Essential Vietnam & Cambodia - 17 days
Discover the highlights of Vietnam and Cambodia on this 17-day adventure visiting Cat Ba Island in the beautiful Halong Bay region, imperial Hue and enchanting Hoi an, the bustling cities of Ho Chi Minh City and Phnom Penh, and finally the spectacular Angkor Temple Complex.
Sunday. Welcome to Vietnam and the start of your adventure! Make your own way to our start hotel in Hanoi. At 4pm meet your guide and fellow travellers in the hotel lobby for a welcome meeting and drinks. Spend the rest of the day at leisure.
Please note: if you'd like more time to explore Vietnam's charming capital, we can book pre tour accommodation for you upon request.
Hanoi - Cat Ba Island. This morning we travel to the coast and take the ferry to Cat Ba Island, the largest island in the beautiful Halong Bay region. From there we board a boat for a scenic cruise to Beo Floating Village and pristine Lan Ha Bay, with its emerald waters and karst rock formations, enjoying lunch on board. This afternoon there's the opportunity to kayak and explore Cat Ba Island's lagoons or enjoy a 10km cycle across the jungle to the island’s most remote village (included in the price of the tour).
Later in the afternoon we return to our hotel and enjoy some free time, perhaps unwinding on the beach or visiting Canon Fort, which is known for its stunning sunset views over the archipelago.
PLEASE NOTE: from May-August our visit to Cat Ba Island and Lan Ha Bay day cruise will be replaced with an overnight Halong Bay junk boat cruise. Please read the trip notes for further information.
Overnight: Cat Ba Princess Hotel | Breakfast, Lunch
Cat Ba – Hue. This morning offers free time to enjoy our surrounds or there's an optional excursion to visit Cat Ba fish market and hike up to one of the island’s many peaks, which boasts breathtaking views of Cat Ba National Park from its summit. After some time to freshen up at our hotel, we travel to Hanoi train station to catch our overnight train (simple 4 berth cabins) to the imperial city of Hue.
Please note: from May-August our visit to Cat Ba Island will be replaced with an overnight Halong Bay cruise. Please read the trip notes for further information.
Overnight: Sleeper Train | Breakfast
Today we tour Hue’s biggest highlight, the Imperial Citadel, and learn all about this city’s fascinating past. We then continue to the Village of the Mandarins, set on the banks of the Perfume River, to get a taste of local life and enjoy lunch at one of the villager’s homes.
This afternoon we travel to our hotel, where the rest of the day is free to spend at your leisure. Either hit the beach or visit the imperial tombs and the Thien Mu Pagoda. Or, alternatively, take one of our optional excursions to watch the sunset at Chuon lagoon or to cycle through Hue's rural outskirts.
Overnight: Hue | Lunch
Hue – Hoi An. Departing Hue, we travel by public tourist bus (modern coach with air conditioning) to Hoi An, an enchanting port town on Vietnam’s central coast. After dropping our luggage at our hotel, we enjoy an orientation walking tour of the town’s UNESCO-listed centre, visiting sights such as the iconic Japanese Bridge. The rest of the day is free for you to stroll along the riverside with its colourful fishing boats and explore Hoi An's cobbled streets which are bedecked with lanterns and home to some of Asia's best tailors, wonderful craft shops, art galleries, restaurants and bars.
Overnight: Hoi An | Breakfast
Hoi An – Mui Ne. Enjoy a free day in Hoi An, perhaps unwinding on the beach or shopping in the town’s colourful markets. We also offer two optional excursions, either cycling and paddling through the surrounding countryside or visiting a local farm to enjoy a traditional Vietnamese lunch.
This evening we continue to Da Nang railway station, where we catch our overnight train (simple 4 berth cabins) to Mui Ne, one of the most popular beach resorts in Vietnam.
Overnight: Sleeper Train | Breakfast
Around noon today, we arrive into Bihn Thuan railway station, where we transfer to our hotel in the coastal resort town of Mui Ne. Mui Ne is a real Mecca for surfers and kite-surfing enthusiasts and it's also the perfect place to enjoy some rest and relaxation. Spend the rest of day 7 and day 8 at leisure. Perhaps soak up the sunshine by the pool or on the glorious 21km stretch of golden sandy beach, with its colourful fishing boats, famous sand dunes and emerald sea.
Overnight: Mui Ne | Breakfast x 1
Mui Ne – Ho Chi Minh City. Travelling by public tourist bus, we make our way to Ho Chi Minh City, formerly known as Saigon. Spend the rest of the day either enjoying some free time or exploring the sights on our optional city tour.
Day 10 is free to further explore the city or there is an optional excursion to the famous Cu Chi Tunnels in the morning, a vast underground network of tunnels and hideouts used by Viet Cong guerrilla fighters in the Vietnam War. Returning to Ho Chi Minh City at lunch time, spend the rest of the day at leisure. Perhaps sampling some of the city’s famous street food and shopping in the markets, visiting the sobering War Remnants Museum or the historic Reunification Palace.
Overnight: Ho Chi Minh City | Breakfast x 2
Ho Chi Minh City – Phnom Penh (Cambodia). This morning we travel by public tourist bus across the border into Cambodia and on to its capital Phnom Penh. After hotel check-in, we meet our guide and travel by tuk tuk to the Mekong River for a scenic walk along Phnom Penh's riverside, before heading to the famous Foreign Correspondents Club for a drink.
Overnight: Phnom Penh | Breakfast
Today is a free day to either explore Phnom Penh at your leisure or choose one of our optional excursions. In the morning our optional city tour takes in the Central Market, the National Museum and the Royal Palace with its famous Silver Pagoda. Then you can learn about horrors of the Pol Pot regime on an optional afternoon tour to the Killing Fields and Toul Sleng (Security Prison - S21). Alternatively, those feeling energetic have the option of a cycling trip to scenic Koh Dach island in the afternoon.
Overnight: Phnom Penh | Breakfast
Phnom Penh – Battambang. This morning we journey to the agricultural province of Battambang, considered the rice bowl of Cambodia, stopping en route to visit a local pottery. Arriving into Battambang we visit Phnom Sambov Mountain, a place steeped in legend, with Wat Sampeou at its peak and a group of caves used as ‘killing caves’ by the Khmer Rouge.
Overnight: Battambang | Breakfast
Battambang – Siem Reap. After breakfast, we visit the lively Battambang Market and visit a local village which is renowned for its old wooden houses. Here we'll discover past and present Khmer architecture, look inside some of the local families' homes and gain an insight into the Cambodian way of life. We'll also learn about the process of producing rice paper, sticky rice and other Cambodian treats, as well as visiting a weaving and handicraft centre.
Next we enjoy a fun ride on Battambang's famous bamboo train, a raft-like device used by local villagers to transport their goods, before driving to Wat Banan, an 11th-century mountain-top temple. We climb to the top of the mountain to explore the temple and take in the fantastic views over the surrounding countryside. Bidding farewell to Battambang we travel on to Siem Reap, where the evening is free to spend at your leisure.
Overnight: Siem Reap | Breakfast
We spend this morning exploring magnificent Angkor Wat, easily the most famous and best-preserved of all the temples within the Angkor Complex. This afternoon we visit the ancient city of Angkor Thom, with the Bayon Temple at its centre. This 12th-century masterpiece is known for its Gothic towers decorated with smiling faces.
Our final stop is Ta Prohm temple, made famous by the Tomb Raider movie starring Angelina Jolie. Left just as it was discovered, the temple is slowly being overtaken by the surrounding jungle, with vast tree trunks growing amongst its ruins.
Overnight: Siem Reap | Breakfast
Kampong Phluk & Tonle Sap Lake
Siem Reap – Tonle Sap Lake. Travelling to Tonle Sap Lake this morning we visit the villages of Kampong Phluk, which feature stilt houses built within the floodplain of the lake. Boarding row boats we explore Kampong Phluk, passing houses, schools and local businesses built on stilts which hover above the surface of the lake, whilst nearby, the petrified trees of a flooded forest are revealed whenever the water level drops. Returning to Siem Reap, this afternoon offers free time, perhaps shopping in the central market or discovering the buzzing atmosphere of Pub Street. This evening there's an optional dinner and Apsara dance show.
PLEASE NOTE: During the dry season (Mar - Sep), when the water level is low on Tonle Sap Lake we visit the Chong Kneas floating village instead of Kampong Phluk.
Overnight: Siem Reap | Breakfast
Tuesday. Our tour comes to an end today. Depart at any time or, if you would like to extend your stay in Cambodia, we can arrange post-tour accommodation.
Prices & Dates
Departure dates noted with a 'G' are guaranteed to operate. All other departure dates are guaranteed with a minimum of 2 persons. Prices shown are per person travelling. 'Twin/Double' prices per person apply when there are 2 people travelling, sharing a room. The 'Single supplement' applies for single travellers who require their own room and needs to be added to the 'Twin/Double' price. If you are happy to be paired up with another single traveller of the same sex on your tour, this can be arranged, thus avoiding the single person supplement.
The hotels listed below are ones which we frequently use on this tour. We reserve the right to substitute these hotels to ones of a similar standard when necessary.
Hong Ha Hotel, Hanoi
Boasting a fantastic location in Hanoi’s Old Quarter, the Hong Ha Hotel is just a short walk from top attractions such as the Water Puppet Theatre, Dong Xuan Market and Hoan Kiem Lake. Each of its modern guestrooms offer views of the city and are equipped with all the essential amenities to ensure a comfortable stay. Dine on tasty international cuisine in Le Bistro Restaurant or head to the hotel's Terrace Café to enjoy a beer or cocktail after a day of sightseeing.
La Dolce Vita Hotel, Hanoi
Offering an excellent location in the heart of Hanoi, La Dolce Vita Hotel is within walking distance of a variety of restaurants, shops and bars. Its spacious guestrooms feature wooden furniture and modern artwork, with complimentary WiFi available throughout the hotel. Enjoy drinks or a light bite to eat with your travel companions in the Lobby Bar and Café or, if you’re looking for a sit-down dinner, you can choose between delicious Vietnamese and Western dishes in the La Dolce Vita Restaurant.
Carnosa Hotel, Hue
Situated close to the romantic Huong River, the Carnosa Hotel offers a great location in the imperial city of Hue. Its guestrooms are equipped with all the essential amenities, with free WiFi available so you can stay connected to friends and family back home. Start your day with the hotel's buffet breakfast and enjoy dinner at the in-house restaurant, which serves a variety of American dishes. One of the best ways to explore Hue is by bike, so be sure to take advantage of the hotel’s free bike hire during your stay.
Indochine Hotel, Hoi An
Boasting a fantastic riverside location, the Indochine Hotel enjoys the best of both worlds being just a 5-minute walk from Cua Dai Beach and still within a short drive of Hoi An’s ancient town. Its spacious guestrooms offer garden, pool or river views, with complimentary WiFi, air conditioning and a welcome fruit basket. Enjoy the outdoor pool with a refreshing swim after some sightseeing or indulge in a treatment at the hotel’s spa. The Indochine Restaurant serves authentic Vietnamese and international cuisine or you can unwind with a drink at the Windy Lounge Bar, which overlooks the pool and river.
Sunshine Hotel, Hoi An
Located on a peaceful street midway between An Bang Beach and Hoi An ancient town, this modern hotel provides free bikes for travellers to explore this charming port city. Its guestrooms are comfortable and roomy, with either garden or pool views and complimentary WiFi available. Guests can relax with a dip in the outdoor pool or enjoy the facilities of the hotel’s spa and wellness centre. An onsite restaurant serves a selection of Western and Asian dishes, with plenty more eateries to choose from in the surrounding area.
Sandune Mui Ne Beach Resort & Spa , Mui Ne
Located on a stretch of untouched sand, this beautifully landscaped hotel features a range of rooms, suites and bungalows set around a central pool and lush palm trees. Each guestroom offers a sea view, with modern amenities including air conditioning and free WiFi. However, this hotel’s list of attractions doesn’t stop there, with treatments available at the Ocean Spa, two stylish restaurants serving Vietnamese and Western cuisine, and the Swim Up Bar offering refreshing drinks without even needing to leave the pool.
Nam Chau Resort, Mui Ne
Set in a three-hectare garden, this boutique resort features rustic accommodation in the form of villas with thatched roofs. Each villa is complete with an ensuite, TV and minibar, and you can enjoy a complimentary breakfast with Vietnamese style bread and your choice of coffee. Thanks to its position on a white sand beach on the cape of Mui Ne, this resort offers a vast range of water sports. Depending on the season, you can choose between paddle boarding, kite and wind surfing, kayaking and jet skiing, alongside beach volleyball and football. And that’s not all, with the resort organizing pool and beach parties on Saturday evenings.
Hoang Phu Gia Hotel, Ho Chi Minh City
Offering a prime location in the city centre of Ho Chi Minh, the Hoang Phu Gia Hotel is set between the bustling downtown area and China Town. Its guestrooms are cosy and comfortable, with free WiFi and room service available. When it comes to food and drink, you have a choice of two restaurants serving European, Asian and traditional Vietnamese cuisine. However, for breakfast you’re truly spoilt for choice, with a complimentary buffet of over 30 different dishes.
Universe Central Hotel, Ho Chi Minh City
This laid-back hotel offers a great location just 3 kilometres from the Ben Thanh Market, which sells an array of crafts and textiles, and the impressive Notre-Dame Basilica. Guestrooms are well-equipped, with 24-hour room service available and high-speed internet access. Unwind with a massage in the hotel’s spa, which offers a steam bath and sauna for you to relax in after your journey. A buffet breakfast is served in the hotel’s restaurant, which offers a tasty range of European, Asian and Vietnamese dishes.
Cardamom Hotel & Apartments, Phnom Penh
Offering views of the Tonle Sap River, this modern hotel has a pagoda-inspired facade and a great location, just minutes’ walk from Phnom Penh’s central market and Royal Palace. Its bright guestrooms feature free WiFi and tea and coffee making facilities, with room service available from 10:30am to 11pm. Enjoy all day dining at the Mimosa Restaurant, which serves both Asian and Western cuisine. Or, if you’re looking to relax, head to the laid-back Poulowai Lobby Bar for a range of drinks and cocktails.
Khemara Battambang 1, Battambang
This contemporary hotel offers a great location, just a 10-minute drive from the Beoung Chhuok Market and tranquil Sangke Lake. Its comfortable and air-conditioned guestrooms feature poolside views, as well as tea and coffee making facilities and a minibar. Guests keen to get in a workout can head to the hotel’s fitness centre or the spa offers a sauna, jacuzzi and rejuvenating massage treatments for those wanting to unwind. The restaurant serves Western and Asian dishes, however its specialty is traditional Khmer cuisine, which you can enjoy alfresco surrounded by a tropical garden.
New Riverside Hotel, Siem Reap
The New Riverside Hotel is the perfect place to get away from the noise of the city and relax for a while. The spacious and beautifully decorated rooms line the outdoor pool that stretches through the middle of the property. The hotel is surrounded by a range of lush, exotic plants that fill the air with their fragrances, blending perfectly with the scent of fresh Khmer and international dishes coming from the dining hall. The hotel is also well-located close to Pub Street and the famous Angkor Wat.