London – Hanoi
You leave Heathrow late in the evening bound for Bangkok to meet your connecting flight to Hanoi.
Upon arriving in Hanoi you’ll be shown to your hotel – a classic building dating back to the country’s colonial era. You’ll be within walking distance of the central lake and Opera House, and close to the bustling narrow streets, alleyways and grand tree-lined boulevards that make Hanoi so delightful.
On your second day in Hanoi you’ll embark on a city tour that takes in the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum and the botanical gardens of the Presidential Palace – a poignant contrast to ‘Uncle’ Ho’s original, humble house. After the One Pillar Pagoda and the Temple of Literature you’ll pass Hanoi Hilton Prison, then ride a cyclo through the streets of the Old Quarter – known for its silk, jewellery and artefacts – dating back to the 11th century. Your tour ends with a visit to Ngoc Son Temple.
Stay: Two nights in a luxury room at the Sofitel Metropole.
Today you fly to the former imperial city of Hue. Enjoying the status of a World Heritage Site, Hue stands on the Perfume River where you’ll find the Imperial Citadel – a massive fort with 10 metre thick walls – and the impressive Thien Mu Pagoda. You’ll be staying in a magnificent hotel on the banks of the Perfume River, with grand views of the citadel and the opportunity to take a dragon boat ride to visit the pagoda.
Stay: One night in a deluxe river view room at La Residence.
In the afternoon you drive through the outstanding Hai Van Pass to Hoi An. Once one of the Orient’s premier trading ports, the city’s fine buildings still reflect Hoi An’s centuries of wealth and power. This is a great place to shop for souvenirs, silks, handicrafts, antiques and paintings and then relax beside the sea. Cua Dai Beach is just five kilometres from the centre of town and is famous for its fine sand and excellent fresh seafood stalls.
You’ll be staying in a resort that reflects the influence of Dutch, French, Chinese and Japanese settlers, set on the banks of the scenic Thu Bon River. A walking tour from your hotel will reveal the cobbled streets with 200 year old Chinese residences, the Japanese Bridge, temples and trading houses that make up this World Heritage Site.
Stay: Two nights in a deluxe balcony room at the Anantara.
In the early afternoon you fly from Danang to Saigon where you’ll be staying in the heart of Saigon’s main tourist attractions. The Old Saigon Post Office, partly designed by Gustav Eiffel (Notre Dame Cathedral), the Palace of Reunification and Dong Khoi Street are all unmissable, whilst in the evening you’ll explore the Chinese district and visit Thien Hau Temple.
Stay: One night in a park room Park Hyatt.
From Saigon you’ll be taken to where your Jayavarman boat is moored, waiting to take you on an unforgettable cruise. The boat itself echoes the French Colonial style of architecture and offers 27 generously proportioned cabins, restaurant, lounge terrace, sun deck and spa. You’ll set sail along the mighty Mekong to visit Cai Be’s boisterous floating market and observe the timeless life of the people who populate the banks of the Mekong Delta.
You’ll see local produce being prepared, glide along quiet canals and visit ancient local houses. A sampan will take you around Binh Thanh Island’s canals; famous for their water hyacinths. Then it’s time to cruise on to Chau Doc with its Chinese, Kinh and Khymer communities, ancient temple and vivacious market. You’ll pass floating villages and rural catfish farms before mooring for the night near the Cambodian border.
Stay: Three nights in a superior cabin on a Jayavarman cruise boat.
In the morning you’ll disembark and be taken to Phnom Penh – Cambodia’s busy capital city. Take a rickshaw ride and you’ll be greeted by elegant boulevards, low level French residences and the Khmer Towers that stand beside the Royal Palace. The palace complex includes the Silver Pagoda – named after its 5000 silver roof tiles – with the National Museum and the Russian Markets lying beyond.
Stay: One night in a landmark room at Raffles Hotel Le Royal.
Fly from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap and prepare yourself for one of the world’s most iconic sights. You’ll be staying close to Angkor Wat and Siem Reap. The cultural home of the Khmer people, the fortified temple is reached by a giant stone causeway across a moat all of 190 metres wide, flanked by towering stone statues of gods and devils. Even more wonders await in Angkor Thom – the Great City. A temple with 54 towers, all with carved faces of Avalokiteshvara.
The temples of Baphuon and Bayon. The Terrace of Elephants, the Celestial palace, the Terrace of the Leper King – the wonders go on and on. And on the following days there are even more. You’ll visit an untouched village called Kompong Khleang, take a boat ride on a beautiful lake, see houses raised on stilts and visit the 12th century Ta Prohm Temple that is almost engulfed by a giant fig tree – a fine reminder of how nature will reclaim the landscape if left undisturbed.
Stay: Three nights in a deluxe pool view room at Belmond La Residence D’Angkor.
Siem Reap – Bangkok - London
You’ll fly in the evening from Siem Reap to Bangkok where your connecting flight will take you back to London, landing the following morning.
Ayesha was patient and informative. Her skills became even more apparent on the vacation - such as the order of the hotels, which were each perfect for that moment.- S and RD, Bhutan, 2015