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Asia

Best Of Vietnam & Cambodia

From €1,368pp tour-only
Depart From
Tour starts in Hanoi, Vietnam
Departure Date
Regular departures throughout the year
Duration
18 Days
Destination
Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam
Price
From €1,368pp tour-only
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Travel into the heart and soul of South East Asia.

Take an unforgettable adventure through two of the most colourful yet contrasting cultures in South East Asia. Starting off in Vietnam, cruise through dramatic karst scenery on a boat tour of Halong Bay, step back into the world of the country's last emperors in Hue, soak up the old-world charm of Hoi An and be awed by the endless energy of Ho Chi Minh City.

In Cambodia, discover the country's fascinating history and culture in Phnom Penh's heaving streets and in the awe-inspiring temples of Angkor. Finish your tour in Thailand's bustling capital Bangkok. This is a journey that draws you away from the crowds and into heart and soul of this captivating region, and its equally enchanting people.

Sail through Halong Bay’s limestone karsts and island caves and spend the night checking out the stars on an overnight cruise.

Travel like a local on a motorbike tour, riding pillion and taking in the historical pagodas, bridges and villages of Hue.

Angkor Wat. Need we say more? As well as a guided tour, you’ll also have a pass to cover your whole time in Siem Reap, so you can explore this incredible temple complex at your own pace.

Discover Kampong Luong and the countryside around Battambang with a visit to a floating village and a bike ride around rural farms to meet with local producers.

Have expert advice on hand throughout your whole journey, with an experienced local leader to help make the most out of time in Vietnam and Cambodia.

In order to see as much as possible, this trip involves some long journeys, including by overnight train where the amenities are shared and basic. For more about what this experience is like, see our blog post here:

intrepidtravel.com/adventures/what-to-expect-on-an-overnight-train-in-vietnam/

The motorbike tour of Hue has been assessed for safety and is closely monitored (helmets ae provided). However, alternative transport can be arranged for those who would prefer not to travel by motorbike.

Depending on where you come from, the weather in Vietnam might be hotter and more humid than what you are used to. Please consider your suitability to the season you wish to travel in. Check out intrepidtravel.com/vietnam/weather-in-vietnam for more info.

Some travellers find the pace of this trip quite fast as we are covering a lot of destinations in a short amount of time. If you would like a more relaxed pace with more time to explore, you might like to consider a longer trip, or additional days in Hanoi and Bangkok.

The stories and history shared at the Killing Fields of Choeung Ek and Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum (S21) are confronting and many travellers will find them upsetting. This is an important part of Cambodia’s recent history that we feel is important for travellers to know. If you would prefer not to join these activities your leader can recommend some optional alternatives. Some further information on visiting these sites can be found here: intrepidtravel.com/adventures/importance-visiting-cambodia-killing-fields.

There are some long travel days by both private and public transport (up to 10 hours on the road), including the days that we cross from Vietnam to Cambodia and Cambodia to Thailand. Your leader and local guides will assist with the border crossings, but plenty of patience is advised.

Some travellers enjoy Siem Reap so much that they decide they want to stay there longer, rather than continuing with the group to Bangkok. You are welcome to sign off the trip to enjoy more of Cambodia, however we aren’t able to reimburse any unused services or provide alternate onward travel arrangements.

At times our accommodation may not have continuous hot water. Most travellers don’t find this a problem however, and are often keen to cool down from the heat with a refreshing cold shower.

Day 1: Hanoi

Xin chao! Welcome to Hanoi! Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm and is followed by a group dinner at KOTO restaurant. This organisation is dedicated to developing the hospitality careers of disadvantaged youth.

If you arrive before your tour begins there’s plenty to see and do. Consider booking the Hanoi Morning Highlights Urban Adventure, a wide-ranging tour with a local expert guide. This optional tour visits the Temple of Literature, stops by a traditional tea house, and takes you through the Hoa Lo Prison Memorial before concluding at Hoan Kiem Lake. Or maybe take it at your own pace and wander the Old Quarter to admire the city’s French-colonial architecture.

Accommodation: Hotel (1 night)

Included Activities:

  • HCMC - KOTO dinner

Optional Activities

  • Hanoi - Women's Museum - VND30000
  • Hanoi - Museum of Ethnology - VND40000
  • Hanoi - Hanoi Highlights Urban Adventure - USD40
  • Hanoi - Citadels, Karsts & Cycle Urban Adventure - USD88
  • Hanoi - Ho Chi Minh Complex: Ho Chi Minh, Stilt House and Museum - VND80000

Meals Included: Dinner

Special Information: It’s very important that you attend the welcome meeting as we will be collecting insurance details and next of kin information at this time. If you are going to be late please let your travel agent or hotel reception know. Ask reception or look for a note in the lobby for more information on where the meeting will take place.

Day 2: Halong Bay

Travel by private minibus to World Heritage-listed Halong Bay, which is dotted with sandy coves, grottoes and 1600 limestone islands formed over millennia by wind and water erosion (approximately 4 hours). Board a private boat and cruise the bay, exploring Surprise Cave and perhaps even enjoying a swim from Ti Top Island Beach during the warmer months.

Access to Surprise Cave is via staircases. Once inside the cave the pathways are a little uneven and slippery. To end the day, spend an evening aboard the boat beneath the night sky. What better way to get to know your fellow travellers than an old school sleepover in an unforgettable location?

Accommodation: Overnight boat (1 night)

Included Activities

  • Halong Bay - Overnight boat cruise with seafood lunch and dinner
  • Halong Bay - Cave entry

Optional Activities

  • Halong Bay - Kayaking - VND250000

Meals Included: Breakfast | Lunch | Dinner

Special Information: Your wooden junk-style boat has twin-share cabins with air-conditioning and private facilities. There's also a dining room and bar to enjoy lunch, dinner and breakfast. We recommend packing a small overnight bag to take to Halong Bay for ease of boarding and disembarking. You can store your main luggage in Hanoi overnight. Kayaking and swimming is restricted to designated zones within the bay.

There are restrictions on the number of boats that are permitted to stay in the bay overnight, sometimes resulting in a shortage. To ensure all Intrepid travellers can enjoy the experience of a night on the water, occasionally you will stay on a larger boat (with approximately 12 cabins) and share your boat with another group. Or your group may be split across different vessels, in which case an Intrepid group leader will be present on each boat. The route taken and inclusions on board will remain the same.

Day 3: Hanoi – Overnight train

Return by boat to Halong Bay. At approximately midday, return to Hanoi by bus. Arrive late this afternoon and enjoy free time until tonight’s train voyage. Be sure to grab a bowl of pho while you’re in town and slurp down this local specialty made from broth, noodles and meat. Maybe chill by Hoan Kiem Lake until you board an overnight train to Hue this evening.

Accommodation: Overnight sleeper train (1 night)

Meals Included: Breakfast

Special Information: There are shared day use hotel rooms available this afternoon in Hanoi if you would like to freshen up before the overnight train. There is one room provided for up to six members of the group. Single supplements do not apply to day rooms.

Sleeper trains typically have four or six berth compartments with bench seats that convert into sleeping bunks. A sheet, pillow and blanket are provided, although some travellers prefer to bring their own sleeping sheet. Depending on the configuration of the group, you may have to share with people of different genders or passengers who aren’t part of the group. Your leader will coordinate this and give further information on the trip. Most trains have a dining carriage serving simple food but we recommend that you stock up on snacks and drinks before departure.

Day 4: Hue

Arrive in Hue at approximately 11 am and transfer to the hotel. Once the imperial capital of Vietnam, Hue holds the treasures of the country’s royal past. Enjoy free time in the morning to rest or explore. If you choose the latter (and who can blame you) the bustling Dong Ba Market is a great place to sample some of the specialties that once graced the Nguyen emperors' tables like banh khoai (royal rice cake). Reunite with the group to visit the war-damaged ruins of the Imperial Citadel, a sprawling city-within-a-city which contains the remains of temples, state houses and the emperor’s palace.

Accommodation: Hotel (1 night)

Included Activities

  • Hue - Imperial Citadel

Day 5: Hue

See Hue like a local – from the back of a motorbike! Straddle the saddle and whiz around town with a local guide, taking in historic and contemporary sights along the way. Stop at Thanh Toan to see the 18th-century covered bridge and villagers shopping at their local market. Visit the 17th-century active Buddhist monastery of Thien Mu Pagoda and see the car that belonged to Thích Quang Duc, the monk who self-immolated in 1963 in protest against the treatment of Buddhists by the South Vietnamese regime. For lunch, savour a vegetarian feast in a nunnery. Finish at the lakeside royal tomb of Emperor Tu Duc before heading back to town.

Accommodation: Hotel (1 night)

Included Activities

  • Hue - Royal tomb of Emperor Tu Duc
  • Hue - Highlights & back streets by motorbike (lunch included)
  • Hue - Thien Mu Pagoda

Meals Included: Breakfast | Lunch

Special Information: The motorbike tour has been assessed for safety and is closely monitored. To participate please ensure your travel insurance covers riding pillion on a motorbike up to 125cc. If you prefer not to participate, please let your leader know and they will arrange car transportation (cost included).

In 2020 we will no longer be including a cruise along the Perfume River due to poor feedback from past travellers. If you would like to do this activity during your free time in Hue, your leader can assist you with booking it.

Day 6: Hoi An

This morning travel by bus through coastal rice paddies and the spectacular Hai Van Pass (approximately 3 hours). After a photo stop en route, arrive into Hoi An. Recently declared a World Heritage site, Hoi An was a major international trading port during the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries.

Today, parts of the beautifully-preserved town retain the feel of centuries past. It's also a shopping mecca, famous for its plethora of tailors. On arrival your leader will take you on a sightseeing walk through the Old Town to visit a handful of the city's major attractions. You’ll also be given a sightseeing pass so you can further explore select attractions at your leisure.

Accommodation: Hotel (1 night)

Included Activities

  • Hoi An - Old Town walking tour

Optional Activities

  • Hoi An - Hoi An Boat & Bike with Sunset BBQ Urban Adventure - USD51

Meals Included: Breakfast

Day 7: Hoi An

Today is a free day to explore Hoi An. Maybe browse the cobbled streets and art galleries or hire a bike and cycle through rice paddies out to Cua Dai Beach. Maybe browse for paintings, ceramics and colourful cloth lanterns in the town’s markets and preserved Chinese shophouses.

If you’re craving a new look, you could pay a visit to one of the hundreds of tailors and get something special made. Hoi An is also known for its delicious regional food, so be sure to enjoy a meal at a riverside restaurant or perhaps partake in a cooking class.

Accommodation: Hotel (1 night)

Optional Activities

  • Hoi An - My Son Cham tour (entrance fee, guide and transport included) - USD35
  • Hoi An - Food Adventure Urban Adventure - USD28
  • Hoi An - Hoi An Walking & Cooking Class Urban Adventure - USD49

Meals Included: Breakfast

Day 8: Ho Chi Minh City

Today take a short, early morning flight to Ho Chi Minh City (approximately 1.5 hours). Formerly known as Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City has a fascinating history and is arguably Vietnam’s capital of commerce and culture. After landing, take a sightseeing tour around the city by bus. Pass the Reunification Palace, Notre Dame Cathedral and the Opera House, then stop in at the War Remnants Museum to discover some of the sobering stories of the 20-year-long Vietnam/American War.

Accommodation: Hotel (1 night)

Included Activities

  • Ho Chi Minh City - War Remnants Museum
  • Ho Chi Minh City - City tour

Optional Activities

  • Ho Chi Minh City - Reunification Palace - VND40000
  • Ho Chi Minh City - A O show - VND1050000
  • Ho Chi Minh City - Saigon Street Food by Night Urban Adventure - USD35

Meals Included: Breakfast

Day 9: Mekong Delta – Ho Chi Minh City

This morning head out on a day trip to explore the Mekong Delta. Board a private boat to Ben Tre to visit the coconut gardens and stop at a local home to sample tropical fruits and coconut jams. Afterwards, paddle in sampans (small rowing boats) past coconut trees along the Mekong Delta. Take a tuk-tuk tour around the villages and learn about rural life and the industry created around coconut products like brooms and coconut fibre mats.

Eat lunch at a restaurant in the heart of the Delta, sampling regional specialties such as the famous elephant ear fish. Cruise the major waterways to Ben Tre boat pier, then return by bus to Ho Chi Minh City. This evening, perhaps head out to sample some local specialties as a final farewell with your fellow travellers and leader.

Accommodation: Hotel (1 night)

Included Activities

  • HCMC - Mekong Delta day trip including coconut gardens & village tuk-tuk tour

Meals Included: Breakfast | Lunch

Day 10: Ho Chi Minh City

Enjoy a free day in Ho Chi Minh to get out and discover the city at your own pace. Alternatively, why not get an up close and personal history lesson on guerrilla warfare during an Urban Adventures tour to the Cu Chi tunnels. This underground network in the middle of the jungle was used by the Viet Cong during the war. Take the chance to climb into the tunnels and imagine what it would’ve been like to eat, sleep, work and cook – even go to school underground as conflict raged above.

Return to Ho Chi Minh where there will be a meeting at 6 pm to welcome any new travellers joining you on the next stage of your adventure. Afterwards, perhaps get to know your new travel buddies over an optional group dinner.

Accommodation: Hotel (1 night)

Optional Activities

  • Ho Chi Minh City - Reunification Palace - VND40000
  • Ho Chi Minh City - War Remnants Museum - VND40000

Special Information: As this is a combination trip, the travellers in your group and your group leader are likely to change today.

Today you may be required to move to a different hotel in Ho Chi Minh City, for the next section of your trip. Your leader will let you know if this is the case and will help with the transfer to the next hotel.

There will be a welcome meeting to discuss the next stage of your itinerary and meet travellers joining you. It’s important that you attend the meeting as your new leader will be collecting insurance details and next of kin information. Ask reception or look for a note in the lobby for more information on where the meeting will take place.

Day 11: Phnom Penh

Travel by public bus across the border, through rural Vietnam and Cambodia and onto Phnom Penh (approximately 10 hours including two border crossings and lunch). Cambodia's capital city is set on a major junction of the Mekong and Tonle Sap rivers and boasts some fine examples of French-inspired architecture.

If you're looking for a tasty beverage on arrival, head to the Foreign Correspondents' Club for a mojito on the rooftop or if you're in the mood for shopping, stop in at the art-deco Psar Thmei (Central Market) or travel out to Psar Tuol Tom Pong (the Russian Market) for the best range of local souvenirs.

Accommodation: Hotel (1 night)

Meals Included: Breakfast

Special Information: On the bus journey across the border, you will exit Vietnam at Moc Bai and enter Cambodia at Ba Vet. Your leader will assist you with border crossing procedures. If you’d prefer not to travel by bus today, you are welcome to book a flight instead (at your own expense).

Day 12: Phnom Penh

Today, confront Cambodia's tragic past on a guided tour of the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum (S21), a former school which served as a Khmer Rouge torture centre. It's estimated that more than 20,000 people were held and tortured here. You’ll also head out to the Killing Fields of Choeung Ek, where a stupa made up of some 8000 human skulls marks the execution ground for the torture victims of Tuol Sleng.

Afterwards, you may wish to learn about a brighter period in Cambodian history from an optional visit to the Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda. Wat Phnom, shrouded in myth, is equally worth a visit, as is the National Museum with its excellent Khmer collection. Cyclo tours around the city are a great alternative to walking and generally include the Central Market, US Embassy, Wat Phnom, Mekong riverfront, Independence Monument and Royal Palace.

Accommodation: Hotel (1 night)

Included Activities

  • Phnom Penh - The Killing Fields of Choeung Ek
  • Phnom Penh - Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum (S21)

Optional Activities

  • Phnom Penh - Royal Palace & Silver Pagoda - USD10
  • Phnom Penh - Wat Phnom - USD2
  • Phnom Penh - National Museum - USD10
  • Phnom Penh - Cyclo tour - USD4
  • Phnom Penh - Khmer massage - USD8

Meals Included: Breakfast

Special Information: The stories and history shared at the Killing Fields of Choeung Ek and Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum (S21) are confronting and many travellers will find them upsetting. This is an important part of Cambodia’s recent history that we feel is important for travellers to know.

If you would prefer not to join these activities your leader can recommend some optional alternatives. Some further information on visiting these sites can be found here: intrepidtravel.com/adventures/importance-visiting-cambodia-killing-fields

Day 13: Battambang

Travel by private minibus to Battambang (approximately 6 hours). Break up an otherwise long trip with a visit to Kampong Luong, a marvellously colourful village that floats on the water. Spend an hour traversing between houses and other boats before hitting the road once more.

Cambodia's second-largest city, Battambang, is a pretty riverside town of French elegance, friendly Khmer people and beautifully preserved colonial architecture. Why not take part in an optional cooking class to learn the secrets of local dishes such as amok, Khmer curry & fried spicy chicken.

Accommodation: Hotel (1 night)

Included Activities

  • Kampong Luong - Tonle Sap floating village visit

Optional Activities

  • Battambang - Cooking Class - USD12
  • Battambang - Phnom Sampov bat caves - USD15
  • Battambang - Bamboo railway - USD10

Meals Included: Breakfast

Day 14: Siem Reap

Spend a bit of time riding around the countryside by bike, travelling out to local cottage industries to meet with on-site producers. Get a better insight into rural life in Cambodia, share a few snacks, then continue by private minibus to Siem Reap (approximately 3 hours).

Arrive in Siem Reap in the evening and relax as you prepare for your much-anticipated visit to Angkor tomorrow. Perhaps hit the markets for some delicious street food.

Accommodation: Hotel (1 night)

Included Activities

  • Battambang - Rural Food and Cycle Tour

Meals Included: Breakfast

Special Information: The distance covered by bicycle is approximately 24 kms. If you prefer not to cycle, please let your leader know and they will arrange remork (tuk tuk) transportation (cost included).

Day 15: Siem Reap / Angkor Wat

Temple-hop with your local guide and make the most of your visit to the world-famous Angkor complex. The temples, dating back as far as the ninth century, were believed to represent the cosmic world and were set in perfect balance, symmetry and composition. The intricately carved bas-reliefs and architectural designs are mind-blowing and there are spectacular photo opportunities at any time of day. Watching a sunrise or sunset is a must.

The ruins are scattered over an area of some 160 square kilometres, but the main cluster of temples is close to Siem Reap, so there will be plenty of time to fully appreciate the great archaeological sites of Angkor Wat, Bayon and the jungle-covered Ta Prohm.

Accommodation: Hotel (1 night)

Included Activities

  • Siem Reap - Three day Angkor Pass
  • Siem Reap - Angkor Temples Guided Tour

Meals Included: Breakfast

Special Information: Temperatures and humidity can be high in Cambodia, especially walking around sights like the Angkor complex where there may be little shade. Be prepared by taking plenty of drink breaks and wearing appropriate skin protection. Some travellers find an umbrella handy to keep the sun off.

Day 16: Siem Reap / Angkor Wat

Continue your explorations of the Angkor complex. You may like to spend just the morning making further discoveries here and save your afternoon for an optional activity elsewhere. Keen adventurers can take the Angkor zip-line adventure which gives an amazing birds-eye view of the rainforest, not to mention an adrenaline rush.

Accommodation: Hotel (1 night)

Included Activities

  • Siem Reap - Angkor Temples Guided Tour

Optional Activities

  • Siem Reap - Angkor Zipline Silver Tour - USD129
  • Siem Reap - Landmine Museum - USD5
  • Siem Reap - Phare Circus Ticket - USD18
  • Siem Reap - Urban Adventure Cambodian Cook-out - USD52
  • Siem Reap - Urban Adventures Tonle Sap Secrets - USD45
  • Siem Reap - Urban Adventure Street Food by Night - USD48
  • Siem Reap - Angkor Zipline Gold Tour - USD99

Meals Included: Breakfast

Day 17: Bangkok

It's a long drive by private minibus from Siem Reap to Bangkok (approximately 10 hours including border crossings and lunch). Arrive in Thailand's bustling capital and take in this exciting world of tuk tuks, khlong boats, and street vendors serving up delicious Thai food. Perhaps head out to sample some local specialties as a final farewell with your fellow travellers.

Accommodation: Hotel (1 night)

Meals Included: Breakfast

Special Information: You will exit Cambodia at Poipet and enter Thailand at Aranyaprathet. Your leader will be on hand to assist with border crossing procedures.

Day 18: Bangkok

Your trip comes to an end this morning, with no further activities planned. However, if you have more time, Bangkok is full of things to do, including the Grand Palace, Temple of the Emerald Buddha, and the fascinating Jim Thompson museum.

Optional Activities:

  • Bangkok - Bangkok by Bike Urban Adventure - THB1980
  • Bangkok - Bangkok Chinatown Food Discovery Urban Adventure - THB2149
  • Bangkok - Jim Thompson's House - THB150
  • Bangkok - Bangkok Temple & River of Kings Urban Adventure - THB2465
  • Bangkok - Bangkok Tuk Tuk Experience Urban Adventure - THB2175

Price is per adult sharing and includes:

  • 18 day Best Of Vietnam & Cambodia adventure tour, including:
  • Meals: 14 breakfasts, 3 lunches, 2 dinners
  • Transport: Boat, Motorbike, Overnight sleeper train, Plane, Private minibus, Taxi
  • Accommodation: Hotel (15 nights), Overnight Boat (1 night), Overnight Sleeper Train (1 night)
  • Included activities:
    • HCMC - KOTO dinner
    • Halong Bay - Overnight boat cruise with seafood lunch and dinner
    • Halong Bay - Cave entry
    • Hue - Imperial Citadel
    • Hue - Royal tomb of Emperor Tu Duc
    • Hue - Highlights & back streets by motorbike (lunch included)
    • Hue - Thien Mu Pagoda
    • Hoi An - Old Town walking tour
    • Ho Chi Minh City - War Remnants Museum
    • Ho Chi Minh City - City tour
    • HCMC - Mekong Delta day trip including coconut gardens & village tuk-tuk tour
    • Phnom Penh - The Killing Fields of Choeung Ek
    • Phnom Penh - Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum (S21)
    • Kampong Luong - Tonle Sap floating village visit
    • Battambang - Rural Food and Cycle Tour
    • Siem Reap - Three day Angkor Pass
    • Siem Reap - Angkor Temples Guided Tour

Please ask us about adding great value:

  • Flights- we'll find the best value air fares for your chosen departure date and airport
  • Travel insurance
Subject to availability. Terms & conditions apply. 

For more information please call us on 021 427 7094 or 01 696 5135, email info@shandontravel.ie, request a call back using the red button or submit an enquiry through the form below.

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