Day 1: Arrival-Ho Chi Minh. On arrival at Tan San Nhat Airport, you are met and transferred to hotel. Ho Chi Minh City, still called Saigon by many locals, is a center of commerce, finance, culture and tourism in Vietnam. This bustling metropolis ,contradiction of its northern counterpart, is crowded with bikes and motorbikes, excited by numerous shopping area and sidewalk cafe. If time permits we stroll around the down town to explore the different local ways of life. Overnight in Ho Chi Minh.
Day 2: Ho Chi Minh. Today we spend a full exploring Ho Chi Minh City. We pass the now-demolished wartime American Embassy before we visit the Reunification Palace which was the former residence of the President of South Vietnam until end of April 1975. Close to the Palace, there are some beautiful French colonial structures including the Notre Dame Cathedral and the Old Sai Gon Post Office. After seeing the Jade Emperor Pagoda and the War Remnant Museum, we continue our trip to Cho Lon, Saigon's Chinatown, which is crammed with fascinating temples and mysterious, narrow lanes. We end our city tour with a visit to the bustling Ben Thanh Market where anything and everything is for sale. Overnight in Ho Chi Minh. Includes: (B).
Day 3: Ho Chi Minh-Cu Chi-Tay Ninh-Ho Chi Minh. The head quarter of Cao Dai sect is located in Tay Ninh. This religion was founded in 1923 and now numbers over 2 million members. After breakfast we travel by roads to Tay Ninh to see the ornate temple of Cao Dai and attend the fantastic mid-day service when the followers fill the hall wearing colored robes, a symbol of the curious combination of the Confucianism, Taoism and Buddhism. Afterwards we continue to the famous Cu Chi Tunnels, which were an incredible underground network constructed by Vietnamese fighters during the long struggle for independence. The tunnels contained hospitals, plus accommodation and schools, and were used as a military base for the Vietcong in the American war. Overnight in Ho Chi Minh. Includes: (B).
Day 4: Ho Chi Minh-Vinh Long-Can Tho. Heading out of the town, we travel by road to Vinh Long Province. On arrival, we embark on our boat cruising around the tributaries of the mighty Mekong River which is a great way to observe the local lifestyle close-up. Along the way, we visit the vibrant floating market of Cai Be and many local cottages industries including rice paper makers and bonsai nurseries. A huge lunch followed with many seasonal fruits at an orchard is some enjoyment of the trip. We then weave our way through the intricate network of canals which are the lifeblood of the Mekong Delta before we meet up with our vehicle for a short drive to Can Tho, our today destination. Overnight in Can Tho. Includes: (B), (L).
Day 5: Can Tho-Chau Doc. This morning we depart for Chau Doc and pass many rice fields fringed with palm trees, fruit orchards and canals crammed with boats and rice barges. Arriving in Chau Doc we have time to stroll around. This is a tranquil town and less affected by the flash and glitz of Ho Chi Minh City's fashionable young people although it is a major hub of trade along the Mekong. An afternoon tour takes us to major places of interest in this region. We enjoy a boat trip on the Hau River to explore the fishing breeding houses and a Cham village. Upon disembarking, we discover the sacred Ba Chua Temple and the nearby sanctuary of Tay An before ascending the Sam Mountain to watch the beautiful sunset over Cambodia and the mighty Mekong River. Overnight in Chau Doc. Includes: (B).
Day 6: Chau Doc-Phnom Penh. After breakfast we board an express board for a trip along the Mekong River crossing into Cambodia and continuing on to its capital. Phnom Penh was once considered the loveliest city of Indochina. Despite its recent turbulent history, it still maintains considerable charm. The private quarters of the Royal Palace are now home to the royal family and are therefore very close to the public. At the northern area of the palace grounds is Silver Pagoda, the most sacred shrine in the country. We visit both structures as well as the legendary temple of Wat Phnom which recites the history of Phnompenh's name. Overnight in Phnom Penh. Includes: (B).
Day 7: Phnom Penh. The sightseeing tour of Phnom Penh continues with as visit to the Royal University of Fine Arts where the young Cambodians learn the ancient arts of their ancestors. The most interesting part of this structure is the Dance Academy. Here, many young children practice the graceful movements of the beautiful national dances. We then continue to the National Museum, dedicated exclusively to Khmer art and sculpture. The majority of the exhibits are from the Angkor period (9th to 15th century), but some date from as early as the 4th Century. The Tuol Sleng Prison Museum and the notorious "Killing Fields" of Choeung Ek are not to be missed. A visit to these sights provides us a deep insight into the painful bloody rule of the Khmer Rouge. Overnight in Phnom Penh. Includes: (B).
Day 8: Phnom Penh-Siem Reap-Angkor Temples. An early morning transfer to Phnom Penh Pier. We embark on express boat and make our way up the Tonle Sap River and into the lake of the same name. The shallow Tonle Sap is the largest of Southeast Asia's lake. Depending on the season, our boat journey takes us anything from 4 to 6 hours to reach Siem Reap. This town is our base for visiting the world famous temples of the ancient city Angkor, which was the capital of the powerful Khmer Empire from 802 AD to 1350 AD. After checking into hotel, we drive to the archaeological area to visit the South Gate of Angkor Thom, famous for its series of colossal human faces carved in stone, the impressive Bayon Temple, the Royal Enclosure, Phimeanakas, the Elephant Terrace, the Terrace of the Leper King, the largest and most complete structure of Angkor Wat. Overnight in Siem Reap. Includes: (B).
Day 9: Siem Reap-Angkor Temples. The jungle covered temple of Ta Prohm is an incredible sight. There are enormous fig trees and gigantic creepers which embrace themselves in the stone foundations of the structure giving the impression of man's creation being reclaimed by the powerful forces of nature. We explore this masterpiece as well as its surrounding temples of Banteay Kdei, Sra Srong, Ta Keo, Thommanon, Chau Say Tevado. The grand circuit including Preah Khan, the Kravan, Neak Pean, Krol Ko, Ta Som, East Mebon, Pre Rup Temple is also visited, this afternoon before we ascend Phnom Bakheng Hill for a view of the spectacular sunset over these sandstone monuments. Overnight in Siem Reap. Includes: (B).
Day 10: Siem Reap-Banteay Srei-Roluos Group. Heading out of the town, we drive on a newly paved road to the intricately carved and well preserved temple of Banteay Srei. On the way , we make stover at the Preah Dark village and the River of 1000 Lingas, locally named Kbal Spean. We follow these with a visit the Banteay Samre Temple adorned with impressive reliefs depicting scenes of Vishunu as well as Krishna legends. We also have time today, exploring the ancient Khmer civilization site of Hariharalaya which flourished in the late 9th and earlier 10th centuries. These are the earliest temples in the Angkor area and are referred to the Rolous group. Overnight in Siem Reap. Includes: (B).
Day 11: Siem Reap-Departure. There is free time for your own exploration of the town and strolling around the shopping areas. The trip ends after your transfer to Siem Reap Airport for departure. Includes: (B).
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Asia Vietnam Cambodia Local Culture Cultural Journey
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