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Welcome to sizzling Saigon. Included transfer to your hotel. Spend the afternoon getting acquainted with the city. Opt to explore on foot, shop at Ben Thanh Market or visit the grand Independence Palace, with its secret bunker and military command centre beneath! Evening at leisure.
This morning we transfer to Vinh Long where we will begin our cruise of the Mekong Delta. Boarding our boat, we cruise amongst the local sampans selling their fruit and vegetables at the Cai Be floating market, with buyers and sellers travelling from provinces all over the delta. The cruise continues along the river, past beautiful landscapes with scenes of typical Mekong Delta rural life. A stop is made at Dong Hoa Hiep island for lunch. As the boat resumes its course, we pass the beautiful church of Cai Be before stopping at some home factories where you can sample local sweets and see how they are made.
Early morning visit to Cai Rang floating market and drive to Saigon. On a walking tour of the city we’ll visit the Notre Dame Cathedral, Old Post office and the sombering War Remnants Museum. Evening at leisure.
This morning we visit the famous Cu Chi Tunnels used by the Viet-Cong in their struggle to keep control of the region during the 1960s. As we walk the bush trails you’ll see trapdoors, booby traps, living areas, weapon factories and kitchens. We can also safely crawl sections of the tunnels that have been widened for tourists and fire weapons of the era (including the M16 and AK47) on the firing range. After crossing the Cambodian border we drive to the capital of Phnom Penh. Once deemed the ‘Pearl of Asia’, Phnom Penh offers a bustling mix of Asia’s past and present, a city quickly taking its place amongst the trendy capitals of the region.
Today we’ll enjoy a full day sightseeing tour of Phnom Penh starting at the National Museum of Fine Arts, a graceful terracotta building of traditional design housing the world’s finest collection of Khmer sculpture. We continue with the Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda, famed for its lavish decorations – the floors are paved with silver tiles and statues of Buddha are encrusted with thousands of diamonds. We later come face to face with the horrors of the Pol Pot regime as we visit Toul Sleng (Security Prison - S21), a school that was gruesomely transformed into a torture chamber under the Khmer Rouge, and visit the Killing Fields where over 10,000 people were executed.
Hotel check out and transfer to the airport for your included flight to Siem Reap. After time to freshen up we visit the last capital of the Angkorian Empire – Angkor Thom. This monumental fortified city is encircled by a 100m wide moat and is famed for the huge statue heads that glare down from every angle. We continue to the monastic complex of Preah Khan before heading to the mother of all temples – Angkor Wat. This breathtaking monument of man’s devotion to his gods is believed to be the largest religious building in the world and contains thousands of wall carvings and extensive bas-reliefs. In the evening we enjoy a walking tour of the old market.
Early this morning opt to see Angkor Wat bathed in the spectacular golden light of sunrise. Later we head out to Banteay Srei temple, considered by many to be the art gallery of Angkor with some of the finest stone carvings in the world. Cut from stone of a pinkish hue, the Hindu temple contains lavishly decorated libraries and stunning reliefs of divinities. The temple expedition continues with visits to Banteay Samre, East Mebon, Pre Rup, Preah Khan, Banteay Kdei and the atmospheric Ta Prohm. Swallowed by the jungle, vast muscular roots envelop the crumbling towers and walls whilst the trees’ foliage dapples the temple in shadow.
This morning we visit the Roluos group of temples (Bakong, Lolei and Preak Ko), the earliest large and permanent temples built by the Khmers. The monuments mark the dawn of Khmer classical art, dating from the late 9th century, with elaborate inscriptions in the ancient Hindu language of Sanskrit. Later visit the floating village of Kompong Pluk. Houses built on soaring stilts hover over the Tonle Sap Lake whilst nearby, the petrified trees of a flooded forest are revealed whenever the water level drops. Afternoon and evening at leisure.
Today marks the end of our memorable journey. Lap up the hotel facilities this morning before hotel check out and included departure transfer to the airport.