Angkor To The Bay
16 Nights / 17 Days
CLASSIC TOUR ¦17 Days¦PHYSICAL LEVEL 1 SIEM REAP–PHNOM PENH –SAIGON–HOI AN– HUE – HALONG BAY – HANOI
Embark on a journey of discovery through Cambodia and Vietnam, travelling from majestic Angkor to the natural grandeur of Halong Bay. En route, experience all manner of delights, from vibrant Saigon to imperial Hue and charming Hoi An.
● Be inspired by the spectacular Angkor temples
● Experience local life on Tonle Sap
● Explore the fascinating Cu Chi Tunnels
● Visit captivating Phnom Penh
● Try traditional farming techniques in Hoi An
● Marvel at Hue's Imperial Citadel
● Stroll through Hanoi's alleyways
● Cruise the magnificent Halong Bay
Angkor to the Bay tour inclusions:
All sightseeing and entrance fees
All transportation and transfers
English speaking National Escort (if your group is 10 or more passengers) or Local Guides
Cambodia visa fees for UK and EU passport holders (please see visa section below for further information on Vietnam visas)
Specialist advice from our experienced travel consultants
Comprehensive travel guides
Safe and secure with ABTA, ATOL and IATA
The only things you may have to pay for are personal expenditure, e.g. drinks, optional excursions or shows, insurance of any kind, tipping, early check in or late checkout and other items not specified on the itinerary.
Itinerary – Angkor to the Bay
Days 1-2: Siem Reap & The Temples of Angkor
You will be met at Siem Reap Airport by your Cambodian guide. Together with all other group members who may be arriving at a similar time, travel to your hotel.
Siem Reap — Siem Reap is a bustling tourist destination due to its proximity to both Tonle Sap Lake and the ancient Khmer capital, Angkor. Angkor is home to Angkor Wat, the world's largest religious monument, and the spiritual and cultural heart of Cambodia. This huge complex of palaces and temples was built on the sprawling alluvial plain to the north of Tonle Sap.
Day 3: Beng Mealea & The Villages of Tonle Sap
This morning, explore the less-visited Beng Mealea (Khmer: ‘lotus pond’), a mysterious sandstone temple reclaimed by the Cambodian jungle. Dating back some nine centuries and built originally as a Hindu temple to Vishnu, its ruins are wreathed in vines and colossal tree roots now swallow itsstones. Explore on foot via the wooden walkways and bridges around the site. Continue on to Tonle Sap. This afternoon’s excursions are seasonal: In the high-water season, you will travel to Kompong Khleang, a unique village on stilts, while in the low-water season you will visit Chong Kneas floating village. Return to Siem Reap via a Cambodian artistry assembly, Artisan D’Angkor, a community workshop which teaches local youths the traditional arts of Cambodia. This evening, enjoy a traditional Apsara dance performance at dinner.
● Dating from the 11th -12th century, this sprawling temple covers spans over a square kilometre. Largely overrun by jungle vegetation and constructed in a distinctly Angkorian style, Beng Mealea dates to approximately the same period as Angkor Wat, and may even have served as its 'prototype'.
● Established in 1998, this community workshop teaches the unique arts of painting, silk weaving, wood and stone carving in traditional Cambodian style to local young people.
Day 4: Angkor Wat & Angkor Thom
Spanning from the 9th to 15th century, the Angkor complex was the capital of the thriving Khmer Empire, and home to over 1,000 temples. Begin at the city of Angkor Thom, built by Jayavarman VII. Here, sights include the enigmatic Bayon, the Elephant Terrace and the Terrace of the Leper King. One of the most evocative ruins here is to the temple of Ta Prohm, enveloped in a labyrinth of jungle. This afternoon is devoted to the fascinating and aweinspiring Angkor Wat, the largest religious monument in the world and nationally considered to be Cambodia’s spiritual heart. Later, relax on board a boat and view the sunset on Angkor Thom’s moat.
*Please note: Your group will drive approximately 6km out of town to the main entrance gate to get your entrance passes, which you must carry with you. Please be aware that the Central Tower of the Wat complex is closed on Buddhist holidays, and on all other days has a limited number of visitors allowed at any given time, under UNESCO regulations. If you wish to visit this tower, you will be required to wait in the queue alongside all other visitors. The ability to do this will be determined upon the groups’ schedule. If you choose to climb at any site, you must be able to climb and descend without assistance.
Angkor Thom – (lit. ‘Great City’) This was the last capital of the Khmer empire, established by Buddhist King Jayavarman VII in the 12th century. This walled city, covering an area of 9 square km, is flanked by a row of 54 stone figures on each side, which leads you through a 23-metre imposing stone entrance gate to the various temples inside.
The Bayon – A rich, late 12th century state temple at the centre of Angkor Thom. Its beautifully-crafted central towers are decorated with four opposing faces representing Jayavarman. Bayon’s stone galleries display extraordinary bas-reliefs incorporating over 11,000 figures. Elephant Terrace and Terrace of the Leper King
● The Elephant Terrace is named for the carved elephant parade on its eastern side. Giant viewing platforms used for public ceremonies, which served as a base for the King's grand audience hall. To the north is the Terrace of the Leper King, named for a statue found at the platform.
Ta Prohm – One of Angkor Thom’s most atmospheric ruins, swallowed by the roots of the jungle, Ta Prohm has several towers, closed courtyards and narrow corridors to explore. Originally dedicated to Sri Jayarajacudamani, the mother of the king who established Angkor Thom, it was made famous by the film Tomb Raider.
Angkor Wat – This 12th century temple complex is the largest religious monument in the world. Surrounded by a 190-metre moat and taking 30 years to build, Angkor Wat showcases the Khmer civilisation at its grandest, and was designed to represent Mt Meru, the Hindu equivalent of Mt Olympus. With its fascinating decorative flourishes, extensive bas-relief and multiple tiers, it is the best-preserved temple within the complex. Angkor temples were traditionally dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva, but Angkor Wat broke tradition in that it was originally dedicated to Vishnu, and was later reworked as a Buddhist temple. The silhouette on the flag of Cambodia is that of Angkor Wat, and it is recognised as Cambodia’s spiritual and cultural heart.
Day 5: Siem Reap – Phnom Penh
Depart Siem Reap and fly 1 hour to Phnom Penh, a city of attractive boulevards. Visit the Cambodian Royal Palace and the opulent Silver Pagoda before travelling to the National Museum, home to an extensive number of artefacts. Sightseeing today will involve approximately 3 hours on foot.
Phnom Penh – The capital of the Kingdom of Cambodia is built around four river arms formed by a sharp curve in the Mekong River, near the junctions of the Bassac and the Tonle Sap tributaries. This charming city has a pleasant blend of oriental and colonial architecture, but reminders of a troubled past are also evident.
The Royal Palace – Built in 1866 by the French, these ornate buildings are the official residence of the reigning Cambodian royal family and King Sihamoni.
Silver Pagoda – This concrete and marble structure includes a floor with over 5,000 silver tiles, each a kilo in weight. Famous artefacts include a 90kg solid gold Buddha, made in 1907, and the Emerald Buddha; opinions differ as to whether the latter is made of emerald, jade, or French Baccarat Crystal.
National Museum – Home to one of the world’s finest collections of Khmer pottery, bronzes and sculptures dating from the 4th century.
Day 6: Phnom Penh – Saigon
Visit Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum for a harrowing insight into Cambodia’s tumultuous past. This sombre museum was the site of the Khmer Rouge Security Prison 21, a torture and execution centre built within a former secondary school during the regime of Pol Pot. It now stands as a museum, commemorating the atrocities that occurred here. Many people find it quite confronting and emotional; you will be given time to explore on your own. Later, continue to the hilltop temple of Wat Phnom at the heart of the city before your 1-hour flight to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), where you will meet your Vietnamese National Escort
Tuol Sleng Museum – This former school was used by the Khmer Rouge as a detention and torture centre in the late 1970s. Today this building houses paintings and photographs of the victims. You can see the crude cells built in the classrooms and the torture devices used to extract confessions by the regime.
Wat Phnom – A hilltop temple, rebuilt on multiple occasions since its original version in the late fourth century. The walls within the sanctuaries are covered in murals, chiefly telling the stories of the Buddha. Locals flock here to pray for good luck and success.
Day 7: Saigon & The Cu Chi Tunnels
Confront the reality of guerrilla warfare at the Cu Chi Tunnels. The cramped tunnels were central to a few of the war’s strategic operations, including the famous 1968 Tet Offensive, and they did not escape damage. American B52 bombers dropped hundreds of missiles leaving huge tell-tale craters behind. The Cu Chi experience can be emotional for some visitors, but it offers a fascinating window into the hardship and traumas of war. Sightseeing here involves two hours on foot on uneven mud paths through the bush and, if you choose, crawling through some of the tunnels. Continue the day with further insights at the Reunification Palace and the chilling War Remnants Museum, before finishing at Ben Thanh Market.
Saigon – Formally renamed Ho Chi Minh City, but still locally known by its older name of Saigon, this exuberant city is driving Vietnam forward into the modern world, but is also a treasure trove of fascinating heritage. It was a major base of the American military during the Vietnam War, and was the seat of the South Vietnam government until the events that led to the country's reunification. Today, the old mixes seamlessly with the new and you can wander through timeless alleys to incense-infused temples before catching up with the present in designer malls beneath sleek skyscrapers.
Cu Chi – The tunnels of Cu Chi are an immense network of connecting underground tunnels located in the Cu Chi district of Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon). They are part of a much larger network of tunnels that underlie much of the country. The Cu Chi tunnels were the location of several military campaigns during the Vietnam War, and were the Viet Cong's base of operations for the Tet Offensive in 1968. The tunnels were used by Viet Cong soldiers as hiding spots during combat, as well as serving as communication and supply routes, hospitals, food and weapon caches and living quarters for numerous North Vietnamese fighters. The tunnel systems were of great importance to the Viet Cong in their resistance to American forces.
Reunification Palace – Built on the site of the former Norodom Palace, the palace is a landmark in Ho Chi Minh City. It was designed by architect Ngô Vi?t Th? and was the home and workplace of the President of South Vietnam during the Vietnam War. It was the site of the end of the Vietnam War during the Fall of Saigon on 30th April 1975, when a North Vietnamese Army tank crashed through its gates.
War Remnants Museum – Comprised of numerous buildings displaying military equipment, photographs and artefacts relating to the Vietnam War and focusing especially on the yearsfrom 1961-1975. This museum illustrates a harrowing period in this nation’s history.
Day 8: Mekong Delta
Drive two and a half hours down to the picturesque province of Ben Tre, situated along the mighty Mekong. This area is known as the ‘rice basket of Vietnam’, because its rich and fertile lands produce huge amounts of rice, coconuts, vegetables and tropical fruit. Spend the day exploring, travelling by motorboat between the islands and changing to smaller paddleboats in the canals. Sightseeing involves hopping on and off these boats, often on unsteady and slippery surfaces, sometimes without handrails or assistance. Return to Saigon this afternoon.
Mekong Delta – Although primarily rural, the Mekong Delta is a densely populated area where life progresses around its fertile banks. The Mekong Delta is the 12th longest river in the world, and people live, trade, travel and go to school on the riverbanks.
Day 9: Saigon – Hoi An
Explore modern-day Saigon, with its heady mix of local culture and colonial influences. See Notre Dame Cathedral, the Central Post Office and the beautiful Thien Hau Pagoda. Transfer to the airport for your 1h20 flight to Da Nang Airport. From here, transfer 45 minutes to your hotel in Hoi An and enjoy the rest of the day at leisure. Please note: The Notre Dame Cathedral will be under renovation until 2023. During this time we are unable to enter the Cathedral; however, it can be viewed from the outside
Notre Dame Cathedral – Influenced by French design and built between 1863 and 1880, the red brick exterior and 60-metre bell towers overlook downtown Saigon.
Central Post Office – Located next to the Notre-Dame Cathedral. The Central Post Office building was constructed in the late 19th century. It combines Gothic, Renaissance and French influences and was designed by Auguste Henri Vildieu and Alfred Foulhoux, but is often erroneously credited as being the work of Gustave Eiffel.
Thien Hau Pagoda – Located in Cholon, the Chinatown of Saigon, this beautiful 19th century pagoda is dedicated to the goddess of the sea
Day 10: Hoi An & Tra Que Village
This morning, visit Tra Que Village, a local farming project just outside of Hoi An. Here, the community has come together to create a large vegetable farm. Learn the traditional methods used by the farmers, then try your hand at raking the ground and sowing seeds. This afternoon, enjoy a walking tour of Hoi An’s narrow ancient streets. We will visit one of the town’s oldest homes, built by a merchant family over 200 years ago and still occupied by their descendants. We will also visit the traditional Hoi An Market, the Quan Cong Chinese Temple and the Japanese Covered Bridge. Stop at the Reaching Out Arts and Crafts Workshop to see the social enterprise work happening here.
Hoi An – Perhaps more than any other place in Vietnam, Hoi An retains the feel of centuries past. Once known as Faifo, Hoi An was an influential port along the Silk Road. For over 500 years, merchants from China, Japan, France and Portugal settled in the prosperous town, resulting in a distinctive blend of culture.
Japanese Covered Bridge – First constructed in the 1590s to link the Japanese and Chinese quarters of the town. This iconic pink hued bridge has been restored to its former splendour.
Reaching Out – Provides opportunities for people with disabilities to learn skills and gain meaningful employment. The arts and crafts workshop provides a platform for local people to showcase their talents.
Day 11: Hoi An
Today, drive approximately 4 hours to Hue via the scenic Hai Van Pass. Hue is the physical embodiment of Vietnam’s dynamic past, and considered a scholarly city. Here, visit the seven-storey Thien Mu Pagoda and take a cruise on the Perfume River.
Hue – Having been the imperial capital from 1802 until 1945 after the last emperor abdicated, Hue is still regarded as the centre of Vietnam’s culture and religion. The city is dominated by the Imperial Citadel, modelled on the Forbidden City in China. There are many wonderful pagodas and temples of high significance and it contains the Grand Tombs of the Nguyen Emperors.
Thien Mu Pagoda – This seven-storey octagonal tower is built on a hillock overlooking the Perfume River. Dating back to 1601, it is Hue's oldest and most beautiful pagoda, and considered the unofficial symbol of the city. Wander the grounds where bonsai, ponds and the smell of incense set a peaceful backdrop.
Day 12: Hue
This morning, visit the tomb of Emperor Khai Dinh, an unusual architectural combination that blends a traditional Chinese past with a modern Western future. Continue to Minh Mang Tomb to explore the opulent and exotic resting place laid out in formal Chinese style. Afterwards, move on to a beautiful old maison that has been transformed to Truc Chi – an art space and workshop – by a team of enthusiastic young artists. Learn more about Truc Chi and have the chance to buy their hand-made products (passport covers, fans or candle boxes made from bamboo pulp). After lunch, visit the imposing Imperial Citadel and Forbidden Purple City.
Imperial Citadel – A walled fortress accompanied by cannons, artilleries and surrounded by a moat for protection. Inside the Citadel are numerous gates, courtyards and the Forbidden Purple City.
Forbidden Purple City – Constructed for personal use by the Imperial family, their concubines and eunuchs. This royal structure is still being restored many years after the destruction caused by street fighting and bombing during the American war in Vietnam. Wander the grounds and foundations whilst viewing the remaining woodwork and architecture.
Day 13:Hue to Hanoi
After breakfast, fly 1 hour and 20 minutes to the charming capital city of Hanoi. This afternoon, take a cyclo tour of Hanoi’s Old Quarter. Each cyclo takes one passenger and is operated by a cycle driver behind the carriage. Wrap up your ride with a strong Vietnamese coffee at a café overlooking Hoan Kiem Lake – an important symbol of Vietnamese folklore.
● With a population of approximately four million, Hanoi is a charming and richly historic city of lakes, shaded boulevards and leafy open parks. The centre is an architectural museum piece housing groups of ochre coloured buildings holding the air of French towns of the 1930s; a “Paris of the Orient”, as people have called it.
Hanoi Old Quarter
● A maze of streets weaving through Hanoi and dating back to the 13th century. Each street specialises in merchants and artisans selling their wares of silk, silver, wood and more.
Day 14: Hanoi – Halong Bay
Drive around 2 and a half hours today from Hanoi to Halong, where you will take an overnight cruise to the far-most corners of the bay by boat. There is usually a crowd of boats at the docks; however, the cruise itself will be scenic and relaxing. Boarding your boat could involve navigating your way over and through other boats, moored between it and the dock, sometimes without handrails, ladders or assistance from staff.
The boats has an enclosed dining area and an open area on the upper deck. Enjoy lunch onboard as you cruise out into the bay, stopping to anchor for an afternoon of activities (which are subject to change due to cruise selection and weather conditions). Sightseeing includes visiting underground caves on the islands, which require climbing up and down steps inside and outside of the caves. End the day on deck with a drink in hand to watch the sunset over the bay followed by a freshly prepared dinner, before retiring to your cabin for the night.
You will need to pack a smaller overnight bag for your trip to Halong Bay. Main luggage will be left in safe storage at the hotel in Hanoi and picked up your return.
Please note: Weather conditions such as mist, fog, wind, rain and storms may delay the departure time of your cruise, or in some cases your cruise may be cancelled. Notifications of any delays or cancellations may not be known until your group’s arrival in Halong Bay. If your cruise is cancelled after your arrival in Halong Bay, you will have lunch in Halong City and return to Hanoi. If notification of the cruise cancellation is given prior to your departure for Halong Bay an alternative day trip will be arranged to Hoa Lu and Tam Coc or ‘Halong Bay on Land’, an area located approximately 2 hours from Hanoi. Our guides will make every effort to inform the group at the earliest possible moment should there be any itinerary changes.
Day 15: Halong Bay
Spend the morning sailing through Halong Bay. After an early lunch (or brunch meal) disembark your cruise and return to Hanoi. This evening, attend The Quintessence of Tonkin show, an artistic open-air performance celebrating the rich history of northern Vietnam.
● Compared to the landscape of the limestone islets of Guilin in China and Krabi in southern Thailand, Halong Bay shares a common border with China in the north and harbours some of the most stunning scenery in Vietnam. Unique rock sculptures jut out dramatically from the clear emerald waters of the Gulf of Tonkin and numerous grottoes have created an enchanting, timeless world, looking out onto the horizon with the sails of the junks and sampans completing the picture.
Day 16: Hanoi
Discover the sights of Hanoi today. First stop will be Ba Dinh Square, then the Ho Chi Minh Quarter and pass Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum, followed by the Humble House on Stilts and the One Pillar Pagoda. Next, drive to the serene Temple of Literature, Hanoi’s first university.
Day 17: Depart Hanoi
You will be transferred 1 hour from the hotel to the airport, according to the departure time of your international flight. Any time before your flight is at leisure.
*PPLEASE NOTE: Only breakfast is provided on the group’s day of departure; no refund will be given for meals missed.
29/01/23 & 05/02/23 & 19/02/23 & 05/03/23 & 12/03/23 & 19/03/23 and many more .