16 days Vietnam & Cambodia Explorer

Day 1: Pick up upon arrival at Hanoi airport / Transfer to the hotel

Upon arrival, our driver will meet you and take you to your hotel in the Old Quarter. If time permits, we can take a stroll around the Old Quarter and its surroundings, including the lake of Hoan Kiem. The night will be spent at the hotel.

Day 2: Hanoi sightseeing / Spend the night in the same hotel

After breakfast, we take a short drive to the Ho Chi Minh Complex. Here, we visit the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, the Presidential Palace and his lush living quarters. We also spend time strolling around the One Pillar Pagoda and its surroundings before dropping into the serene Temple of Literature, Vietnam’s first university. We take a delightful stroll around the grounds and learn about Vietnam's education system during feudal times, as well as about Confucius.

In the afternoon, we explore the Museum of Ethnology, a colorful and comprehensive museum dedicated to Vietnam’s more than 50 ethnic minority groups. We see its beautiful indoor and outdoor exhibits and learn more about the diverse heritage of Vietnam. Following that, we wander through the most fascinating parts of Hanoi's Old Quarter. We pass through some guild streets and visit the colorful local market of Dong Xuan, where we can get a real glimpse into the locals’ daily life and sample delicious local food.

We offer an opportunity to try out many different dishes at local food stands and family-run restaurants. The rotating menu varies from day to day to represent the variety of delicious options, but tastings might include rice noodle soup with beef, rice noodles with chicken, rice noodles with grilled pork or sticky rice. Afterward, we take a stroll around the Hoan Kiem Lake.

Hoan Kiem Lake, also known as Sword Lake, is a central feature of Hanoi, Vietnam. It is located in the heart of the city and is both a historical and cultural symbol. The lake is associated with the legend of Emperor Le Loi, who is said to have received a magical sword from the Golden Turtle God to defeat the Chinese Ming Dynasty. After his victory, the emperor returned the sword to the lake, giving it the name "Lake of the Returned Sword."

The lake is surrounded by picturesque scenery, including ancient trees, the iconic red Huc Bridge leading to Ngoc Son Temple on Jade Island, and Thap Rua (Turtle Tower) situated on a small island in the middle of the lake. Hoan Kiem Lake is a perfect spot for relaxation and sightseeing. We conclude our day by enjoying a unique water-puppet performance. We stay overnight in the same hotel. (Breakfast and lunch are included)

Day 3: Hanoi / Halong Bay / Spend the night on the boat

Departing Hanoi between 8:15 to 8:30 we journey through the lush Red River Delta due north to Halong City. Upon arrival we embark on a beautiful boat which navigates among the spectacular limestone islands. We then find a particularly picturesque location for paddling our kayaks among the beautiful islands. There is the opportunity to swim in clear water. Late in the afternoon our boat moves to a peaceful and beautiful area for anchoring the boat. The night is spent on our boat. (Breakfast, lunch and dinner are included)

Day 4: Halong Bay / Ninh Binh / Spend the night in a local family lodge

We wake up amidst the bay’s stunning karst scenery and enjoy breakfast on the boat. For those interested, there’s an optional early morning kayak excursion among the towering limestone formations and across the misty waters of Halong Bay. Next, we continue boating to explore more of the bay’s breathtaking scenery, where vertical and unusual rocks and islets emerge dramatically from the sea.

We admire our last glimpses of Halong Bay over an early lunch as the boat returns to the dock. From there, we board our waiting bus for the journey to Ninh Binh.
Here, we settle in with a friendly local family to experience their way of life and have a wonderful opportunity to learn about the local cuisine, including dishes such as fresh rice noodles and spring rolls. The night is spent in a cosy lodge. (Breakfast, lunch and dinner are included)

Day 5: Ninh Binh / Thung Nang / Trang An / Hoa Lu / Drop off at Ninh Binh railway station for boarding an overnight train to Dong Hoi

Early this morning we explore Trang An, Hoa Lu, Thung Nang and Bich Dong, home to a maze of rivers and caves and the UNESCO World Centre defined by its craggy limestone facades and jade green water. The surrounding areas are now home to tiny villages, pretty paddy fields, temples and hiking trails.

We combine a wonderful rowing boat ride along peaceful backwaters and the enchanting Ngo Dong River, one of the most serene sights in Ninh Binh. During the boat trip we navigate through the Thung Nang cave system - a series of several water caverns, including the stalactite-studded Thung Nang caves - and incredible karst scenery all around. among towering limestone mountains.

Following that we enjoy hiking around lush rice fields and looking around at the amazing folds of the impressive rock formations before we descend to Trang An, home to beautiful villages and magnificent limestone mountains. Here, we take a leisurely hike through villages to villages and along tranquil waterways, past serene rice paddies and charming historic site, Hoa Lu, home to the ancient capital of Vietnam. Time is spent seeing the temple of Dinh Bo Linh dedicated to the first founding father of Vietnam. Late in the evening we board an overnight train to Dong Hoi. (Breakfast, lunch and dinner are included)

Day 6: Pick up upon arrival at Dong Hoi railway staion / Journey to Phong Nha and Ke Bang / Explore  Tu Lan Cave / Spend the night in a resort

Upon arrival at Dong Hoi railway station at 5 am, we are picked up and transferred to our resort in Phong Nha and Ke Bang National Park, where we enjoy refreshments and breakfast. Following this, we embark on a journey to the Oxalis office, located 70 km from Phong Nha. At the office, our guide provides a short briefing about the trekking itinerary and safety regulations. We sign the release form and receive the necessary safety equipment.

After the briefing, we begin hiking through the flat corn and peanut fields toward the Rao Nan River. Crossing the river, we ascend a small slope to reach the entrance of Rat Cave. Here, we are equipped with helmets, headlamps, and safety gear to explore Rat Cave, which stretches about 300 meters long. This cave features beautiful stalactites and a soaring dome with a unique heart-shaped structure.

Following our exploration of Rat Cave, we return to Rao Nan river and ascend the 60-meter high Baby Hill. Crossing the Hung Ton valley, we reach the dry passage of Hung Ton Cave. Guests descend a 15-meter ladder with safety harnesses in Hung Ton Cave to explore the remaining dry passage of the cave, where visitors have the opportunity to see a fossil of a million-year-old marine species.

Next, we proceed to the water passage of the cave. Equipped with life jackets, we swim in the underground river of the cave, crossing a small reef until we reach the picturesque To Mo Valley. Here, we enjoy lunch and swim in the emerald-green stream before swimming back through Hung Ton Cave. The 1-day Tu Lan experience tour concludes with a trek through lush green valleys and fields back to Rao Nan River. We hike through the seasonal farmland to the waiting vehicle, which takes us to our hotel by 7 pm. (Breakfast and lunch are included)

Day 7: Depart Phong Nha to Hue / Drop by the tunnels of Vinh Moc / Arrive in Hue / Hue sightseeing / Spend the night in a hotel

Departing from Phong Nha, we make our way to Quang Tri. En route, we stop by the Hien Luong Bridge and Vinh Moc tunnels. The Hien Luong Bridge served as a significant landmark during the war, separating the North from the South. The Vinh Moc tunnels, an expansive network of limestone tunnels, were used by locals as shelters from bombing raids.

Arriving in Hue, we take some time to visit the pagoda of Thien Mu, considered by many to be the unofficial symbol of the city. It is an active Buddhist monastery with origins dating back to 1601. Late in the afternoon, we settle into our hotel for the night. (Breakfast and lunch are included)


Day 8: Hue sightseeing / Hoi An / Spend the night in a hotel

Hue, the former imperial capital of Vietnam, holds the treasures of Vietnam's royal past and is a curious mix of bustling streets and tranquil settings. Our morning is spent exploring the Imperial Citadel—a sprawling complex of temples, pavilions, moats, gates, and walls. The Ngo Mon Gate, Thai Hoa Palace, and the Ancestral Altars are still very impressive. In the afternoon, we drive to Hoi An for the night, where we will stay in a hotel. (Breakfast and lunch are included)

Day 9: Hoi An sightseeing / Drop off at Danang airport for taking a flight to Ho Chi Minh City / Pick up and transfer to the hotel for the night

Recently declared a World Heritage-listed site, Hoi An is beautifully restored and preserved. Known as Faifo to early Western traders, it was one of South-East Asia's major international ports during the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. Today, parts of Hoi An look exactly as they did over a century ago.

Early in the morning, we embark on a walking tour of the Old Town. Our afternoon is free for exploration. Late in the afternoon, we head to Danang airport to catch a flight to Ho Chi Minh City. Upon arrival, we are picked up and brought to our hotel for the night. (Breakfast is included)

Day 10: Ho Chi Minh City sightseeing / Mekong Delta / Spend the night in a local family

Formerly known as Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City is a bustling hub of markets, stalls, and Vietnamese history, with much of city life happening on the streets. After breakfast, we visit the Independent Palace. Following this, we drive to Ben Tre. Upon arrival, we board a boat to explore the intricate waterways.

Often referred to as the ‘rice bowl’ of Vietnam, the fertile delta is where rice, tropical fruit, and flowers are grown for the whole country. During our exploration, we have the opportunity to sample tropical fruit, visit a honey farm, and learn more about rural life. Tonight's homestay, close to the delta and hosted by a Vietnamese family, will be one of the highlights of our trip. It will give us a taste of community life as well as the chance to enjoy a traditional home-cooked meal. (Breakfast, lunch and dinner are included)

Day 11: Mekong Delta / Chau Doc / Tra Su Bird Sancturary / Spend the night in a hotel

Early this morning, we board a boat to see Cai Rang floating market. Afterward, we embark on a scenic drive through lush provinces in the Mekong Delta, eventually arriving at the lush greenery and vibrant biodiversity of Tra Su Cajuput Forest, nestled in the heart of the Mekong Delta.

Tra Su Cajuput Forest serves as a magnificent example of Vietnam's diverse forests and stunning natural beauty. Situated amidst the verdant countryside, this forest features a blend of dense cajuput trees, lush vegetation, and tranquil waterways. Upon arrival at Tra Su, we board a boat to navigate the waterways of the forest, allowing us to fully immerse ourselves in its enchanting atmosphere.

Following the boat ride, we enjoy a leisurely hike amidst the lush greenery, where we can observe the varied flora and fauna of the forest up close.
As the day draws to a close we journey to Chau Doc. Chau Doc is a city located in the An Giang Province in the Mekong Delta region of Vietnam. It is near the border with Cambodia and is known for its cultural diversity, particularly the Cham and Khmer communities. Chau Doc is also famous for its vibrant markets, picturesque rivers, and notable religious sites such as the Ba Chua Xu Temple known for a home to Cham and Khmer culture, we have free time to explore Ba Chua Xu Temple or stroll around the local market before we spend the night in a hotel. (Breakfast and lunch are included)

Day 12: Chau Doc / Take an express boat to Phnom Penh / Pick up and transfer to the hotel / Phnom Penh sightseeing / Spend the night in a hotel

After breakfast, we board an express boat departing from Chau Doc to Phnom Penh. Upon arrival at the boat station in Phnom Penh, we are welcomed by our friendly tour guide and then transferred to our hotel. Following lunch, we begin our exploration by visiting the private quarters of the Royal Palace and the Silver Pagoda, which is the most sacred shrine in the country.

Next, we visit the National Museum, dedicated exclusively to Khmer art and sculpture. The majority of the exhibits are from the Angkor period (9th to 15th Century), but some date back as early as the 4th Century. We also make a stop at the legendary temple of Wat Phnom, which recounts the history of Phnom Penh’s name. Tonight, we stay overnight in a hotel. (Breakfast and lunch are included)

Day 13: Phnom Penh / Siem Reap sightseeing / Spend the night in a hotel

This morning, we depart Phnom Penh for Siem Reap. En route, we stop at the Spider Market in Skun, known for its unusual local delicacies. Following that, we visit Kampong Kleang, located on the northern edge of the lake about 55 km east of Siem Reap town. Kampong Kleang is more remote and less conventional than Kampong Pluk, offering a unique glimpse into local life. Upon arriving in Siem Reap, we check into our hotel and spend the night. (Breakfast and lunch are included)

Day 14: Siem Reap / Angkor Thom / Angkor Wat / Spend the night in the same hotel

Today we will visit the "Great City" of Angkor Thom, the sights include the famous Bayon Temple, Phimeanakas Temple within the Royal Palace enclosure, Baphoun Temple, the Terrace of the Elephants and the Terrace of the Leper King. Our next destination is Ta Prohm - one of the area's most beautiful temples. Ta Prohm has been relatively untouched since it was discovered and retains much of its mystery.

Afternoon dedicated to visit the most famous & magnificent Angkor Vat temple. This architectural masterpiece was constructed in the 12th century and covers an area of about 210 hectares. With many galleries with columns, libraries, pavilions, courtyards and ponds full of water, carved low-reliefs about Ramayana Story and day-to-day life at the time of Angkor's construction. Dinner is served at a local restaurant with Apsara dance show. We stay overnight in the same hotel. (Breakfast and dinner are included)

Day 15: Siem Reap / Kbal Spean / Banteay Srei

In the morning, we will visit the enchanting Banteay Srei. The temple appears to leave no space undecorated, with fine carvings in pink sandstone that are truly unique. We will then continue by car to a small chain of hills. After about an hour, we will arrive near Kbal Spean and continue our journey on foot. After approximately a 40-minute walk, we will hear the sound of a waterfall.

We will discover that the riverbed and the surrounding rocks are covered with carvings representing the gods of the Brahma religion, dating back as far as the 11th century. This site is known as the "Thousand Lingas River." The water flows over sculptures of Vishnu, Lakshmi, Hanuman, Rama, and many Lingas, which were carved in stone to sanctify the water and thank the gods for their gift.

The sound of a small waterfall invites us to follow the river further through the small gorge. In the evening, we will enjoy a performance at Phare, the Cambodian Circus. The performers use theater, music, dance, and modern circus arts to tell uniquely Cambodian stories—historical, folk, and modern. We will spend the night in the same hotel. (Breakfast and lunch are included)


Day 16: Departure

After breakfast, we are free to leave at any time, as there are no activities planned today. (Breakfast is included)


The facts:

The trip cost:

 

  • $1695USD per person for a group of 2 to 6 people
  • $1538USD per person for a group of 7 to 10 people
     

The cost of the trip includes:
 

  • Accommodation
  • Transportation
  • Meals listed on the itinerary
  • Purified drinking water
  • Tour guide(s)
  • Entrance fees

 

The cost of the trip does not include: 
 

  • Travel insurance
  • Drinks (soft drinks, alcohol)
  • Tips and gratuities.
  • Other personal expenses such as shopping, telephone, laundry and bar bills etc...


What to Bring: Pack essentials, including light comfortable clothes suitable for outdoor activities, small day pack for cycling, walking and hiking. We also recommend packing: insect repellent, sun cream, raincoat and sun hat

Have a great journey!!!