Gaze up at gleaming golden Buddhas in Thailand. Discover floating villages in Cambodia and sail down Vietnam’s Mekong River on this tour of three fascinating countries.
You’ll depart on your scheduled flight to Bangkok, via Kuala Lumpur.
On arrival in Bangkok, you’ll transfer to your hotel for a two-night stay. The rest of the day is free for you to relax at your hotel, or to explore this vibrant city, the capital of Thailand.
This morning you’ll enjoy an included sightseeing tour of Bangkok, visiting the famous temples of the Golden Buddha and the Reclining Buddha. For those revisiting Bangkok, alternative optional sightseeing can be arranged. The afternoon is free for you to relax, or to explore further.
You’ll drive from Bangkok, through the lush Thai countryside of rice paddies and fruit orchards, to the border with Cambodia at Aranyaprathet. The border post itself is fascinating, with a constant stream of handcarts, lorries and people laden with goods crossing the 200-yard ‘no man’s land’ between the two countries. Once inside Cambodia and its border town of Poipet, you will continue to Sisophon. The contrast between Thailand and Cambodia is quite dramatic, and the drive to Sisophon and then to Battambang, Cambodia’s second city, passes through many roadside villages and settlements. You’ll arrive at this bustling riverside community, with its French colonial buildings, a lively market and remarkable temples, mid-afternoon. You will stay in Battambang tonight.
Today features a remarkable journey, by specially chartered boat, along the Sangker River and through the wetlands of north-west Cambodia to Tonle Sap Lake and then Siem Reap (please note that during dry season, April-August, if water levels are low you will be transferred by coach). The riverside communities adjust their way of life, and even the location of their homes, according to the water levels in the different seasons, and a harsh but self-sufficient living is made from farming and fishing. Your journey will be a continuous panorama of stilt houses, giant fishing nets, riverside life and fields of crops, with stops at a floating village and a hilltop temple. You’ll then emerge into the vast expanse of Tonle Sap Lake, the heart of Cambodia, and cross to the floating village of Chong Kneas near the eastern shoreline, before disembarking and driving the short distance to Siem Reap, home of Angkor Wat, for a three-night stay.
It takes a full two days to really appreciate the glories of the Angkor Complex. You will see Angkor Wat itself, plus many of the surrounding temples and monuments, including Angkor Thom, Ta Prohm, the Temple of Bayon and much more. We also include a special dinner, accompanied by a display of Khmer classical dance.
After a morning departure, you’ll drive to Phnom Penh, capital of Cambodia. The route passes through absorbing countryside and towns, famous for the ‘fried spiders’ offered for sale by local farmers. You’ll arrive in Phnom Penh in the afternoon for a two-night stay.
Once considered the loveliest of the French-built cities in Indochina, Phnom Penh, situated on the River Mekong, is recovering rapidly from its turbulent past. A full sightseeing tour will include the magnificent Royal Palace, with its Silver Pagoda of 5,000 silver floor tiles and priceless Buddhist treasures, the History Museum, the waterfront, the Russian Market and the Wat Phnom, while dinner will be at the fabled Foreign Correspondents’ Club by the river.
Your exploration of the mighty River Mekong begins today, as you travel by special fast cruise boat downstream from Phnom Penh. One of the world’s greatest rivers, the Mekong descends for 3,000 miles from the Tibetan Plateau to the South China Sea, and is constantly busy with sampans, barges and houseboats in its lower reaches. After stops at the Cambodian and Vietnamese border stations, you’ll continue to Chau Doc in Vietnam, then travel overland deep into the Mekong Delta. You’ll drive through traditional villages and farmland, with a fascinating backdrop of homesteads on stilts, river fishing nets and rickety ‘monkey’ bridges, before late-afternoon arrival at Can Tho for an overnight stay at the delightful Victoria Hotel, situated on the banks of the Mekong.
You’ll take a morning boat trip to the extraordinary floating market at Cai Rang. In contrast to such markets elsewhere, those on the River Mekong are much larger and are conducted on much wider stretches of water. You’ll then depart by public ferry to Vinh Long, followed by a cruise by small boat along narrow inlets and canals to a lunch stop at a farmer’s house. Visits will be made to local workshops along the way. Very little has changed over the centuries in this part of Vietnam, and everything and everybody travels by boat. Finally, you recross the Mekong to Cai Be, and drive to Ho Chi Minh City, better known as Saigon, where a two-night stay has been arranged.
This morning join our included city tour, visiting the Presidential Palace and the War Museum. You will also pass Notre Dame Cathedral. In the afternoon, you’ll drive to the Cu Chi Tunnels, an amazing series of underground passages, first constructed in the late 1940s by the peasant army fighting the French, but later extended by the Viet Cong rebels.
Today you’ll transfer to the airport for your return flight to the UK, via Kuala Lumpur.
You’ll arrive in the UK.
Accommodation throughout is in hotels of a comfortable standard, typical of the hotels you will stay in are:
All rooms feature en suite facilities and air-conditioning. Hotel facilities include a restaurant and bar.