Essential Vietnam & Cambodia
Day 1 Hanoi
Arrive in bustling Hanoi, the capital of Vietnam. As passengers will be arriving at various times today, there are no planned activities. Some suggestions include: Taking a walk through Hanoi's Old Quarter – a maze of streets, each one traditionally devoted to a different product or industry. In the evening attend a performance at the famous Water Puppet Theatre. Visit Tran Quoc Pagoda, the Temple of Literature (Van Mieu) or Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum and Museum. The Mausoleum houses the remains of Ho Chi Minh, the founding father of the unified Vietnam (the mausoleum and museum is closed in October-November). You will have a scheduled group meeting in the evening around 6pm. Please check at the reception desk or look for a G Adventures notice board with details of the actual meeting time. At this meeting your CEO will ask to sight your travel insurance, double check your Vietnam visa and complete some other paper work. Please note that most nationalities requires a visa to enter Vietnam, please double check this with your travel agent or local Vietnamese Embassy. 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 overnight in the city center of Hanoi. Our hotel is located in an Old Quarter. All rooms are double or twin share with air conditioning and en suite bathroom. Free-Wifi and a computer are available in the lobby.
Days 2-3 Halong Bay/Hanoi (2B,1L,1D)
On day 2, a 4 hour drive takes us to Bai Chay harbour, our entry point to Halong Bay. Thousands of islands rise dramatically from the waters of Halong Bay and, to further their beauty, intricate cave systems naturally exist throughout these limestone karst formations. Our sailing junk will take you to visit some of the islands and caves. You could enjoy a pre-dinner swim (depending on the season) and have an evening drink on the deck beneath the stars. Our accommodation tonight is a truly special experience – sleeping on a boat surrounded by high limestone karsts. All cabins are double or twin share with air conditioning and en suite bathroom. On day 3, after an early lunch on board the boat we head back to Hanoi. You have enough time for shopping or further sightseeing until our overnight train to Hue. The sleeper trains throughout Vietnam are quite comfortable. Each cabin sleeps 4 people in 2 bunk beds. You will be able to lock the door from the inside. All bedding is provided. The train is air conditioned and has squat and Western style toilets with a wash basin at the end of each compartment. Bags can be stored in your cabin and accessed at anytime. Food and drinks are available for purchase on board. This is not to everyone’s taste, so we recommend you bring your own. Approx travel time: Halong Bay to Hanoi is 4 hours by private bus. Toilet stops can be made en route. Overnight sleeper train Ha Noi to Hue is approximately 14 hours.
Day 4 Hue
We arrive early on day 4 into Hue, once the imperial capital of Vietnam. After checking in to our hotel, we start our day with a visit to the wonderful Tien Mu Pagoda. Built over 400 years ago, and at seven stories high, Tien Mu is still the tallest and perhaps the most elegant pagoda in Vietnam. We then visit a tomb of one of Vietnam’s former emperors. These tombs are extremely ornate and embrace the concept of Feng Shui. Afterwards, you may choose to enjoy a vegetarian lunch at a local nunnery and there are various options to head out by bike to explore the local countryside. Please ask your CEO for more information. In the evening, take the chance to try some local Hue specialties such as banh khoai (savoury pancakes), and banh bot loc boc tom thit (thin rice paper filled with meat and shrimp). You might want to wash it all down with a Hue beer. Yum! Our accommodation tonight is centrally located in the main street of Hue. All rooms are double or twin share with air conditioning and en suite bathroom. A swimming pool is also available.
Days 5-7 Hoi An (3B)
This morning we’ll start our day touring the wonderful ruins of the Imperial Citadel, from where the whole of Vietnam was once ruled. You’ll enjoy exploring the many palaces and gateways, courtyards and gardens of this beautiful complex and of course hearing the stories of the emperors who once lived here. In the late morning we begin our drive to Hoi An. After crossing over the Hai Van Pass, with fantastic views in all directions, we will stop at Lang Co Beach, arriving in Hoi An in the afternoon for our three night stay. Once known as Faifo, Hoi An was an important trading town with strong south Chinese influence and connections. You can take a walking tour of this living museum which includes the Museum of History and Culture, the Tan Ky house, the Japanese bridge, the Fujian Assembly Hall and lunch at a riverside restaurant to sample some of the local delicacies. Hoi An is also a shopping mecca for tourists in the region. Tailors can produce virtually anything overnight, with clothing, silk lanterns, lacquer ware and many other crafts abound. For sun worshipers, Cua Dai Beach, 4kms from town makes for a great, flat bike ride. Please note that if you have booked the Adrenaline Theme Pack on Day 6 you will be picked up from your hotel and transferred to a sacred mountain retreat for cave rappelling. Enjoy abseiling from the summit into a cave, then into a temple chamber. If you have booked the Culinary Theme Pack on Day 7 you will be picked up from your hotel and transferred to a Vietnamese Cooking School where you will learn a traditional Vietnamese dish. Important Note: On this trip there is not enough time to do both the Culinary and Adrenaline Theme Pack on the last day. You will need a post night hotel in order to do both Packs. We overnight three nights in a Hoi An. All rooms are double or twin share with air conditioning and en suite bathroom. Free wifi and a public computer are available in the lobby. The hotel also has a swimming pool to relax beside. Approx travel time: Hue to Hoi An by private minivan is approx 4 hours.
Days 8-9 Ho Chi Minh City (2B)
Drive to Danang for the flight to Ho Chi Minh City, the sprawling metropolis that was once the capital of South Vietnam and remains the country’s commercial center. On the morning of Day 9 we take our guided tour of the Cu Chi Tunnels. A complexed network of tunnels 90 minutes from the city where the locals lived during the American War to keep safe. The afternoon is free time to visit the Thien Hau and Giac Vien pagodas and stroll through the immense Ben Than Market. There is also the Reunification Palace, the residence of the presidents of South Vietnam before 1975, Cholon (literally translated: Big Market),the Chinese quarter and the War Remnants Museum. We overnight two nights in Ho Chi Minh City. All rooms are double or twin share with air conditioning and en suite bathroom. The hotel is well located in near the Benh Than Market, backpackers area, war remnant museum and within walking distance to all the French colonial buildings. Free-Wifi and a computer are available at the lobby. Approx travel time: A flight time from Danang to Ho Chi Minh City is approx 1 hour. Transfer from Hoi An to the airport in Danang is 45 minutes. Please note: As this is a combination trip, some of your tour members many depart in Ho Chi Mihn City and you may be joined by some new travelling companions on Day 9.
Day 10 Mekong Delta Day Trip (B)
Today we travel to where the mighty Mekong River approaches and empties in to the South China Sea. We board a small boat and navigate through the narrow canals, witnessing local lifestyle, floating vendors and small industrial boats. You will notice that many of the Vietnamese boats have eyes painted on the front to ward off evil spirits and to help guide the boat and crew safely back to land. We disembark our boat to visit some cottage industries for which the area is famous such as delicious and chewy coconut candy, rice cakes, Vietnamese popcorn and pottery production. Don't miss the chance to try the unique regional 'elephant fish' at a local restaurant during our lunch break. After a day of touring this unique region, we return to Ho Chi Minh City in time for dinner. Approx travel time: The round trip to Mekong Delta by private bus is approx 6 hours.
Days 11-12 Phnom Penh (2B)
On Day 11, we cross into Cambodia by public bus.The drive to the Vietnam/Cambodian border takes around 2 hours. After completing the border formalities, we continue by bus to Phnom Penh, Cambodia's capital, arriving mid-afternoon. After years of civil strife and political turmoil Cambodia is open for visitors. Late afternoon we take a short Cyclo ride around the city. With our local guide on day 12, we witness the dark side of Cambodian history with visits to Choeng Ek, the site of the infamous Killing Fields and Tuol Sleng prison, the notorious Khmer Rouge prison where thousands of Cambodians died at the hands of their captors. Afterwards, continue sight seeing on your own.You can explore the cities many sights: the Royal Palace, Silver Pagoda, and the National Museum. There is time to visit the huge Russian Market packed with souvenirs and all the necessities of daily life. Late afternoon is a great time to visit Wat Phnom: the sanctuary where the city's namesake once stood. It is a Buddhist shrine, although a Taoist goddess and numerous monkeys also reside here. Wat Phnom is a popular hangout for residents of the city in the afternoon heat. A drink in one of the many riverside café’s watching the sunset is a fitting finale to the day. We spend two nights in Phnom Penh. All rooms are double or twin share with air conditioning and en suite bathroom. Free wifi and a computer are available at the lobby. Approx travel time: Ho Chi Minh City to Phnom Penh is approx 6 hours including a short lunch at the local restaurant and border crossing.
Days 13-15 Siem Reap (3B, 1D)
After a private bus trip through the Cambodian countryside we arrive in Siem Reap, our base to explore the ancient city of Angkor, the former capital of the Khmer kingdom and one of the wonders of the archeological world. Rediscovered at the end of the 19th century by French explorers this vast ruined city is becoming one of the most popular sites in Southeast Asia. Over 2 days, with our professional local guide, we visit some of the highlights of this ancient capital including the enigmatic Bayon within the walled city of Angkor Thom and Ta Prohm, also known as the 'Tomb Raider' temple. Watching the sunrise over Angkor Wat is an experience not to be missed. Please note that if you have booked the Adrenaline Theme Pack you will be picked up from your hotel in the late afternoon to ATV (All Terrain Vehicle). While exploring enjoy sunset over the beautiful countryside Trips departing on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays will enjoy a meal in a nearby village at the Planeterra-supported New Hope project. Trips departing on Sundays, Mondays and Thursdays will visit a local home in a nearby village for a traditional meal. With so many travellers coming through these areas, alternating experiences helps to allow both small businesses to flourish. Both experiences are truly unique and memorable. We spend three nights in Siem Reap. Our hotel swimming pool is a great place to escape the heat of Siem Reap. All rooms are double or twin share with air conditioning and en suite bathrooms. Free wifi and a public computer are available in the lobby. Our hotel is located within a walking distance of the town centre. Approx travel time: Phnom Penh to Siem Reap by private bus is approx 6 hours.
Day 16 Bangkok (B)
It's a long travel day today as private bus ride takes us from the countryside of Cambodia to the modern kingdom of Thailand. The drive from Siem Reap to the border is around 3 hours. Please be aware that the border crossing formalities can take up to one hour. Upon entering Thailand we continue our journey to Bangkok. We have time to check-in to our centrally located hotel and head out for an evening meal to celebrate the end of a wonderful journey. Approx travel time: Siem Reap to Cambodian border 3 hours. Border crossing formalities, up to 1 hour Thai border to Bangkok, 4 hours
Day 17 Bangkok (B)
You are free to depart at any time today. Please note that if you have booked the Adrenaline Theme Pack you will need to make your own way to Sukhumvit Soi 1, Ariyasom Villa hotel for your transfer at 9:30am to the Flight of the Gibbons. (directions on voucher). Suggested time to leave your hotel is 8:30am. Enjoy the thrill of ziplining over the Thai jungle for 3 kilometers before heading back to your hotel for 17:00. Due to the late start we strongly recommend a post-night accommodation, or book onward flight after 21:00. If you have booked the Culinary Theme Pack you will be picked up from your hotel at 8:30 and transferred to Silom Cooking School. You will visit a local market to pick up your ingredients and then prepare a traditional meal. You will be transferred back to your hotel for 17:00. Due to the late start we strongly recommend a post-night accommodation or onward flight after 21:00. Important Note: On this trip there is not enough time to do both the Culinary and Adrenaline Theme Pack on the last day. You will need a post night hotel in order to do both Packs.