom Penh and Siem Reap.
  • Reunification Express sleeper train from Ho Chi Minh City to Nha Trang, Nha Trang to Hoi An and Hue to Hanoi.

not-included

  • International flights
  • Arrival and departure transfers
  • Departure and airport taxes
  • Visas
  • All other meals
  • All optional tours or activities during free time
  • Transfers outside of the tour program
  • Travel insurance
  • Tips and items of a personal nature

meals

4 breakfasts, 1 lunch, 2 dinners

single-room-sup

Most of our travellers like the thought of travelling with a few like-minded souls. There are NO compulsory single supplements on most tours as we simply arrange twin shared accommodation for you and another tour member of the same sex. But don't worry if that doesn't appeal. We do understand there are times when you just want a bit of privacy and 'me' time so we are more than happy to arrange a private room upon request when you book.

local-payment

The local payment is the final part of your overall tour cost. It MUST be paid in cash, in the currency indicated, to your tour leader at the start of your trip. Having a local payment helps us to pass cost savings on to you. Please note that the Local Payment is non-refundable.

Affordable Adventures

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