An Intimate Journey through Vietnam & Cambodia (12 Days)

This 12 day journey through Vietnam and Cambodia is a really unique adventure, including luxury accommodations, delicious culinary experiences, and private tours with guides who know the destinations intimately. You will be immersed in the bustle, history, and culture in the cities of Hanoi and Saigon; experience the tranquility of Halong Bay and the Mekong Delta; explore the quaint, old streets of Hoi An; and learn about the deep, fascinating history of Angkor Wat.

Daily Itinerary

Day 1

Details for Today

Arrive in Hanoi, Vietnam

Hanoi:

  • Day at your Leisure

Accommodation: Sofitel Legend Metropole (Premium Room, New Wing)

Welcome to Vietnam!

Hanoi, Vietnam’s capital with its ochre-colored colonial buildings, tree-lined boulevards and scenic lakes, is full of charm. Its history is tied to French colonialism and the architecture, cuisine and local culture still carry evidence of the French influence.

Upon arrival at the Hanoi airport, our immigration representative will meet you as you disembark the plane (remember to look for the paging board with your name on it). After clearing immigration, our representative will escort you to collect your luggage, and then on to meet your guide, who is waiting outside the arrival terminal. It’s about an hour’s transfer to your hotel downtown. Your guide will provide a brief orientation of the city along the way.

The first thing you’ll become aware of is the sheer number of motorcyclists in seemingly constant motion around town. About 92% of commuters travel by shared motorbike, sometimes carrying three of more people. Always keep your camera on hand as the traffic mayhem tends to offer fantastic photo opportunities!

Check into your hotel on arrival and the remainder of the day is free at leisure to get used to the temperature and time difference.

Day 2

Details for Today

Hanoi:

  • Private-guided tour of Hanoi
  • Enjoy lunch at Wild Rice Restaurant, one of Vietnam’s finest establishments
  • Embark on a cyclo ride through the Old Quarter
  • Watch a show at the Water Puppet Theatre

Accommodation: Sofitel Legend Metropole (Premium Room, New Wing)

Meals: B, L

After breakfast at 08:00am, your guide will meet you for a cultural tour of Hanoi’s highlights. You start the tour at the historic Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, an imposing monument lavishly built using marble and granite, and where the preserved body of “Uncle Ho” resides (Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum is closed every Monday & Friday, all afternoons and from late September until December). Behind the Mausoleum, you can see Ho Chi Minh’s House. The simple house where Ho Chi Minh lived and worked is made of wood and enjoyed a tranquil setting, with a view of a lotus pond. Ho Chi Minh’s belongings are on display and you can walk up the steps of his house to see his bedroom. A short walk from the mausoleum is the lotus shaped One Pillar Pagoda – resting on a single stone pillar emerging from the water.

Continue to visit the hallowed “Temple of Literature”- Van Mieu as it is known in Viet Namese – the country’s most renowned temple complex. A Confucian sanctuary and academy, the centre once housed the country’s first university, founded in 1076. Take time to wander through the stone tablets and soak up a thousand years of learning with your local guide.

Enjoy lunch at the Wild Rice Restaurant, one of Vietnam’s finest establishments, offering a range of traditional cuisine rich in flavor and colors within an innovative modern dining setting.

In the afternoon, drive to visit the serene Museum of Ethnology, a 20 minute drive out of town, which offers fascinating insight into Vietnam’s 54 ethnic minority groups. (Museum of Ethnology is closed on Mondays).

Drive back to central Hanoi for an hour cyclo ride through the Old Quarter to enjoy the bustling local life. You will cyclo along tree-lined avenues to the narrow warren of streets in the Old Quarter, where you can buy anything from a gravestone to silk pajamas. The maze of back streets is fascinating, and the area is known for its “tunnel” or “tube houses”. They were developed to avoid taxes based on the width of their frontage onto the street, so their small frontages hide very long rooms. A cyclo tour of the Old Quarter provides you with a glimpse of contemporary Vietnamese culture and a sense of the country’s complex history at the same time.

The cyclo will drop you off at one of Hanoi’s renowned Bia Hoi, where they serve fresh draft beer and tasty snacks. These “pubs” are traditional favorite social gathering spots as well as watering holes during the afternoons and evenings throughout Hanoi. Here you will sit at low-slung, plastic tables on small stools and rub elbows with the locals, drink some beers, have snacks and talk about your day.

An optional end to your day is with a show at the water puppet theatre – a uniquely northern Vietnamese art form depicting scenes of rural life and episodes of national history.

Drive back to your hotel for relaxation.

Day 3

Details for Today

Transfer: Halong Bay

Halong Bay:

  • Board your Junk Boat and enjoy a seafood lunch on deck
  • Explore Tien Ong Cave, adorned with stalactites and stalagmites
  • Visit Cua Van fishing village, the largest fishing community on the bay
  • Participate in a cooking class with the chef

Accommodation: Halong Violet Junk (Join-in Junk, Deluxe Cabin)

Meals: B, L, D

After breakfast at 08:30am, depart for a 3.5 hour journey to Halong Bay.

You break mid-way at Dai Viet Center – the best place to stop and stretch your legs en route.

On arrival in Halong Bay, board your deluxe junk, settle into your cabin and prepare yourselves for seafood lunch on deck.

In the mid-afternoon, disembark to visit the mysterious Tien Ong cave, adorned with stalactites and stalagmites, before continuing to the Cua Van fishing village, the largest fishing community on the bay.

Back on board, you may choose to participate in a cooking class with the chef or relax over sunset on the top deck before dinner.

Day 4

Details for Today

Halong Bay:

  • Participate in a Tai Chi class
  • Visit Ti Top Island

Transfer: Fly from Hanoi to Hoi An

Accommodation: Four Seasons Nam Hai Resort (One-bedroom Villa)

Meals: B

Rise early and greet the day with an invigorating Tai Chi class on the upper deck.

Transfer from the main boat to a small beach on Ti Top Island. Those wanting a bit of exercise can climb to the top of the island (20 minutes).

Later, board the main boat and enjoy a delicious buffet brunch while cruising back to shore. Arrive at the jetty by late morning then transfer directly to Hanoi airport with light snack provided en route.

Board the late afternoon flight to Danang. Upon arrival at Danang Airport, you will be met by your guide and then transferred 30 minutes to Hoi An. Check into your hotel on arrival and remainder of the day is free at leisure.

Between 17th and 19th centuries, Hoi An was a prosperous trading port. Today, this World Heritage-listed ancient town boasts well-preserved buildings, pedestrianized streets and unique cuisine, allowing visitors a glimpse of its illustrious past.

Day 5

Details for Today

Hoi An: 

  • Private-guided tour of Hoi An’s Old Town
  • Visit the home of a lantern craftsman
  • Enjoy the facilities of your resort by the beach

Accommodation: Four Seasons Nam Hai Resort (One-bedroom Villa)

Meals: B

After breakfast around 09:00am, your guide will lead you through Hoi An’s historic Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  Mansions built by prosperous Japanese, Chinese, and European merchants characterize the enchanting Old Quarter. Appreciate the vivid sense of history as you walk the narrow streets visiting temples, houses, artisan workshops and the bustling fish market along the way.

End the morning by visiting the home of a lantern craftsman in the old streets of Hoi An. Learn more about the history, shape, and colour of the lanterns as well as the stages of production. Try to create your own lantern and produce your very own souvenir of your trip.

Drive back to your hotel for relaxation, and remainder of the day is free at leisure to enjoy the facilities of your resort by the beach.

Day 6

Details for Today

Hoi An:

  • Private garden tour to meet local farmers
  • Private cooking class
  • Savour the dishes you prepared
  • Cruise along the Hoi An River

Accommodation: Four Seasons Nam Hai Resort (One-bedroom Villa)

Meals: B, L

This morning, you will enjoy a private garden tour & cooking class at Red Bridge Cooking School.

After breakfast at around 08:00am, start the day early with a welcome drink served at the Hai Café. After a short introduction, travel 10 minutes to Tra Que Organic Village, and walk through the market gardens where local farmers work their fields using the traditional methods of hundreds of years ago. Pick fresh saw-tooth coriander and Vietnamese mint for your cooking lesson later today, before trying a special herbal drink at a local home. Transfer onwards to the Red Bridge Cooking School where you have a chance to freshen up before beginning your class.

Work together with the Red Bridge Chef who teaches you the traditional ways of preparing and cooking Vietnamese food from scratch. Use the freshest ingredients and traditional Vietnamese utensils to prepare four famous dishes, including the national dish ‘Pho’. After class, enjoy a short feedback session and take the chance to savour the dishes you have prepared.

Bid farewell to the chef and board a local boat for a short cruise along the Hoi An River back to central Hoi An.

Drive back to your resort and remainder of the day is free at leisure to enjoy the facilities of your resort by the beach.

Day 7

Details for Today

Transfer: Fly from Hoi An to Saigon

Saigon:

  • Orientation tour for an overview of Saigon
  • Explore the variety of goods for sale at Ben Thanh Market
  • Savour Street Food on an evening Vespa tour

Accommodation: Park Hyatt Hotel (Park Room City View)

Meals: B, D

After leisure breakfast at around 10:15a.m, you will be picked up and transferred to Danang airport for the late morning flight to Saigon.

Ho Chi Minh City – Saigon, with more than 8 million inhabitants, is the country’s commercial center. Despite the well-documented hustle and bustle, the city retains its connections to the past. Upon arrival at Ho Chi Minh airport, you will be met and transferred to your hotel downtown. Check into your hotel on arrival.

Late afternoon around 03:00pm – 03:30pm, take an orientation tour for an overview of Saigon. The vehicle will pass by the city’s historic landmarks including the People’s Committee building, Reunification Palace, Notre Dame Cathedral, Central Post Office, the Opera House, and the China Town. End the day at the Ben Thanh Market where an incredible display of fresh produce is offered. Simply stroll through the market with your guide exploring the variety of goods for sale.

At 06:30pm, enjoy a private Vespa Street food evening tour. With all its hustle & bustle, Saigon is a city on the move! Discover what this thriving and exciting metropolis can offer in terms of street food, all from the back of a vintage Vespa scooter. After a briefing at your hotel lobby about the logistics, be introduced to your driver and start the journey. Stops include dinner and drinks at Saigon’s best authentic street food, and a Vietnamese-style coffee shop. Drive to District 4 to taste various snail dishes which are very popular in Saigon. Then it’s back to District 3 to sample a southern Vietnamese specialty – Banh Xeo (rice pancake with pork and prawns). Finally, head to a local Vietnamese style coffee shop and enjoy a local coffee.

Note: Guests ride as passenger behind an experienced driver. The standard of local street food shop is very basic. You will sample several foods during this tour, we recommend saving your appetite to savor the experience. Food & drinks during street food tour are included.

Day 8

Details for Today

Mekong Delta:

  • Head southwest to the Mekong Delta, seeing lush rice paddies along the way
  • Enjoy a cruise down the river, seeing countryside scenery and river life
  • Take a bike ride through narrow village lanes
  • Walk around a local orchard
  • Enjoy a home-hosted lunch of Mekong Delta specialties

Accommodation: Park Hyatt Hotel (Park Room City View)

Meals: B, L

Depart early in the morning from Saigon around 08:00am and head two hours to the southwest; along the way notice lush rice paddies and fruit farms emerging alongside the highway. Upon arrival in Cai Lay, board a charming wooden boat to enjoy countryside scenery and river life.

Then stretch your legs a bit and hop on a bicycle for a short ride of about 7km (over easy, level terrain) along narrow village lanes, past fruit orchards and local cottage industries. Locals will often greet you with a hello or “xin chao” as you pedal by. Arrive at the home of a tropical fruit farmer and have a walk around his orchard. Enjoy the opportunity to taste fresh fruits.

Then relax while enjoying the view from a small sampan boat as you are paddled slowly along tropical canals. Disembark and walk through this Mekong village to a local home and enjoy a home-hosted lunch of Mekong Delta specialties.

After lunch, a short walk takes you back to the car and your return trip to Saigon and to your hotel.

Day 9

Details for Today

Saigon:

  • Visit the Cu Chi Tunnels

Transfer: Fly from Saigon to Siem Reap, Cambodia

Accommodation: Raffles Grand Hotel D’Angkor (State Room)

Meals: B, L

After breakfast at around 08:00am, check out of hotel. You will be picked up by your guide and transferred for a two hour drive northwest of Saigon, through urbanized areas and typical lush southern Vietnamese countryside, to the famous Cu Chi tunnels. The tunnel complex was initially started in 1948 to protect the Viet Cong guerrillas from the French air and ground sweeps. The tunnels also served as communication routes, storage facilities for food and weapon caches as well as hospitals and living quarters for guerrilla fighters throughout the American war.

Visit the underground villages with a VC veteran who used to live there, to better understand the tunnels’ history, life in the tunnels and the Vietnamese’s resilience during the combats. Discuss with the veteran and find out about his experience living in the subterranean hamlets where lack of air, food and water made life unbearable. Your guide will be there to translate the veteran’s experiences.

A two-hour drive will bring you back to Saigon.

Alongside the locals you will sample of bowl of Vietnam’s national dish – pho noodle soup at a local “Pho noodle soup” restaurant. Your guide will join the lunch with you.

You will be then transferred directly to Saigon airport for the late afternoon flight to Siem Reap.

Siem Reap is a sleepy backwater serving as a gateway to the ancient capital of Angkor. It is hard to believe that at its peak in the 12th century, this was one of the most advanced civilizations in the world and home to more than 1 million inhabitants.

Upon arrival inside the immigration hall, look for our Representative holding the paging board with your name. Our representative will assist to fast track your visa application and then escort you to meet your local guide. You will then be transferred to your hotel. Your guide will give a brief orientation of some major landmarks en route to the Raffle Grand Hotel D’Angkor, where you will check into for a three-night stay.

Check into your hotel on arrival and evening is free at leisure.

Day 10

Details for Today

Siem Reap:

  • Explore the Khmer ruins at Angkor Wat on a private-guided tuk tuk tour
  • Enjoy a private gourmet lunch at Khmer Traditional House
  • Enjoy Phare Ponleu Selpak Circus, Siem Reap’s most unique, authentic, top-rated evening entertainment

Accommodation: Raffles Grand Hotel D’Angkor (State Room)

Meals: B, L

If you’re an early riser (around 05:00AM-05:30AM) consider catching sunrise over Angkor Wat temple. It is certainly one of the most unique places in the world for sunrise but be forewarned, you won’t be alone! Return to your hotel for breakfast.

After breakfast, travel by three-wheeled tuk tuk to visit the intricately carved Khmer ruins at Angkor Wat – one of the most important religious monuments in the world. Visit the site with a renowned Khmer scholar who works with the Angkor Temple Conservation Institute. He will draw on his vast knowledge to provide you with a concise overview of Khmer history and culture through the lens of archeology. Learn about some of the unanswered mysteries that face contemporary scholars, as well as the challenges of archeological conservation. Take a stroll through the elaborate carved hallways of Angkor Wat as the Khmer empire is brought to life through the stories contained in each of the bas-reliefs and murals.

Enjoy a private gourmet lunch at Khmer Traditional House, which is located near Banteay Kdei and Ta Prohm temples, in front of Srah Srong Royal bath. The house belongs to a French lady. She is an anthropologist and has been living in Cambodia for nearly 20 years but she is now based in Phnom Penh Capital city. The house is left and taken care of by the neighboring local family. Picnic lunch is organized in a Khmer traditional wooden house by a Cambodian family. The house is fully equipped with electricity (fan and lights) and a bathroom, all set in an old style.

In the afternoon, continue your exploration with a leisure walk from Victoria gate to dead gate where you enter Angkor Thom, the ancient royal city of Khmer Empire. Visit the Terrace of the Elephants, which served as a platform from where the King could welcome back his victorious army and the Terrace of the Leper King, which holds detailed carvings winding along a narrow passage way that leads to the Baphuon complex. You will end the day with a visit to the Ancient Royal City’s centre piece; the Bayon temple. As you approach, you will notice the enigmatic faces of former King Jayavarman VII looking into every direction. Late afternoon is a perfect time to visit this highlight as crowds flock to Angkor Wat for sunset, leaving the Bayon standing majestically in the beautiful late afternoon sunlight to explore without the crowds.

Drive back to your hotel for fresh up. At around 07:30pm, you will be picked up and transferred to the theater to enjoy Phare Ponleu Selpak Circus (from 08:00pm to 09:00pm), the Siem Reap’s most unique, authentic, top-rated evening entertainment. More than just a circus, Phare performers use theater, music, dance and modern circus arts to tell uniquely Cambodian stories; historical, folk and modern. The young circus artists will astonish you with their energy, emotion, enthusiasm and talent. Drive back to your hotel for relaxation.

Day 11

Details for Today

Siem Reap: 

  • Continue your tour through Angkor Wat
  • Participate in a private blessing ceremony, performed by the resident monks
  • Visit a floating village
  • Explore the local night market
  • Enjoy a set dinner of gourmet cuisine in a serene garden

Accommodation: Raffles Grand Hotel D’Angkor (State Room)

Meals: B, L, D

After breakfast at 08:00am, you will be transferred to Wat Damnak, one of Siem Reap’s most beautiful pagodas. The French colonial architecture reflects its history, and serene-looking Buddhist statues positioned around the spacious grounds create a tranquil atmosphere. Bring candles and incense sticks to the pagoda to participate in a private blessing ceremony, performed by the resident monks. Sit on a hand-woven mat while the monks chant ritual blessings and sprinkle holy water (believed to offer good luck) before tying a sacred thread around your wrist. The monks will offer you a small keepsake to remind you of this special moment.

Continue your exploration with a visit to Preah Khan. Originally a Buddhist monastery and school, this temple was dedicated to Jayavarman VII’s father. After discovery, the temple was mainly left as it was found without renovation. Left out of most itineraries, the temple is one of the most enjoyable to explore within the Angkor Complex. It still is home to elaborate carvings and a stunning library with round columns.

Afterwards, drive to visit the impressive temple – Ta Prohm. This beautiful site is one of Angkor’s jewels, overgrown with strangler figs that create a haunting scene. The magnificent roots of the trees have merged over the centuries with the temple’s massive stone blocks, creating a ‘forgotten city’ feeling.

Enjoy lunch at the Chanrey Tree Restaurant, big selection of classic and contemporary Cambodian dishes, serving lunch and dinner; Located in a traditional but elegant Cambodian house.

Afternoon, your explorations of the cultural landscape continue at the floating village of Kampong Khleang, one of the largest settlements on the Tonle Sap Lake. Living on water is an art the Khmer people have mastered over the course of time. Observe the local customs and talk with your hosts about the differences they face living on the water.

This evening at around 07:00pm, you will be transferred to the local night market. Your guide will show you how to eat all kinds of bugs, large and small- don’t worry you don’t have to try, but you might be surprised and have a new favorite snack and fruits you never knew existed!

Followed by a set dinner at the Mie Café. Mie Cafe features gourmet cuisine in a serene garden setting located conveniently just north of town on the road to the ancient temples of Angkor.

Drive back to your hotel for relaxation.

Day 12

Details for Today

Transfer to Siem Reap airport for your trip home

Meals: B

Morning is free at leisure. Check out of hotel by 12:00 noon.

You will be transferred to the Siem Reap airport for your onward departure.

Farewell!

Accommodation

Sofitel Legend Metropole

Located in the heart of Hanoi since 1901, Sofitel Legend Metropole Hanoi has a long history of being a luxury place for many prestigious events and popular rendezvous. The hotel features include 364 rooms and suites, excellent French cuisine at Le Beaulieu, Vietnamese specialties at Spices Garden, and Angelina – Hanoi’s most “Avant-Garde”” Italian Restaurant & Lounge. Seven function rooms, a swimming pool, fitness center and a brand new Le Spa du Metropole are also available in the hotel.


Halong Violet Junk

Launched in November 2009 and outfitted in a classic 1930’s Indochine style, the Halong Violet is a five-star, luxury junk. Composed of 6 individual themed cabins all including a marble bathroom, jacuzzi and private balcony; the Violet also features a boutique dining room, library & lounge, as well as a state of the art spa & gym.


Four Seasons Nam Hai Resort

As much an icon as its legendary location, the Nam Hai is a spa-equipped designer escape that has become a destination in itself. Beside the South China Sea, between the cultural hubs of Hoi An and Hué, the imperial influence is evident in its opulent-yet-zen ocean-view villas.


Park Hyatt Hotel, Saigon

Discover the urban luxury with combination of sophisticated design, handcrafted details and modern-day comforts at Park Hyatt Saigon. You will enjoy the world-class bar and best restaurants in Ho Chi Minh City together with a tranquil spa. Park Hyatt Saigon looks forward to welcoming you with warm, discreet and dignified service for the ultimate relaxed and personalised luxury.


Raffles Grand Hotel D’Angkor

Raffles Grand Hotel D’Angkor, now sensitively restored, the hotel’s renewed elegance and modernity complement the mystery and grandeur of Angkor as never before. A destination unto itself – it is a residence of choice for connoisseurs visiting mystical Angkor.

An Intimate Journey through Vietnam & Cambodia (12 Days)