Southeast Asia has long been a draw for travellers searching for that certain something, far removed from daily life back home. Spirituality, relaxation and adventure – there are infinite reasons why heading east has become an experience not to be missed. Delve deeper into our discovery tour from Angkor Temples in Cambodia to Hanoi, Hoi An & Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam, and explore these two truly amazing countries with your fellow solo travellers.
Depart the UK for your overnight flight to Siem Reap, Cambodia
Welcome to incredible Cambodia! Upon arrival at Siem Reap International Airport, we’ll proceed through immigration, collect our luggage and transfer to our hotel in Siem Reap. After check-in, we will have some free time to rest after our flight.
Today evening we will enjoy a welcome drink and dinner while watching an Apsara Dance show embodying Cambodia’s rich cultural heritage through traditional performing arts. Dancers, singers and musicians will perform classical and village dances to the music of the traditional orchestra.
Overnight stay in Siem Reap.
Today we visit Angkor Thom, the last and most enduring capital city of the Khmer empire. At the heart of Angkor Thom is the 12th Century Bayon – the mesmerising, if slightly mind-bending, state temple of King Jayavarman VII. This masterpiece temple of grandeur is well known for its 54 towers of enigmatic faces, representing the 54 provinces of the Great Khmer Empire.
Our next stop is the Terrace of Elephants which was used by Angkor’s King Jayavarman VII as a platform from which to view his victorious returning army. We will also see Terrace of the Leper King, the statue that depicts the Hindu god Yama, the god of death.
After breakfast at our hotel, we’ll drive to the North of the Angkor area and visit the temple of Banteay Srei, carved in beautiful pink sandstone. It is also called The Citadel of Women and is one of the best-preserved temples in Cambodia.
In the afternoon we will visit the Ta Phrom Temple, the most atmospheric ruins at Angkor. Swallowed by the jungle, the ruins resemble the monuments of Angkor that appeared when European explorers first stumbled upon them.
We depart to Tonle Sap Lake and board a Sampan (flat-bottomed wooden boat) and head down the Roulos river to Kompong Phluk, a floating village on Tonle Sap Lake. We will see the village houses on stilts, flooded forests and learn about the daily life of the local community.
Following our tour, we enjoy lunch at a local restaurant before transferring to the airport for our flight to Hanoi.
After arriving in Hanoi, we transfer to our hotel in Hanoi.
Today we tour incredible Hanoi! We begin with a visit to the Temple of Literature, the first University for the sons of mandarins. Then it’s onto a visit of the Museum of History. We also walk through Dong Xuan Market – the Old Quarter’s largest wholesale market, where you can find exotic plants, fresh fruits, vegetables and sweetly fragrant flowers. We visit a local house and take our time talking with the hosts and learn about their family’s life and history.
Afterwards we will have lunch at local restaurant.
In the afternoon, we visit Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum (outside visit) and his personal residence, the One Pillar Pagoda and the Tran Quoc Pagoda.
After breakfast at our hotel, we leave Hanoi for a 2-hour drive to Ninh Binh, the ancient royal capital of Vietnam. We visit temples dedicated to the Dinh and Le dynasty kings, before continuing our trip to Tam Coc and take a bicycle ride along picturesque roads amidst beautiful green paddy fields till reach a local restaurant for lunch.
In the afternoon, we board a small sampan for a 2-hour spectacular trip through caves, waterways and the beautiful rural landscape consisting of limestone cliffs and rice paddies.
We return to Hanoi in the late afternoon.
This morning, we depart for the stunning Halong Bay (3 ½ hour drive), located in the Gulf of Tonkin. Undoubtedly one of Vietnam’s most popular tourist destinations, with over 1600 islands and islets, most of which are uninhabited.
Soon after arriving in Halong City, we check-in and board a traditional junk boat, with lunch served on board as we cruise towards the bay.
During the course of the afternoon, we can enjoy some visits and activities, or simply relax on board (possibility to swim in the bay if weather permits). Dinner is served on the boat.
We begin our day with a relaxing morning Tai Chi Class instructed by a specialist on the deck.
After breakfast, we transfer to a day boat to visit a village nearby and enjoy our time there.
We return to the boat in the afternoon to enjoy some free time on board to relax and indulge in delicious cuisine.
After enjoying breakfast on board, we can enjoy the fresh morning air in the bay. The cruise continues navigating past limestone karsts, many of which form highly photogenic shapes, before disembarking by noon.
Transfer back to Hanoi for a flight to Danang.
(Please note: Internal flight baggage allowance is 20 kg)
Upon arrival at Danang airport, we will transfer to our hotel in Hoi An. (approximately 45 min drive)
Today we explore the charming ancient town of Hoi An, an exceptionally well-preserved example of a Southeast Asian trading port during the 15th to 19th Centuries. Many of the buildings in the town reflect historical architectural styles and the whole town is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. The old houses and buildings are simply charming and very photogenic, painted in a yellow-hue with wooden shutters and adorned with beautiful, colourful lanterns. We enjoy a walking tour in the Old Town, and visit Phuc Kien Assembly Hall, the Japanese wooden bridge and visit ancient houses. We conclude with a visit to a lantern making cottage and learn how to make this handicraft.
Lunch is served at a local restaurant.
After your packed day of walking around Hoi An’s ancient town, we head out for dinner and enjoy a stroll along the riverside, which comes alive at night!
Today can be spent however we wish! We can kick back and relax at the hotel, making use of its facilities, such as its pools, bars or even the wellness and spa area.
A personal recommendation would be to hire a bicycle from the hotel and pedal your way through the countryside, surrounded by rice fields being ploughed by water buffalo, all with a goal to get to the beach. Then you can spend the day relaxing on the sandy shores of An Bang Beach.
The more adventurous can take a trip on Hoi An’s famous Basket Boat, where you can meander through a lush greenery of seven-hectare forest filled with water and coconut trees while on board a bamboo basket boat.
After breakfast at the hotel, we take a half day trip to visit the capital and religious centre of the former Champa Kingdom, ‘My Son’ (1 hour drive) located to the southwest of Hoi An. In a lush green valley stand dozens of red brick towers and sanctuaries dating from between the 7th and 13th Centuries. We stroll around the temple complex, rediscovered in the late 19th Century, to learn about the fascinating Cham culture, architecture and civilization. We can notice the strong ties to Hindu divinities, namely Shiva, regarded as the founder and protector of Champa’s dynasties, before returning to Hoi An.
Lunch is served at a local restaurant.
Today we enjoy a full day exploring the city. We visit the former Presidential Palace, or as it is known today – the Reunification Palace. Then we will head to the historical heart of the city and visit the Notre Dame Cathedral (outside visit only due to its renovation). The red bricks of the cathedral walls were originally from Paris. From there, we take a short walk to the old Central Post Office. After that, we will visit the best-preserved buildings from the colonial era, the Opera House and the Hotel de Ville now home to Saigon’s municipal authorities. Later, we will continue to the Catinat building. Built in 1927, in an art deco style, it has once again become a hub for fashion conscious Saigonese and contains many designer boutiques, galleries, restaurants and cafés.
Lunch is served at local restaurant.
After breakfast, we can spend the day exploring the city and shopping for souvenirs, thanks to a late 6pm check-out. We’ll then transfer to Ho Chi Minh City Airport for our flight home.
We stay in comfortable hotels throughout as detailed below (or similar);
From 15 March 2022 Vietnam has reintroduced visa waivers for the nationals of 13 countries including the UK. Visa waivers allow for visits to Vietnam for up to 15 days without needing to apply for a visa.
Your passport should be valid for a minimum of 6 months on the date you enter Vietnam.
A number of British nationals have been refused entry and exit due to their passport being damaged. Make sure your passport is in good condition before arriving in Vietnam. Being refused entry can result in significant cost and a long stay at the airport.
Tourist visas are available on arrival at Phnom Penh or Siem Reap international airports. If you wish to get a visa on arrival you must arrive with a passport photograph. You can also get an eVisa online before you travel.
Visa fees, conditions and photograph requirements are subject to change. Check the Royal Cambodian Embassy, or the Ministry of Foreign Affairs & International Co-operation website for the latest information on fees, conditions and photograph requirements and on how to apply for an e-visa. Currently an e-visa costs 30 USD + 6 USD processing fee).
Your passport should be valid for a minimum period of 6 months from the date of entry into Cambodia. Entry is normally refused if you have a damaged passport or pages missing.
Your passport should also be valid for a minimum period of 6 months for any subsequent renewal or extension of your visa that you apply for from within Cambodia.
When checking into a hotel, you’ll have to hand over your passport so that the hotel can register your presence with the local police. Make sure your passport is returned and keep it in a safe place.
The transfer time from Siem Reap International Airport to your hotel in Siem Reap is approximately 30 minutes, depending on the traffic. The transfer time from your hotel in Ho Chi Minh city to Ho Chi Minh International Airport is approximately 40 minutes, depending on the traffic.
Cambodian Riel –
US Dollar is widely accepted in Cambodia (only new, small denomination notes up to $20)
The emphasis is on casual clothing throughout. Go for light, loose cotton clothing and comfortable shoes or walking boots. Conservative dress is preferred for both men and women. No shorts or vest tops in restaurants. When visiting temples and certain museums dress politely; shorts, singlets, spaghetti straps, skirts, tank-tops and open backed sandals are not acceptable. The dress code would be same for men and women, that is shoulders and legs covered, no hats, and shoes to be taken off.
We suggest a Group Collection to cover guides, transfer drivers, and hotel staff of equivalent of £70.00 per person. Your Tour Leader will collect this on your behalf and distribute it accordingly, thus relieving you of the burden of who, when and how much to tip. The tipping of housekeeping will be left to your individual discretion (a small amount left in your room on departure should cover this and would be much appreciated). As is customary, ‘the hat’ will be passed around for the driver and guide on all optional excursions. For any meals that are not included in your itinerary, or taxi fares, your Tour Leader can advise of an appropriate % to add on.
A reasonable level of fitness/mobility is required as we include plenty of sightseeing/travelling, some with early starts.
The order of the itinerary and events may be subject to change
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