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|Itinerary at a Glance
Best of Vietnam & Cambodia
|4||Phnom Penh, Siem Reap & Angkor|
|6||Siem Reap, Tonle Sap & Ho Chi Minh City|
|7||Ho Chi Minh City & Cu Chi Tunnels|
|9||Ho Chi Minh City, Da Nang & Hue|
|10||Hue & Hoi An|
|11||Hoi An plus My Son Optional Tour|
|12||Da Nang & Hanoi|
|13||Hanoi, Halong Bay & Emeraude Cruise|
|14||Emeraude Cruise & Hanoi|
|Sapa Hill Tribes Extension|
|15||Hanoi & Overnight Train|
|16||Lao Cai, Hilltribe Villages & Sapa|
|17||Sapa & Overnight Train|
|Style||Fully Escorted & Guided
Dedicated tour escorts & guides throughout
|Departs||Los Angeles (LAX)|
|Highlights||Siem Reap, Ho Chi Minh City, Hoi An, Hanoi, Angkor Wat, Cu Chi Tunnels, & a Halong Bay Cruise. Optional Sapa Hill Tribes extension|
|Included in the Price||
|What to Expect||This moderately-paced, locally hosted tour includes a reasonable amount of walking or hiking and requires an average level of physical fitness.|
Discover Vietnam and Cambodia, among the most fascinating and stunningly beautiful natural settings on earth, where ancient civilizations, welcoming people and dramatic history await. Enjoy Superior First Class & Deluxe accommodations, fully escorted touring, lots of included meals, and the very best in service, all at prices that are downright amazing!
Our 16-day fully escorted tour includes the lovely Cambodian capital city of Phnom Penh and the massive and amazing Angkor temple complex. Continue to Vietnam, travelling from south to north, with stops in Ho Chi Minh City, Hue, Da Nang, Hoi An, and Hanoi, as well as an overnight cruise on the picturesque Halong Bay, and see the very best of this engaging country. To maximize your visit to Southeast Asia, take advantage of your already-included airfare by joining our optional extension. Enjoy a truly exotic extension to fascinating Sapa, in the heart of Hill Tribe country, including a chance to explore the fantastic Can Cau Saturday Market!
Just returned from Thailand, full to the brim! This was an exceptional tour—pace, activities, options, hotels, all exceeded expectations. Our guide, Lek, was outstanding—sensitive to our wants and needs, knowledgeable and instructive, generous in providing "tastes" of Thailand on our excursion and arranging optional visits to places close to her heart that we otherwise would have missed. Our days were full; hers seemed to never stop. Cambodia too was an amazing experience, again with our guide Long catering to the special travel needs of our group. This trip changed my bias against directed tours...Thank you, Friendly Planet!
Kristi McKenzie, Bingham Farms, MI
Departures September 4, 2014 and beyond will follow a slightly different itinerary.
All prices, fees and deposits are per person. Prices below are subject to availability and confirmation. After we receive your booking, we will confirm all prices and availability within 1–2 business days. Prices are subject to change at any time and not guaranteed until we receive your final payment. More about our prices.
|Departures & Prices*|
|Thu||May 8||2014||Fri||May 23||2014||$3299||Closed|
Want to stay longer? We may be able to arrange for you to extend your stay later than the scheduled dates, subject to availability. Contact us about dates, prices and restrictions.
Reservations for triples are possible for this tour. On the cruise portion, passengers will stay in 1 double and 1 single cabin. Please contact our reservations team for pricing and availability.
|Separately Paid Fees|
|Cambodia Visa Fee (paid separately)||+$20|
|Vietnam Visa Fee1 (paid separately)||+$150|
1. All visitors to Vietnam must obtain their own visa before departure. Comprehensive visa instructions will be included in your confirmation packet.
|Best of Vietnam & Cambodia|
|My Son Optional Tour1||+$40|
|Single room supplement||+$899|
1. My Son optional tour requires a minimum of 3 passengers to operate.
1. Passengers taking the post tour extension will return to the US 2 days later than the scheduled return date. The Sapa extension requires that your flights be confirmed separately by the airlines. Please note that it typically takes 3 to 5 business days to confirm your extension flights with the airline, and that we will notify you immediately upon confirmation of the flights. This extension also requires a minimum of 2 passengers to operate.
2. On Sapa Extension, single cabins are not typically available on the train. If single cabins are not available, singles must share a cabin with others. In the event that a single cabin is not available, the single supplement for the train portion will be refunded upon return.
|Los Angeles (LAX)||included|
Coming from somewhere else? Unfortunately, we don't offer departures from cities that are not listed, but you can book your own connecting flights separately.
To make a reservation, we only require a per-person deposit payment, which you can pay with your credit card. This non-refundable deposit will be applied towards the cost of your package. You can pay the balance due later by credit card, check or money order. Your final payment is due 75 days prior to departure, or within 72 hours of booking, whichever is later.
Departures September 4, 2014 and beyond will follow a slightly different itinerary.
Day 1: Depart USA. Your exotic journey to Cambodia and Vietnam begins as you check in for your wide-body jet flight bound for Phnom Penh via Taipei.
Day 2: En route. Cross the International Dateline and lose a day. (You'll recover this day on your return trip.)
Day 3: Phnom Penh. Arrive in the mid-morning in Phnom Penh, the fascinating, bustling capital city of Cambodia on the banks of three rivers, the Mekong, the Tonle Sap and the Tonle Bassac. Meet your guide and transfer to your hotel for check-in. Enjoy some time to relax from your flight, perhaps stroll the lovely streets around your centrally located hotel, or take a nap before dinner.
This afternoon, take advantage of an included bonus tour of Phnom Penh, beginning with an overview of the city from atop Wat Phnom. Proceed to the incredible Silver Pagoda in the Royal Palace complex where you will find a dazzling green-crystal Buddha and a life-size Buddha made of solid gold and encrusted with 9,500 diamonds, resting on a floor covered with 5,000 silver tiles. Continue to the National Museum which has a wonderful collection of Khmer art and sculpture. Time permitting, pay a respectful visit to Tuol Sleng Museum of Genocidal Crimes, a Khmer Rouge prison and torture chamber from which only seven out of more than 30,000 inmates survived. Return to your hotel and prepare to join your fellow travelers at a "Welcome to Cambodia" dinner. Accommodations: InterContinental Phnom Penh Hotel. Dinner provided.
Day 4: Phnom Penh, Siem Reap & Angkor. After an early breakfast, transfer to the airport to board your flight to Siem Reap. Upon arrival, transfer to your hotel.
Set off for the Angkor Archeological Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which contains the ruins of more than a thousand stone temples. The temples are the surviving remnants of a grand religious, social and administrative metropolis whose other buildings were built of wood and are long since decayed and gone. Built by the Khmer civilization between 802 and 1220 AD, the temples and the great city that surrounded them are one of mankind's most astonishing architectural achievements.
Satellite photographs reveal Angkor to have been the largest preindustrial city in the world, with an urban sprawl of 3000 square kilometers and supporting a population of up to one million people. Mysteriously abandoned in the 15th century, the site remained largely cloaked by the forest until the late 19th century, when archaeologists began to clear away the forest and embark on a long restoration process that continues today.
Begin your explorations at the mysterious royal walled city of Angkor Thom. Its temple is an awesome and surreal sight that most visitors never forget. Atop each of its 50 towers, staring out in the directions of the four points of the compass, are four giant, barely-smiling faces, depicting Khmer royal rulers as Buddhist deities. You are engulfed by the silent, heavy, enigmatic gaze of those faces, staring out through half-closed eyes from a remote time in history.
Other sites you'll visit in this complex include the Baphuon, Elephant Terrace, Leper King Terrace and Royal Palace area, from which the Khmer kings ruled over a vast domain that reached from Vietnam to China to the Bay of Bengal. Accommodations: Borei Angkor Hotel. Breakfast provided.
Day 5: Siem Reap. After breakfast, depart for your exploration of the temples of the Small Circuit. The most famous is Ta Prohm temple, shrouded in jungle and left untouched among twisted banyan trees and stone pillars, it is has the most mysterious atmosphere of the temples in the Angkor area. Visit Banteay Kdei, a Buddhist monastery from the 12th century and Srah Srang, also know as the "pool of ablutions", as well as the twin towers of Chau Say Tevoda and Thommanon.
This afternoon, depart by local Tuk-Tuk to visit the intricately carved ruins at Angkor Wat, built by Suryavarman II during the early years of the 12th century to honor the Hindu god Vishnu. Consisting of an enormous temple symbolizing the mythic Mt. Meru, its rectangular walls and moats represent chains of mountains and the cosmic ocean. Hundreds of fine carvings and scenes from Hindu mythology can still be viewed here.Enjoy the sunset over Angkor Wat before returning to your hotel. Breakfast & dinner provided.
Day 6: Siem Reap, Lake Tonle Sap & Ho Chi Minh City. After breakfast, depart Siem Reap to visit Lake Tonle Sap, South East Asia's largest freshwater lake. During the dry seaon the lake is roughly 2500 square kilomteres, swelling to about 4 times its size during the wet season. Board a boat and visit the Chong Kneah village to see the floating houses, farms and even a floating hospital. This afternoon, enjoy some free time to visit Siem Reap market. Transfer to the airport for your short flight to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam. Upon arrival, transfer to your hotel for check-in. Accommodations: New World Hotel. Breakfast provided.
Day 7: Ho Chi Minh City & Cu Chi Tunnels. After breakfast, drive to the Cu Chi Tunnels, begun by the Viet Minh in the 1940's. The incredible network of tunnels once stretched for 210 miles and contained extensive Viet Cong infrastructure including tactical quarters, storage rooms, kitchens, a school and even an underground hospital. Most entrances were so well disguised that only a small portion of the system was ever discovered during the war, despite the fact that some 125 miles ran under a U.S. military base.
This afternoon, explore dynamic Ho Chi Minh City (still called Saigon by many locals). Conquered by France in 1859, the city was influenced by the French during their colonial occupation of Vietnam. Many of the buildings reflect a classical western-style architecture including the former Presidential Palace, Notre Dame Cathedral, Old Saigon Post Office and Thien Hau Pagoda in the city's bustling Chinatown. The French culture influenced Saigon so much that it was referred to as the "Pearl of the Far East" and "Paris in the Orient." Join your fellow travelers tonight for dinner at a popular local restaurant. Breakfast & dinner provided.
Day 8: Mekong Delta. Depart this morning for Cai Be, deep in the heart of the Mekong Delta. En route, stop at Cao Dai Temple to witness firsthand a fascinating fusion of Buddhism, Confucianism, Taoism, native Vietnamese spiritualism, Christianity & Islam. Continue to Cai Be and embark on a private cruise to the colorful Cai Be floating market. Transfer to smaller boats for a ride through the beautiful canals of Tan Phong island, then enjoy lunch at Anh Kiet ancient house.Continue by boat to visit a handicraft village to observe locals making rice-net for spring-rolls, fish sauce, cooking salt, and more. Return to Ho Chi Minh City later today. Breakfast & lunch provided.
Day 9: Ho Chi Minh City, Da Nang & Hue. After breakfast, transfer to the airport for your flight to Da Nang on the coast of the South China Sea. Upon arrival, board your touring coach and drive to Hue, the former imperial capital of Vietnam and seat of the Nguyen Dynasty that ruled Vietnam between 1802 and 1945.
This afternoon, visit the walled Citadel containing the Imperial City, modeled on the Forbidden City of Beijing, and the Purple Forbidden City within, former home of the royal family. This great sprawling complex of temples, pavilions, moats, walls, gates, shops, museums and galleries is Hue's prime attraction.
End the day with a visit to the popular Dong Ba Market, one of the must-see sites in Hue, where fruit, vegetables, fish, rice and other staples of the traditional Vietnamese diet are sold along with foods made from these ingredients. Join your fellow tour members at Y Thao Restaurant for dinner this evening. Accommodations: Muong Thanh. Breakfast & dinner provided.
Day 10: Hue & Hoi An. This morning, a boat trip on the Perfume River takes you past Hue's best known religious site, the Thien Mu Pagoda where, according to legend, an old woman appeared on a hill where the pagoda now sits and predicted that a great leader would one day build a pagoda in that spot in order to bring peace to the country. Lord Nguyen Hoang visited the area in 1601 and upon hearing of the legend, he ordered the pagoda built, naming it Chua Thien Mu, the Heavenly Lady Pagoda.
After lunch, board your touring coach and drive through thr Hai Van Pass to the coastal city of Da Nang, one of Vietnam's most important ports. During the Vietnam War, Da Nang was home to a huge U.S. Air Force base. But it is best known for its impressive art and architecture from the Cham Dynasty, dating from the 4th to 14th centuries. Stop en route at the Cham Museum, home of the finest collection of Cham sculptures in the world.
Continue to Hoi An, on the banks of the Thu Bon River. The colorful market town of Hoi An is an exceptionally well-preserved example of a major Southeast Asian trading port from the 15th to the 19th centuries, with ships arriving from all over the world to obtain silk and other fabrics, sugar, tea and ceramics. Hoi An's traditional Vietnamese architecture has been preserved, and there are many historic temples and pagodas in the area.
This afternoon, enjoy a walking tour of Hoi An. Along the way, visit the Japanese Covered Bridge which features a Buddhist pagoda attached to one side and the town's most famous landmark, a beautiful Chinese Assembly Hall built in 1740 as a meeting place for all Chinese residents of the town. The hall is lavishly decorated with murals and a replica of a Chinese ship, and Phuoc Kien Pagoda, also called Kim Son Pagoda, built in 1697 by Chinese Phuoc Kien merchants at Hoi An.
Conclude your tour at the Central Market, where you will find everything from fruit and flowers to tailor-made clothes and silk lanterns, whose flexible bamboo frames are designed to collapse, so they're easily transported home as a souvenir. Spend the afternoon at leisure to explore further on your own. Accommodations: Sunrise Hoi An Resort. Breakfast and lunch provided.
Day 11: Hoi An. Enjoy today at leisure to explore on your own. You might want to take advantage of Hoi An's world-famous tailors during your stay here. Anything you might want to wear can be made for you in Hoi An, all at bargain prices and with expert workmanship. Breakfast provided.
Optional Excursion: Enjoy an optional half day trip to visit the capital and religious center of the former Champa Kingdom, My Son. Here, 40km southwest of Hoi An in a lush green valley, are dozens of red brick towers and sanctuaries dating from between the 7th and 13th centuries.On the way back to Hoi An stop to visit Tra Kieu, formerly known as Simhapura or the Lion Citadel, the capital of Champa between the 4th and 8th centuries. Some of the finest sculpture in Da Nang's Cham Museum originated from here. ($35 per person; requires a minimum of 3 passengers to operate.)
Day 12: Da Nang & Hanoi. Transfer to the airport in Da Nang this morning for the short flight to Hanoi. Transfer to your hotel for check in. Hanoi's rich history is closely tied to French colonialism as well as the Chinese era, both evident in the city's architecture, cuisine and culture. You will have lunch at KOTO (Know One Teach One) restaurant, a non-profit restaurant and vocational training program for young people in Vietnam. This afternoon, visit the Maison Centrale, Hoa Lo Prison, also known as the Hanoi Hilton during the Vietnam War. Accommodations: Melia Hanoi. Breakfast & lunch provided.
Day 13: Hanoi, Halong Bay & Emeraude Cruise. After breakfast, drive from Hanoi to Halong. This amazing bay, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is dotted with thousands of limestone karsts and isles.
Local legend has it that long ago, when the Vietnamese were fighting Chinese invaders, the gods sent dragons to help defend the land. The dragons spit out jewels and jade, which turned into the islands and islets of Halong, forming a great wall against the invaders.
Here you'll board the deluxe Emeraude, a wonderful replica of one of the classic steamships of the colonial era of French Indochina. With 36 luxurious air-conditioned cabins, a restaurant, two bars and a sun deck, this is the ultimate Halong Bay experience. Lunch is served on board at 1:00 PM. While cruising on the emerald green waters of the bay, try a traditional Vietnamese massage (optional extra, prices vary). Then, join your fellow shipmates for a beautiful sunset on the sun deck followed by a delicious Vietnamese buffet dinner. Accommodations: Emeraude. Breakfast, lunch & dinner provided.
Day 14: Emeraude Cruise & Hanoi. Wake up to fresh coffee and a wholesome breakfast before cruising back to Tuan Chau quay. After disembarking from the Emeraude, board your touring coach and drive back to Hanoi. Stop en route at Hong Ngoc handicraft village (www.chantienmy.com.vn). After lunch at a local restaurant, the afternoon is at leisure to shop, stroll and enjoy the city on your own. Accommodations: Melia Hanoi. Breakfast & lunch provided.
Day 15: Hanoi. On this morning's sightseeing tour, you'll explore the highlights of Hanoi. Stop first for a visit to the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum and his "house on stilts" where he resided during the later years of his life, one of the most important and visited sites in Vietnam. Continue to the One Pillar Pagoda, built on stilts over a lake in 1049 by King Ly Thai Thong. A prayer here is said to bring fertility and good health.
Continue to the Temple of Literature, Vietnam's first university constructed in 1070 by King Ly Thanh Tong to pay tribute to education and to those of high academic achievement. Today, art students sit on the grass and try to reproduce the traditional Vietnamese architecture on paper while enjoying the beautiful and well-preserved gardens of this quiet retreat into Vietnamese educational history.
The rest of the day is at leisure to shop for last-minute souvenirs or to simply enjoy a last stroll through Hanoi's fascinating streets. Tonight, join your fellow travelers for a farewell dinner at Au Lac Restaurant.
If your schedule permits, join us on a fabulous 3-night optional extension to Sapa, center of the Hmong and other Hill Tribe people. Departing by train this evening, this extension is a cultural experience not to be missed. Breakfast & dinner provided.
Day 16: Hanoi/USA. Enjoy a leisurely breakfast. Later today, transfer to the airport to check in for your return flight to the USA. Breakfast provided.
Why not take advantage of your already-included international airfare and visit picturesque Sapa? Tucked away in the mountains near the Chinese and Laotian borders in northwest Vietnam, Sapa, a former French resort town, is a wonderful place to mix with some of the indigenous people. While some tours to Vietnam offer "Hill Tribe" options, they typically visit communities near Hanoi that were once considered hill tribe areas, but no longer are. On Friendly Planet's extension, you'll visit numerous different tribes in mountainous Sapa that preserve their traditional culture. On weekends, the tribes go into Sapa town for the market. Discover this exotic and gorgeous part of Vietnam on our very special extension. You'll return to the U.S. 2 days after the return dates shown above.
Day 15: Hanoi & Overnight Train. After dinner at the Au Lac Restaurant, transfer to the train station to board your first class sleeper to Sapa in the "Tonkinese Alps". The train features private sleeping compartments and all the amenities you'll need to travel in comfort. Accommodations: Fanxipan Train.
Day 16: Lao Cai, Hilltribe Villages & Sapa. Arrive early this morning at Lao Cai. Disembark from the train and enjoy breakfast at a local restaurant. Set out through beautiful gardens and a lush pine forest before arriving at the Black Hmong village of Matra. The Hmong group is believed to have migrated from southern China into Vietnam only over the last 300 years and today they live extensively throughout the north of the country. You can distinguish the various subgroups of Hmong by the colors of their clothing—for instance, the Black Hmong typically wear black clothing.
Return to Sapa for lunch at a Steak House restaurant. After lunch, begin the half-day trek to Giang Ta Chai, a Red Dao hill tribe village. The Dao (pronounced Zao) are the 9th largest ethnic group in Vietnam with a population of just under 500,000, and are believed to have started migrating from China in the 13th century. The women wear some of the most colourful and diverse costumes of all ethnic groups, and are known for their embroidery skills. Most Dao women shave off their eyebrows, traditionally regarded as a sign of beauty. After a refreshing rest nearby a waterfall, return to Sapa. Accommodations: Victoria Sapa Hotel. Breakfast, lunch & dinner provided.
Day 17: Sapa & Overnight Train. Drive on to Can Cau Saturday market, located in the mountainous area, where you'll enjoy exploring the fascinating and treasure-laden market and the chance to shop for wonderful (and inexpensive) souvenirs. The textiles, embroidery and other needlecrafts on sale are superb.
Following the market, visit nearby Flower Hmong and Phu La hill tribe villages. Here you'll have the opportunity to visit some local homes to understand more about the daily life, culture and traditions of these tribes. Return to Lao Cai where you will have a chance to refresh before dinner at the Thien Hai hotel. Board the overnight train for your return trip to Hanoi. Breakfast, lunch & dinner provided.
Day 18: Hanoi/USA. Arrive in Hanoi this morning and transfer to your hotel. Your rooms will be ready for you to freshen up, rest a little, and prepare for your return flight to the USA. After breakfast, transfer to the airport to board your return flight, arriving later today. Breakfast provided.
In Cambodia, we've seen this first-hand. We were amazed to discover that it takes as little as $200 to dig a well and install a pump that provides clean water to several dozen families. Friendly Planet has been funding the construction of wells in villages for the past three years. Several of our passengers have volunteered to fund wells themselves. Together, we've built over 200!
You can too! Learn more and donate towards a well yourself. $200 buys a complete well and pump, which will bear your name!
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