Cambodia

Vietnam & Cambodia Highlights

If you can stretch your holiday time to 3 weeks, this example holiday covering the highlights of both Vietnam and Cambodia could be perfect. Starting in Hanoi and finishing in Siem Reap you will visit hill-tribe villages, sail through the karst scenery of Halong Bay, relax on the beach in Hoi An, crawl through the Cu Chi tunnels near Saigon, explore Phnom Penh by tuk tuk and cycle around the ruins of Angkor Wat. As ever we can tailor the itinerary to your family’s requirements.

Highlights

  Make spring rolls with a Hanoi family
  Hill-tribe hikes in the mountains
  Explore the imperial city of Hue
  Take a basket boat ride in Hoi An
  Discover the Cu Chi tunnels
  Watch sunset from the Angkor ruins

22 days from £1,850 pp

Plus international flights starting at £700

A 3-week holiday in Cambodia and Vietnam for a family of four usually costs from £7,400 plus flights.

View pricing guide

Vietnam & Cambodia Highlights day-by-day itinerary

Day 1 Hanoi
Upon arrival at the airport you will be met by a Stubborn Mule Travel representative and taken to your hotel in the heart of Hanoi. The rest of the day is free for you to explore.

Hanoi is a lovely city that will completely entrance; wander through the parks in the early morning or at sunset and you will see people doing tai chi and ballroom dancing. There are wide boulevards with imposing colonial buildings that you can admire from the comfort of a tiny noodle shop, gleaming office buildings, trendy boutiques and exquisite restaurants. There are also endless narrow streets full of children playing games and old men playing chess that just beg to be explored.


Day 2 Hanoi
Today you have a full day tour of the city. The highlight might be the afternoon cyclo (cycle rickshaw) tour through the chaotic streets of the Old Quarter or the delicious local lunch of noodle soup, but it is also fascinating to see Ho Chi Minh lying in state in his mausoleum. Other sites include the Museum of Ethnology and the beautiful Ngoc Son Temple, which is situated on a tiny island in the centre of Hoan Kiem Lake. 


Day 3 Hanoi
Get off the beaten track in Hanoi, heading to a suburb on the banks of the Red River. The area escaped much of the bombing during the war and is home to many old houses and temples. You will take a gentle bike ride through back streets, stopping to visit a charming small temple, and getting an insight into a very different side of the city. You will also stop at a traditional courtyard house where you will join the host family for lunch, helping to make spring rolls. 


Day 4 Hanoi – Pu Luong
Leave Hanoi to drive west into the remote Pu Luong Nature Reserve. The drive takes around 4-5 hours and as the journey progresses you head deeper into the hills and the views are absolutely stunning. Here the sides of the mountains are carved into steep rice terraces and small traditional villages dot the landscape.

This afternoon you take a walk through the local area, passing through friendly villages and enjoying the views.

You spend two nights on a homestay in a local village and join your hosts for dinner. If this doesn’t appeal, you can stay in a nearby lodge instead.


Day 5 Pu Luong Nature Reserve
In the morning head to the river that runs through the base of the valley, and take a canoe ride past the traditional water wheels. These are still used to transfer water into a network of bamboo irrigation canals that lead to the fields dotted around the hills.

In the afternoon you can either relax in the village or take another walk through the valley.

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Day 6 Pu Luong – Ninh Binh
After breakfast drive to Ninh Binh, a beautiful area to the south of Hanoi. The drive takes around 2.5-3 hours.

When you arrive, visit Vietnam’s ancient capital of Hoa Lu. Although there is not a huge amount here you can see the temple that has been built on the site of the ancient palace and wander through the nearby village.

Later take a boat ride in Trang An. Here the river has carved a route through ancient limestone cliffs and your boat will follow the course of the river through caves up to 300m long. The tunnels are very narrow and low in areas, and the precision with which the boat ‘rower’ navigates the route is remarkable – you will need to duck frequently as you pass under low stalactites.


Day 7 Ninh Binh
A morning bike ride through the picturesque landscape. Sheer sided limestone cliffs rear up out of the paddy fields, water buffalo graze whilst white egrets ride on their back and lazy rivers meander past.

In the afternoon you can relax. Depending on where you stay, there may be a nice pool that you can enjoy.


Day 8 Ninh Binh – Halong Bay
This morning drive approximately 4 hours to Halong Bay where you board a traditional junk (sailing boat) for an overnight cruise.

Halong Bay is spectacularly beautiful, with thousands of towering limestone pillars soaring out of the water. This afternoon the junk will stop at one of the small islands in the bay to give you the chance to try your hand at kayaking.


Day 9 Halong Bay
A full day to continue with your exploration of the bay. You stop at a small beach where you can swim, kayak or relax and will also continue cruising through the spectacular scenery.

Later you take dinner in a cave before spending a second night on board the boat.


Day 10 Halong Bay – Hanoi
Continue sailing and take a rowing boat to Vong Vieng fishing village. Here you can join the fishermen and have a go at casting their fishing nets.

Later return to Hanoi to board the overnight sleeper train to Hue. Most families love the overnight train but if this does not appeal we can arrange a flight instead.


Day 11 Hue
After arriving at the train station in Hue you explore this former imperial city. First stop is the Citadel, once home to the emperors of the Nyguyen Dynasty that ruled Vietnam from 1802 – 1945. From here you will drive a short distance to the beautiful Thien Mu pagoda perched on the banks of the Perfume River. Later take a boat ride back down the river, and head to the lively Dong Ba market, packed with goods of every description.


Day 12 Hue
This morning head south along the spectacularly beautiful coastal road to Hoi An. There is a quick route which takes just a couple of hours and uses a tunnel through the mountains, or a longer more scenic route that snakes up over the marble mountains, with incredible views along the way. You can choose which you prefer.


Day 13 Hoi An
A full free day to explore Hoi An. This is one of the loveliest towns in Vietnam, a small port that has traditionally been home to a thriving merchant community of foreign traders. There are lively markets and quaint narrow streets lined with old buildings that have been converted into tailors, cafes and boutiques. This is one of the best places in Vietnam to shop for souvenirs, especially in the evening when the streets are lit by traditional Chinese lanterns. The tailors here are excellent so you could consider getting some clothes made up.

There are also some great beaches just outside the town and you can either stay in the town centre or in a beach hotel. You could consider extending this section of the trip if you would like to incorporate longer on the beach.


Day 14 Hoi An
This morning venture out into the countryside by bike, following small roads past local villages, small shrimp farms, endless fields of rice and vegetables and lumbering water buffalo. You will also take a ‘basket boat’ ride on the river. This is small round boat that you paddle along with an oar and which was traditionally used by fishermen in this area. You can stop to try to catch purple crabs in the water bamboo.

The afternoon is free to relax.


Day 15 Hoi An – Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City)
A morning cookery class in which you learn to prepare some of the delicious dishes that you will have been tasting during your holiday! In the late afternoon take a flight south to Saigon.


Day 16 Saigon
After breakfast you will be taken on a tour of this lively and exciting city. You visit a beautiful old Chinese temple heady with the smell of incense from its hundreds of incense coils, a buzzing local market, the War Remnants museum (which is both fascinating and horrifying) and a number of other sights.

This afternoon you have an excursion to the Cu Chi tunnels, just west of Saigon. These tunnels were used as a means of underground communication during the war against the French and then later against the Americans. The children will enjoy making their way through a section of the tunnels. Larger adults might struggle!


Day 17 Saigon – Siem Reap
Transfer to the airport for a short flight to Siem Reap in Cambodia. This is the gateway city to the Temples of Angkor. These are absolutely incredible and will be a highlight of your trip. Angkor Wat is the name of the largest and most famous temple but there are literally hundreds. Some of these have been fabulously preserved and restored whilst others are almost completely over-run by the jungle and feel very remote.


Day 18 Siem Reap
Today you start to explore the Angkor Temples by bike with your guide. You start at the magnificent ‘South Gate’ of Angkor Thom, famed for the colossal human faces carved from stone that flank the route. From here you will see all of the main temples including Bayon, Phimeanakas, the Elephant Terrace and Angkor Wat itself.


Day 19 Siem Reap
A full free day to further explore the Angkor Temples. Make sure that you visit Ta Prohm, one of the most picturesque temples, covered in sprawling tree roots and lianas.

When you have had your fill of temple-hopping, Siem Reap is a very pleasant town with fantastic restaurants, markets and shops. Perhaps visit a foot massage parlour where you can dip your weary feet in a fish tank and tiny fish will nibble off the dead skin!


Day 20 Siem Reap
After breakfast you drive to Beng Melea Temple, an enormous ruin the size of Angkor Wat but still completely part of the jungle. This is real Indiana Jones stuff and you can swing on giant lianas that grow through the temple walls, clamber over huge tree roots, tunnel through thick undergrowth to dilapidated carvings and generally feel as if you are one of the first to discover the ruins. You have lunch with a local family.

In the afternoon you visit Kompong Phluk, a floating village built on 8m high stilts over the vast waters of Tonle Sap. This freshwater lake is home to traditional fishing communities and is best explored by a small wooden boat, enabling you to sail amongst the stilt houses and through the flooded mangrove forest. There will be the chance to visit a stilt house and you may also be able to stop by a local school.


Day 21 Siem Reap
Transfer to the airport for your flight home.

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