Heritage Cambodia & Vietnam 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 : PAHC
Trip length : 13
Trip starts in : Phnom Penh , Cambodia
Trip ends in : Hanoi, Vietnam
Maximum group size : maximum 16
- Vietnam's northern capital Hanoi
- The bustling streets and cyclos of Saigon
- Tuol Sleng Prison Museum
- Cu Chi Tunnels - the underground network of the Viet Minh and Viet Cong
Further out than most of Siem Reap’s temples, Banteay Srei, or ‘The Citadel of Women’, is not to be missed. This 10th century Hindu complex, made out of deep red sandstone, boasts reliefs that are so delicate and precise that it’s said they could have only been carved by the hand of a woman.
- Upon arrival in Phnom Penh, you will be met and transferred to the hotel. You will meet your tour leader and the rest of the group.
- After a pre-trip briefing, you will adjourn for a Welcome Dinner in the restaurant run by the Friends organisation (closed on public and school holidays when you will dine at an alternative restaurant).
- During your free time after dinner, you might even choose to have a relaxing drink at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club, a great way to spend your evening.
- A full city tour will introduce you to the sights of Phnom Penh, a city that lies near the confluence of the Mekong and the Tonle Sap Rivers.
- The private quarters of the Royal Palace are home to King Sihamoni and are therefore closed to the public; however, you will be able to visit the Silver Pagoda that lies in the palace complex, which is the most sacred temple in the country and was previously spared from destruction by the Khmer Rouge.
- You can make an optional visit to Wat Phnom, the temple that gave rise to the foundation of the city in the 15th century.
- The bloody rule of the Khmer Rouge is a painful, but unavoidable, part of Cambodia's recent history and visits to the Tuol Sleng Prison Museum and the Killing Fields of Choeung Ek tell the story of this tragic legacy.
- (Note: These sites are a major part of sightseeing in Phnom Penh; however, if you do not wish to visit either of them, please inform your tour leader.)
- An ideal way to spend your the evening in is to relax in a cafe by the riverfront.
- You will catch a flight north to Siem Reap today, home of the great temples of Angkor. You'll notice a change of pace here, and wandering the streets you will find an abundance of local eateries and colourful markets.
- You will spend a full day visiting the amazing temples of Angkor on a guided tour. Angkor Thom, the 'Great Royal City', is famous for its series of colossal human faces carved in stone.
- It is an early morning start as you travel out to Banteay Srei, famous for its detailed and intricate stone carvings. It is not a big temple, but has been sometimes referred to as ‘the jewel in the crown of Angkorian art’.
- Back at the main temple complex, Preah Khan contains a maze of vaulted corridors and is another complex that has been largely reclaimed by the jungle.
- You have the opportunity to visit the Sala Bai Hotel School where underprivileged local youths learn skills that enable them to find gainful employment in the hospitality industry. You enjoy a lunch prepared by students at the school (please note that this is closed on public holidays and school holidays and an alternative restaurant will be used).
- The impressive Bayon temple is the centrepiece. Angkor Wat is the largest and most complete structure. It is the only one of Angkor's temples with its entrance facing to the west (the others face east), the reason being that it was constructed as a funerary temple for King Suryavarman II and a westerly countenance was seen to represent a sunset.
- Ta Prohm temple is an incredible sight, with large trees embedding themselves in the stone foundations of the structure. This demonstrates the true feebleness of man’s creations when confronted with the powerful force of nature.
- You will end the day with a sunset view of the temples.
- Your ticket for the Angkor ruins enables you to spend more time exploring this memorable archaeological area.
- Indulge with a traditional Khmer massage.
- Visit the Angkor Centre for Conservation of Biodiversity (ACCB), a place that rehabilitates animals that have fallen victim to wildlife trafficking and provides a breeding facility for highly endangered animal species. It is also a centre of education and information for the local population.
- Learn to prepare Khmer food in a local cooking class (optional).
- Enjoy a final Khmer dinner on your last night in Siem Reap.
Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)
- You will be transferred back to the airport, where you will say goodbye to Cambodia and fly to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam.
- Please note that you are likely to be unescorted on this flight and will be met on arrival in Saigon by your Vietnamese tour leader or a local representative.
- This evening you will gather together for another briefing with your Vietnamese tour leader. This meeting is generally followed by an optional group meal out at one of Ho Chi Minh City's many fantastic eating spots.
Cu Chi Tunnels - Ho Chi Minh City
- Ho Chi Minh City is the largest city in Vietnam and the nation's economic capital. A short city tour takes you to the Reunification Palace, War Remnants Museum and Notre Dame Cathedral, and will allow you to admire the many beautiful French colonial buildings, such as the main post office and the former Hotel de Ville (city hall).
- The bustling Binh Tay Market in Cholon (Chinatown) will offer you a new perspective on the city; you will see the abundance of fresh local produce that is such an important feature of Vietnamese cuisine.
- In the afternoon, you will head out of town to visit the Cu Chi Tunnels. Cu Chi is actually the name of the district that covers an extensive underground network (approximately 200 kilometres) of tunnels dug initially by the Viet Minh and later expanded by the Viet Cong.
- The tunnels contained hospitals, plus accommodation and schools, and were used extensively for refuge and storage and also utilised as a military base for the Viet Cong close to Ho Chi Minh City.
- The 1968 Tet Offensive was launched from Cu Chi with surprising effect. A section of the tunnels has been widened to allow tourists to get a feel for what the life underground must have been like (please note that this will be hot and sweaty and also a bit claustrophobic!).
Danang - Marble Mountain - Hoi An
- You will depart Ho Chi Minh City and fly to Danang today, where you will enjoy some sightseeing en route to Hoi An. China Beach (locally known as My Khe Beach), enjoyed as an 'R & R' spot during the Vietnam War, lies against a backdrop of the sensational Marble Mountains.
- The five peaks, which are actually limestone with marble outcrops, are seen to epitomise the five elements: fire, water, earth, wood and metal. The history of the mountains is rich. The Champas once used them for religious purposes, but in more recent times they became a haven for the Viet Cong, with their clear view of the Danang air base - at one time the busiest airport in the world.
- You will arrive in Hoi An in the afternoon and settle in for your two-night stay in this historical ‘oasis’.
- Hoi An was originally a Cham port town, but has been influenced by a myriad of traders from various cultures. There is a distinctly Chinese appearance with pagodas and assembly halls scattered along the small streets. Hoi An was once a bustling port in centuries gone by, before the river silted up. Today it is a delightful backwater town with an air of liveliness about it. The tranquility and charm of Hoi An, coupled with its low tiled houses, makes it one of the most delightful places to visit in Vietnam. It is a consistent favourite among travellers and staff alike. A tour will take you to an historic house (formerly home to a prominent trader), the Japanese Covered Bridge, a Chinese assembly hall and a museum.
- You will enjoy a free afternoon to make the most of delightful Hoi An and its surrounding areas. The market is a good place to buy silk that can be made up into fine garments, all within a day. Close to town there is a nice beach, which can be reached easily by bicycle.
- You will be transferred to the airport for a morning flight to the capital.
- Hanoi is one of Asia’s most enchanting cities. The northern capital is a quiet contradiction to its southern counterpart. Its relaxed ambience is a joy, and exploration by foot or bicycle is recommended. The shopping is fun and the many lakes and parks provide enjoyable escapes from the city.
- You will take a guided half-day tour of Hanoi, visiting the major sights, including the Temple of Literature, One Pillar Pagoda, and paying a homage to Vietnam’s most famous revolutionary, Ho Chi Minh.
- The tour will also include lunch at the KOTO café, an amazing project aimed at providing vocational training and experience in the hospitality industry for underprivileged young people.
- In the evening there is an option to enjoy a performance of the unique Water Puppets.
- You can leave your luggage behind at the Hanoi hotel and pack an overnight bag. It is a three-hour drive to famous Halong Bay, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of Vietnam's most spectacular natural wonders.
- The views of sailing junks navigating past over 3000 limestone islands with rocky outcrops are nothing short of spectacular.
- You will travel to Bai Chay (Halong City West) where you will board a boat for an exploration of the bay, enjoying a seafood lunch and dinner (non-seafood also available), as well as spending a night on board. We visit one cave in the area and, in the warmer months, you can enjoy a swim.
- Conditions may be somewhat more communal compared to the usual hotel setting, but spending a night on the bay is such a wonderful experience. If the weather is obliging, the views at sunset are especially incredible.
- There are only limited numbers of cabins on each boat, so the Single Supplement does not apply on the Halong Bay cruise, as all accommodation here is on a twin-share basis.
- All boats used by Peregrine have twin-share cabins with en suite facilities and air-conditioning.
- You may also have the chance to do some kayaking (optional and extra cost involved) while on Halong Bay.
- In the morning you will sail back to the port, where you will disembark and drive back to Hanoi.
- Arriving back in the capital, you will have free time to wander around and enjoy some of the city’s other attractions. Perhaps some shopping on Hang Gai Street, or afternoon tea at the Metropole Hotel?
- The tour will come to an end after breakfast. A transfer to the airport is not included; however, your tour leader will be on hand to advise you as to the options available.
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.
Discovery tours are all about exploring & experiencing the world with like-minded people, dipping your toe beneath the usual tourist surface & discovering the real essence of a region. They are genuinely innovative, exciting & imaginative tours that offer that little bit more to travellers.
- Enjoy a destination in depth and comfort
- Tourist class hotels and family homestays
- Both private and local transport
- A number of included activities and meals throughout
- Fully trained and experienced leader.
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.
On some trips we’ll push you out of your comfort zone to ensure an authentic experience, on other trips you will stay in amazing places where there is no ‘roughing it’ involved. There is plenty of choice so you can select a trip with as much activity or as little as you wish. Our small groups ensure a more intimate experience and that the impact on the local environment and community is kept to a minimum. Extra Comfort tours offer rich and rewarding adventures and are stress-free, safe and, most importantly, fun!
- Innovative itineraries offering authentic travel encounters
- A mix of active adventure, culture, wildlife, sightseeing and relaxation
- Well appointed, quality hotels in central locations
- Arrival transfers, transport (mostly private) and accommodation included
- Many meals and adventure activities also included
- Fully trained and experienced local leaders
This tour is operated by our partners Peregrine Adventures
- Arrival transfer
- The services of expert English-speaking local tour leaders throughout the tour
- Sightseeing (including entrance fees where relevant): Angkor Thom, Ta Prohm, Angkor Wat, Banteay Srei, Preah Khan, Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda, Tuol Sleng Prison Museum, Killing Fields of Choeung Ek, Cu Chi Tunnels, Marble Mountain, China Beach and Hanoi (One Pillar Pagoda, Ho Chi Minh’s House and Temple of Literature)
- Local flights: Phnom Penh to Siem Reap, Siem Reap to Ho Chi Minh City, Ho Chi Minh City to Danang and Danang to Hanoi
- Lunch at Sala Bai Hotel School prepared by underprivileged local youths who are training to work in the hospitality industry
- Hoi An walking tour
- Overnight cruise on a traditional boat on Halong Bay, enjoying a seafood lunch and dinner (non-seafood also available) and resting in twin-share cabins with en suite facilities and air-conditioning
- Lunch at KOTO café in Hanoi – a project providing vocational hospitality training and experience to underprivileged young people.
International flights, airport departure taxes, visas, insurance, other meals, any optional tours and activities during free time, tips and items of a personal nature.
12 breakfasts, 3 lunches, 3 dinners
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.