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Best of Vietnam & Cambodia
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Your Example Itinerary
Fly from the UK to Hanoi
Explore the bustling streets and elegant architecture of Hanoi – take a city tour which includes the 11th-century Temple of Literature, the beautifully landscaped gardens of Vietnam’s first university and the diverting Vietnamese Women’s Museum. Explore the winding streets of the Old Quarter, a thousand years old and filled with ancient houses and enduring architecture. End your day with a delicious meal in a local restaurant, and watch the hustle and bustle of the streets outside.
Discover the craggy rocks of ethereal World Heritage-listed Halong Bay as you board your boat for an overnight cruise. Your captain will find a secluded spot for swimming and topping up your tan, and you can explore the caves and rock formations that are peppered across this gorgeous, unique landscape. Back on board, relax, kick back and admire the scenery as you spend time sailing around the mesmerising karst peaks that tower over twinkling emerald waters – an unforgettable sight.
Fly to graceful Hoi An and learn about its rich history on a walking tour. A UNESCO World Heritage site whose name translates to ‘peaceful meeting place’, Hoi An is a tranquil riverside town worthy of a couple of days’ exploration. Admire the splendid architecture in this old-fashioned port, where the cobbled streets of the Ancient Quarter are lined with traditional homes, delightful craft shops and some excellent bespoke tailors – great for unusual souvenirs. And don’t forget to try out the local cuisine at the fantastic restaurants, hip waterfront cafés and hidden markets.
Ho Chi Minh City
Feel the energy levels rise as you board your flight and continue to the vibrant modern metropolis of Ho Chi Minh City. Join a walking tour and explore the city’s chequered history – visit the Presidential Palace, stuck in a 1970s’ timewarp, and see the remnants of the days of French colonialism at the neo-Romanesque Notre Dame cathedral. Make sure you’ve built up your appetite for your afternoon foodie experience as you step away from the touristy areas and eat where the locals eat – in pop-up restaurants that only appear in the evenings. Taste a selection of Vietnamese favourites, including steaming noodles and spicy barbecued meats, then finish off the meal with a sweet soup.
Cruise the meandering waterways of the Mekong Delta, known as the rice bowl of Vietnam. Sail through canals, past traditional villages, lively markets and endless rice paddies, stopping off at a house whose occupants make oil and woven mats from coconuts. See a Vietnamese cooking demonstration and then tuck in to a delectable three-course lunch of the results. Relax and take in the bucolic scenery as you cruise onwards to Can Tho.
Spend the morning visiting the floating markets, exquisite temples, duck farms and rice paddies of unspoiled and friendly Chau Doc, perhaps trying a glass of sugar cane juice in a local café. Take a walk along the river, haggle in the markets and meet the inquisitive locals. Later on, visit a fascinating temple and meet the monks before continuing to Tra Su Forest and to explore the verdant countryside and intricate mangrove forests, a haven for bird watchers.
Cross the border and take the boat to Phnom Penh, Cambodia’s captivating capital. Tour the gilded Royal Palace, the extravagant Silver Pagoda and the inviting National Museum before visiting the city’s flagship temple at Wat Phnom, frequented by throngs of worshippers and troops of inquisitive monkeys. Head to the poignant Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, which documents the brutalities of the Khmer Rouge against the Cambodian people, and finish up at the colourful markets where you can haggle for bargains.
Take an internal flight to Siem Reap, your base for exploring the spectacular temples of Angkor. Start on the first evening by hopping on board a gondola for a romantic cruise along Angkor Thom’s moat to the 12th-century temple of Prasat Chrung. But it’s the next day that your Angkor adventure really begins – after breakfast head for the smiling faces of Bayon and the pyramid of Phimeanakas, with its two sandstone pools. Walk along the beautifully carved terrace of the elephants before visiting fairytale Ta Prohm, one of the most recognisable of the temples as it is held together by creeping tree roots. Finish on a high with Angkor Wat, the largest religious monument in the world and the national symbol of Cambodia.
Depart Siem Reap and return to the UK.
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