Travel through Vietnam to Cambodia along famous national roads and panoramic train journeys, discovering the local cultures and traditions along the way. Sit back and relax as you watch the countryside and everyday life pass you by. This is the traditional Indochina at its finest.
Depart the UK with international economy flight to Hanoi, Vietnam. We can also arrange departures from your local airport at no extra cost.
Our local guide will welcome you at Noi Bai Airport (Hanoi) on arrival. Transfer to the city for hotel check in. You are free to relax for the rest of the day.
We will spend a full-day tour to explore Vietnam’s capital city, including Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum (closed on every Monday and Friday), his traditional stilt house, the One-Pillar Pagoda, and the thousand-year-old Temple of Literature, also known as the First University of Vietnam.
In the afternoon, visit the Ethnology Museum (closed on every Monday) where you can learn about the costumes, customs and daily life of Vietnam’s 54 ethnic groups; Old Quarter Streets and Hoan Kiem Lake vicinity of Hanoi. In the evening, enjoy a traditional water puppet show – a unique Vietnamese Art form hailing from Southeast Asia’s wet-rice culture.
Leave Hanoi this morning and head straight to Halong bay, a stunning UNESCO World Heritage site with its 3,000 islands of towering limestone dotting the bay. After arriving at noon, you will board a beautiful boat for an overnight cruise on Halong Bay with an excellent menu of fresh seafood. Lunch and dinner are served on boat. Overnight on board.
Wake up early in the morning to enjoy aquamarine water of the bay at its best. After tea break, the boat continues to cruise quietly through spectacular limestone formations of Halong Bay. Enjoy this more isolated bay’s spectacular and unique islands of the bay. Return to Halong harbour after a brunch for transfer to Hanoi station for your overnight soft-sleeper train to Hue.
On arrival in Hue station, meet your local guide and drive to your hotel for short rest. Room is at your disposal at 1:30 pm. Have breakfast at a local restaurant and then start to explore Hue city by visiting the Imperial Citadel of Hue and the traditional Thien Mu Pagoda on the banks of Perfume River. In the afternoon, visit Tu Duc tomb – one of the most beautiful tombs in Hue. If time permits, visit a garden house to learn more about the culture of Hue.
Depart by car for Hoi An via the scenic Hai Van Pass, where we will enjoy the spectacular panorama of the central coastline from the summit. Stop at Lang Co to stretch your legs on the white sands of this peaceful beach. Upon arrival in Hoi An check in at the hotel and remainder of day free at your leisure.
In the morning, you will hop on your bike for cycling through the countryside to Tra Que village (about 20 minutes biking) – transfer by cyclo or by private vehicle are also the options. This village has been known for its special aromatic herbs, mint and basil; leaves of those plants are smaller than usual, however they have a very particular aroma. Together with local people in their daily work, you will learn how to plant and water vegetables. Then learn to cook some local specialities, for example “Tam Hu” – set of shrimps, pork and aromatic herbs. Of course you will get the opportunity to enjoy your creations after cooking. Then enjoy a local foot massage.
In the afternoon, take a stroll to visit Hoi An town, recognised by UNESCO as a World Heritage site because of its unusually well-preserved ancient streets and homes. Set out to explore the quaint cobblestone streets of the town with the more than two-century-old Chinese houses. Sites include the Japanese Bridge, the Chinese Temple, and Phung Hung Chinese-trading house.
At the end of the day, you will have memorable time for enjoying a cup of tea or coffee at “Reaching Out Tea House” – a very special and unique ancient house where they offer you not only fabulous drinks and snacks but also the soul values.
Free at your leisure in the morning. In the afternoon you will be transferred to Danang Airport for your flight to Ho Chi Minh City. Meet your local guide on arrival and drive to your hotel for check in.
Under the guidance of your local guide, we set out on a city tour of the former capital of French Indochina, once known as Saigon. Historic landmarks include the Old Saigon post office, Notre Dame Cathedral, Opera House, and the War Museum. In the afternoon, visit the ethnic Chinese district of Cholon with Binh Tay market and Thien Hau pagoda.
This morning we will leave the city by private vehicle to visit the amazing tunnel network of Cu Chi. This incredible system, covering almost 250 km in length was shelter to over 16,000 Vietcong guerrillas during the wars. Initially started in 1948 to provide shelter against the French air and ground sweeps, the network went on to serve as communication routes, storage facilities, hospitals and living quarters for Vietnamese fighters throughout the American war. If you are interested (and game) you can even descend into the tunnels to learn more about the harsh conditions faced by Vietcong guerrillas who lived there.
After lunch, transfer to Vietnam – Cambodia border and cross the Cambodian border. We then drive to the capital of Phnom Penh. Once deemed the ‘Pearl of Asia’, Phnom Penh offers a bustling mix of Asia’s past quickly taking its place amongst the trendy capitals of the region with super restaurants and a number of attractions.
Discover Phnom Penh City, capital of Cambodia located at the conjunction of four branches of the Mekong River “Chaktomuk”, historical capital for more than 600 years after Angkor. Visit Wat Phnom, an ancient pagoda standing up on the hill, the National Museum – built in 1917-18 exclusively dedicated to Khmer arts. There are many artefacts from the Pre-Angkor as well as Angkor Period on display. They are made of sandstone, bronze, silver, copper, wood, ceramic and other materials. Continue to the Royal Palace built in 1866 and Silver Pagoda located within the Royal Palace compound, the majority of treasures on display have been supplied by the King of Cambodia such as gift from various other countries. Among the treasures are a solid gold Buddha encrusted with 9,584 diamonds and weighing 90 kilos and a small 17th century emerald and baccarat crystal Buddha. In the afternoon, visit Toul Sleng, an ancient school which was used as a prison under the Khmers Rouges time and walk around the Russian market built into 1937 of a splendid architecture of colonial style.
In the morning, leave Phnom Penh for Kampong Thom. On the way you will pass a number of villages and visit the temples of Sambor Prei Kuk, which is Angkor’s oldest capital. After lunch, start to visit the pre Angkorian temples to get an ideal introduction to Angkor. After visiting, transfer to Kampong Thom where you will arrive in the afternoon.
In the morning we leave for Kampong Khleang. Here all the houses are on stilts offering an exceptional natural environment with breathtaking views of floodplains, rice fields and water views as far as the eye can see. Walk through the village meeting the locals and their lovely children. Afterwards, travel by boat over the canals to a large lake where Vietnamese people live when they are displaced from their homes because of the seasons. Return to the village and have a picnic lunch in a villager’s home. In the afternoon, continue on to Siem Reap and transfer to your hotel.
Your day starts with a visit to Angkor Wat, a world heritage site with soaring towers and extraordinary bas reliefs. It is one of the most amazing man-made monuments in the world, erected in the 12th century in honour of Vishnu. In the afternoon, leave for Banteay Srei where a most impressive jewel of Khmer art exists. Erected in the 10th century, this small pink sandstone temple is known as the Citadel of Women. On the way back, visit the ancient Ta Prohm Monastery where immense branches have taken root in the stones – hence the nickname of the Jungle Temple. You will find some splendid sculptured Devatas and an atmosphere that is unique.
In the morning leave by tuk-tuk for the northern end of Angkor, beginning the day with Preah Khan Temple, built by Jayavarman VII in 1191 in honour of his father. This monument was both a city and a place for Buddhism studies. Of the same era is Neak Pean, the only island temple of Angkor, and also known as Entwined Nagas. The large central basin is linked with four smaller basins which represent the four great rivers flowing from the earth’s four cardinal points. One of the most interesting features of this site is the superb statute of Balaha, representing the legendary saviour of shipwrecked boats. Continue your exploration of Angkor by heading further south to visit the two very beautiful temples – Thommanon and Chau Say Tevoda – dating from the 12th century and built during the reign of Suryavarman II. They stand out because of their very beautiful sculptured images honouring Shiva and Vishnu. In the afternoon, visit Angkor Thom (the Great City) beginning by the south gate and the famous Bayon of the 12th and 13th centuries, dedicated to Buddhism and composed of 54 gigantic towers featuring 216 smiling faces of Avalokitesvara. Then, visit the Elephant Terrace, which was used as a giant reviewing stand for public ceremonies and served as a base for the king’s grand audience hall; and the raised Leper King Terrace, built in the 12th century and which features many beautifully sculptured Apsaras.
Free at your leisure until transfer to the airport for your departure flight.
Hanoi – 5* Hotel de L’Opera Hanoi (for information click here)
Halong Bay – 5* Indochina Sails (for information click here)
Hue – 5* La Residence Hotel & Spa (for information click here)
Hoi An – 5* Palm Garden Resort (for information click here)
Saigon – 5* Hotel Des Arts Saigon (for information click here)
Phnom Penh – 5* Sofitel Phnom Penh (for information click here)
Kampong Thom – Sambor Village (for information click here)
Siem Reap – 5* Sofitel Angkor Phokeethra Golf & Spa Resort (for information click here)
Hanoi – 4* Silk Path Hanoi Hotel (for information click here)
Halong Bay – 4* Aphrodite Cruise (for information click here)
Hue – 4* Pilgrimage Village (for information click here)
Hoi An – 4* Boutique Hoian Resort (for information click here)
Saigon – 4* Grand Hotel (for information click here)
Phnom Penh – 4* White Mansion Boutique (for information click here)
Kampong Thom – Sambor Village (for information click here)
Siem Reap – 4* Viroth Hotel (for information click here)
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We used Emperor for a group trip to India. they were fantastic with their choice of hotels (some truly incredible) their tour guide, the whole programme and their choice of airlines for the trip. We made things quite tough for them with different members of the group travelling for different periods and arriving in and out of different airports. We specifically had some issues with one of the airlines on the return leg of our trip, through no fault of Emperor, but they did their utmost to put things right and made the journey home as pleasant as possible by meeting the cost of a lounge at the airport for us do to the shortcomings of one of the airlines checking in procedures. The pre holiday package of information was very comprehensive and we were presented with very durable luggage tags. We would have no hesitation in recommending Richard and his team in tailoring a package for a trip to India. We had an amazing culturally stimulating trip and will certainly go back to India in the future.