Cambodia-Vietnam




Phnom Penh to Hanoi 20 days.



  • Route: Phnom Penh to Hanoi
  • Length: 20 days
  • Transport: Boat, Overnight sleeper train, Plane, Private minibus, Private vehicle
  • Accommodation: Homestay, Hotel, Overnight boat, Overnight sleeper train


Discover the incredible diversity, delectable cuisines, dramatic histories and natural beauty of Cambodia and Vietnam. Delve into the dramatic Khmer legacy in Phnom Penh, view Vietnam's colourful history on the busy streets of Saigon and explore the colonial-era amongst the grand architecture of Hanoi. This trip offers places of breathtaking beauty, from the beaches of Nha Trang and the backwaters of the Mekong Delta, to the jungles of Cambodia and the wonder of Halong Bay. Add to that a mix of friendly locals and age-old traditions for the ultimate Indochina experience.

 

trip-grade

 

Plus

Our Plus tours allow you to immerse yourself within a destination or culture whilst travelling and sleeping in comfort. They are packed with highlights to ensure you get the most out of your valuable time away yet are also slower paced allowing you time to savour the culture, traditions and sights of your destination – the perfect balance.

countries-visited




Cambodia

Cambodia Angkor Wat Sunrise

If you want to find a mystifying, yet inspiring location, look no further than Cambodia. If you are looking for more than a holiday, and want to experience what South East Asia has to offer, this is the place for you.

Phnom Penh is a capital full of life. Lying on the edge of the Mekong River, Phnom Penh is the perfect place to relax after an adventurous day and is a fine place to be to see picturesque sunsets over the city's lake.

Getting into rural Cambodia is a great opportunity to see the rice paddies and sugar palms of Cambodia. The landscapes here are second to none, and as you venture further into the provinces, you can discover the true life of a Cambodian.

The country's most famous attraction is Angkor Wat, the largest religious complex ever built and ancient capital of the Khmer empire. It was built in the 12th century but only popularised in west in the 19th century. It's Cambodia's most visited site and features on the county's flag.

With the Mekong River flowing through the country, there is a chance to see some of the only freshwater dolphins left in this part of the world. If you aren't lucky enough to spot a dolphin, there is over 200 other animals you can spot. Whether this is in one of Cambodia's amazing national parks, or in the wilderness, the choice is up to you, as the vast amount of animals around the country means you are bound to find animal life wherever you go.

Vehicle in Cambodia

Please note that due to import restrictions we are unable to take the overland truck into Cambodia. We therefore use a private bus for this section of the trip.

 

Vietnam

Round Boats

If you want to spot the breathtaking views of 3000 limestone islands rising out the jade coloured waters, then visit the Titop Islands of Halong Bay, Vietnam.

Hanoi is the capital, and it is a place where the old and new world meet. Where French and Asian cultures mix. Still standing are historical towers and temples, there are over 600 that are spread across the city. A visit to the capital is not complete without a visit to the Thang Long Water Puppet Theatre. The traditional Vietnamese pit orchestra creates a lively atmosphere that interests people of all ages.

You can have a traditional Vietnamese meal. The blends of herbs and sauces added to pork, chicken and fish create some delectable dishes. If you want a vegetarian meal, then there are many to choose from as a lot of people in Vietnam are vegetarians. One dish is Xoi which is sticky rice cooked in coconut milk. A simple dish yet there are so many varieties that are created.

Vietnam is a chance to escape from the rest of the world and explore for days on end. What more could you want from a place with outstanding views, beautiful food and a friendly welcome.

daily-itin


Days 1-2 Phnom Penh

 Sua s'dei! Welcome to Cambodia.

Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6pm on Day 1.

You can arrive at any time as there are no activities planned until this important meeting. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask the hotel reception where it will take place. If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time, you may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you have all these details to provide to your leader.

Phnom Penh, Cambodia's capital, is set on a major junction of the Mekong and Tonle Sap rivers and boasts some fine examples of French-inspired architecture.

For those with extra time, consider a visit to Wat Phnom, a peaceful temple situated on a hill for which the city is named - according to legend, a 14th-century woman named Penh found sacred Buddhist objects in the nearby river and placed them here on the small hill. Or checkout the National Museum - housed in a beautiful traditional building, it contains many outstanding examples of Khmer craftsmanship. And for a more relaxed experience simply stroll along the famous Sisowath Quay and enjoy a coffee or cocktail at one of the many cafes while observing the busy river traffic.

Confront Cambodia's tragic past on a guided tour of the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, a former school which served as a Khmer Rouge torture centre. It's estimated that more than 20,000 people were held and tortured here.

Head out to the Choeung Ek Memorial, where a stupa made up of some 8,000 human skulls marks the site of the infamous Killing Fields. This was the execution ground for the torture victims of Tuol Sleng and standing in this peaceful setting it's almost unthinkable to imagine that to date nearly 9000 corpses have been exhumed from the area.

Learn about a brighter period in Cambodian history with a visit to the Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda.

As this is a combination trip, your group leader and the composition of your group may change at this location. There will be a group meeting to discuss the next stage of your itinerary and you're welcome to attend, as this is a great chance to meet your new fellow travellers.

An airport arrival transfer is included. This transfer is only valid if arriving on day 1 or if you have booked pre-trip accommodation through Imaginative Traveller. Please provide your flight details at the time of booking, or at a minimum 15 days prior to travel (note - we may not be able confirm request made within 15 days of travel). Once you have provided your details a transfer representative will be booked to meet you at the airport and transfer you to your hotel.

Included Activities

  • Complimentary airport arrival transfer
  • Phnom Penh - Guided tour of Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum
  • Phnom Penh - Guided tour Choeung Ek (Killing fields)
  • Phnom Penh - Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda

Optional Activities

  • Phnom Penh - Wat Phnom, Phnom Penh - USD2.00
  • Phnom Penh - National Museum, Phnom Penh - USD5.00
  • Cyclo tour - Phnom Penh, Phnom Penh - USD3.00

Accommodation

Hotel (2 nts)



Days 3-5 Siem Reap/Angkor Wat

A short flight takes us to Siem Reap (approx 1 hour).

The small but expanding town of Siem Reap is the gateway to Angkor. It's markets are a great place to shop or to try some cheap, delicious street food.

Temple-hop with our local guide to make the most of our visit to the world-famous Angkor complex. These temples were built between the 9th and 13th centuries when the Khmer empire was the pre-eminent influence in South-East Asia. The temples were believed to represent the cosmic world and were set in perfect balance, symmetry and composition. The intricately carved bas-reliefs and architectural designs are mind-blowing and there are spectacular photographic opportunities at any time of day - watching a sunrise or sunset is a must. The ruins are scattered over an area of some 160 sq km, but the main cluster of temples is close to Siem Reap so we'll have plenty of time to fully appreciate the great archaeological sites of Angkor Wat, the Bayon and the jungle-covered Ta Prohm.

Visit the Angkor Centre for Conservation of Biodiversity (ACCB).This centre rehabilitates animals that have fallen victim to wildlife trafficking and is a breeding facility for highly endangered animal species. It's also a centre of education and information for the local population.

For the energetic consider the short trek (approx. 40mins) up the hill to the river of a thousand lingas (phallic symbols) descending into a pretty waterfall. This Hindu site pre-dates Angkor Wat by some 200 years; making it one the most ancient sites in the region.

Enjoy a delicious Khmer lunch with our friends at local organisation, Sala Bai - a training centre that is working with disadvantaged family's to develop a career in hospitality.

Included Activities

  • Siem Reap - 3 day Angkor pass
  • Siem Reap - Angkor Centre for Conservation of Biodiversity
  • Lunch at Sala Bai
  • 2 days with a local guide

Optional Activities

  • Siem Reap - Kbal Spean (river of a thousand lingas), Siem Reap - Free
  • Siem Reap - Khmer cooking class, Siem Reap - USD15.00
  • Khmer traditional massage, Siem Reap - USD10.00
  • Siem Reap - Remork transport to Tonle Sap Lake, Siem Reap - USD10.00
  • Siem Reap - Tonle Sap boat trip, Tonle Sap Lake - USD15.00
  • Siem Reap - Landmine Museum, Siem Reap - USD3.00

Accommodation

Hotel (3 nts)



Day 6 Ho Chi Minh City

We transfer to Siem Reap Airport for the short flight (approx. 1hr) to Ho Chi Minh City. Please note that you will not be accompanied on this flight. When you arrive in HCMC you will be met at the airport and transferred to your hotel.

Xin chao! Welcome to Vietnam.

As this is a combination trip, your group leader and the composition of your group may change at this location. There will be a group meeting to discuss the next stage of your itinerary and you're welcome to attend, as this is a great chance to meet your new fellow travellers.

Formerly known as Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City is characterised by a vast array of sights and sounds, and is a fascinating blend of old and new, East and West. The huge number of people rushing about their daily lives in Vietnam's largest city gives it a dynamic atmosphere and the French influence is evident in the excellent baguettes and coffee on offer. Much of city life takes place on the busy streets lined with shops, stalls and vendors, who have their wares spread out on the footpath and sell everything from soup to sophisticated electronics.

Accommodation

Hotel (1 nt)



Day 7 Mekong Delta

Enjoy a buffet breakfast at KOTO restaurant, which aims to teach street children hospitality skills.

Head south to Cai Be (approx 3 hrs).

Board our boats to cruise the Mekong Delta and explore its intricate waterways. This is our introduction to a world where life depends on the river. Often referred to as the 'rice bowl' of Vietnam, the fertile delta is famous for its abundant harvests of tropical fruits, flowers and rice, as well as it fantastic views while boating along the canals.

Visit an orchard where you can sample tropical fruits, before continuing on to visit some local cottage industries. Around sunset we make our way up one of the many canals to our homestay where we enjoy a wonderful meal of local specialities. At our homestay we'll be sleeping on simple camp beds in a dorm-style arrangement. Bedding and mosquito nets are provided. Shared toilet and bathroom facilities are basic with cold water only.

Included Activities

  • Mekong Delta - boat cruise and homestay

Accommodation

Homestay (1 nt)



Days 8-9 Ho Chi Minh City

Activity in the delta starts at dawn, so we'll be up early. After breakfast, we visit the busy Cai Be floating market.

Return to Ho Chi Minh City via Cu Chi.

Visit the famous Cu Chi tunnels. This former Viet Cong stronghold provides an insight into the resourcefulness and tenacity of the Vietnamese people, as well as a unique sense of what underground life was like during the American War.

Experience the hustle and bustle of old Saigon on a city tour and explore some of the city's more interesting sights, including the War Remnants Museum and Reunification Palace.

Board an overnight train to Nha Trang. Conditions are basic and cleanliness might not be as we would expect back home, however overnight trains are a truly Imaginative Traveller experience and the best way to travel long distances with the locals. Sleeper trains typically have 4 berth compartments (occasionally 6 berths depending on seasonal variations), which are made up of bench seats that convert into sleeping bunks. A sheet, pillow and blanket are provided, although some travellers prefer to bring their own sleeping sheet. On occasion passengers of different genders will be required to share a compartment and there will be occasions where you will be sharing with local travellers or travellers who are not part of your group. Most trains have a dining carriage serving simple food, but some travellers take the opportunity to stock up on fresh bread, cheese and fruit prior to departure.

Included Activities

  • HCMC - Cu Chi Tunnels
  • HCMC - Reunification Palace
  • HCMC - War Remnants Museum

Accommodation

Hotel (1 nt), Overnight sleeper train (1 nt)



Days 10-11 Nha Trang

Once referred to as the 'Cannes of the Orient', Nha Trang's sandy palm-lined beach and island-dotted bay still make an idyllic picture, and a cosmopolitan feel prevails in the town itself.

A highlight for many travellers is our boat trip amongst the islands. From the main boat, we take basket boats to shore and visit a fishing village, snorkel in the turquoise waters, enjoy a seafood buffet, and pass the afternoon lazing in deck chairs or swimming.

Included Activities

  • Nha Trang - Boat trip

Accommodation

Hotel (2 nts)



Days 12-14 Hoi An

Take a short flight to Danang and then travel by minibus to Hoi An (approx 1 hr).

Recently declared a World Heritage site, Hoi An is being beautifully restored and preserved. Known as Faifo to early western traders, it was one of South-East Asia's major international ports during the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. Today, parts of Hoi An look exactly as they did more than a century ago and it retains the feel of centuries past, making it the sort of place that grows on you the more you explore it.

It's also a shopping mecca – with much to browse and buy. Choose from original paintings, handcrafted woodwork, ceramics, embroidery, lanterns and more. Hoi An has also become famous for its tailoring, with a great variety of fabrics and tailors to choose from. Bring your favourite piece of clothing or even just a picture, and you'll be able to have it copied.

On arrival, your tour leader will take you on an orientation walk around the Ancient Town, so you can get your bearings.

You have plenty of time to explore. Your leader can help you arrange an optional Vietnamese cooking course or you can rent a bicycle and take a trip out to the nearby Cua Dai Beach, also known as China Beach.

If you can muster an early rise the next morning, the wonderful local market is well worth a visit to watch animated shoppers haggling over fresh fish, spices and vegetables.

Visit the ruins of My Son, Vietnam's most important Cham site. Set in a verdant valley, surrounded by hills and overlooked by the massive Cat's Tooth Mountain, the elaborate World Heritage-listed temples here reflect the rich cultural traditions of the Cham civilisation that flourished in this region between the 4th and 12th century.

Included Activities

  • Hoi An - Ancient town

Optional Activities

  • Hoi An - My Son Cham day trip, Hoi An - VND800000.00
  • Hoi An - Thu Bon river boat trip, Hoi An - VND100000.00
  • Hoi An - cooking course, Hoi An - VND125000.00
  • Hoi An - Bicycle hire, Hoi An - VND30000.00

Accommodation

Hotel (3 nts)



Days 15-16 Hue

Drive to Hue via China Beach and the spectacular Hai Van Pass, an incredibly scenic and mountainous stretch of highway with spectacular views of Lang Co Beach. Make a lunch stop at beautiful Lang Co en route.

As the former imperial capital of Vietnam, Hue holds the treasures of Vietnam's royal past and is a curious mix of bustling streets and tranquil settings.

Visit the Imperial Citadel, including the Forbidden Purple City. The latter was almost totally destroyed during the Vietnam War's Tet Offensive, but the foliage-covered ruins are still atmospheric and the gaping holes left by bombs give an idea of the destruction wreaked upon the country during the war.

Enjoy a dragon boat cruise on the Perfume River, and a visit to Thien Mu Pagoda, considered by many to be the unofficial symbol of Hue. It's an active Buddhist monastery with its origins dating back to 1601. One of the most poignant displays is a car belonging to a former monk who, in 1963, drove to Saigon and set himself alight to protest against the treatment of Buddhists by the South Vietnamese regime. We also visit one of the royal tombs, that of Emperor Tu Duc, with its central lake set amid a grove of frangipani and pine trees, and we may visit what many believe to be the most majestic of all the royal tombs, Minh Mang.

Please note, boats for the Perfume River trip may not be available if you are travelling during festival periods. During these times we will instead travel by land to reach the activities.

Most groups will visit either a Buddhist nunnery or monastery and have lunch while in Hue. Not only does the lunch provide economic benefits to these institutions, which rely on donations to survive, but it also enables our groups to get an insight into the unique traditions and food of Vietnamese Buddism. Due to the high passenger numbers visiting Hue, six different monasteries and nunneries are visited so as to share the wealth and minimise impact.

Included Activities

  • Hue - Imperial citadel
  • Hue - Perfume river cruise and Thien Mu Pagoda
  • Hue - Royal tomb

Accommodation

Hotel (2 nts)



Day 17 Hanoi

Fly from Hue to Hanoi.

The capital of Vietnam is a charming city with a population of around four million. Hanoi is famous for its beautiful lakes, shaded boulevards, verdant public parks and its thriving Old Quarter, which is an architectural museum piece with blocks of ochre buildings retaining the air of a 1930s provincial French town. As Vietnam develops to compete with other South-East Asian countries, the beautiful Hoan Kiem Lake reflects the contrasts of modern office buildings, old Buddhist temples and the tangle of ancient streets in its still surface.

Take a city tour through the ancient '39 streets' to discover an amazing selection of shops selling everything from souvenirs to exquisite silk clothing, beautifully embroidered tablecloths and CDs. Then take in a performance of the famous water puppet theatre.

Vietnam Fine Arts Museum is considered as one of the crucial museum in maintaining and promoting the treasure of cultural, artistic heritages of Vietnamese ethnic communities.

Included Activities

  • Hanoi - Water puppet show
  • Hanoi - Fine Arts Museum
  • Hanoi - Temple of Literature

Accommodation

Hotel (1 nt)



Day 18 Halong Bay

Travel by private minibus to the spectacular World Heritage site of Halong Bay (approx 4 hrs).

Halong Bay is a breathtaking secluded harbour with 2,000 limestone islands rising from the emerald waters of Bac Bo Gulf. One of Vietnam's most scenic regions, this area of about 1,500 sq km is dotted with innumerable beaches and grottos, created over thousands of years by waves and wind.

Board our private boat and cruise among the dramatic limestone peaks. There's an opportunity to swim in the famed South China Sea, as well as to explore caves filled with stunning stalactites and stalagmites. Spend a peaceful night on board, beneath a night sky alive with stars. Our sailing junk has twin-share cabins that have air-conditioning and private facilities. There's also a dining room and bar where we enjoy a sumptuous lunch and dinner.

BOAT SHORTAGE:

Due to recent unforeseen late changes by local authorities in Halong Bay a large proportion of boats are now no longer permitted to stay overnight, thus resulting in a shortage of boats. To ensure we can accommodate all Imaginative Traveller travellers overnight on a boat we are occasionally using a larger boat (approx. 12 cabins) and splitting our groups across different boats. An Imaginative Traveller group leader will be present on each boat, and the route taken and inclusions on board will remain the same.

Included Activities

  • Halong Bay - Overnight boat cruise

Accommodation

Overnight boat (1 nt)



Days 19-20 Hanoi

Return to Hanoi by bus (approx 4 hrs), stopping at Dong Trieu Factory to watch locals working on the traditional art of ceramics.

Your afternoon is free to explore Hanoi's sights and to do some last-minute shopping. You could also see Ho Chi Minh's Mausoleum and house.

There are no activities planned for the final day and you are able to depart the accommodation at any time. Please check the 'Finishing Point Hotel' section for checkout times and luggage storage possibilities.

Optional Activities

  • Hanoi - Ho Chi Minh's Mausoleum and Museum, Hanoi - VND50000.00
  • Hanoi - Hoa Lo 'Hanoi Hilton' Prison, Hanoi - VND20000.00
  • Hanoi - Museum of Ethnology, Hanoi - VND180000.00

Accommodation

Hotel (1 nt)

Also available to purchase

For many of our trips we have other services or experiences that are also available to purchase to extend your trip or to make your holiday a little easier. Below is a list of other travel products you can purchase in conjunction with this trip.

  • Single supplement


what-else





Itinerary disclaimer

Occasionally our itineraries are updated during the year to incorporate improvements stemming from past travellers' comments and our own research. The information given in this itinerary may be slightly different to that in the brochure. It's very important that you print and review a final copy of your Trip Notes a couple of days prior to travel, in case there have been changes that affect your plans.

 

Please note that while we operate successful trips in this region throughout the year, some changes may occur in our itineraries due to inclement weather and common seasonal changes to timetables and transport routes. This can happen with little notice so please be prepared for modifications to the route.

Culture shock rating

 

Expect some culture shock. You'll be exposed to signs of poverty and access to services may be sporadic. The food will be quite different to home and English speakers harder to find. Respecting the local culture will make it easier to fit in and really experience the location.

Physical rating

 

Some easy physical activities included in your trip. No physical preparation is required to make the most of the journey.

included





Included activities are listed in the day-to-day itinerary, all other activities are optional and at your own expense. If you choose not to participate in the included activities on this itinerary, the cost will not be refunded.

optional-extras






A selection of optional activities are listed in the day-to-day itinerary. This isn't an exhaustive list and should be used as a guide only. Prices are for entrance only and don't include transport costs to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated. It may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination. Optional activities aren't necessarily endorsed or recommended by Imaginative Traveller nor included in price of this trip. If you do any optional activities, you do so at your own risk and it must be clearly understood that your participation is your own decision and doesn't form part of your contract with Imaginative Traveller. You may be required to sign/complete a waiver form or a receipt for some optional activities.

money




Money Exchange

The official currency of Cambodia is the Riel (KHR).

 

Unofficially however, US currency (US$) runs the country and is the currency you should bring, mostly in cash - notes should be 2006 series onwards. ATMs also dispense in both KHR and US$.

The official currency of Vietnam is Dong (VND).

 

Some establishments will accept US currency (USD), but usually only for large purchases and in some restaurants and hotels that cater to tourists. It's not possible to exchange Vietnamese Dong outside the country, so convert or spend all your Dong before leaving.

The most convenient and cheapest way to obtain local currency in is via an Automated Teller Machine (ATM). ATMs are now available in most towns and visa cash advances are available in major banks. The use of credit cards is restricted, mainly to major hotels. Foreign currency notes that are old, torn or faded can be very difficult to exchange; clean bills in small denominations are most useful. Traveller's cheques can be difficult to change.

Spending money

Every traveller is different and therefore spending money requirements will vary. Some travellers may drink more than others while other travellers like to purchase more souvenirs than most. Please consider your own spending habits when it comes to allowing for drinks, shopping, participating in optional activities, and tipping. Please also remember the following specific recommendations when planning your trip.

Tipping

If you're happy with the services provided a tip - though not compulsory - is appropriate. While it may not be customary to you, it's of great significance to the people who will take care of you during your travels, inspires excellent service, and is an entrenched feature of the tourism industry across many Imaginative Traveller destinations. Although can be difficult to source we advise you to carry small notes of local currency each day to make tipping easier. Please note we recommend that any tips are given directly to the intended recipient by a member of your group as our group leaders are prohibited from collecting cash for tips.

 

The following amounts are per person suggestions based on local considerations and feedback from our past travellers:

 

Restaurants: Local markets and basic restaurants - round your bill up to the nearest US$1. More up-market restaurants we suggest 10% to 15% of your bill.

 

Local guides: Throughout your trip you may at times have a local guide in addition to your leader. We suggest US$2-3 per day for local guides.

 

Drivers: You may have a range of drivers on your trip. Some may be with you for a short journey while others may be with you for several days. We would suggest a higher tip for those more involved with the group, however we suggest US$1-2 per day for drivers.

 

Your Group Leader: You may also consider tipping your leader for outstanding service throughout your trip. The amount is entirely a personal preference, however as a guideline US$2-4 per person, per day can be used. Of course you are free to tip more or less as you see fit, depending on your perception of service quality and the length of your trip. Remember, a tip is not compulsory and should only be given when you receive excellent service.

 

In total, we recommend you budget approx US$5-10 per day of your trip to cover tipping.

 

At your group meeting on day 1 your tour guide will discuss with you the idea of running a group tipping kitty, whereby everybody contributes an equal amount and then your group leader pays the tips while keeping a running record of all monies spent (except restaurant tips). The record can be checked at any time and any money remaining at the end of the tour returned to group members. This is often the easiest way to avoid the hassles of needing small change and knowing when and what is an appropriate amount to tip.

 

Please don't tip with coins, very small denomination notes, or dirty and ripped notes. This is regarded culturally as an insult.

other-important-information




HUE AIRPORT CLOSURE: March 2013

The Hue airport will be closed for approximately 8 months. For departures during this period we will be using the Danang airport for the flight to Hanoi. It is a 3hr transfer from Hue city to Danang airport.

CAMBODIAN FESTIVALS & HOLIDAYS:

During public holidays and festival periods in Cambodia many businesses may close, transport may be extremely busy and travel times may increase. During these times please be patient and consider these moments as an opportunity to interact with the locals. Particularly worth noting are Khmer New Year (3 days in mid-April), Pchum Ben (3 days in early October) and Water Festival (3 days in late November).

TET:

Tet is Vietnam's New Year festival, held annually in late January or early February based on the lunar calendar. While this can be a fascinating time to travel and experience this event, expect some shop closures and busier than usual local transport. Opening hours at some tourist sites may also be affected or closed. Although we make all reasonable efforts to avoid disruption, a flexible approach from the traveller is appreciated.

Group-Size





Maximum of 12 travellers per group.

your-fellow-trav





As you travel on a group trip you will be exposed to all the pleasures and maybe some of the frustrations of travelling in a group. Your fellow travellers will probably come from all corners of the world and likely a range of age groups too. We ask you to be understanding of the various needs and preferences of your group - patience with your fellow travellers is sometimes required for the benefit of everyone's travel experience. Remember too that you have responsibilities to the group. If you are requested to be at a place at a certain time, ensure that you don't keep the rest of the group waiting. We have found time and time again that the very best trips we operate are those where the dynamics within the group work well - this takes just a little effort on your part.

Due to privacy reasons we are unable to provide you with contact details and any personal information about your fellow travellers booked on your trip prior to departure.

Single-Travellers





Our group trips are designed for shared accommodation and don't involve a compulsory single supplement. Single travellers share with people of the same gender in accommodation ranging from twin to multishare. Some of our itineraries have accommodation booked on a mixed gender share basis and where applicable this will be specified in our Trip Notes. On a selection of our trips, you have the option to pay a single supplement to ensure that you have your own room (where available). Please note that this only applies to accommodation during the tour - pre-trip and post-trip accommodation will be booked on a single room basis.

A single supplement is available on this trip. The single supplement is not available on the following nights:

 

Day 8 - Homestay
Day 9 - Day Room
Day 9 - Overnight Train
Day 18 - Overnight boat on Halong Bay

Accommodation





Hotel (16 nts), Homestay (1 nt), Overnight sleeper train (1 nt), Overnight boat (1 nt)


The style of accommodation indicated in the day-to-day itinerary is a guideline. On rare occasions, alternative arrangements may need to be made due to the lack of availability of rooms in our usual accommodation. A similar standard of accommodation will be used in these instances.

 

Throughout the trip we request that our hotels prepare rooms in time for our arrival, especially if we're arriving prior to normal check-in time. However this isn't always possible which means we won't be able to check-in immediately on arrival at some hotels. Instead, we can store our luggage and explore our new destination.

 

If you've purchased pre-trip or post-trip accommodation (if available), you may be required to change rooms from your trip accommodation for these extra nights.

meals




While travelling with us you'll experience the vast array of wonderful food available in the world. Your group leader will be able to suggest restaurants to try during your trip. On our camping trips we often cook the region's specialities so you don't miss out. To give you the maximum flexibility in deciding where, what and with whom to eat, generally not all meals are included in the trip price. This also gives you more budgeting flexibility. As a rule our groups tend to eat together to enable you to taste a larger variety of dishes and enjoy each other's company. There's no obligation to do this though.

Meals

19 Breakfasts, 6 Lunches, 5 Dinners

Budget for meals not included:

USD 250.00

transport





Boat, Private vehicle, Overnight sleeper train, Plane, Private minibus

group-leader




All Imaginative Traveller group trips are accompanied by one of our group leaders. The aim of the group leader is to take the hassle out of your travels and to help you have the best trip possible. Imaginative Traveller endeavours to provide the services of an experienced leader however, due to the seasonality of travel, rare situations may arise where your leader is new to a particular region or training other group leaders.

 

Your leader will provide information on the places you are travelling through, offer suggestions for things to do and see, recommend great local eating venues and introduce you to our local friends. While not being guides in the traditional sense you can expect them to have a broad general knowledge of the places visited on the trip, including historical, cultural, religious and social aspects. At Imaginative Traveller we aim to support local guides who have specialised knowledge of the regions we visit. If you were interested in delving deeper into the local culture at a specific site or location then your leader can recommend a local guide service in most of the main destinations of your trip.

joining-point




Cardamom Hotel

No. 69, St. 174, Sangkat Phsar Thmey III, Phnom Penh

Khan Daun Phenh

Phnom Penh

CAMBODIA

Join-point-desc



The Cardamom Hotel is located in the heart of vibrant Phnom Penh, a walk or quick 'motoremork' (Cambodian tuk tuk) away from landmarks such as the Central Market, Wat Phnom, the National Museum, the Royal Palace, the Independence Monument, and Sorya department store as well as a handy local supermarket. The hotel has a total of 102 guests rooms, a lobby bar, restaurant and free WiFi. Check-in is 14:00.

Join-point-instruct





A complimentary arrival transfer is included on day 1 of this trip. Transfers cannot be arranged on arrival. Please advise your flight arrival details at least 14 days prior to your departure. If you plan to arrive earlier, this arrival transfer can only be offered in conjunction with pre-tour accommodation booked through Imaginative Traveller. Imaginative Traveller provides one complimentary arrival transfer per booking even if clients are arriving at different times. Your driver will be waiting for you as you leave the customs hall, holding an Intrepid sign bearing your name.

Should you have any difficulties please contact the following local number: +855 925 55 969 or +66 898 103 722.

Arriv-complications




We don't expect any problems (and nor should you) but if for any reason you are unable to commence your group trip as scheduled, please contact your starting point hotel, requesting that you speak to or leave a message for your group leader.

 

If you have pre-booked an airport transfer (where available) and have not made contact with our representative within 30 minutes of clearing customs and immigration, we recommend that you make your own way to the starting point hotel, following the Joining Instructions in these Trip Notes. Should this occur, please apply to your travel agent for a refund of the transfer cost on your return.

 

No refund is available on missed transfers or portions of your trip owing to a different flight arrival or delayed flight arrival. Any additional cost incurred in order to meet up with your group is at your own expense.

finishing-point




Santa Barbara

23 Quan Thanh Str

Ba Dinh District

Hanoi

VIET NAM

Phone: +84 437350666

Finishing-P-Desc




Located just outside of the Old Quarter, the Santa Barbara Hotel is within walking distance of the nearby Hoan Kiem Lake. All rooms have telephone, TV, air conditioning, en-suite bathroom, and wifi.

www.santabarbara.com.vn

Finish-point-instruc





A taxi from the hotel to the airport will cost approx. 15USD (310,000VND) and take approx 45 minutes.

A departure transfer to the airport is available if arranged at the time of booking. Please advise your flight arrival details at least 15 days prior to trip departure. If you plan to stay longer, this departure transfer can only be offered in conjunction with post-tour accommodation booked through Imaginative Traveller.

If you have booked a departure transfer, please ask your leader to confirm the time of departure. If you have any problems please call our hotline:

+84 903 117 770.

Check-out time from the hotel is 12 noon. If you are departing later, you can arrange luggage storage at the hotel.

Alt-Fin-Point




For trips departing on the following dates, use this finish point.

16 Sep 2013 (ITKKHC130916), 23 Sep 2013 (ITKKHC130923), 30 Sep 2013 (ITKKHC130930), 07 Oct 2013 (ITKKHC131007), 14 Oct 2013 (ITKKHC131014), 21 Oct 2013 (ITKKHC131021), 28 Oct 2013 (ITKKHC131028), 04 Nov 2013 (ITKKHC131104), 11 Nov 2013 (ITKKHC131111), 18 Nov 2013 (ITKKHC131118), 25 Nov 2013 (ITKKHC131125), 02 Dec 2013 (ITKKHC131202), 09 Dec 2013 (ITKKHC131209), 16 Dec 2013 (ITKKHC131216), 23 Dec 2013 (ITKKHC131223), 30 Dec 2013 (ITKKHC131230), 06 Jan 2014 (ITKKHC140106), 13 Jan 2014 (ITKKHC140113), 20 Jan 2014 (ITKKHC140120), 27 Jan 2014 (ITKKHC140127), 03 Feb 2014 (ITKKHC140203), 10 Feb 2014 (ITKKHC140210), 17 Feb 2014 (ITKKHC140217), 24 Feb 2014 (ITKKHC140224), 03 Mar 2014 (ITKKHC140303), 10 Mar 2014 (ITKKHC140310), 17 Mar 2014 (ITKKHC140317), 24 Mar 2014 (ITKKHC140324), 31 Mar 2014 (ITKKHC140331), 07 Apr 2014 (ITKKHC140407), 14 Apr 2014 (ITKKHC140414), 21 Apr 2014 (ITKKHC140421), 28 Apr 2014 (ITKKHC140428), 05 May 2014 (ITKKHC140505), 12 May 2014 (ITKKHC140512), 19 May 2014 (ITKKHC140519), 26 May 2014 (ITKKHC140526), 02 Jun 2014 (ITKKHC140602), 09 Jun 2014 (ITKKHC140609), 16 Jun 2014 (ITKKHC140616), 23 Jun 2014 (ITKKHC140623), 30 Jun 2014 (ITKKHC140630), 07 Jul 2014 (ITKKHC140707), 14 Jul 2014 (ITKKHC140714), 18 Jul 2014 (ITKKHC140718), 21 Jul 2014 (ITKKHC140721), 28 Jul 2014 (ITKKHC140728), 04 Aug 2014 (ITKKHC140804), 11 Aug 2014 (ITKKHC140811), 15 Aug 2014 (ITKKHC140815), 18 Aug 2014 (ITKKHC140818), 25 Aug 2014 (ITKKHC140825), 01 Sep 2014 (ITKKHC140901), 08 Sep 2014 (ITKKHC140908), 15 Sep 2014 (ITKKHC140915), 22 Sep 2014 (ITKKHC140922), 29 Sep 2014 (ITKKHC140929), 03 Oct 2014 (ITKKHC141003), 06 Oct 2014 (ITKKHC141006), 13 Oct 2014 (ITKKHC141013), 17 Oct 2014 (ITKKHC141017), 20 Oct 2014 (ITKKHC141020), 27 Oct 2014 (ITKKHC141027), 03 Nov 2014 (ITKKHC141103), 10 Nov 2014 (ITKKHC141110), 14 Nov 2014 (ITKKHC141114), 17 Nov 2014 (ITKKHC141117), 24 Nov 2014 (ITKKHC141124), 28 Nov 2014 (ITKKHC141128), 01 Dec 2014 (ITKKHC141201), 08 Dec 2014 (ITKKHC141208), 12 Dec 2014 (ITKKHC141212), 15 Dec 2014 (ITKKHC141215), 22 Dec 2014 (ITKKHC141222), 26 Dec 2014 (ITKKHC141226)

 

Thien Thai Hotel

45 Nguyen Truong To St

Ba Dinh District

Hanoi

VIET NAM

Alt-Fin-Point-Desc


Located in the Old Quarter, Thien Thai is within walking distance of the nearby Dong Xuan market and the Ho Tay Lake (West Lake). All rooms have telephone, TV, air conditioning, electronic safe, en-suite bathroom, hair dryer and mini fridge.

www.thienthaihotel.com

Alt-Fin-Point-Ins




A taxi from the hotel to the airport will cost approx. 15USD (310,000VND) and take approx 45 minutes.

 

A departure transfer to the airport is available if arranged at the time of booking. Please advise your flight arrival details at least 15 days prior to trip departure. If you plan to stay longer, this departure transfer can only be offered in conjunction with post-tour accommodation booked through Imaginative Traveller.

 

If you have booked a departure transfer, please ask your leader to confirm the time of departure. If you have any problems please call our hotline:
+84 903 117 770.
Check-out time from the hotel is 12 noon. If you are departing later, you can arrange luggage storage at the hotel.



emergency



Emergency contact

In the case of a genuine crisis or emergency, the Thailand Office can be reached on Tel: +66 898 103 722 (Thailand, Laos, Malaysia, Borneo, Indonesia & Phillipines) and Tel: +855 92 555 969 (Cambodia). The Vietnam Office can be reached on Tel: +84 903 117 770.

We also have a dedicated 24 hour telephone number which should only be used once you have left the UK and in the event of a real emergency. Should you need to call the number, we will do what we can to help but please bear in mind that real progress or action may not be possible until normal office hours.

If your flight is delayed or cancelled, please let us know and then make your way to the joining hotel as instructed in these trip notes. If you cannot get through leave a message and a contact number as these will be regularly checked. Emergency Number: +44 (0) 7985106564

Emergency funds

Please also make sure you have access to an additional US$400, to be used when unforeseen incidents or circumstances outside our control (eg. a natural disaster, civil unrest or an outbreak of bird flu) necessitate a change to our planned route.

visa-information




Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. The visa requirements for your trip vary depending on where you are from and where you are going. As a general rule most countries expect that you will have at least 6 months' validity on your passport. On arrival visitors may be asked to present return tickets and evidence of means to cover your intended stay.

 

We keep the following information up to date as much as possible, but rules do change - it's important that you check for yourself. Residents from other countries must consult the relevant embassies or your travel agent.

CAMBODIA:

Australia:Yes - on arrival

Belgium: Yes - on arrival

Canada: Yes - on arrival

Germany Yes - on arrival

Ireland: Yes - on arrival

Netherlands: Yes - on arrival

New Zealand: Yes - on arrival

South Africa: Yes - on arrival

Switzerland: Yes - on arrival

United Kingdom: Yes - on arrival

USA: Yes - on arrival

 

Visas can be organised either in advance or on arrival. Check with your embassy or consulate and allow approx 3 weeks for processing. It is also possible to obtain your Cambodian visa on arrival at the airport or border crossing for approx. US$25 (cost subject to change) - you will need a passport photo.

 

If a point of contact is requested, please write: Freedom Hotel, Road #6, Siem Reap, Cambodia.


VIETNAM:

Australia: Yes - in advance

Belgium: Yes - in advance

Canada: Yes - in advance

Germany Yes - in advance

Ireland: Yes - in advance

Netherlands: Yes - in advance

New Zealand: Yes - in advance

South Africa: Yes - in advance

Switzerland: Yes - in advance

United Kingdom: Yes - in advance

USA: Yes - in advance

 

When obtaining your visa you should allow 3 weeks for processing, the cost is approximately US$60 to US$100. Check with your embassy or consulate for further details. Some nationalities are exempt from requiring a visa if their stay is less than 15 days, but if you are planning on staying in Vietnam for longer than 15 days you will need to obtain a visa extension in advance.

 

Keep the customs and immigration form you receive on arrival, as you need it to complete exit formalities on departure.

 

If your visa application asks for a point of contact, please write: Intrepid Vietnam 57A Nguyen Khac Hieu St, Hanoi, Vietnam Ph +84 4 3715 0996.

Issues




While we always endeavour to provide the best possible holiday experience, due to the nature of travel and the areas we visit sometimes things can and do go wrong. Should any issue occur while you are on your trip, it is imperative that you discuss this with your group leader or our local representative straight away so that they can do their best to rectify the problem and save any potential negative impact on the rest of your trip.

 

We recognise that there may be times when your group leader/local partner may not be able to resolve a situation to your satisfaction - if this is the case, please ask the leader to speak to their direct manager.

 

You may also choose to provide details in your online feedback, which we ask you to complete within 30 days of the end of your trip. But we do ask you to be aware that it is very difficult for us to provide any practical help after the trip is complete.

what-to-take





What you need to bring will vary according to the trip style you have chosen, the countries you are visiting and when you are travelling. Generally speaking you should pack as lightly as possible. On the vast majority of our trips you are expected to carry your own luggage and although you won't be required to walk long distances with your luggage (max 30 minutes), we recommend keeping the weight under 10kg / 22lb.

Most travellers carry their luggage in a backpack, although an overnight bag with a shoulder strap would suffice if you travel lightly. Smaller bags or backpacks with wheels are convenient although we recommend your bag has carry straps. You'll also need a day pack/bag to carry water and a camera etc for day trips.

WATER BOTTLE:

Consider bringing your own water bottle to refill along the way. The sale of bottled water contributes to an enormous environmental problem around the world. In addition to the water in bottles, the production of a 1 litre plastic bottle takes 2 litres of water and 200ml of oil. A large proportion ends up in limited landfill or discarded in waterways and natural environments. Although it can be difficult to avoid bottled water when travelling, please consider water purification techniques such as iodine or micropur and use the water dispensers which are provided at some of our accommodation. When unable to avoid bottled water it is better to buy the largest available and distribute into your smaller bottle for the day.

fitness




Health

All Imaginative Traveller travellers need to be in good physical health in order to participate fully on this trip. When selecting your trip please make sure you have read through the itinerary carefully and assess your ability to cope with our style of travel. Please note that if, in the opinion of our group leader or local guide, any traveller is unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to themselves and/or the rest of the group, Imaginative Traveller reserves the right to exclude them from all or part of a trip without refund.

 

You should consult your doctor for up-to-date medical travel information or for any necessary vaccinations and anti-malarial requirements before departure. We recommend that you carry a first aid kit as well as any personal medical requirements (including a spare pair of glasses) as they may not easily be obtained at the locations on this trip. For legal reasons our leaders and guides are prohibited from administering any type of drugs including headache tablets and antibiotics. Please ensure that you are adequately prepared.

DENGUE FEVER:

Rare instances of dengue fever have been reported in this region. This virus is transmitted by mosquitoes. There is no vaccination against it, but there are preventative measures that you can take such as wearing long clothing and always using repellent. Please note that this mosquito is most active during daylight hours however care should be taken at all times.

safety





Many national governments provide a regularly updated advice service on safety issues involved with international travel. We recommend that you check your government's advice for their latest travel information before departure. Please refer to our website's safety page for links to major travel advisories and updates on safety issues affecting our trip.

We strongly recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt while travelling, for the safe-keeping of your passport, air tickets, cash and other valuable items. Leave your valuable jewellery at home - you won't need it while travelling. Many of our hotels have safety deposit boxes, which is the most secure way of storing your valuables. A lock is recommended for securing your luggage.

Your leader will accompany you on all included activities, however during your trip you'll have some free time to pursue your own interests, relax and take it easy or explore at your leisure. While your group leader will assist you with the available options in a given location, please note that any optional activities you undertake are not part of your Imaginative Traveller itinerary, and Imaginative Traveller makes no representations about the safety of the activity or the standard of the operators running them. Please use your own good judgement when selecting an activity in your free time. Please also note that your group leader has the authority to amend or cancel any part of the trip itinerary if it's deemed necessary due to safety concerns.

FIRE PRECAUTIONS:

Please be aware that local laws governing tourism facilities in this region differ from those in your home country and not all the accommodation which we use has a fire exit, fire extinguishers or smoke alarms.

BALCONIES:

Some hotel balconies don't meet UK standards in terms of the width of the balcony fence being narrower than 10cm.

TRAFFIC AND DRIVING ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE ROAD:

Depending on where you come from please note that drivers in this part of the world may drive on the opposite side of the road from what you are used to. Look both ways before crossing any road. Traffic can be a little more chaotic than you might be used to at home. Be aware!

SEAT BELTS:

Please be aware that local laws governing transportation safety may differ from those in the western world or from your home country and not all the transport which we use provides seat belts.

PETTY THEFT AND PERSONAL SAFETY:

While travelling there is always the risk of pick-pocketing and petty theft, particularly in the more touristy cities. We recommend that you exercise caution when walking alone at night and encourage you to walk together and only on main, well-lit thoroughfares. Be particularly vigilant on public transport. Simple measures like carrying your day pack on your front, not hanging your bag over the back of your chair and wearing a money belt will reduce any chance that your valuables should go missing.

MOTORBIKE BAG SNATCHING:

Be particularly aware of motorbike bag snatching, especially in the bigger cities, such as Ho Chi Minh City.

LIFE JACKETS:

While life jackets are generally available on water craft, there may be occasions where they are not provided and child size life jackets are not always readily available. If travelling with children and this safety issue concerns you we will be able to advise alternative methods of transport (where available) for you to travel to the next destination. You can choose to travel independently for this leg of the journey. This would be at your own expense.

WATER SAFETY:

Please take care when taking part in any activities in the ocean, river or open water, where waves and currents can be unpredictable. It's expected that anyone taking part in water activities is able to swim and have experience in open water. All swimmers should seek local advice before entering the water.

travel-insurance





Travel insurance is compulsory for all our trips. We require that, at a minimum, you are covered for medical expenses including emergency repatriation. We strongly recommend that the policy also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects.

When travelling on a group trip, you won't be permitted to join the group until evidence of travel insurance and the insurance company's 24 hour emergency contact number has been seen by your leader.

If you have credit card insurance your group leader will require details of the participating insurer/underwriter, the level of coverage, policy number and emergency contact number rather than the bank's name and credit card details. Please contact your bank for these details prior to arriving in-country.

Please go to our website for more information:

www.imaginative-traveller.com/travel-insurance

responsible-travel
 




At Imaginative Traveller we love helping our clients experience the beauty and cultures of the destinations we visit. However, hand in hand with this we have always been aware that we have a responsibility to minimise any negative impacts that tourism can bring.

Responsible Travel is twofold. It's about taking people to the places they want to go in a safe and responsible manner but also about respecting and maintaining the natural and often delicate balance of the destination. Economic gain from tourism is often fundamental to a country, but should never be at the expense of its culture or the environment.

Our Aims

  • It is our aim to provide journeys that have minimal negative and maximum positive impact on the places we visit.
  • We do not believe that, as visitors, we should impose our own cultures on others; rather that we should experience foreign cultures and appreciate them for what they are.
  • Whilst it is our aim to show destinations and cultures in a positive light, we do not believe in papering over the cracks or shielding visitors from the realities of life. This does not mean, however, that we condone or endorse certain situations or regimes that may be in place.

Our guidelines are meant not as rigid instructions but rather as suggestions to make our holidays more enjoyable – for everybody. As cultural and environmental sensitivities vary from country to country more specific guidelines can be found in our individual country and trip dossiers.

When packing be aware that dress standards are conservative throughout Asia, especially outside major cities. To respect this and for your own comfort, we strongly recommend modest clothing. This means clothing that covers your shoulders and knees. Loose, lightweight, long clothing is both respectful and cool in the predominantly hot Asian climate. In many rural areas in Asia women will need to wear modest clothing even to swim. Singlets, tank tops and topless sun bathing are all unacceptable. When visiting religious sites men often need to wear long trousers and women a long skirt or sarong.

Rules





Illegal drugs will not be tolerated on our trips. Possessing or using drugs not only contravenes the laws of the land, but also puts the rest of the group at risk. Smoking marijuana and opium is a part of local culture in some parts of the world but is not acceptable for Imaginative Traveller travellers. Imaginative Traveller's philosophy of travel is one of respect towards everyone we encounter and in particular, the local people who make our destinations such special places. The exploitation of prostitutes is completely contrary to this philosophy. Our group leader has the right to expel any member of the group if drugs are found in their possession or if they use prostitutes.

Carbon





Carbon Offset C02-e 1192.00 kgs per pax.



give-us-your-feedback




Your feedback is important to us and to our tour guides and helps shape the quality of our trips. It tells us what we're doing right, what you believe could be done better and what improvements you feel could help future travellers choose and enjoy Imaginative Traveller. Just go to http://on.fb.me/16wYISa for our easy to fill out form. We’d love to hear what you have to say!

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