Travel into the heart and soul of Indochina

Join us as we travel into the heart and soul of Indochina. 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. Combining highlights of both countries, the Best of Vietnam and Cambodia tour will open your eyes to the delights of Indochina and leave you awe-struck by these magical locations.

Start
Hanoi, Vietnam
Finish
Bangkok, Thailand
Countries
Cambodia,
Thailand,
Vietnam
Themes
Explorer
Code
TVSKC
Physical rating
Cultural rating
Ages
Min 15
Group size
Min 1 Max 16
Carbon offset
421kg pp per trip


Highlights

  • Soak up the atmosphere of Hanoi
  • Cruise Halong Bay on a junk boat
  • Visit Hue and discover imperial relics
  • Chill out in charming Hoi An
  • Discover a slower pace of life in the Mekong Delta
  • Revisit Cambodia's dark past in Phnom Penh
  • See the incredible temples of Angkor Wat
  • Feast on a tasty plate of pad thai

Itinerary

Welcome to Vietnam. Your adventure begins with a welcome meeting at 6 pm. Please look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask reception where it will take place. We'll be collecting insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting, so please ensure you bring these details to provide to your leader.

If you arrive early into the capital of Hanoi, there’s plenty to see and do. Admire the city’s French-colonial architecture, wander the Old Quarter or head to the Temple of Literature. Relax in a park or enjoy some street food by Hoan Kiem Lake, surrounded by modern office buildings and ancient Buddhist temples.

Notes: If you can't arrange a flight that will arrive in time, you may wish to arrive a day early so you're able to attend. We'll be happy to book additional accommodation for you (subject to availability). If you're going to be late, please inform the hotel reception.
Travel by private minibus to the spectacular World Heritage site of Halong Bay in the Gulf of Tonkin (approximately four hours). The bay is dotted with sandy coves, grottos and 1,600 limestone islands, which have been formed over millennia by wind and water erosion. Board a private boat and cruise the bay, exploring island caves and even enjoying a swim in the South China Sea. To end the day, spend a peaceful night aboard the boat beneath the night sky.

The sailing junk has twin share cabins with air-conditioning and private facilities. There's also a dining room and bar to enjoy lunch, dinner and breakfast.

Notes: Due to recent unforeseen changes by local authorities in Halong Bay, a large proportion of boats are no longer permitted to stay in the bay overnight, resulting in a shortage of boats. To ensure all Intrepid travellers can enjoy the experience of a night on the water, we’re occasionally using a larger boat (with approximately 12 cabins) or splitting groups across different vessels. An Intrepid group leader will be present on each boat, and the route taken and inclusions on board will remain the same.
This morning take a bus back to Hanoi, and use free time in the afternoon to shop, explore the sights or just relax. At 11 pm board an overnight train to Hue. Sleeper trains typically have four-berth compartments (occasionally six berths depending on the season), which have bench seats that convert into sleeping bunks. A sheet, pillow and blanket are provided (although some travellers prefer to bring their own sleeping sheet). Most trains have a dining carriage serving simple food, but you may like to stock up on some food supplies before departure.
Arrive into 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. You’ll have free time in the morning to rest or explore. The bustling Dong Ba Market is a great place to sample some of the foods that once graced the Nguyen emperors' tables, such as banh khoai (royal rice cake). After lunch, reunite with the group to visit the war-damaged ruins of the Hue Imperial Citadel complex, which once contained temples, state houses and the emperor’s palace.
Today, tour the sights of Hue on the back of a motorbike driven by a local guide. Explore the ruins of the Forbidden Purple City, once reserved for the personal use of the Emperor and his concubines, but almost totally destroyed during the Vietnam/American War. Visit the 17th-century active Buddhist monastery of Thien Mu Pagoda. During the visit you’ll see the car of a former monk who drove to Saigon in 1963 to set himself alight to protest the poor treatment of Buddhists by the South Vietnamese regime.

Enjoy a short boat cruise down the Perfume River before eating lunch inside a nunnery. Finally, visit the lakeside royal tomb of Emperor Tu Duc before heading back to Hue.

Notes: Please note that a car will be provided for those who don’t wish to ride on a motorbike. Also, boats for the Perfume River trip may not be available if you’re travelling during festival periods. During these times you’ll travel by land to reach the activities instead.
This morning travel by bus through coastal rice paddies and the spectacular Hai Van Pass. After a brief visit to My Khe Beach (China Beach), 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 an orientation walk, and you’ll be given a sightseeing pass so you can visit the city's major attractions at your leisure.
Today is a free day to explore Hoi An. Browse the town’s cobbled streets and art galleries, or hire a bike and cycle through rice paddies out to Cua Dai Beach. Shop for paintings, ceramics and colourful cloth lanterns in the town’s markets and preserved Chinese shop houses. Perhaps visit one of the hundreds of tailors in the city to 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.
Today take a short early morning flight to Ho Chi Minh City. Formerly known as Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City has a fascinating history and is arguably Vietnam’s capital of commerce and culture. After landing, check in to your hotel and then take a sightseeing bus tour around the city. Pass the Reunification Palace, Notre Dame Cathedral and the Opera House, stopping in at the War Remnants Museum to discover some of the sobering stories of the Vietnam/American War.

You also have the option today to take an Urban Adventures tour to the Cu Chi tunnels outside the city. This underground tunnel network in the middle of the jungle was used by the Viet Cong during the war.
This morning head out on a day trip to explore the Mekong Delta. Board a boat to Ben Tre to visit a coconut candy factory and sample their sweet products. On a tuk-tuk tour around the remote village, learn about local rural life and stop to sample tropical fruits. Eat lunch at a restaurant in the heart of the delta, sampling regional specialties such as the famous Elephant Ear fish. Afterwards, paddle in sampans (small rowing boats) past water coconut trees along the Mekong, and then board a private boat to cruise the delta’s major waterways to My Tho. After the cruise return via bus to Ho Chi Minh City.

Enjoy a final group dinner at KOTO restaurant, an organisation dedicated to developing the hospitality careers of street kids.
As Vietnam's largest city, Ho Chi Minh City brims with street side shops, boutiques stores and motorbikes carrying everything from children to chickens. Arrive early to slurp a steaming bowl of Vietnamese pho or go bargain hunting in Ben Thanh Market.
Cross into Cambodia and travel to Phnom Penh. A sobering visit to the infamous Killing Fields provides a glimpse into Cambodia's tragic past, the site being marked by a stupa made of some 8,000 skulls. There's time to explore other attractions such as the frantic Russian Market, the National Museum or the Silver Pagoda with its dazzling silver-tiled floor. Alternatively, take a leisurely stroll along Sisowath Quay and stop for coffee at a riverside cafe.
Confront Cambodia's tragic past on a guided tour of the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, 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 will also head out to the Choeung Ek Memorial, where a stupa made up of some 8,000 human skulls marks the site of the infamous Killing Fields, the execution ground for the torture victims of Tuol Sleng. You can learn about a brighter period in Cambodian history by visiting the Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda (optional). 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 river front, independence monument and Royal Palace. Keen shoppers can hit the art-deco Psar Thmei (Central Market).
Travel back to a brighter time in Cambodian history with a trip to the Angkor Wat temples. From sun-up to sundown, relish the sacred beauty of these ancient wonders, from the eerie shadows of Ta Prohm to the serene smiles of the carved faces at Bayon.
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 9th 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, the Bayon and the jungle-covered Ta Prohm.
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. Perhaps enjoy a boat trip along the Tonle Sap (freshwater lake), visiting one of its floating villages. Keen adventurers can take the 'Flight of the Gibbon' zip-line adventure which gives an amazing birds-eye view of the rainforest, not to mention an adrenaline rush.
Admire elegant French architecture and a relaxed country pace in Battambang. While here, learn the secrets of Khmer cuisine in a cooking class, take a walk along the river front or maybe take a trip out to surrounding villages.
Skip back across the border from Cambodia to Thailand and enjoy an evening in bewitching Bangkok. Grab a fragrant curry, a soothing Thai massage, charter a longtail boat or take in the Grand Palace's gleaming architecture as a fitting end to this historic journey.
Your trip comes to an end after breakfast, with no further activities planned.
View trip notes to read full itinerary

Inclusions

Meals
15 breakfasts, 4 lunches, 2 dinners
Transport
Boat, Overnight sleeper train, Plane, Private Bus, Private minibus, Private vehicle, Taxi, Van
Accommodation
Hotel (15 nights), Overnight boat (1 night), Overnight sleeper train (1 night)
Included activities
  • Halong Bay - Overnight boat cruise
  • HCMC - KOTO dinner
  • HCMC - Mekong Delta day trip including Coconut Candy Factory and Village Tuk Tuk tour
  • HCMC - War Remnants Museum
  • Hoi An - Ancient town orientation walk and entrance
  • Hue - Imperial citadel
  • Hue - Motorbike trip including lunch
  • Hue - Perfume river cruise and Thien Mu Pagoda
  • Hue - Royal tomb
  • Phnom Penh - Entrance to Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum (S21) / Choeung Ek
  • Phnom Penh - Guided Tour of Choeung Ek
  • Siem Reap - Angkor Temples Guided Tour
  • Siem Reap - Three Day Angkor Pass
  • Siem Reap - Tonle Sap Lake boat trip

Dates

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Important notes

1. A single supplement is available on this trip.
2. Please provide your full name as per passport (including middle name) and passport details at time of booking. Required for the Vietnam internal flight and train tickets.
3. TET departure amended itinerary - Please see Trip notes for changes to departure on 7th Feb 2016 (TVSKC160207).

Trip notes

Want an in-depth insight into this trip? Your trip notes provide a detailed itinerary, visa info, how to get to your hotel, what’s included - pretty much everything you need to know about this adventure and more.

View trip notes

Reviews

Our Best of Vietnam & Cambodia trips score an average of 4.76 out of 5 based on 80 reviews in the last year.

Best of Vietnam & Cambodia , January 2016

Best of Vietnam & Cambodia , January 2016