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Explore bustling atmospheric cities, sample delicious fresh local food and stay in a variety of comfortable hotels on this premium trip through Vietnam and Cambodia.
Explore Tour Leader
1 nights premium boat
12 nights premium hotel
Trip maximum 16 Explore Average 11
Itineraries on some departure dates may differ, please select the itinerary that you wish to explore.
Arrive in Vietnam's capital which is famous for its rich culture, bustling life and colonial influences on their centuries-old architecture. Little lakes dotted around the city are encased by busy streets and secret alleyways, which are waiting to be explored.
For those arriving on time our Leader plans to meet you in the hotel reception at 6pm for the welcome meeting and for those that wish, there is the chance to go out for dinner. There are no other activities planned today, so you are free to arrive in Hanoi at any time. If you would like to receive a complimentary airport transfer today, you'll need to arrive into Noi Bai International Airport (HAN), which is only a 45 minute drive to the hotel. Should you miss the welcome meeting, your Leader will leave a note at the front desk, and call you in your room with details.
If your flight arrives earlier in the day, perhaps you might choose to walk around the peaceful shores of Hoan Kiem Lake.
Flower Garden Hotel (or similar)
This morning we make a tour of the main sights of Hanoi. Architecturally styled like a French provincial town with tree-lined boulevards and substantial low-built houses the city is wonderfully nostalgic. Among the interesting sights are the charming One-Pillar Pagoda, Confucius Temple and the Presidential Palace. Ho Chi Minh himself, a spartan-living and scholarly man, chose not to live in the Presidential Palace; he preferred instead a simple teak stilt-house specially built for him in the grounds. This walk through the narrow lanes of the fascinating Old Quarter, where the streets are named after various crafts or specialties: Paper Street, Silk Street, Basket Street and so on. The shops themselves have very narrow frontages but are actually quite deep; they are known locally as tube shops. On the pavements food sellers sell noodles, snacks and stir-fries from shoulder panniers. The smell of food mixes with the smell of incense from small temples dotted around.
Departing the city early this morning we head east, towards the Gulf of Tonkin and the spectacular scenery of Halong Bay. One of Southeast Asia's most spectacular settings, Halong Bay presents a breathtaking vista of thousands of limestone islands that rise from the jade green waters of the bay like the scales of some great submerged dragon. Indeed Halong means 'where the dragon descends to the sea' and local legend tells of a time when this rugged landscape was created by the pounding tail of a mighty dragon as he ran from the mountains into the sea. Boarding our junk around midday we set sail, threading our way through a flotilla of boats, junks and wooden sampans as they ply their way across the gentle waters of the bay; a timeless image of a way of life unchanged for generations. We will overnight on board the junk where we are comfortably accommodated in en suite twin share cabins, all with picture windows and air conditioning.
Indochina Sails Junk (or similar)
We cruise back to land this morning and drive back to Hanoi in time to catch the late afternoon flight to Danang. It is just a short drive from here to the UNESCO World Heritage town of Hoi An, a former merchant port and our base for the next three nights.
Silk Hoi An Hotel (or similar)
Hoi An had become one of the busiest international trading ports of Southeast Asia by the 17th and 18th centuries, and it still retains its medieval charm today, with many of its old buildings superbly preserved. We take a leisurely cruise along the river to one of the town's restaurants where we will be taught the flavoursome secrets of Vietnamese cuisine during a dedicated cookery lesson. We also take a walking tour of the Old Town including such sights as the Japanese Bridge and some of the Chinese temples and meeting halls.
Today is left free for you to enjoy Hoi An. There are many shops, bars and restaurants in this charming town and is a great place to buy souvenirs, have clothing tailored or simply watch the world go by in a riverside café. The beach is only a short drive by taxi, alternatively a boat trip on the river as the late afternoon sun lights up the riverfront is a treat. There are also excursions that may be taken further afield such as to My Son one of the holiest and most evocative of Vietnam's Cham sites. The Chams were dynastic lords who rejected the authority of China in 2AD and established their own kingdom. Travel along the track that leads to the site is slow, as we bump through wooded hills southwest of Hoi An. But the site is certainly impressive with several groupings of Cham temples to be visited. Alternatively you may wish to take an optional excursion out the site of the My Lai village massacre memorial. The massacre was a significant turning point in the American War and the horrific story is told through a very emotive exhibition of photography.
Another option would be to take a fishing trip out to the Thu Bon River Delta, where we learn how to fish using a traditional cast net. We travel out by boat where we meet local fisherman and try our hand at cast net fishing as well as trying the bamboo winches used to haul in the huge drop nets from the river. We also have a chance to go out in a Vietnamese 'basket boat' - a circular boat constructed from bamboo that takes some practice to row!
Today we head north along the coast to Hue with several interesting stops along the way. Our first stop is at the nearby five peaks of the Marble Mountains, said to represent the five elements of water, wood, fire, gold and earth. Naturally formed grottoes have been transformed into heavily carved Buddhist sanctuaries. A torch is useful to explore some of the caves and grottos. A short distance from the mountains we find the white sands of My Khe Beach (nicknamed China Beach by American troops - an ideal spot for a brief rest. Pausing in Danang, once the centre of the Kingdom of Champa (2nd century AD - 1720) we visit the Cham Museum, home to a fine collection of Cham sculptures. We enjoy a scenic drive across the spectacular Col des Nuages, otherwise known as the Hai Van Pass en route observing rural scenes of thatched, wooden houses and lime-green rice paddies as well as enjoying panoramic sea views as we make our way to Hue.
Romance Hotel (or similar)
Today we have time to appreciate Hué's fascinating history with a visit to the Imperial Citadel. Located on the left bank is the river, this palace was built by the Nguyen dynasty, Vietnam's ruling emperors from the early 1800s to 1945. The Citadel has formal moats and impressive ramparts that were constructed by 20,000 men and was a copy of the Forbidden City in Beijing. Although most of the inner part of the city was totally destroyed during the month-long Tet Offensive in 1968, the vast outer walls and the west wing remain an eloquent reminder of the palace's former glory. The remainder of the day is free to perhaps explore some of the outlying Tombs of the Emperors by bicycle.
This morning we fly to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam's largest city and former capital of the Republic of Vietnam (South Vietnam). In the afternoon we walk around the central sights of Old Saigon, now District 1 of Ho Chi Minh City. We see the Notre Dame Cathedral and the GPO building as well as some of the old French Colonial hotels such as The Rex. We then walk to the Independence Palace (renamed the Reunification Hall) and the graphic War Remnants Museum.
Muong Thanh Grand Saigon Centre Hotel (or similar)
Today we drive to Cai Be in the lush surroundings of the Mekong Delta and take a boat to its colourful floating market. We continue along the river and visit local family houses where rice paper, coconut products and local Mekong whisky are produced. We enjoy a lunch of fresh local produce and specialities within a lush tropical garden by the river among pomelo, longan, mango, coconut and banana trees. After lunch our cruise continues into the countryside, where local houses are still made of wood and palm tree leaves and pass under several small traditional wooden and bamboo bridges. We then return to Ho Chi Minh City.
We drive out early this morning to the infamous Cu Chi Tunnels. This morning we take a short drive out of the city to the infamous Cu Chi Tunnels, which formed an incredible underground command base for 10,000 Viet Cong troops and were a major part of the 1968 Tet Offensive. The site is a fascinating insight into the resourcefulness of the Vietnamese. There is the opportunity to crawl through a small, specially adapted section of the tunnels should you wish to sample the claustrophobic conditions the Viet Cong lived in. Later we fly to Siem Reap in Cambodia; our base for an exploration of the fascinating temples of Angkor.
Tara Angkor Hotel (or similar)
Our exact programme over the 2 days at Angkor will be organised at the guide's discretion to avoid crowds, coincide with sunsets, etc. Angkor was actually a series of cities, built between the 9th and the 13th centuries by the Khmer kings, with a population of 750,000 in its heyday. The Angkor complex is spread out over some 155 square kilometres, scattered with magnificent carved stone temples, elegant sculptures and incredible bas reliefs. We visit the temples of King Jayavarman Vll, reputedly Angkor's greatest king. The fortified city of Angkor Thom, which he had built at the end of the 12th century, is enclosed by a square wall 8 metres high with five 20 metre high monumental gates decorated with stone elephant trunks. Originally, crocodiles inhabited the moat and huge statues of 54 different gods protected each gate. The city contains another of Angkor's true gems - The Bayon. Although not as impressive as Angkor Wat from a distance, The Bayon is nevertheless incredible for its maze of corridors, gothic style towers and magical central temples. We'll explore The Terrace of the Elephants and the Leper King, the Baphuon and Phimeanakas and some of the surrounding temples such as Preah Khan.
On our final day we make a visit to the 2nd Angkor capital which includes the temples of Prasat Kravan, Banteay Kdei and Takeo. A highlight for many is a visit to the atmospheric temple of Ta Prohm, where the film Tomb Raider was filmed, lying half consumed by the jungle. We leave the best known and most breathtaking of all the sights, Angkor Wat, to the end - where we stay until the sun sets on the last night of our adventure.
The trip ends after breakfast at our hotel in Siem Reap.
There are no activities planned today, so you are free to depart from Siem Reap at any time. If your flight is departing later in the day luggage storage facilities are available at our hotel. If you would like to receive a complimentary airport transfer today, you need to depart from Siem Reap International Airport (SIA), which is approximately 60-80 minutes from the hotel.
If you have time you may choose to browse the old market for some last minute bargains, visit a fish spa or enjoy afternoon tea at The Foreign Correspondent's Club.
Cambodia is a hot and tropical country, being hottest in April and coolest in January (still high 20s). Although rainfall is at its maximum in October, Phnom Penh and Siem Reap receive very little rain compared to the coastal areas, and when it does rain it tends to be in the form of sporadic mid afternoon downpours. There is normally very little rain between December and March.
2 Pin Round
As Vietnam is a long, narrow country from north to south climate conditions vary considerably. The climate can be divided into three distinct patterns between the north, central and south regions. The climate in the north is generally humid and subtropical, although the winter months from November to March can be colder with temperatures from 10 - 15 degrees. Summer months, May to September can be quite hot with temperatures from 30 - 35 degrees. Meanwhile south Vietnam enjoys a tropical climate all year round, with little variation throughout the year (around 27 - 32 degrees), however May to November is the rainy season when short, heavy downpours are quite frequent. Central Vietnam lies somewhere in between. The coastal strip is usually dry and hotter from April to October while November to March is wetter and cooler. A light rain jacket and small umbrella are recommended year round.
Mahayana Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism
Hanoi: Water Puppets Show - US$ 11 Cyclo tour of Old Quarter - US$ 10 Half day cycle through the countryside - US $ 33 Half day fishing experience - US $55 Full day trip to the UNESCO temples of My Son -US$ 30 Hue: Cruise along Perfume River visiting Thien Mu Pagoda and the Royal Tombs from US$35 Siem Reap: Blessing ceremony at local monastery US$35 Scenic helicopter flight over Angkor temples between US$100-542 (flights subject to availability) Sunrise visit to Angkor US$18 Both cash and card accepted but cash is preferred The prices stated are based on a minimum number of participants (usually 5-6). Please be aware that the optional excursions can run with fewer people but the price may be higher. Likewise, a slightly reduced price may be applicable where the participation greater. The prices listed are generally only entrance fees and do not include the price of transport to and from the excursion, Your Explore Leader will quote this when you are on tour, as the price for transport will depend on the number of participants. These excursions are generally run via our agent in the country. Local companies may offer similar excursions at a cheaper price. Should you want to use these companies please be aware that a lower price may mean that not all costs are included (entrance fees etc.) or services will not operate at the same safety and quality standards.
December through to February warmer clothing is needed for the North. Days are hot and humid. Lightweight rainwear essential at all times.The northern region is cold at night during the winter.
Comfortable shoes, trainers and sandals.
One main lockable bag/case, an overnight bag for your trip to Halong Bay when your main luggage is left behind and a daypack. Please remember that you are expected to carry your own luggage so dont overload yourself.
Torch and mosquito repellent. We advise taking a water bottle for day to day use.
Bus, Boat, Flight
Can you drink the water?
The water quality is poor and therefore it is recommended to avoid drinking tap water during your trip.
Can you drink the water?
The water quality is poor and therefore it is recommended to avoid drinking tap water during your trip.
We strongly recommend that you check your government's travel advisory for up-to-date information and advice about your destination: safety and security, entry requirements, health, local laws and customs. For UK citizens, check the latest Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office advice.
Please refer to our COVID-19 entry requirements page for any country-specific conditions of entry. Whilst we strive to update this on a regular basis we recommend you also check the FCDO website for the latest advice on entry requirements in this fast-evolving situation. Information can change at any time.
Please note that some countries require proof of parental consent when travelling overseas with under 18s. Please check requirements with the relevant embassy or consular office well in advance of travel if this applies to your party.
Once your booking has been confirmed we guarantee the price will not increase, whatever the circumstances. However, please note that if you voluntarily make any changes to your booking including changing your trip or departure date, any additional costs or charges incurred will not be covered. Before booking please ensure you have read our important tour pricing information.Booking Conditions
Vietnam: British Citizen passport holders can visit Vietnam for up to 15 days without a visa. A visa will be required if you enter after this date or if you wish to re-enter within 30 days of your departure. For visits of up to 30 days, you can get an e-visa before you travel from https://evisa.xuatnhapcanh.gov.vn For visits of longer than 30 days you must get a visa from the nearest Vietnamese embassy before travelling to Vietnam. If you want to make a second visit within 30 days of leaving Vietnam, you'll need to get a multiple entry visa to re-enter. Visa's are required for citizens of the USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. eVisa's can be applied for via https://evisa.xuatnhapcanh.gov.vn Please note that it is a pre-requisite for entry into Vietnam that your passport is valid for a minimum of 6 months from your date of entry All visa related issues including information for other nationalities should be confirmed with the relevant Embassy prior to departure. Cambodia: A single visa is required by UK, New Zealand, Australian, USA & Canadian citizens and can be obtained on arrival. A passport sized photograph for immigration will also be required. Alternatively you can now obtain an e-visa prior to departure from www.mfaic.gov.kh All visa information should be confirmed with the relevant consulate.
If you do require assistance in obtaining a visa then you may be able to apply through Explore's recommended visa service in the UK, Travcour. See www.travcour.com to download the relevant visa application for your trip, if applicable (UK citizens only), along with details of how to apply for your visa through Travcour. The Team at Travcour will be happy to answer specific questions relating to visa applications, please call them directly on 0208 5431846.
It is your responsibility to ensure that you are in possession of a full passport, with the correct validity for your chosen destination.
Before booking your Explore trip, please ensure that you read both our Essential Information and Booking Conditions.
Customers who have chosen to book on the ‘Land Only’ arrangements of our tour, please ensure that you have checked your tour specific ‘Joining Instructions’ prior to booking your own travel arrangements. Your joining instructions can be found below in the dates and prices information.
You may also be eligible for the Free Explore Transfer.
Customers booked on the ‘Land Only’ arrangements will receive a Free Transfer, provided you arrive and depart on the tour only itinerary start and end dates. The complimentary transfers will be arranged from the Explore designated airport or train station to your trips joining point, and then back from the ending point to the designated airport or train station. Generally the airport or station that Explore have selected will be the one that is closest to the town or city where the trip starts, or the one nearest to the joining point. It will be either an airport or train station but not both.
The exception to this rule is customers who are booked on a tour where the joining and ending point is at the designated airport or train station.
Free transfers are not available for Polar customers.
If you are not eligible for the Free Transfer then you will need to make your own way through to the joining and ending point. On a majority of our tours Explore will be able to provide a private transfer at an additional cost. Please ask for a quote at the time of booking.
For more information regarding the Explore Free Transfer click here
It is a condition of booking with Explore that you have adequate valid travel insurance. It is your responsibility to arrange appropriate travel insurance and ensure you have read and understood the full terms and conditions of your travel insurance policy to ensure that you are covered for all activities you intend to undertake whilst on the tour, including all optional activities. Your Insurance Policy must fully cover you for medical expenses and emergency repatriation to your home country. Please ensure your policy includes medical emergency helicopter evacuation in the event of illness or injury and covers the entire duration of your holiday. If you are trekking at altitude please ensure that there is no upper altitude limit which may limit or exclude cover for your trip. The cost of many of our Polar Voyages will exceed the capped amount covered by standard insurance premiums and you will be required to pay an additional premium to cover the full value of your trip. Please ensure that you are covered for the full amount of your holiday cost, as insufficient cover could invalidate a claim under the policy. Medical and repatriation insurance cover is not mandatory for UK residents who are travelling on trips within the United Kingdom.
Read more information about what travel insurance is required.
Explore offers a wide range of flexible flying options to make joining and leaving our trips easy. Read more about them here.
You are able to book this tour on a 'land only' basis or as a ‘flight inclusive’ package. Your flight inclusive package will be fully protected by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) ATOL protection scheme.
We have a good selection of flights not only from London but from many regional airports around the UK allowing us to compare fares between scheduled carriers as well as low cost and charter airlines. Our dedicated flights team will match the best flight options to your arrival and departure airport.
On our website we display a UK flight inclusive package guide price which is generally based on a London departure. To avoid paying supplements or to secure your preferred flight option, we recommend booking as early as possible, especially for peak travel dates.
An ability to swim is essential for your safe enjoyment of the water based activities on this trip. If you wish to participate in these activities then we insist that you are able to swim.
Nothing compulsory, but we recommend protection against malaria, infectious hepatitis, tetanus, typhoid, diphtheria and polio. Consult your GP regarding tablets advised for malaria. Though not compulsory, travellers may wish to immunise themselves against japanese encephalitis. Please check the latest requirements with your travel clinic or doctor prior to departure. The above is not an exhaustive list. Further information regarding vaccinations and travel health advice can be found by following the NHS and NaTHNaC links at Explore Travel Health and from your local healthcare provider. Visa and vaccination requirements are subject to change and should be confirmed by you before travelling.
Nothing compulsory, we recommend protection against malaria, typhoid, tetanus, diphtheria, polio and hepatitis A. Consult your travel clinic for latest advice on Malaria and Zika Virus. Although not compulsory travellers may also wish to immunise themselves against Japanese encephalitis. Please check the latest requirements with your travel clinic or doctor prior to departure. The above is not an exhaustive list. Further information regarding vaccinations and travel health advice can be found by following the NHS and NaTHNaC links at Explore Travel Health and from your local healthcare provider. Visa and vaccination requirements are subject to change and should be confirmed by you before travelling.