Vietnam & Cambodia
In the past few years Vietnam has opened its doors to the world and much has changed. Today, in one of the world’s last communist countries, the motorcycles and western dress of the industrious youth happily co-exist with orange-clad Buddhist monks and political posters from a different era. Hanoi and Saigon still retain a French flavour in their pavement cafes, architecture and wide tree-lined boulevards. We also visit the limestone archipelago of Halong Bay, the ancient royal capital of Hue and a full-day guided visit to the fascinating Mekong Delta. In Cambodia our tour includes a stay in the capital, Phnom Penh, with its vibrant riverside ambience it’s one of the ‘hidden gems’ of Asian cities. A short flight away is the town of Siem Reap, gateway to the incredible complex of temples within the ancient city of Angkor. At its height in the thirteenth century, Angkor had a staggering million inhabitants and was the capital of the fabulously wealthy Khmer Empire. The incredible state of preservation and artistry of its sculptures have, for many, made Angkor one of the great wonders of the world.
- Return direct scheduled flights from London Heathrow
- Stay in excellent quality four and five-star hotels
- A fascinating tour visiting the major sights of Vietnam, the very essence of Indochina, experiencing its captivating blend of French colonial history, Vietnamese life and beautiful rural scenery
- Visit the vast ancient city and temples of Angkor in Cambodia - considered to be one of the greatest ancient sites in the world, comparable to ancient Rome or the Pyramids
- Stay and tour Phnom Penh, known as the ‘Pearl of Asia’ and considered the most beautiful of French colonial cities in Indochina
- Tour of Hanoi by cycle rickshaw, including the Temple of Literature and Ho Chi Minh’s mausoleum
- Take a leisurely cruise aboard a converted Chinese junk in the limestone archipelago of Halong Bay
- Visit the awe-inspiring Citadel and Forbidden City in the former imperial capital of Hue
- Stay in the heart of exciting Saigon visiting the fascinating Cu-Chi tunnels, a poignant reminder of the US-Vietnam conflict
- Enjoy a full day tour and cruise along the mighty Mekong River delta
- Daily breakfast and five meals included
- Escorted by an experienced tour manager
- The price of this holiday is per person, based on two people sharing a twin room; thirteen nights on bed-and-breakfast in four & five-star hotels, five lunches; all flights as mentioned; guided tours of Hanoi, Halong Bay cruise, Hue, Saigon, Cu Chi tunnels, Mekong Delta and Phnom Penh, plus one-day entrance and guided tour of Angkor; services of an experiencedRiviera tour manager. Single rooms are subject to availability at the relevant supplement (date dependant)from £399 to £439per person.
- Vietnam visas: British passport holders no longer require a visa to enter Vietnam between 1st of July 2015 and 30th June 2016. The requirement is that you have at least 6 months validity on your passport from the date you are due to return home and that you must leave 30 days between exit and re-entry into Vietnam. Each visit can be no longer than 15 days.
- Cambodia visas: Available on arrival in Phnom Penh upon completion of a simple application form and payment of $30 per person. You will also need two passport-sized photos and if you arrive without photos, there is an extra charge of around $2 per person. Visas may also be arranged and paid for online prior to departure: please see http://www.cambodianembassy.org.uk for details.
- Please note all visa costs are non-refundable and subject to change without notice. Whilst care has been taken to ensure that the information provided relating to visa requirements is true and correct at time of publication, changes in requirements after the time of publication may impact on the accuracy of this information. Therefore, whilst we strive to provide the most up-to-date information, we strongly suggest that you re-confirm requirements with the relevant embassy prior to application.
- Whilst the travelling schedule shall pose no problems for people of any age in normal physical health, we would point out that in visiting a number of historical sites, paths may be uneven and we often enjoy walking tours of the main sights, therefore this holiday may not be suitable for clients of greatly impaired mobility. In the tropics temperatures and humidity levels are quite high for most of the year. Please consult your GP regarding the appropriate inoculations required for Vietnam & Cambodia at least a month before departure.
- Whilst the travelling schedule shall pose no problems for people of any age in normal physical health, we would point out that in visiting a number of historical sites, paths may be uneven and we often enjoy walking tours of the main sights. Therefore this holiday may not be suitable for clients of greatly impaired mobility. In the tropics temperatures and humidity levels will also be quite high for most of the year. Please consult your GP regarding the appropriate inoculations required for Vietnam & Cambodia at least a month before departure.
- To make the most of your trip, we recommend you check the Foreign Office website at www.fco.gov.uk/travel
You will take an overnight flight from London Heathrow, direct to Hanoi, on Vietnam Airlines.
We arrive in Hanoi during the morning, following a short stop at our hotel, the five-star Melia Hotel where we stay for three nights on bed and breakfast, we will then commence our tour of Hanoi by cycle rickshaw where there will be time for lunch before returning to the hotel to check-in. The rest of the day is at your leisure. The Melia Hotel is a fabulous hotel with three restaurants, lovely pool, fitness centre and all the facilities you would expect from a major international property.
Today we explore Hanoi, past and present. The French created this gorgeous colonial city of tree-lined avenues, belle époque villas, grand public buildings and an Opera house, all built around more than a dozen enchanting lakes. This graceful scene blends beautifully with its old quarter, a tangle of narrow streets, the commercial heart of the city for hundreds of years and now full of tiny shops, pagodas and the ever-present populace astride their bicycles and mopeds. During our guided tour we also see the beautiful Temple of Literature dedicated to Confucius and Vietnam’s first university, and the imposing marble mausoleum of Ho Chi Minh himself, embalmed and eerily on display. This afternoon is free for you to explore this beautiful city as you wish. You could even visit a traditional water puppet show - a real spectacle where, as the name suggests, with the aid of fireworks and music, folk stories are played out by skilful puppeteers.
Today we visit Vietnam’s greatest natural wonder, the UNESCO World Heritage site of Halong Bay. Leaving Hanoi, we enter a timeless landscape of rice paddies, following the Red River delta to the emerald seas of the Gulf of Tonkin. Just offshore, some 3,000 limestone islands and outcrops rise almost vertically from the sea, forming one of the most extraordinary and spectacular bays in the world. As we board our converted Chinese junk and glide along the jade-green waters it’s not hard to imagine how the myths of their creation began: a dragon is said to have plunged into the sea and its thrashing tail sculpted the craggy islands. We visit some of the vast and beautifully illuminated caves and grottoes before having lunch on board. We return to Hanoi late afternoon.
We will fly south to Danang and then drive over the stunning scenery of the Hai Van Pass before descending into Hue, Vietnam’s last royal capital and its traditional centre of religion, culture and education. It’s one of the country’s most beautiful small towns, bisected by the serene Perfume River and dominated by its immense Citadel. This houses the ancient capital, encircled by an amazing 6 miles of high, 65 foot-thick walls and a moat. Tonight we stay on bed and breakfast basis at the excellent five-star Imperial Hotel.
This morning we start with a leisurely river cruise to the magnificent seven-storied Thien Mu pagoda, a working Buddhist shrine, affording beautiful views towards the mountains on the border with Laos. We then visit the incredible complex of the Citadel and within it, the Imperial City. We see the Palace of Supreme Harmony, which contained the Emperor’s throne and was the site of the most important official ceremonies and functions. Everything is painted in the royal colours of red and gold and the whole building is a stunning example of the magnificent lifestyle enjoyed by the Vietnamese royal family. In the afternoon we visit emperor Tu Duc’s mausoleum. More interested in poetry than running the country, Tu Duc’s lifestyle suggests he had plenty of free time – he had 104 wives, 50-course meals and tea made from the dewdrops of lotus blossoms! It took 3,000 workers three years to build his amazing mausoleum, which includes a large lake, pavilions and a theatre. Lunch is included today and the evening is at leisure.
Today we fly to Ho Chi Minh City, or Saigon as the locals still insist on calling it. Brash and boisterous, it has real zest for life. Built virtually from scratch by the French, on a bend of the wide Saigon River, we stay three nights on bed and breakfast at the excellent, five-star Equatorial Hotel. Saigon is Vietnam’s culinary capital offering a very wide variety of excellent dining experiences, from top class restaurants in swish luxury hotels to French, Italian, Chinese, Japanese and Indian options, plus everything in between.
This will be a day to remember! We visit the famous Cu Chi tunnels, a complex underground network stretching for 200 kilometres, which included hospitals, meeting rooms, sleeping quarters and kitchens. Begun during the last years of French rule and vastly expanded during the 1960’s, the tunnels provided a base for the Vietcong from which to attack US forces within just 30 miles of Saigon. Our visit here is a fascinating insight into these times: we see the tunnels themselves and examples of the many mantraps and stake pits which protected them. Despite being carpet-bombed, the tunnels were never really penetrated and should you wish, you may even try out real period weapons on a firing range. We continue through rural farming communities back to Saigon. In the afternoon our city tour covers all the major sights including the colonial-style central post office, the cathedral and the Reunification Palace where famously in 1975, a tank burst through its gates in the final defining moment of the Vietnam War. We also see the War Remnants Museum and the lively Ben Thanh market – a fascinating insight into Saigon daily life, you can find anything here, all at extremely good prices!
Today we drive out of Saigon towards the great Mekong River delta. The first stop is at one of the many islands where we walk through a typical village and try out several different types of tropical fruit that are grown in the area. Travelling in small boats we continue our exploration through the narrow canals by visiting the aptly-named Coconut Island, where locals specialise in producing rice paper, coconut cakes and other local delicacies. Dappled sunlight filters through the wide leaves of the mangroves as we arrive at a typical local restaurant for lunch of local Mekong specialities, including the famous and delicious fried elephant ear fish! We return to Saigon in the afternoon.
Your last morning in Vietnam and you have just enough time for a final walk round Saigon centre, before taking the short flight to Phnom Penh, stopping for two nights in the centrally-located four-star Himawari Hotel on bed and breakfast.