Today is arrival day so there are no activities planned. You are free to relax, explore the city & adjust to the frenetic pace and humid heat of Bangkok. Please arrive at our start point hotel before 6pm for an important group meeting where you will meet you Chief Experience Officer (CEO) and the other group members. Please look for a sign on the hotel's notice board for the time and location of your group meeting. At this meeting you CEO will ask to sight your travel insurance, check that you have a visas for Vietnam and complete some other paper work. Please note that you MUST arrive on tour with your Vietnam visa. Please refer to the visa information section of these trip notes for more information on obtaining your Vietnamese visa. After your meeting, you may choose to head out for an optional dinner to further get to know your CEO and fellow group members. We spend this evening in Bangkok. Our hotel is located in China Town, next to the central train station and MRT (Subway), and is only a short USD2 taxi ride from Khao San road and the central shopping area of Siam Square, MBK, Siam Paragon, etc. All rooms are double or twin share with air conditioning and en suite bathroom. The hotel has a small pool and wifi is available at extra cost.
After breakfast on day 2, we leave Bangkok and make way on the long journey to Siem Reap, Cambodia. It will take us approximately 4 hours to travel from Bangkok to the border. It is possible to get your Cambodian visa at the border - ask your CEO for details. Once at the border, we will disembark with our luggage and cross the border by foot. This process can take up to an hour or more so please pack your patience. After the border formalities are complete, we meet our Cambodian bus and continue on to Siem Reap. The scenery is spectacular and the contrast between Thailand and Cambodia is immediate. Angkor, the former capital of the Khmer Kingdom, is one of the wonders of the archeological world. Rediscovered at the end of the last century by French explorers, this vast ruined city is becoming one of the most popular sites in South East Asia. You can purchase a day pass which will enable you to visit many of the highlights of this ancient capital, such as the magnificent temple of Angkor Wat, the enigmatic faces of Bayon within the walled city Angkor Thom and the much photographed temple of Ta Prohm which is slowly being re claimed by the jungle. Your group may wish to hire the services of a local guide who will very much add to your experience, showing you all the highlights of this ancient complex. During your stay, you will enjoy a local Khmer dinner with your group, at a nearby village. Supported by G Adventures, this particular meal is kindly prepared and served by our local partners – Philar and New Hope for Cambodian Children. Philar has set up school teaching English to Cambodian children while New Hope for Cambodian Children - NHCC is the local charity organization that provides a comprehensive healthcare and education for vulnerable children and their families. The meal here has been voted the best meal in Cambodia by most of our passengers...and even better, the money for your meal is going directly back to supporting these local grass roots projects. We spend two nights in Siem Reap. Our Hotel is located some 10 minutes walk from city center. The hotel lobby has 2 computers for guests to browse the internet. Free wifi is also available. All rooms are double or twin share with air conditioning and en suite bathroom. Approx travel time: Bangkok to Thai/Cambodian border: 4 hours by private transport. Cambodian border to Siem Reap: 3 hours by private transport.
On day 4, we journey by local bus to Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia. After a brief walking orientation tour from your CEO, you are free to explore Phnom Penh. Sights you might choose to visit this afternoon include the National Museum and adjacent complex of the Silver Pagoda and Royal Palace. After 1975, when Pol Pot and his henchmen took power, Cambodia was thrown into an abyss of unspeakable violence and mass-murder. Millions of Cambodians perished during this time. Witness to this genocide are the Killing fields of Choeung Ek and the Tuol Sleng prison. A Tuk Tuk can be hired locally to take you there, or your CEO can organise a bus and private guide for the group. You may also wish to explore town or go shopping at the famous Russian Market. Phnom Penh can be confusing and we recommend to always keep a hotel card with you when you are exploring. Tuktuks (local transport) usually cost between 2-3 USD to anywhere in town. In the evening, there are many pleasant local restaurants where you can try some local specialties such as fish amok. We overnight two nights in Phnom Penh. Our Hotel is centrally located, close to the riverfront. The hotel has free wifi. All rooms are double or twin share with air conditioning and en suite bathrooms. Approx travel time: Public bus with A/C from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh: 6-7 hours It is best to prepare your earplugs ready for this journey if you are not a fan of loud Khmer pop music!
We travel by public bus to Cambodia's southern coast and the beaches of Sihanoukville. Time to relax on the white sand while perhaps enjoying a massage and eating fresh seafood, or why not join a boat trip for a day of snorkelling and lunch on an uninhabited island. In the evening, enjoy a barbeque on the beach before hitting one of the many fun bars to dance the night away. We spend two nights in Sihanoukville. Our Hotel is only a two minute walk to the beach. The hotel has swimming pool and free-Wifi available. Bar and pool table are also available. All rooms are double or twin share with air conditioning and en suite bathroom. Tuktuks (local motorised transport) usually costs 2-3 USD in and around town. Approx travel time: Public bus from Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville: 4-5 hours The bus will stop for a break after approximately 2.5 hours of travel. The bus has air-conditioning and public Karaoke. Best to bring out those earplugs again if you like to relax on your bus journeys!
This morning we make our way to the Cambodia/Vietnam border. After driving for approximately 2 hours, we'll stop for a break in Kampot, an attractive riverside Cambodian town, well-known for the quality of its local pepper. It is approximately another 2 hours to reach the Vietnamese the border. The border crossing requires you to walk approx 150 meters on a flat road with your bags into Vietnam where our private bus will be waiting for us. After completing the necessary formalities, we will continue on to Can Tho (Vietnam), a 4-5 hour drive. Tonight we will stay in a basic village homestay that includes dinner. Approx travel time: Private bus from Sihanoukville to Can Tho: 9 hours (not including border formalities)
After breakfast on Day 9, we head to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) a journey which will take most of the day. This evening, why not head to one of the rooftop bars such as the Rex Hotel, one of the classic colonial Saigon institutions, where there is often live music. Perhaps visit the the immense Ben Than Market and grab a snack at one of its many food stands. Those with an interest in Vietnam's recent war history may like to visit the Reunification Palace, the residence of the presidents of South Vietnam before 1974, and the fascinating nearby War Remnants Museum. Also very interesting is Cholon, Saigon’s Chinese quarter. A cyclo can take you to any of these places for a very reasonable price and is a fun way to travel around Ho Chi Minh City. Our Saigon hotel is located in front of the city’s main market, Ben Than Market, and very close to Saigon's backpackers street. All rooms are double or twin share with air conditioning and en suite bathroom. Wifi is available. A small swimming pool is also available on the second floor. Approx Travel Time: Private bus from Chau Doc to Ho Chi Minh City: 7-8 hrs
You are free to depart at any time. Please note hotel check out is 12pm. We look forward to receiving your evaluation regarding this tour itinerary and your CEO's performance. We value your input into what we could improve to make this trip even better and of course love hearing about what we are already doing well! You will be sent a post tour email on your return with details on how to go on line and fill in this simple form. Thank you so much in advance. Some of your group will most likely continue traveling north through Vietnam with G Adventures. If you are interested in ongoing travel in Vietnam and Laos have a look at the following trips on our website: Roam Vietnam http://www.gadventures.com/trips/roam-vietnam/AVRV/2012/ or Roam Vietnam, Laos and Thailand http://www.gadventures.com/trips/roam-vietnam-laos-thailand/AVVL/2012/