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A leisurely yet enthralling itinerary that takes its time to travel from the mountainous and humid north of Vietnam through to the wealthier colonial south then along the sultry Mekong Delta to Siem Reap, Cambodia. Encompassing five nights of cruising and four train journeys this tour covers all the iconic sights you would expect with the added bonus of no internal flights.
Depart London on your overnight flight to Hanoi.
You will be met on arrival by your guide who'll accompany you to your hotel. After some time to relax enjoy dinner and a traditional Water Puppet Performance.
A full day tour of this historic city begins with the Ho Chi Minh Complex where the father of modern day Vietnam declared the nation's independence in 1945. Visit sites including the Presidential Palace built by the French colonialists in the early 20th century, Ho Chi Minh's House of Stilts and the One Pillar Pagoda. After lunch, you will learn about Vietnam's ethnic groups in the Museum of Ethnology. Later return to the lively Old Quarter to explore this bustling commercial centre on cyclo, a two person cycle carriage.
This memorable day marks the start of your two-night cruise around the awe-inspiring Halong Bay, a UNESCO World Heritage site and a vision of ethereal beauty. You'll explore these marvellous islands, intricate limestone rock formations and hidden wave-eroded grottoes on a luxury cruise boat. Begin with a visit to Vung Vieng Fishing village by rowing boat, a floating settlement dating back hundreds of years. After lunch, there'll be some time to swim and relax on Ban Chan sandy beach before continuing your journey to Cong Do where the boat will anchor overnight. Finish your day with a local cookery demonstration before enjoying a delicious set dinner.
Begin your day with some calming Tai Chi on the boat's deck or watch the sun rise from your cabin before setting off for a more active day on the water. Cruise to some of the bay's more untouched areas, making stops for swimming and sightseeing. Spend the evening relaxing on board with a spa treatment (at a fee).
Rise early for your final water excursion - a trip to explore the well-hidden and prehistoric Thien Canh Son cave before a farewell brunch and arrival on the mainland. Enjoy an early dinner back in Hanoi before boarding a sleeper train for an overnight journey to Hue.
Enjoy the morning view from your window as the train approaches its final destination. The first visit of the day is to the Citadel of Hue, a large fortress built in the 18th century whose architectural style takes inspiration from both the Forbidden City in Beijing and the military principles of the French army. Then continue to the partially ruined Dien Tho Residence before visiting Thai Hoa Palace and finally to Thien Mu pagoda and the Imperial tomb of Emperor Minh Mang.
After breakfast, you'll board the train for a trip along the Reunification Railway to Danang that links Hanoi to Saigon. The train glides through the world class scenic route that runs along the South China Sea, snaking between jungle-covered cliffs and past white beaches, finally heading through lush green mountains to reach Danang. Take some time to relax at your hotel or explore the area before reconvening for dinner.
Your morning in Hoi An will begin with a walking tour of the town, taking you past traditional Japanese merchant houses, ancient Chinese tea warehouses and finishes at the Pagoda Bridge, an early 17th-century Japanese temple that spans across the waterway. After lunch, the rest of the day is free for you to explore the myriad of silk and tailor shops or simply take in the views over a coffee at one of the many waterside cafes.
Following breakfast at your hotel, it's time to board the train for the day-long journey south to the coastal city of Nha Trang, widely considered to be home to one of the most beautiful bays in the word. Arrive in the late evening and check into your hotel.
Today you will enjoy a day of island hopping, starting with a trip to Mun Island, the premium spot for snorkelling in Nha Trang, blessed with a wealth of colourful coral reefs and marine life. Enjoy lunch on Con Se Tre island before returning to your hotel to refresh, have dinner, then board the overnight train to Saigon.
The train arrives into Saigon in the early hours so you'll be transferred straight to your hotel with time to enjoy breakfast. Spend the afternoon touring Saigon's highlights with a visit to the Reunification Palace as well as nearby Notre Dame Cathedral. Next travel to the French-style Saigon Post Office then finishes at the Ben Thanh Market, a symbol of the bustling city where colourful stalls are packed to the rafters with fresh fruit and tourist kitsch.
After breakfast travel to the Cu Chi Tunnels, an impressive network of underground tunnels used by the Viet Cong during the Vietnam War. This immense labyrinth of 75 miles in length once housed hospitals, weapon factories and living quarters. Return to Saigon for an afternoon and evening at leisure.
Leaving Saigon behind, embark on a three-night cruise along the fascinating network of rivers in the Mekong Delta that will journey all the way up to Phnom Penh in Cambodia. First visit Can Tho, the largest town on the Delta, cruising gently through picturesque canals and waterways, taking in the sultry scenery and daily activities of the Mekong people. Continue to Cai Be where there'll be a guided walk to a rural village, passing lush green orchards and the chance to meet the locals.
Depart early in the morning with an excursion on long rowing sampan boats allowing you to meander through the small canals of Tan Phong islet. This afternoon the boats will moor at the charming colonial town of Sa Dec. Famous for its beautiful flower gardens, the small, sleepy town is truly a hidden gem on the Mekong Delta. Return to the vessel for a sunset cruise and dinner on board.
Arrive at Cao Lanh in the morning and after breakfast disembark for a morning excursion to Tan Thuan Dong islet where you can enjoy a gentle cycle around the winding roads or simply explore the area by foot. As the boat manoeuvres through Cho Vam canal, you are invited to a sunset cocktail party on the top deck.
After an early breakfast you will be transferred to Phnom Penh by speedboat where you'll be met with the coach to begin your tour of the capital of Cambodia. Begin with a visit to the Royal Palace, built by King Norodom in 1866, and marvel at the ornately gilded Khmer roofs, beguiling throne hall, solid gold-encrusted Buddha and Silver Pagoda. Next visit the National Museum that houses a collection of Khmer art, notably sculptures, throughout the ages. Check into your hotel and enjoy dinner at a local restaurant.
This morning includes a guided tour of Toul Sleng Prison Museum and the Killing Fields of Choeung Ek, both grim reminders of Cambodia's bloody past. These excursions may prove distressing for some but are important pieces of Cambodia's historical and cultural puzzle. Later this afternoon continue by coach to Siem Reap.
Watch the sunrise over the 12th century Angkor Wat temple complex, the best-preserved temple boasting fascinating decorative flourishes that took 30 years to build and represents Khmer civilisation at its grandest. Next visit Angkor Thom, a group of buildings that surpass Angkor Watt in splendour and grandiosity. Start at the Southern Gate, flanked by a row of 54 stone figures on each side, followed by the Bayon and its beautifully crafted central towers. From here you visit Baphoun, Phimeanakas and the Elephant Terrace, once used as a giant viewing stand for public ceremonies. Lastly see Ta Prohm, undoubtedly the most atmospheric ruin at Angkor. That has been left to be swallowed by the jungle and is the perfect place to watch the sunset. Conclude the day with dinner and an Apsara dance performance.
Depart Siem Reap for your return flight back to the UK via Hanoi or continue on to your chosen extension.
A visa is required for entry into Vietnam. We work closely with The Travel Visa Company who will be able to arrange this visa for you on your behalf. Please call them on 01270 250 590 and quote 'Sunspot'. The cost of the visa is approximately £98.50. The visas take around 10 working days to issue and are only valid for three months from the date of entry. Therefore, we recommend that you apply for your visa 8 weeks before travel, however, please be aware that your passport will be required for the application so make sure you will not need it during this time. Alternatively, you can visit the Embassy of Vietnam in London: 12-14 Victoria Road, London, W8 5RD. Further advice should be sought from the applicable tourist authority for other nationalities and for general queries. A visa is required for entry into Cambodia and this can be purchased on arrival at the airport in Siem Reap. The cost of this is approximately USD $30 per person. Please note that you will be required to bring a passport photo with you as well as USD $30 cash in order to apply for your visa on arrival into Cambodia. A visa will need to be paid for again if entering Cambodia a second time, at the same cost of USD $30 (for example if you are taking both the Laos extension and the Cambodia extension). A visa is required for entry into Laos and this can be purchased on arrival at the airport in Luang Prabang. The cost of this is approximately USD $35 per person and you will need to bring the money in cash in order to apply for your visa on arrival into Laos, you will also be required to bring two passport photos. Visa requirements are subject to change and obtaining a visa is the responsibility of the traveller and not Sunspot. We recommend you check with your destinations' Tourist Board or Embassy prior to departure for the most up to date guidelines regarding visas and passport validity.
If booking more than 10 weeks before departure a deposit of £250pp will need to be paid at the time of booking with the full amount payable at 10 weeks prior to departure. The deposit applies to adults and children. If you are within 10 weeks of travel then the full balance of the holiday will be payable.
It is your responsibility to check any health and vaccination requirements applicable to your booked arrangements. We can only provide general information about this. Health and hygiene facilities and disease risks vary from country to country. You should take health advice about your own needs as early as possible and in good time before your departure. Sources of information include; www.fco.gov.uk, www.travelhealthpro.org.uk, www.hpa.org.uk, your General Practitioner or a specialist clinic.
This tour is accessible to most people with a good level of fitness and normal mobility. It involves climbing steep stairs and getting on and off coaches and boats. This tour is not suitable for anyone with walking difficulties.
The minimum number of travellers in your group will be 10, and the maximum will be 36. If in the unlikely event there are less than 10 people booked on your tour date, we will endeavour to reduce any disruption to your holiday and try to operate your tour with lower passenger numbers. If we are not able to operate your departure date then you may be asked to change to a different date and a full refund will be made available to you should this alternative not be suitable.
This is an escorted tour, meaning that you will have the services of an English speaking guide during each excursion ensuring that you have first-hand knowledge at all times.
The currency in Vietnam is the Vietnamese Dong (VND) and the currency in Cambodia is the Cambodian Riel (KHM). We recommend that you take some US Dollars (USD) with you and exchange this currency whilst you are travelling.
You will need to take some extra money with you to cover any dinners where these are not mentioned on your itinerary and personal purchases, such as souvenirs, extra drinks and snacks. Approximately £600-£700 per person should be sufficient for the duration of your tour. Tipping is not compulsory and is at your discretion. Should you wish to tip, you can give this to your guide and driver when you leave them in each place. If you feel you have received a good level of service, we recommend approximately £2 ($3) per person per day for the guide and driver. This will be collected at the end of each destination visited for your convenience. Tips are accepted in the local currency, US dollars and British pounds.
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The order of events and sightseeing may vary according to local conditions or for operational purposes. The schedules of the regional flights within and between South-East Asian countries are subject to frequent changes. For this reason, we have indicated approximate times only. Your local guide will inform you of any schedule changes as they are informed of them. Some road construction and/or weather conditions may lengthen the driving times. Our intention is to adhere to the day-to-day itinerary as printed; however, the order of events and sightseeing may vary according to local conditions.
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