Discover Vietnam and Cambodia

14 Days / 13 Nights

  Hanoi - Halong Bay - Hoi An - Ho Chi Minh City - Can Tho - Chau Doc - Phnom Penh - Siem Reap

14 Days / 13 Nights

Discover Vietnam and Cambodia

  Hanoi - Halong Bay - Hoi An - Ho Chi Minh City - Can Tho - Chau Doc - Phnom Penh - Siem Reap

Spend an incredible two weeks delving into cultural and historic depths of two incredible Southeast Asian destinations – Vietnam and Cambodia. Ride a traditional rickshaw through historic Hanoi, cruise ethereal Ha Long Bay aboard a restored junk, meander Hoi An’s ancient streets, and uncover history in fast-paced Ho Chi Minh City before transporting to Cambodia via the rhythmic water world of the Mekong Delta. Spend a day in enigmatic Phnom Penh then head to the remarkable Angkor Temples in nearby Siem Reap. Prepare to ignite all senses with this whirlwind trip!

JOURNEY HIGHLIGHTS

  • Come across remnants of French influence via cyclo in Hanoi and a walking tour in Hoi An
  • Be inspired by a Tai Chi class at sunrise surrounded by the jungle-clad islands of Ha Long Bay
  • Float through the Mekong Delta and learn why this entrancing place is often called the ‘rice bowl of Vietnam’
  • Visit Tuol Sleng Genocide Musuem in Phnom Penh to gain insight into Cambodia’s chilling past
  • Step back in time and explore the incredible Temples of Angkor

TOUR INCLUSIONS

  • Accommodation at selected hotels with daily breakfast
  • Check-in time is 2.00PM and check-out time is 12.00PM. Early or late service is subject to availability with surcharge.
  • Meals as mentioned
  • English speaking guide (Ha Long, Cai Be package as group join-in guide)
  • Tours and transfers as mentioned by air-conditioned vehicle
  • Sightseeing fees and permits during guided time
  • Boat cruises mentioned (group join-in for Ha Long and Cai Be Mekong)
  • Flights as program
  • Service charges and government VAT tax

ITINERARY

DAY 1

Hanoi

DAY 1 - Hanoi

Arrive in Hanoi airport to meet a Buffalo Tours guide; transfer to a hotel in the city.

DAY 2

DAY 2 - Hanoi

Spend the morning at leisure, then begin afternoon explorations of historic Hanoi – not by foot, but aboard a ‘cyclo’. Equal parts transportation and travel experience, these traditional bicycle rickshaws move at a leisurely pace, perfect for photography and slow-moving sightseeing. Sit back and relax while the driver weaves through some of the Old Quarter’s busiest streets, dodging speeding motorbikes and rolling past French colonial houses.

Dismount the cyclo at the Northern Gate of Hanoi’s ancient citadel located in the heart of the city. Learn about the history of the imposing structure and Cua Bac Church, a beautiful example of French and catholic influence in the city.

Set off to the 11th Century Taoist Quan Thanh Temple - one of the oldest and most culturally significant in the city. Embark on a lengthier stroll towards West Lake, taking the quieter back roads before stopping at historic Pho Cuon Restaurant for a quick snack. Set off again to Chau Long Market for a closer look at Hanoian culture in the flurry of a local market. Continue along ‘Nguyen Truong To Street’ - famous for its desserts - towards the epicentre of Hanoi’s thriving wedding cake stores. Learn about Vietnam’s unique wedding culture while sampling some wedding cakes then take a stroll to nearby ‘Hang Cot Street’ for a look at Hanoi’s mat weaving borough. End today’s walking tour with a traditional Vietnamese coffee at a local coffee shop along ‘Hang Ba Street’ then spend the rest of the day at leisure.

DAY 3

DAY 3 - Hanoi – Ha Long Bay

Depart Hanoi and travel to Ha Long Bay to board the L’Azalee Deluxe - a beautifully restored traditional wooden junk with a colourful, modern design. Settle in to a stylish cabin and enjoy spectacular views of the UNESCO World Heritage Site from the water.

Set sail to Sung Sot Cave - aptly known as ‘Surprise Cave’ - reached only via a small opening in the rock. From there, cruise to Lom Bo Canal to visit a floating pearl farm and learn how these precious 'stones' are cultivated. Choose to kayak or walk about the floating village and do some shopping for the freshest pearls in the bay. Continue floating through the towering, jungle-clad islands before mooring for the evening. Take part in a Vietnamese cooking demonstration from the on-board chefs; learn firsthand the art of rolling fresh pho cuon (rice noodle rolls) and elegant fruit carving. Enjoy dinner on the deck and wrap up the day with a cocktail or try out squid fishing under the stars of the bay.

DAY 4

DAY 4 - Ha Long Bay - Hanoi

Rise early to catch an impressive sunrise over the karsts of Ha Long Bay; take advantage of the peaceful surroundings with a private Tai Chi class on the sundeck. Energise with some breakfast before setting sail for Titov Island; choose to laze on the sand, swim at the picturesque beach, or hike up the mountain for stunning panoramic views of the bay.

Continue cruising through the most iconic sites of Ha Long, seeing some of the most unique inlets and enjoying the natural splendour that makes this World Heritage Site so special. Return to Ha Long port in the late afternoon and transfer back to Hanoi.

DAY 5

DAY 5 - Hanoi - Hoi An

In the morning, fly from Hanoi to the riverside town of Hoi An. Meet a Buffalo Tours guide at the airport for a hotel transfer before spending the rest of the day at leisure.

 

DAY 6

DAY 6 - Hoi An

Explore Hoi An’s well-preserved ancient town, a former trading port which once welcomed Chinese, Dutch, French, Japanese, Portuguese and Arab merchants from the 16th to the 18th Century. Today Hoi An is famous for its restored architecture, homemade silk, expert tailors, delicious noodles and seafood. Its relaxed vibe and pedestrian streets make this town a pleasure to walk around and discover new things.

Start a walking tour through the breezy streets lined with honey-yellow buildings and arrive at Chua Ong Pagoda. This Chinese inspired structure dates back to 1653 and its interior still wafts the sweet smell of incense throughout the day. From here, walk to nearby Fujian (Phuc Kien) Assembly Hall with its Jinshang Temple dedicated to the Goddess of the Sea.

After passing by the 200 year old Tan Ky House, cross the Japanese Covered Bridge which has been beautifully crafted to double as a temple and is a major landmark of Hoi An. End the afternoon with relaxing boat trip along Thu Bon river, a waterway which plays an important role in the geography, culture and history of Hoi An.

DAY 7

DAY 7 - Hoi An – Ho Chi Minh City

Say goodbye to the ancient streets of Hoi An and fly to fast-paced Ho Chi Minh City, still often referred to as ’Saigon’. Meet the guide at the airport and transfer to a hotel for check in.

Delve straight into the story of Saigon with a visit to the War Remnants Museum. Here, the guide will tell the story of the city’s darkest and most tragic hours during the Vietnam War. The museum contains displays of military aircraft, weaponry and many photographs - some that are quite graphic in nature. Although many of Vietnam’s 90 million people are now too young to remember the war, its legacy is still felt strongly across Vietnamese society.

Next, visit the Independence Palace - once a symbol of the South Vietnamese Government. It was here on 30 April 1975, that the war ended when a North Vietnamese Army tank crashed through the gates. See the war room, the banquet hall and the presidential office with the unusual gifts which have been received. Then, continue to the Central Post Office designed and constructed by the renowned architect Gustave Eiffel. Just behind the post office is the Notre Dame Cathedral, an iconic Saigon landmark built in neo-Romanesque style by the French between 1863 and 1880. Today it’s a favoured backdrop for Vietnamese wedding photographs.

Next, stroll down Dong Khoi Street, which figured prominently in Graham Greene’s famous novel “The Quiet American” as Rue Catinat. The walk ends at the Saigon Opera House; from a bomb shelter to housing the parliamentary Lower House, the Opera House has had an interesting history. End the day with a speedboat trip along the city’s ancient canals where life carries on unchanged. Return to the hotel as the sun sets on this fascinating city.

DAY 8

DAY 8 - Ho Chi Minh City – Cu Chi Tunnels

Escape the congestion of Ho Chi Minh City and head out into the countryside, a far cry from the frenetic urban sprawl of downtown Saigon. On this journey through the countryside, stop at a cricket farm where these insects are raised to eventually become tasty snacks. Considered a delicacy by many, local lore also says that hungry soldiers ate them to beef up their nutrient-poor diets. Witness crickets at various stages of their lifecycle and have the opportunity to sample them wrapped up in tasty spring rolls.

Visit Cu Chi Tunnels, the infamous underground city for Viet Cong soldiers during the Vietnam War. The cramped tunnels were central to the war’s strategic operations and are complete with underground hospitals, schools and canteens. Keep an eye out for the man traps, bomb craters and other remnants of war, including an American tank that was destroyed by a landmine.

Travel down the Saigon River by speedboat, enjoy one of the least explored parts of the city that still brims with culture. Watch the world float by while enjoying a selection of traditional Vietnamese fruit before arriving back in Ho Chi Minh City. After a full-on morning out, relax and enjoy a delicious lunch at a local Vietnamese restaurant before returning to the hotel mid-afternoon.

 

DAY 9

DAY 9 - Ho Chi Minh City – Can Tho

This morning, drive a few hours to Ben Tre - gateway to the Mekong Delta. From here, board a small boat to start sightseeing around the waterways of Mekong Delta. Known also as the ‘rice bowl of Vietnam’ because of its large rice production, the area has also diversified into activities related to aquaculture, rearing animals, cash crops and fruit trees.

Board a small boat to meander through the canals and waterways; stop at a small coconut processing plant to see how coconuts are turned into oil, candy and woven mats. After the boat trip, take a short walk to a local village to see mat weavers at work, then jump on a local version of a tuk tuk and travel down country roads to the pier. From here, board the beautiful teak boat, ‘Le Jarai’, to cruise along the river. While onboard, join in the demonstration of Vietnamese cooking before sitting down to a sumptuous three-course lunch of Mekong specialties. After lunch relax on the top deck and take in the scenery on the way back to Ben Tre; upon arrival transfer to Can Tho in the heart of the Mekong Delta.

DAY 10

DAY 10 - Can Tho – Chau Doc

Today starts with an early morning visit to Cai Rang Floating Market, the largest floating market in the Mekong River Delta. Float through bustling trade scenes with vendors selling staple commodities, cheap local products, steaming noodle soups and the freshest of fruits. As the morning bustle begins to slow, return to the shore for a transfer to the border town Chau Doc.

In the afternoon, drive 20km to Tra Sun Forest to explore endless waterways flaked by mangroves and lush greenery aboard a flat-bottomed wooden boat known as a ‘sampan’. This eco reserve spans 850 hectares and is an ecological haven for fauna and flora, with more than 100 species of water birds. On the way to the forest, visit a small village of ethnic Khmer, and learn about the importance of Buddhism in the community whilst having the opportunity to chat with monks at a local monastery.

DAY 11

DAY 11 - Chau Doc – Phnom Penh

Travel by boat up the Mekong River to Cambodia’s busy capital, Phnom Penh. See jewels of the Silver Pagoda with its small green crystal Buddha and five-thousand silver floor tiles. Visit chilling Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum to gain insight into the atrocities committed as part of the Pol Pot regime. End the day on a lighter note with some shopping at Central Market.

DAY 12

DAY 12 - Phnom Penh – Siem Reap

Say goodbye to Cambodia’s capital and board a flight to Siem Reap – the gateway to the ruins of Angkor. Check in at the hotel before spending the afternoon exploring the Roluos Group of temples which mark the beginning of the Khmer civilization dating back to the 9th Century. In the evening, take time to wander the old market area of Siem Reap with its labyrinth of lanes filled with boutiques, galleries, cafes and small bars. It’s the place to be after dark!

DAY 13

DAY 13 - Siem Reap – Angkor Temples

Start today with a visit to the South Gate of Angkor Thom where statues of the Gods of good and evil line the entrance. Stop at the Bayon temple, known for its multitude of serene and smiling faces carved on the towers. The bas-reliefs are quite impressive, telling stories of daily life and the great battles that were fought between the Khmers and ancient Thais. Move on to the pyramid-shaped Phimeanakas; its two ponds now serve as swimming pools for the local kids but were once used for religious rituals. Walk to the top of the temple for impressive views of the Angkor complex.

See the rows of trunks that form the wall of the Terrace of the Elephants, a platform from which King Jayavarman surveyed his army. Close by is the Terrace of Leper Kings, which includes a statue depicting Yana, the Hindu God of Death. Then it’s a short drive to one of the most loved temples of all - Ta Prohm. This small crumbling temple is held together by giant tree roots giving the temple a magical feel.

Return to Siem Reap for lunch and to escape the midday heat. Later in the afternoon, explore the world’s largest religious monument – the one and only Angkor Wat. This spectacular temple is a massive three-tiered pyramid, rising 65 metres from the ground and crowned by five lotus towers. It’s the national symbol of Cambodia and proudly appears on the country’s flag. End the day atop Pre Rup Temple for magnificent sunset views overlooking the jungle.

DAY 14

DAY 14 - Siem Reap

As this two-week whirlwind trip comes to an end, transfer to the airport for a departure flight.

 

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