Vietnam & Cambodia
Visit the major sights of Vietnam and Cambodia, the very essence of Indochina, experiencing their captivating blend of French colonial history, unique local culture and beautiful rural scenery. Overwhelming image retained by visitors to Vietnam is that of a country blessed with an extraordinary beauty. It’s a mosaic of mist-shrouded mountains, vibrant green forests, a patch-work of rice paddies and pristine white beaches, whilst its villages and cities are custodians of the culture and monuments of a unique 2,000 year old civilisation.
A journey through some of the delightful countryside is like stepping back in time: farmers bent double underneath their traditional conical hats work in fields stretching into the distance, whilst docile water buffalo methodically plough the rice paddies. On the roads there are bicycles being ridden to market, over-loaded with everything from huge sacks of rice to an imponderable number of ducks! Lining the riverbanks are wooden houses, balancing precariously on stilts and thatched with palm leaves.
Vietnam has a long and chequered past: for 2,000 years it was ruled by the Chinese, the Khmers, Mongols, Portuguese and the Japanese. They all left their legacies in the temples and Pagodas, together with palaces, fortresses and innumerable other buildings in every style imaginable. It was then colonised by the French, whose contribution was cathedrals, fine mansions, neo-classical public buildings, not forgetting excellent baguettes and pastries – an eclectic mix! Many visitors also inevitably recall the US-Vietnam war – who could forget those dramatic images of the frantic helicopter flights from the roof of the US embassy?
In the past few years Vietnam has opened its doors to the world and much has changed. Today, in one of the world’s last communist countries, the motorcycles and western dress of the industrious youth happily co-exist with orange-clad Buddhist monks and political posters from a different era. Visitors are invariably impressed by the development of excellent hotels and services in all the major centres and the much-improved road network. Hanoi and Saigon still retain a French flavour in their pavement cafés, architecture and wide tree-lined boulevards. In Hue, the former imperial capital, we see the amazing Citadel and its imperial Forbidden City, modelled on Beijing. Contorted by years of erosion, we’ll also explore the staggeringly beautiful rock formations of Halong Bay, a UNESCO World Heritage site.
But Vietnam is more than just history and scenery. It also boasts a world-class gastronomic heritage: a delicious fusion of Malay, Chinese and Thai cuisines. With plenty of French-run restaurants thrown in for good measure, all at excellent prices, you really are in for a treat! The Vietnamese themselves are a wonderfully friendly people, always smiling, courteous and proud to show off their beautiful country to all.
Our tour in Cambodia includes a stay in the capital, Phnom Penh. Beautifully located at the confluence of the Mekong and Tonle Sap rivers, Phnom Penh, with its vibrant riverside ambience, is one of the ‘hidden gems’ of Asian cities. After being virtually completely depopulated during Pol Pot’s regime, the city is now full of life and thriving once more. A short flight away is the town of Siem Reap, the gateway to the incredible complex of temples within the ancient city of Angkor. At its height in the thirteenth century, Angkor had a staggering one million inhabitants, larger in area than Manhattan. It was the capital of the fabulously wealthy Khmer Empire that stretched from Thailand, through Laos and Cambodia to southern Vietnam. The incredible state of preservation, the beauty of its design and artistry of its sculptures have, for many, made Angkor one of the great wonders of the world.
Vietnam and Cambodia are countries in flux, but bicycles and mopeds still outnumber cars by 100 to 1, so now is the time to visit these most fascinating and colourful destinations, whilst so much of their unique character and traditions are still in evidence!
- Stay in Hanoi, Vietnam's beautiful capital and enjoy a tour by cycle rickshaw, seeing the Temple of Literature, colonial belle-époque villas and Ho Chi Minh's thought-provoking mausoleum
- Take a leisurely cruise in UNESCO-listed Halong Bay aboard a converted Chinese junk
- Be inspired by the hauntingly beautiful and inspirational countryside with shimmering rice fields
- Stay in Hue, Vietnam's last royal capital, and visit its awe-inspiring Citadel and Forbidden City
- Stay in the heart of exciting Saigon, visiting the fascinating Cu Chi tunnels, the former Vietcong underground stronghold and a poignant reminder of the US-Vietnam conflict
- Enjoy a full-day trip on the mighty Mekong delta, the world's 10th-largest river system
- Stay and tour in Phnom Penh, Pearl of Asia, considered the most beautiful of Indochina's French colonial cities
- Stay in Siem Reap, the gateway to the Angkor city ruins
- Visit the Angkor ruins, a UNESCO-listed temple complex and one of the world’s greatest ancient sites
- Return direct scheduled flights with premium economy upgrades at a supplement
- Stay in hand-picked five-star and four-star accommodation, including all local taxes, with daily breakfast and five meals
- The services of our experienced tour manager
- Departures up to November 2019 & January to April 2019
- The price of this holiday is per person, based on two people sharing a twin room with single rooms available at the relevant supplement. Price includes thirteen nights’ accommodation on a bed and breakfast basis, in four and five-star hotels, five lunches; all flights as mentioned all touring as mentioned, all transfers, all local accommodation taxes and airport/flight taxes, hotel porterage of one item of luggage per person and the services of a Riviera Travel tour manager.
- Included excursions: Halong Bay cruise, guided tours of Hanoi, Hue, Saigon, Cu Chi tunnels, Mekong Delta and Phnom Penh, plus one-day entrance and guided tour of Angkor;
- Not included: Vietnamese and Cambodian visas. See ‘Visa and Health Information’ section for details.
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