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 valid from : 23/12/2012
Trip valid until : 31/12/2013
Trip length : 13
Trip starts in : Siem Reap
Trip ends in : Hanoi
Maximum group size : maximum 15
- Foreign Correspondents’ Club of Phnom Penh
- The bustling streets and cyclos of Saigon
- The tailors and market traders of UNESCO World Heritage-listed Hoi An
Immerse yourself in the rich historic and cultural heritage of Cambodia and Vietnam. This special adventure enables us to sample the Old World charm in this pocket of Asia that was part of the former French Indochina. But equally as evocative are the oriental influences that stem from a historic mix of Asian traders, settlers and indigenous people that have made this part of the world a cornerstone for empires and colonies. By paying homage to ancient Angkor, we witness one of the world's greatest archaeological treasures. By visiting cities like Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) and Hanoi, we uncover that vibrant mix of the various major influences. By stopping in Hoi An and Halong Bay, we discover places of eternal beauty that have also played their part in Vietnam's history. The heritage of both Cambodia and Vietnam combines eastern cultures with western influences, resulting in the somewhat eclectic and magical mix that we enjoy today.From experiencing one of the world’s great archaeological treasures at Angkor and navigating the various fusions of east and west in Hoi An, Hanoi and Saigon, to exploring war time monuments and cruising the natural, UNESCO World Heritage listed wonderland of Halong Bay, this tour will immerse you in a vibrant mix of history, nature and tradition.
- 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 you’re 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
- We depart Ho Chi Minh City and fly to Danang, where we enjoy some sightseeing en route to Hoi An. China 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 also seen to epitomise the five elements: fire, water, earth, wood and metal. The history of the mountains is a rich one. They were once used by the Champas for religious purposes, but in more recent times 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.
- We arrive in Hoi An in the afternoon and settle in for our three-night stay in this historical ‘oasis’.
- Hoi An was originally a Cham port town, but has been influenced down the centuries 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 tranquillity 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 constant favourite of our travellers and staff. A cyclo tour takes us to see a historic house (formerly home to a prominent trader), the Japanese Covered Bridge, a Chinese assembly hall and a museum.
- We 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.
- We are transferred to the airport for a morning flight to the capital.
- Hanoi is one of Asia's most enchanting cities. This northern capital is a quiet, contradiction of its southern counterpart. Its relaxed ambience is a joy, with exploration best on foot or bicycle. The shopping is fun and the many lakes and parks provide enjoyable escapes.
- We 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.
- We 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. All the staff you meet at this café have come from poor backgrounds.
- In the evening there is an option to enjoy a performance of the unique Water Puppets.
- You can leave luggage behind at our Hanoi hotel and pack an overnight bag. It is a three-hour drive to famous Ha Long Bay, listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site and is one of Vietnam's most spectacular natural wonders.
- Views of sailing junks navigating past over 3000 limestone islands and rocky outcrops jutting out of the bay are nothing short of spectacular. We travel to Bai Chay (Halong City West) where we 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, there is a chance to enjoy a swim.
- Conditions may be somewhat more communal compared to staying in a hotel, however it is a wonderful experience to be spending a night on the bay – weather permitting, the views at sunset are incredible. Bedding and towels are provided.
- All boats used by us have twin-share cabins with en suite facilities and air-conditioning. There may also be the chance to do some kayaking (optional and extra cost involved) on Halong Bay.
- Accommodation on the Halong Bay cruise is on a twin share basis, due to the small number of rooms available on the boats. If you have paid a single supplement, please note that this does not cover the cruise.
- In the morning we sail back to the port, where we disembark and drive back to Hanoi. Arriving back in the capital, we 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 ends 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.
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
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.
- The services of our expert English-speaking local tour leaders throughout the tour and local guides at some sites.
- Sightseeing (including entrance fees where relevant): Angkor Thom, Ta Prohm, Angkor Wat, Banteay Srei, Preah Khan, Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda, Wat Phnom, 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 Saigon, Saigon 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 cyclo 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.
- Arrival transfer.
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, 1 dinner
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.