Visiting: Cambodia, Vietnam
Why just settle for a holiday when you can experience this cultural tour of Cambodia and Vietnam. South East Asia is a stunning part of the world and this tour won’t leave you wanting.
On this adventure you can immerse yourself in the Old World charm of this part of Asia that was once the former French Indochina. Its mix of Asian, settlers and indigenous people create a heady mix of cultures.
Your holiday will take you to the great archaeological site at Angkor as well as cities such as Saigon (formerly Ho Chi Minh City) and Hanoi.
Heritage Cambodia & Vietnam
Each has its own character and mix of cultural influences. You can marvel at the natural beauty when you visit Hoi An and Halong Bay.
Cambodia and Vietnam’s eastern and western influences collide to create an eclectic and intoxicating mix that will make you want to return again and again.
Upon arrival in Siem Reap, you are met and transferred to our centrally located hotel. You meet your tour leader and the rest of the group. After a pre-trip briefing, we adjourn for a group dinner in town (cost not included).
We 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. The impressive Bayon temple is the centrepiece of all this. 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, giving the impression of man's creation being reclaimed by the powerful forces of nature. We can end the day with a sunset view of Angkor Wat from Phnom Bakheng. (B)
Our ticket for the Angkor ruins enables us to spend more time exploring this memorable archaeological area. It is an early morning start as we 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. We include a visit to the Sala Bai Hotel School where underprivileged local youths learn skills which will enable them to find gainful employment in the hospitality industry. We also enjoy a lunch prepared by students at the school. (B, L)
You have a free morning before leaving Siem Reap. If you wish to stay in town, you can relax outside one of the cafes or visit the market in town, which sells some interesting artefacts and handicrafts. Another option would be to relax by the hotel pool or enjoy a massage by one of the famous blind masseuses of Siem Reap. Flying to Phnom Penh you notice a change of pace, as you arrive in Cambodia’s capital. A relaxing drink at the Foreign Correspondents’ Club is a great way to start your evening. (B)
A full city tour introduces 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, we are 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. Wat Phnom is the temple, which 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 last evening in Cambodia is to relax in a cafe by the riverfront. (B)
We are transferred back to Phnom Hanoi's Pochentong International Airport, where we say goodbye to our Cambodian tour leader and fly to Saigon (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 we gather together for another briefing with our Vietnamese tour leader. This meeting is generally followed by an optional group meal out at one of Saigon's many fantastic eating spots. (B)
Cu Chi Tunnels - Saigon
Saigon is the largest city in Vietnam and the nation's economic capital. A short city tour takes us to the Reunification Palace, War Remnants Museum and Notre Dame Cathedral, and allows us 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) allows us to view the city from another perspective and to see the abundance of fresh local produce that is such an important feature of Vietnamese cuisine. In the afternoon, we head out of town to visit the Cu Chi Tunnels. Cu Chi is actually the name of the district which 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 Saigon. 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!). (B)
Danang - Marble Mountain - Hoi An
We depart Saigon and fly to Danang, where we enjoy some sightseeing en route to Hoi An. China Beach, enjoyed as an 'R (B)
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. (B)
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. (B, L)
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 Peregrine 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. (B, L, D)
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? (B)
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. (B)
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.
Key: (B) = Breakfast, (L) = Lunch, (D) = Dinner