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Saigon to Angkor Explorer
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Fly from the UK to Ho Chi Minh City
Ho Chi Minh City
Uncover the ancient and modern marvels of Ho Chi Minh City, once known by the more evocative name Saigon. Walk along avenues lined with towering skyscrapers and boutique hotels, discover French-style cafés looking out over wide boulevards and listen to the continual hum of the motorbikes that throng through the streets. It’s an energetic and buzzing city, but if you’re in search of tranquillity there’s always a quiet pagoda or a traditional market to escape to. Take a look around, then spend the evening dining in one of the city’s excellent restaurants for your first taste of Vietnam’s fresh and fragrant cuisine.
Continue on to Can Tho, stopping for lunch in an exquisite colonial-style villa surrounded by lush, tropical, fruit-filled gardens. Located on the banks of the Hau River, one of the Mekong River’s main tributaries, Can Tho is at the heart of the Mekong Delta and is its main transport hub. It’s a vibrant and bustling town, with a busy waterfront market and some pretty gardens. Take a stroll along the river, check out the floating markets or perhaps visit the incense-filled Ong Temple.
Cruise the Mekong’s network of canals and tributaries to Chau Doc, a colourful and sleepy town near the Vietnam-Cambodia border, visiting Cai Rang’s floating market on the way. Hop in a rickshaw and explore the plantations and rice paddies along the river banks, then grab your binoculars and proceed to Tra Su Bird Sanctuary, a magnificent wetland area filled with colourful birds and flowers. Finally, take to the water and watch the excitement of the fishermen bringing in their catch before watching the sun set over the rice fields.
Cross the border and cruise to Cambodia’s exotic capital, Phnom Penh. Tour the stunning temples and gleaming palaces. Take in the alluring Silver Pagoda, where a dazzling emerald and crystal Buddha sits on a gilded pedestal, not to be outdone by the nearby life-sized Buddha that’s made of solid gold and encrusted with diamonds. Your city tour will also take you to the show-stopping Royal Palace, which overlooks the confluence of the Mekong and Tonle Sap, and the the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum. At the end of the day, barter for flowers, gold, gems and silk or perhaps just a souvenir T-shirt in the lively Central Market.
Fly to Siem Reap and visit the incredible temples of Angkor, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Take a sunset cruise along the moat of Angkor Thom to atmospheric Prasat Chrung, then spend the next couple of days exploring the temples of the stunning Angkor Archaeological Park. You might visit the temple of faces at Bayon, or Ta Prohm, where the jungle has taken over, lending the structure a mystical other-worldly feel. Of course the crowning jewel is Angkor Wat itself, the largest religious monument in the world – you’ll never forget your first glimpse of its towers and corridors reflected in the lotus pond, and the way the soft evening light brings out the smallest detail.
Depart Siem Reap and return to the UK.
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