Embark on a glorious adventure, starting amongst the magnificence of the temples of Angkor before boarding a three-night deluxe river cruise down the Mekong. With shore excursions designed to give you an authentic glimpse of local life, cross into Vietnam to discover its many treasures. Explore vibrant Saigon, charming Hoi An and historic Hanoi and sail the waters of Halong Bay.
You will be met in Siem Reap in the arrivals hall by your Local Guide or National Escort from Wendy Wu Tours. Together with all other group members who may be arriving at a similar time travel to your hotel for check in.
Destination Information Siem Reap – Siem Reap is a bustling tourist destination due to its proximity to both the ancient Khmer national capital city of Angkor as well as Tonle Sap Lake. Angkor Wat is one of the main attractions and is the world’s largest religious monument, in addition to being the spiritual and cultural heart of Cambodia. This huge complex of palaces and temples were built on the sprawling alluvial plain to the north of Tonle Sap.
Day 3 - Siem Reap
Spanning from the 9th to 15th century, the Angkor complex with over 1,000 temples was the seat of the thriving Khmer Empire. UNESCO manages the complex and to enter, 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. If you choose to climb at any site, you must be able to climb and descend without assistance. Begin at the city of Angkor Thom and the enigmatic Bayon, the Elephant Terrace and the Terrace of the Leper King before continuing to the temple of Ta Prohm, enveloped in a labyrinth of jungle. This afternoon is devoted to the fascinating and awe-inspiring Angkor Wat. Later, relax on-board a boat and view the sunset on Angkor Thom’s moat. Please note: The Central Tower of the Angkor Wat complex is closed on Buddhist holidays and on all other days has a limited number of visitors allowed at any given time, under regulations from UNESCO. 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.
Destination Information Angkor Thom – This fortified city is flanked by a row of 54 stone figures on each side, which leads you through a 23-meter imposing stone entrance gate to the various temples inside. Bayon – Beautifully crafted central towers, decorated with four opposing faces representing King Jayavarman VII. Bayon’s stone galleries display extraordinary bas-reliefs incorporating over 11,000 figures. Elephant Terrace and Terrace of the Leper King – Giant viewing platforms used for public ceremonies, which served as a base for the King’s grand audience hall. Ta Prohm – Swallowed by the jungle where Strangler Figs and Kapok Trees have entwined themselves around the ruins. Undoubtedly, the most atmospheric ruin at Angkor with several towers, closed courtyards and narrow corridors to explore. Angkor Wat – Surrounded by a 190-meter moat and taking 30 years to build, Angkor Wat represents the Khmer civilisation at its grandest. With its fascinating decorative flourishes, extensive bas-relief and multiple tiers, it is the best-preserved temple within the complex.
Day 4 - Siem Reap
In the high-water season, drive to Kampong Phluk is a cluster of three villages of stilts houses built within the floodplain of the Tonle Sap lake. In the lower water season, you will visit Chong Kneas floating village. Get a glimpse into local life at the home of a Khmer family. Return to Siem Reap to enjoy an afternoon at leisure.
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 by cyclo before travelling to the National Museum with extensive artefacts on display, sightseeing today will involve approximately 3 hours on foot. Make a final stop at Wat Phnom and then, experience how traditional arts are preserved with a Cambodian Living Arts tour.
Destination Information 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. View the Throne Hall and Silver Pagoda. Silver Pagoda – This concrete and marble structure includes a floor with over 5,000 silver tiles each weighing 1kg. Famous artefacts include a 90kg solid gold Buddha made in 1907 and an Emerald Buddha said to be made of baccarat crystal. National Museum – Housing the world’s finest collection of Khmer pottery, bronzes and sculptures dating from the 4th century. Wat Phnom – Home to a hilltop temple that carries the cities namesake. Locals flock here to pray for good luck and success. Cambodian Living Arts – Founded by a genocide survivor, Cambodia Living Arts works to preserve Cambodia’s endangered performing arts heritage by helping talented artists develop careers.
Day 6 - Phnom Penh - Victoria Mekong Cruise
Reflect on the history of the city with a visit to the Tuol Sleng Museum and Killing Fields. The visit to the Tuol Sleng Museum involves 1 hour on foot. This museum commemorates the atrocities that occurred during the regime of Pol Pot. The transfer south-west to the Killing Fields will take 30 minutes. You will spend about 1 hour here on foot for a harrowing insight into Cambodia’s tumultuous past. Most people find it quite confronting and emotional so you will be given time to explore on your own. Later on, transfer to Phnom Penh pier where you will say goodbye to your National Escort and board the Victoria Mekong. After a welcome briefing, you will cast off into the waters of the Mekong Delta. Relax with a sundowner on deck and sit down to a sumptuous gala dinner whilst enjoying an Apsara performance on board.
Destination Information 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. Killing Fields – The emotional Killing Fields of Cheung Ek, made famous by the film of the same name. More than 17,000 civilians were killed and buried in mass graves here making this place a chilling reminder of the brutalities of the genocidal Khmer Rouge regime. Mekong River – The 7th longest river in Asia and the heart of Southeast Asia civilisation, there is no tapestry of river life as fascinating and varied as the Mekong.
Day 7 - Victoria Mekong Cruise
Sail towards the border, passing into Vietnam in the early afternoon. Spend a relaxed morning enjoying the passing scenery and a wealth of onboard activities, such as a cultural lecture and cocktail making. In Vam Nao, go offshore by sampan to visit traditional cottage industries such as traditional clay pottery and local rice cakes. This evening, before dinner, experience a thrilling lion dance performance! Drop anchor at Vam Nao.
Day 8 - Victoria Mekong Cruise
Continue downstream to Long Xuyen and disembark to visit the bustling floating market and a local museum. After lunch back onboard, arrive at Tan Loc Island, where you’ll be able to explore by electric bike, visiting the Ancient House and a lush garden for tea and fruit – a taste of Mekong hospitality. Alternatively, go by local motor cart to a plum farm where they distill plum wine, which you can taste. Sail on to Can Tho, a Mekong Delta city where the ship will dock. Enjoy a performance of Đờn ca tài tử – traditional music of the Mekong, while you sip a farewell cocktail and dinner.
Day 9 - Victoria Mekong Cruise - Saignon
Enjoy breakfast onboard and visiting a local floating market by boat. Disembark and bid farewell to the Victoria Mekong, boarding the ship’s shuttle bus from Can Tho to Saigon, stopping en route in Cai Be for a delicious local lunch. This evening, dinner will be at Noir, a restaurant that supports Saigon’s visually impaired, for a sensory dining experience.
Destination Information Saigon – The exuberant city of Saigon is driving Vietnam forward into the modern world, but is also a treasure trove of fascinating heritage. During the 1960s and early 1970s, Saigon was the Pearl of the Orient, which flourished under American occupation. In more recent times, it 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. Noir Restaurant – A unique culinary experience, Noir is a restaurant where you dine in the dark and experience your food in new ways. Waiters with visual impairments become your eyes and guide you through a delicious meal to challenge your other four senses.
Day 10 - Saignon
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. Return to Saigon to explore its heady mix of local culture and colonial influences. See Notre Dame Cathedral and visit the Central Post Office, the Reunification Palace and the chilling War Remnants Museum, stopping for a coffee break at one of the best coffee workshops on the way. Please note: The Notre Dame Cathedral will be under renovation for 2 years, starting in July 2017. During this time we are unable to enter the Cathedral; however we can view it from the outside.
Destination Information 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), Vietnam, and 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, and helped to counter the growing American military effort. Notre Dame Cathedral – Influenced by French design and built between 1863 and 1880, the red brick exterior and 60-meter 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 counts 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. Reunification Palace – Built on the site of the former Norodom Palace, is a landmark in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. It was designed by architect Ngô Viết Thụ 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 from 1961-1975. This museum illustrates a harrowing period in this nation’s history.
Day 11 - Saignon - Hoi An
After breakfast, depart Saigon and fly 1h20 to Da Nang Airport. Drive 45 minutes to your hotel in Hoi An. Enjoy a walking tour through the streets of Hoi An, arriving first at Chua Ong Pagoda. Next, pass by the 200-year old Tan Ky House and take a short break at the Japanese Covered Bridge – one of Hoi An’s most iconic structures. Visit the Reaching Out Tea House, an establishment that aids locals with disabilities, for a rejuvenating cup of tea
Destination Information 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, cuisine, religion and architecture. 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 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 12- Hoi An
This morning visit a local community farming project just outside of Hoi An – Tra Que village where the community has come together to create a large vegetable farm. Learn the traditional methods the farmers us e to plant, fertilise and harvest the crop, then try your hand at raking the ground and sowing seeds. Enjoy the rest of your day at leisure, with options to head to the beach or explore Hoi An ancient town.
Destination Information Tra Que Village – Located a few kilometres from Hoi An, this picturesque village is renowned for its agriculture. Witness local farming techniques and learn about different exotic Vietnamese produce.
Day 13 - Hoi An - Hanoi
After breakfast, transfer to Danang and fly 1 hour and 20 minutes to the charming city of Hanoi where you will check into your hotel. This afternoon, visit the serene Temple of Literature, Hanoi’s first university. Then 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 an opportunity to taste some traditional egg coffee and feel like a local on your plastic stool!
Destination Information Hanoi – 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 provincial French towns of the 1930s, a “Paris of the Orient” as people have called it. Temple of Literature – Hanoi’s first university dating back to 1070 and a historical centre of learning, now dedicated to Confucian worship. 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
Discover the sights of Hanoi today. First stop at the Ho Chi Minh Quarter and Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum, followed by the Humble House on Stilts and the One Pillar Pagoda. Next, drive to the Ethnology Museum (closed on Mondays). This evening, attend The Quintessence of Tonkin show, an artistic open-air performance celebrating the rich history of northern Vietnam. Please note: Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum is closed for entry on Mondays and Fridays every week and from September to December each year. During these times we are unable to enter the Mausoleum; however, we can view it from the outside.
Destination Information Ho Chi Minh Quarter – Dedicated to the father of modern Vietnam and where Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum stands in Ba Dinh Square. Ho Chi Minh first declared independence from French rule in 1945. Humble House on Stilts – In the grounds of the Presidential Palace sits the 2 storey wooden home of Ho Chi Minh who ruled Vietnam from here until his death in 1969. One Pillar Pagoda – Rebuilt in 1955 after damage during the French evacuation, the pagoda is made of wood and sits on a single pillar. Designed to reflect the shape of a lotus flower emerging from the water, it has become a popular spot for locals to enjoy the tranquil surroundings. Museum of Ethnology – Widely acknowledged as the best in the country, it has an extensive displaydedicated to Vietnam’s 54 ethnic minority groups.
Day 15 - Hanoi & Ha Long 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. 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.
Destination Information Halong Bay – 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 - Halong Bay - Hanoi
Spend the morning sailing through Halong Bay. After an early lunch (or brunch meal) disembark your cruise and return to Hanoi.
Day 17 - Depart Hanoi
You will be transferred 1 hourfrom the hotel to the airport, according to the departure time of your international flight. Any time before your flight is at leisure.
The Victoria Mekong, one of the very first larger ships sailing the Mekong Delta, whilst the vessel boasts a 4* rating and price, the ship provides 5* superior service and fantastic deluxe facilities and offers the utmost comfort for customers. It has all the facilities that a 5* standard ship has to offer, cocktail pool and pool bar, contemporary Asia-themed bar and lounge with luxurious soft furnishings plus a signature restaurant with a locally-inspired menu that showcases native cuisine from the region. It offers a different starting point in Can Tho to ensure customers avoid the crowds, have more opportunities to explore some of the off the beaten track areas and experience more unique offshore excursions along the Mekong River.
The 33 Deluxe staterooms, which have private balcony space, there is a Cocktail pool and bar, with a Games room, Lounge area and Spa.
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Cambodia: A visa is required for entry into Cambodia. Standard visa processing service is included in your tour cost. We will require your passport, completed visa application forms, and 2 passport photos, taken within the last 6 months, to process your visas. We will require all this information 8 weeks prior to departure. As per our standard visa processing service, we will have your passport for at least 4 weeks. In rare cases you may be required to provide further information or documentation to the Cambodian Embassy. If this is the case we will notify you as soon as possible. Vietnam: For UK citizens entry visas for Vietnam are required for stays longer than 15 days or for multiple entries into Vietnam within a 30-day period; therefore UK citizens will not need a visa to enter Vietnam for a single entry stay of up to 15 days. Currently this visa exemption rule applies until 30th June 2020. Should the visa requirements for UK citizens travelling to Vietnam change after 30th June 2020 you will be contacted by Wendy Wu Tours regarding your visa requirements. To allow for unforeseen circumstances if your tour includes a stay of 15 days or more in Vietnam the standard visa processing service is included in your tour cost. If you do require a visa Wendy Wu Tours Visa Department can assist you with the process of obtaining one. We will supply you with all paperwork and submit the visa application on your behalf. Visas for Vietnam are issued with specific start and expiry dates which are based on the dates stated on the visa application form. Travel must be completed within those dates. Please be advised that your passport must have at least 6-months validity left on it when you arrive back into UK. Visa application forms and all relevant documentation are due in our office 60 days prior to departure; if received after this, urgent visa processing fees will apply.
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