From the temples of Angkor Wat, through the picturesque Mekong Delta, with its vibrant markets, to the stunning beaches of Phu Quoc. Embark on 13 days of southern Indochinese highlights, finishing in buzzing Ho Chi Minh City.
Route: Siem Riep – Angkor Temples – Tonlé Sap – Kampong Phluk – Phnom Penh – Tuol Sleng & Cheung Ek – Mekong Delta Cruise – Vietnam: Chau Doc – Mekong Delta – Can Tho – Cai Rang – Mekong Delta – Phu Quoc Island – Ho Chi Minh City – Cu Chi Tunnels.
Day 1: Arrival – Siem Reap
Day 2: Siem Reap – Angkor Temples
Day 3: Siem Reap – Tonlé Sap – Kampong Phluk ‘flooded forest’ – ‘floating village’
Day 4: Siem Reap – Angkor Temples
Day 5: Siem Reap – Phnom Penh – City Tour
Day 6: Phnom Penh – Tuol Sleng & Cheung Ek Tour
Day 7: Phnom Penh – Mekong Delta Cruise – Vietnam: Chau Doc
Day 8: Chau Doc – Mekong Delta – Can Tho – Sunset Sampan Cruise
Day 9: Can Tho – Cai Rang – Mekong Delta – Phu Quoc Island
Day 10: Phu Quoc Beach Island
Day 11: Phu Quoc Beach Island
Day 12: Phu Quoc Beach Island
Day 13: Phu Quoc – Ho Chi Minh City – Cu Chi Tunnels – City Tour
Day 14: Ho Chi Minh City – Departure
Upon arrival in Siem Reap you will be met by your guide who will transfer you to your hotel. Siem Reap is the base for exploring the fabled temples of Angkor, the ancient capital of the Khmer empire. Over 100 temples are spread over a vast area and the site easily lives up to its status as one of the seven wonders of the forgotten world.
The remainder of your day is at leisure. Overnight in Siem Reap.
During any visit to the Angkor temples, we ensure your day(s) remain both flexible and personal. Having met with your guide, you will be able to discuss in detail what you are looking to achieve from your time at the temples. Whilst some wish to explore as many temples as they can during their stay, others like to travel at a slower, more relaxed pace. Maximum experience, minimum crowds
Whether it’s sunrise at Angkor Wat or sunset at Pre Rup, climbing through the snake like roots that engulf Ta Prohm or swimming in the quiet waters of the West Baray Reservoir (or a combination of these), you can be sure that your visit to one of the seven wonders will not be easily forgotten. Unlike some archaeological tours, the Angkor temples never seem to lose that initial ‘wow factor’. Every site is as outstanding as the last, and it will be with a mixture of regret and excitement that you’ll get back into your air-conditioned transport to visit the next site. We do still appreciate that some visitors are wary of becoming ‘templed-out’ and to combat this we can create more varied days with visits to other sites such as floating villages and flooded forests on the Tonlé Sap Lake, museums and exhibitions, cooking schools or simply time at leisure to explore Siem Reap or laze by the pool.
Your guide: All our guides are highly experienced Angkor specialists, fully trained and licensed to work at the temples. Along with their exceptional knowledge of each temple and the civilisations that built them, Selective Asia’s guides know how best to avoid the bus-loads that descend on any given temple at certain times of the day, and know every trick in the book when it comes to getting the best photos and the most tranquil moments. If you have any specific requirements or special interests, be sure to let us know and we will arrange the guide with the most suitable expertise.
You may also wish to consider visiting some of the further lying such as Beng Melea & Koh Ker, Sambor Prei Kuk or Preah Vihear. Excursions to these less-visited temples always enhance your experience however they do change things logistically and therefore visits must be arranged well in advance of your arrival. Overnight in Siem Reap.
After breakfast depart Siem Reap for the Tonlé Sap, driving down the eastern side of the lake. Arrive at Kampong Klaing, a remarkable village built entirely on stilts, where there is time to explore the various houses, school and shops before boarding your private boat. Cruise along a short tributary, passing fishermen and children playing in the shallow waters before arriving at a typical floating village where you may either disembark or cruise amongst the waterways.
At the head of the tributary you will continue out on to the ‘Great Lake’ and continue travelling north to Kampong Phluk; a ‘flooded forest’. Accessible only during high water, you’ll pass through the tree tops whilst seated in your boat. Nearby is a fishing village where you will can also learn more about the traditional methods used for generations. Returning to the mainland, meet your driver and return to Siem Reap. Arriving mid-afternoon, the remainder of your day at leisure. If time permits you may wish to continue your tour of the Angkor Temples. Overnight in Siem Reap.
Continue your tour of the Angkor Temples….
Siem Reap has expanded at a phenomenal rate in recent years, with another hotel seemingly opening every other month. However, the old town retains much of its original charm and there are a number of sites of interest such as museums, galleries and the local market. The town also has a wide choice of restaurants and bars, with something to suit every taste. Overnight in Siem Reap.
Morning departure for Phnom Penh by car (driver only). Taking just five hours, you’ll pass through provincial towns, villages and roadside hamlets giving you the opportunity to observe life away from Siem Reap and Phnom Penh.
Upon arrival in Phnom Penh transfer directly to your hotel. The city was once considered one of the most beautiful cities in the Orient and despite its recent turbulent history it still retains much Colonial charm. Today the city buzzes with energy and an air of opportunity as Cambodia advances into the 21st century.
After lunch visit the Royal Palace, situated on the site of the former citadel and built by King Norodom in 1966, the Palace still serves as the King and Queen’s residential quarters. Also within the walls of the Palace is the Silver Pagoda, so called because of five thousand silver tiles that line its exquisite floor. If time permits there is also the option of visiting the National Museum, which houses the worlds leading collection of Khmer art and sculpture, and Wat Phnom the founding site of the city. All are within easy walking distance of each other and are a great introduction to this laid-back city. Overnight in Phnom Penh.
In 1975, after years of guerrilla warfare, the radical Communist Khmer Rouge party, under its leader Pol Pot, seized power of Cambodia and declared ‘year zero’. They immediately abolished money and private property, and ordered the entire population of Phnom Penh from their homes and into the countryside to cultivate the fields. Over the next three years an estimated 2 million Cambodians died, many from starvation and exhaustion. Many others were tortured and executed for being supposed ‘enemies of the state’.
The morning is spent learning more about these terrible years, through visits to the infamous Tuol Sleng Museum of Genocidal Crimes and Cheung Ek, better known as the ‘Killing Fields’. It is an incredibly moving experience, but these are two visits you will be glad to have made. During your visit to Cambodia, you will barely meet a single person who didn’t lose a member of their family during these years, yet they are all willing to talk openly about it with you. They wish you to hear about it and see these places, to ensure that it never happens again. Alternative option (no additional cost)
As an alternative to the Genocide Museum and Killing fields you may prefer to visit Phnom Oudong, the ancient Cambodian capital during the latter stages of the Khmer Empire and crowning site of the Kings. Consisting of a series of stupas atop a large hill, there are outstanding views across the surrounding plains. Phnom Oudong was bombed and desecrated by the Americans and then the Khmer Rouge, but still possesses a beauty that no war has been able to steal from it. Lunch is at Friends the Restaurant a ‘kindness restaurant’ where ex-street children are trained in hospitality and restaurant skills, helping them to break away from life on the streets. Your afternoon and evening are at leisure to explore more of the city. A great place to find yourself at sunset is on the banks of the Mekong River with a cold drink, watching the city slow down. Overnight in Phnom Penh.
Additional ideas in Phnom Penh
Your day is at leisure until your early afternoon transfer to the Mekong River banks to board your boat for the four hour journey to Chau Doc in Vietnam.
Weave your way through some stunning delta scenery before arriving at the Vietnamese border and continuing on to Chau Doc. Upon arrival in Chau Doc transfer directly to your hotel where there is time to relax and watch river life on the Mekong River. Chau Doc is laid back place and the beautiful Victoria Hotel, on the river bank, is the ideal location to soak up the lazy delta atmosphere. The remainder of your day is at leisure. Overnight in Chau Doc.
Crossing into Vietnam at Kaam Samnor (Cambodia)/ Vinh Xuong (Vietnam).
Morning journey along the Bassac River to a Muslim Cham village on a nearby island. You will also pass through the many floating villages in the area before returning to Chau Doc to visit some local temples.
In the late morning continue by car through the delta to Can Tho where the remainder of your day is at leisure. The city is the economic and cultural capital of the entire delta region and an afternoon is easily spent taking in key sites and enjoying some local delicacies. Your afternoon is at leisure until a mid-afternoon sampan cruise through the tributaries and canals to witness more Delta life. Make use of the fading light for a wonderful photographic opportunity, before returning to your hotel after sunset. Overnight in Can Tho.
Rise early for a boat trip to the Cai Rang floating market where you will have a chance to practice your bartering skills! The market is filled with small boats darting through the water as vendors sell their wares. In the late morning transfer to Can Tho Airport for your flight to Phu Quoc Island.
Upon arrival, transfer to your hotel where the remainder of your day is at leisure.
The island lies in the Gulf of Thailand, 45km west of Ha Tien and 15km south coast of Cambodia (it used to be Cambodian). During the late 17th-century the island was used as an important strategic stronghold for the Vietnams Emperor’s fighting bordering forces. In later years the French took advantage of the ample rubber and coconut plantations and in more recent times it was home to a POW detention centre during the American War.
The island, famous for its production of fish sauce, now provides visitors with long stretches of deserted white sand, low tourist numbers and a laid-back atmosphere – welcome to the Vietnam of old! Enjoy the wildlife, famous local delicacies, quaint fishing ports and superb beaches! Overnight on Phu Quoc.
Your day is at leisure. Overnight on Phu Quoc.
Morning transfer to Phu Quoc Airport for the short flight to Ho Chi Minh City. On arrival you will be met by your guide for a visit to the famous Cu Chi tunnels – an incredible underground tunnel network constructed by Vietnamese resistance fighters during the long struggle for independence. The tunnels, over 250km in length and up to three levels deep in places, played a huge part in the Viet Cong’s victory over the Americans, allowing them to control a large rural area surrounding Ho Chi Minh City.Today, some of the remaining tunnels have been opened to tourists, offering a unique insight into what underground life must have been like during the ‘American’ war.
Upon return to Ho Chi Minh take a tour of the city centre. Your guide will be happy to personalise your programme, however we would recommend sites such as the Reunification Palace where the South finally fell to North Vietnamese troops in 1975; Notre Dame Cathedral; the Old Saigon Post Office; Thien Hau Pagoda in the city’s bustling Chinatown and the War Crimes Museum, highlighting the suffering of the Vietnamese people during recent conflicts – you won’t be too surprised to discover it’s not exactly a politically balanced exhibition. Overnight in Ho Chi Minh City.
Additional tour ideas for Ho Chi Minh City
Your day is at leisure until your transfer to Ho Chi Minh City Airport for your onward flight.