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Grand Tour of Vietnam and Cambodia

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4.8 stars(31 reviews)
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Enjoy a culture-rich Far Eastern rail adventure

You are viewing the 2023 itinerary. Select your departure year
20222023
18 days From £2,995 per person

2023 Tour code: VMG23

About the tour

Explore the fascinating intertwined countries of Vietnam and Cambodia, from the bustling metropolis of Ho Chi Minh City and the ancient kingdom of Cambodia, to the spectacular natural beauty and unmistakable outline of Halong Bay and the waterways of the Mekong Delta.

Highlights

What’s included

Itinerary

Day 1 - London and Hanoi

We meet at London Heathrow for our overnight flight to Hanoi, Vietnam's bustling capital.

Day 2 - Hanoi

We arrive in Hanoi and check into our hotel. This afternoon, we begin our sightseeing with a city tour that introduces us to wonderful Hanoi. We visit the Temple of Literature, a stunning temple built in 1070 that's home to Vietnam's first national university. We continue with a traditional cyclo (a pedal-powered tuk-tuk) ride through Hanoi, taking us through the bustling streets of the Old Quarter. Here, the architecture dates back to the 13th century, and the streets are packed with colonial buildings that sit alongside Buddhist temples and pagodas.

Day 3 - Halong Bay

We continue exploring Hanoi, seeing the Mausoleum in Ba Dinh Square that houses the body of Ho Chi Minh, the famous Vietnamese revolutionary. Next, we transfer to the iconic Halong Bay. An extraordinary collection of limestone karst rock formations and islands dotted amongst emerald waters, this area of outstanding natural beauty is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Here we begin one of the highlights of the holiday as we board our luxury junk for an overnight cruise. We travel through the scenic bay, pausing at Trinh Nu Cave. One of the finest caves in Halong Bay, it's filled with breathtaking stalactites and stalagmites. There's time here to take a swim, sunbathe or even kayak on the cave's beautiful private beach.

Day 4 - Cua Van floating village

We soak up the scenery of Halong Bay's largest cave this morning, Sung Sot Cave. Translated as 'Surprise Cave', this is a truly stunning place, with walkways throughout and coloured lights lighting up the otherworldly rock formations. We continue with a visit to Dai Viet Craft Centre, where we have an insight into traditional local crafts. This evening, we visit a Water Puppet Theatre, where we enjoy a performance of this Vietnamese art form - one that dates back to the 11th century. Tonight, we board the overnight sleeper service to Hue. 

Day 5 - Hue

Our train arrives in Hue this morning, and we check into our hotel. We head out into the city in the afternoon for a visit to the Imperial Citadel. The historic royal complex sits in the heart of the city and is one of Vietnam's seven UNESCO World Heritage sites. The vast citadel is surrounded by a moat fed by the Perfume River, and its towering walls, dotted with ten ornate gates, guard the array of gardens, temples and palace within. We discover more about the site with a fascinating guided tour.

Day 6 - To Hoi An

After a visit to the lively Dong Ba market, the oldest of its kind in Hue, we travel to Da Nang. We journey along one of the most beautiful stretches of railway in Vietnam, winding through verdant landscapes before emerging onto a dramatic coastline, where steep mountains meet pristine beaches. We explore the Museum of Cham Sculpture in Da Nang. The museum houses the largest amount of Cham sculpture in the world and is home to some fascinating artefacts. We see the stunning Marble Mountains, a cluster of five limestone and marble hills, before transferring to our hotel in Hoi An.

Day 7 - Exploring Hoi An

We discover riverside Hoi An, known for its history as a merchant trading post. We head to the colourful Old Town on a guided tour. We visit the Tan Ky Old House, a merchant house with Japanese and Chinese influences, and the 400-year-old Japanese covered bridge. We have time in the local market before we visit the Precious Heritage Art Gallery Museum, admiring French photographer Réhahn's collection. After lunch, we take part in a lantern-making workshop where we learn how to create traditional paper lanterns. Lanterns became popular here in the 16th century and the city's Old Quarter still lights up with rainbow-hued lanterns on an evening.

Day 8 - Nha Trang

Leaving Hoi An, we transfer to Da Nang for the train to the vibrant coastal city of Nha Trang. Along the route, we take in wonderful views across the Vietnamese landscapes, passing terraced rice paddies and mighty oxen working the countryside as we travel. Our train arrives in Nha Trang, and we check into our hotel located on the beachfront, overlooking the stunning turquoise waters of the bay.

Day 9 - Ho Chi Minh City

We make a daytime journey by rail to Ho Chi Minh City. Modern yet with a rich cultural history, this is an exciting city with a zeal for life. The city was famously known as Saigon under French colonial rule - a name which many locals still use for their city to this day. In their time ruling, the French heavily influenced the design of the city, and wide, leafy boulevards and grand historic colonial buildings can be seen across the central districts. We check into our hotel, where we stay for two nights.

Days 10 - The Cu Chi tunnels

We travel to the Cu Chi Tunnels - a vast underground complex utilised during the war against the US. At its height, this system stretched almost 155 miles towards the Cambodian border and contained field hospitals, weapons factories, kitchens and living quarters. We take a fascinating tour of the tunnels before lunch at a local restaurant. This afternoon, we enjoy a sightseeing tour of Ho Chi Minh City, taking in the beautiful Central Post Office and Reunification Palace at Reunification Square. We see the Opera House with its French colonial architecture, as well as Dong Khoi Street, a lively street known for being the hub of the city.

Day 11 - The Mekong Delta

We travel by coach to the Mekong Delta, a wonder of nature where the enormous Mekong River splits into branches on its way to the South China Sea, creating a vast maze of rivers dotted with lush islands. We travel by boat to get a glimpse of the communities that make their living amongst these tropical surroundings. We stop at the floating market of Cai Be, where vendors are found nestled amongst rice paddies, before crossing a lower branch of the Mekong River. We disembark and continue to Can Tho, where we stay for two nights on the banks of the Hau River.

Day 12 - Can Tho

Enjoy a free day today. You could relax in the comfort of our hotel, lounging by the outdoor pool with a cocktail or taking a walk through the beautiful gardens. Another option is to head into Can Tho to explore under your own steam. You could visit Ninh Kieu Wharf, where you'll find a lush park and, on an evening, a great night market. There are many great dishes you could try during your time here, too. Try Banh Xeo, a Vietnamese traditional pancake that, in the Mekong Delta, is typically stuffed with pork, prawn and beansprouts.

Day 13 - Into Cambodia

This morning, we visit Cai Rang, one of the world's largest and most impressive floating markets. After time to peruse the goods on offer, we transfer to Cao Lanh for a boat journey through the Mekong Delta into Cambodia. We arrive in Phnom Penh, the country's vibrant capital. Known as the 'Pearl of Asia' the city is the meeting point for three great rivers - the Mekong, the Tonle Sap and the Bassac. Phnom Penh is the beating cultural heart of Cambodia and boasts many enticing cafés, bars, and world-class restaurants on its French-influenced streets, as well as tempting street food stalls and colourful markets.

Day 14 - Phnom Penh

We get to know Phnom Penh on a full-day guided tour that introduces us to some of the city's main sights. We see Grand Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda, two sites that occupy an impressive riverside location surrounded by beautiful, manicured gardens and iconic yellow walls. We continue to the Central Market, a typical Cambodian market on a huge scale, found in a landmark Art Deco building. Enjoy time here to peruse the stalls, which sell a wide variety of treats from ornaments and clothing to unique food items. We also visit the poignant Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, for an insight into the history of Cambodia.

Day 15 - Siem Reap

We journey by road to Siem Reap today, pausing en-route at the Skuon Market, where you could sample some traditional Cambodian snacks before we enjoy lunch at a local restaurant. Siem Reap is a vibrant city at the gateway to the famous Angkor region, with a dizzying blend of colonial and Chinese influences, especially in its Old French Quarter. We check into our hotel here, where we stay for the next two nights.

Day 16 - Angkor Wat and Angkor Thom

We visit the world-famous Angkor Wat temple city, the world's largest religious structure. There are few places in the world like this; built over 800 years ago for the god Vishnu, the temple would originally have been an extravagant display of golden roofs and whitewashed buildings. Now, it seems to have been reclaimed by nature to a devastatingly stunning effect. We continue by tuk-tuk to Angkor Thom. Translated as 'Great City', Angkor Thom was the last capital of the Khmer Empire. The now-abandoned city is fascinating to discover. We explore some more stunning temples, including Ta Prohm, which was built in the late 12th and early 13th centuries and is now covered in a web of overgrown fig, banyan and kapok tree roots. Later, we enjoy dinner at a local restaurant, accompanied by a traditional dance show.

Day 17 - Siem Reap and London

Today is our final day in Cambodia, and we have time to explore Siem Reap's lively markets in the morning. We have lunch at a local restaurant ahead of our flight back to London Heathrow.

Day 18 - London

We arrive back in the UK today, and your holiday comes to an end.

Additional information

Please note

Please note that while every departure of this tour will feature the same excursions, the order may differ from that shown above.

Departure times

Provisional departure and return times, where available, can be found together with our dates and prices by clicking on the 'Prices & Availability' button. We write to all booked customers approximately 10 weeks prior to the start of their tour to advise the exact departure and return time for their particular group.

Visa requirements
Mobility information

Due to the nature of our tours they are generally unsuitable for those with restricted mobility. If you’d like to discuss any particular holiday with us in this respect, then please don’t hesitate to call us.

Hotels

Victoria Can Tho Resort, Can Tho

Victoria Can Tho Resort, Can Tho

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Melia Hanoi Hotel, Hanoi

Melia Hanoi Hotel, Hanoi

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Grand Hotel Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City

Grand Hotel Saigon, Ho Chi Minh City

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Royal Hoi An Mgallery

Royal Hoi An Mgallery, Hoi An

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Best Western Premier Indochine Palace, Hue

Best Western Premier Indochine Palace, Hue

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Novotel, Nha Trang

Novotel, Nha Trang

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Courtyard by Marriott Phnom Penh

Courtyard by Marriott Phnom Penh, Phnom Penh

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Angkor Miracle Resort & Spa

Angkor Miracle Resort & Spa, Siem Reap

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Train

Soft sleeper

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Upgrades

Flight upgrades
London Hotels
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Laos

Reviews

4.8 stars4.8 / 5 · 31 reviews

  1. 5 stars
    (24)
  2. 4 stars
    (7)
  3. 3 stars
    (0)
  4. 2 stars
    (0)
  5. 1 star
    (0)

Mr N Buttler

4 stars

Submitted 27 Apr 2019

Well organised. Good quality accommodation throughout. Good local guides. Great itinerary with variety means of travel.

Collected by Great Rail Journeys

Mr E Newhouse

5 stars

Submitted 18 Nov 2018

Excellent holiday - well organised with very varied programme. The group bonded well, partly due to the efforts of the tour manager. Apart from the night in the sleeper, we never handled our luggage. One word of warning - this is not a restful holiday. We were on the go most of the time - but there was good free time as we went along.

Collected by Great Rail Journeys

Mrs L Wikeley

5 stars

Submitted 18 Nov 2018

The tour was well planned and executed throughout the whole holiday. A good mix of people helped as well.

Collected by Great Rail Journeys

Mr A Nelson

5 stars

Submitted 14 Nov 2018

All ran like clockwork, good hotels tour representative &tour guides.

Collected by Great Rail Journeys

Mr E Powell

5 stars

Submitted 12 Nov 2018

A very full program well carried out by a very good tour leader

Collected by Great Rail Journeys

Mrs C Silberfeld

4 stars

Submitted 30 May 2018

We have already completed a detailed questionnaire for GRJ on our last day in Cambodia (and given our names)

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Grand Tour of Vietnam and Cambodia

Enjoy a culture-rich Far Eastern rail adventure

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