Combine the best of these two fascinating countries in one holiday, a great way to get a feel for Indochina that will leave you wanting to return for more. Begin with the wonders of Angkor Wat, the renowned temple complex close to the bustling market town of Siem Reap. From here fly directly to Hanoi to experience the charm of the Old Quarter and many street markets and food stalls. Make some time for a day trip and cruise around the thousands of limestone islands of Halong Bay before flying to the centre of the country to visit the old imperial city of Hue and the lively coastal town of Hoi An, known for its beaches, markets and silk making. Finally, spend a couple of nights in Saigon where you could choose to learn more about Vietnam’s war-torn past or cruise the Mekong Delta’s waterways.
Overnight flight to Siem Reap via Saigon
Arrive Siem Reap and transfer to your chosen hotel. Enjoy some time at leisure to recover from the flight then, in the evening begin your guided exploration of Angkor Wat.
Over these two days visit the many and varied temples in the Angkor Wat complex. We will arrange all your transfers and guiding for you, leaving you to make the most of your time here. It is worth rising early to avoid the crowds and also to witness at least one sunrise. Each of the temples has its own wonders and character, from the giant tree roots of Ta Prom (made famous by Tomb Raider) to the intricately-carved Terrace of Elephants at Angkor Thom or the vertiginous climb up the steep (70% inclined) steps to the top of Angkor Wat itself.
The town of Siem Reap is also worth exploring. Having grown over the years as Angkor Wat welcomes more and more visitors, it still retains the charm of a small market town and is a lovely place to wander in the evening before dinner at one of the many restaurants or back at your hotel.
Fly to Hanoi, where you will be met and transferred to your hotel.
Experience the charm of old Vietnam in the atmospheric Old Quarter with its crumbling colonial mansions, colourful street markets and multiple, fragrant eateries. You either choose to explore on your own on foot or alternatively we can arrange a guide and maybe even a cyclo tour, a really fun way to see the city.
This morning you will be collected from your hotel at 8am and transferred by car to Halong Bay (approximately four hours) where you will board a traditional junk. Cruise the emerald-green waters of Halong Bay, through the thousands of sheer-sided limestone islands. Enjoy a seafood lunch on board and, in the late afternoon, cruise back to Halong City for the drive back to Hanoi, where you will arrive in the early evening.
Today you fly to the former royal capital city of Hue. Spend the afternoon relaxing by your hotel pool or take a refreshing stroll along the wide boulevards flanking the meandering Perfume River.
Meet your guide after breakfast at your hotel for a morning’s sightseeing in the old imperial ruins. The ancient citadel was badly damaged during the latter stages of the Vietnam War yet retains the sense of majesty and grace of a bygone era. The lavish pomp and ceremony of the dynastic rulers are still reflected in the remaining palaces and pagodas as are the scars of civil and military turmoil, both ancient and modern.
The food in Hue is considered to be some of the best in Vietnam so for lunch you may like to try a fragrant bowl of Bun Bo Hue (a flavoursome broth with noodles and pork balls) or a plate of delicious Nem Lui – a sort of do-it-yourself Vietnamese pancake roll containing everything and anything.
In the afternoon, visit the tomb of the former emperor Minh Mang, located amidst tranquil gardens and ponds. Then journey onward to the tomb of, Khai Dinh, uniquely designed in traditional Vietnamese style with a European touch unusual in Hue.
Another must-see sight in Hue is the Dong Ba Market so take time for a walk through the bustling stalls on your way back to your hotel. The market teems with colour and is a great place to see every day Vietnamese life.
Today you will be driven to Hoi An, formerly a major Asian trading port in the 17th and 18th centuries. This scenic drive takes approximately three hours and passes through the picturesque fishing village of Lang Co before climbing steeply over the Pass of Ocean Clouds. Make a stop in Danang to visit the Cham Museum, home to the finest collection of Cham sculptures in the world.
On arrival in Hoi An you will be driven straight to your hotel, either in Hoi An itself or just outside the town at a beautiful resort on the beach.
This morning make a half day trip to the former capital and religious centre of the Champa Kingdom, My Son, 40 kms from Hoi An. Here in a lush, green valley you’ll find dozens of red-brick towers and sanctuaries dating from the 7th to 13th centuries. On the way back, stop at the Lion Citadel (Tra Kieu or Simhapura), capital of the Cham Kingdom in the 4th to 7th centuries.
Enjoy lunch and your afternoon at leisure.
This morning you re-unite with your guide for a tour of the town including the 400-year old Japanese Bridge, former merchants’ homes and the colourful local market. Despite the passing of a couple of centuries and the encroachments of the modern world, Hoi An’s centre remains very much as it did in its heyday and a charming place to visit. Afternoon at leisure.
This morning you fly to Saigon, where you will spend the afternoon at leisure or exploring the city with a guide. Highlights include the mausoleum of Ho Chi Minh and the Tao Dan Park, where locals practise their early-morning exercises.
Spend the whole of today exploring the wondrous Mekong Delta with your guide by boat. Visit floating markets and soak up the sights and sounds of local life on the water.
This morning, depart very early for an almost full day trip to the Cao Dai Temple and the Cu Chi Tunnels. Having driven out of the city and past rural rice paddies your first stop will be at Tay Ninh, where the Disneyesque Cao Dai Temple holds centre stage. This temple of all faiths is a riot of pastel colour and contains the likenesses of deities and gods from Jesus to Buddha via Vishnu and Mohammed. Journey onward from here to the Cu Chi Tunnels, an incredible subterranean labyrinth constructed by Viet Cong (Vietnamese resistance fighters) during both the French and American wars. Climb inside the tunnels for a taste of what it might have been like for a guerrilla – not for the claustrophobic.
You will then be driven straight to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) Airport for your return flight home.