Vietnam Cambodia Tours

Cambodia & South Vietnam Experience

Number of days: 13

Price from: 1,176$

Tour type: Private tour

Departure: Daily

Start from: Siem Reap or any other city

Highlights: Siem Reap, Angkor Wat, Phnom Penh, Mekong Delta, Ho Chi Minh, Mui Ne Beach

Cambodia and South of Vietnam trip is combinated between the highlights of the two countries. This trip goes from the majestic Angkor complex and then vibrant Phnom Penh, goes through the Mekong Delta - the lush green rice basket of Vietnam, to the hustle and bustle of Saigon, the legendary Cu Chi tunnels and end up at the Mui Ne premium beach. It is a memorable journey of both history and culture and beach relaxation.

  • Overview
  • Trip Itinerary
  • Accommodations
  • Travel Info
  • Trip Map
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  • DESTINATIONS:

    * Siem Reap - Gateway to the Angkor Wat temple complex 

    * Phnom Penh - Capital of Cambodia surrounded by the Mekong River; home to majestic palaces and pagodas 

    * Mekong Delta - ‘Rice basket of Vietnam’ and home to many living, working and travelling along the river 

    * Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon) -  Vietnam’s most cosmopolitan and vibrant city

    * Mui Ne – Home to tranquil beaches and has a thriving fishing industry. 


    ACTIVITIES: 

    Cultural Activities / Historical Sites / Local Food / River Cruise / Museums  /  Beach Relaxation /



    TRIP AT A GLANCE

    Day 01: Arrive Siem Reap

    Day 02: Siem Reap – Angkor Temples (B)

    Day 03: Siem Reap – Angkor Temples (B)

    Day 04: Siem Reap – Phnom Penh (B)

    Day 05: Phnom Penh – Chau Doc (Vietnam) (B)

    Day 06: Chau Doc – Mekong River on private Song Xanh Cruise (B/L/D)

    Day 07: Mekong River on private Song Xanh Cruise (B/L/D)

    Day 08: Cai BeSaigon (B)

    Day 09: Saigon (B)

    Day 10: Saigon – Cuchi – Tayninh (B)

    Day 11: Saigon – Muine Beach (B)

    Day 12: Muine Beach (B)

    Day 13: Muine – Back to Saigon for departure (B) 

    Include:

    - Accommodation with daily breakfast bases on twin/double sharing rooms

    - 2 nights on the private sampan on Mekong River

    - Meals as mentioned in the itinerary (B: Breakfast, L: Lunch, D: Dinner)

    - Airport transfers & tour transport by private vehicle with A/C

    - Boat tickets: Phnom Penh to Chau Doc

    - Local English speaking tour guides

    - All entrance fees and permits where applicable


    Exclude:

    - Meals that not mentioned in the program

    - Travel insurance

    - Vietnam visa

    - Cambodia visa

    - International flight and departure tax

    - Tipping, drinks and other personal expenses

    - Surcharge for Christmas Eve and New Year Eve


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    The trip you have organised for us went very well. All the  hotels met with our expectation and all the transfers where done with excellent punctuality.

    I would like to take this opportunity to thank you and your staff for your assistance that made possible to realise our trip. Thank you very much on behalf of all my friends.

    Best regards

    Max Scarpa from UK



  • DETAILED ITINERARY: 


    Day 01: Arrive Siem Reap 
    On arrival in Siem Reap, transfer to the hotel (rooms may not ready until early afternoon).
    Afternoon, visit the Roluos GroupThe monuments of Roluos, which served as the capital of Indravarman I (reigned 877-89), are among the earliest large, permanent temples built by the Khmers and mark the beginning of Khmer classical art. Preah Ko erected by Indravarman I in the late 9th century dedicated by the King to his ancestors in 880. Bakong the largest and most interesting of the Roluos group temples, with his active Buddhist monastery just to the north of the east entrance. Lolei built on an islet in the center of a large reservoir (now rice fields) by Yasovarman I, the founder to the first city at Angkor. Overnight at hotel in Siem Reap.



    Day 02: Siem Reap – Angkor Temples (B) 
    In the morning, visit the most famous of all the temples on the plain of Angkor: Angkor Wat. The temple complex covers 81 hectares and is comparable in size to the Imperial Palace in Beijing. Its distinctive five towers are emblazoned on the Cambodian flag and the 12th century masterpiece is considered by art historians to be the prime example of classical Khmer art and architecture. Angkor Wats five towers symbolize Merus five peaks - the enclosed wall represents the mountains at the edge of the world and the surrounding moat, the ocean beyond. 
    Afternoon, visit the South Gate (with its huge statues depicting the churning of the ocean of milk), the ancient capital of Angkor Thom (12th century), Bayon Temple (unique for its 54 towers decorated with over 200 smiling faces of Avolokitesvara), the Royal EnclosurePhimeanakas, the Elephants Terrace and the Terrace of the Leper King. Sunset at Angkor Wat.  Overnight at hotel in Siem Reap.


    Day 03: Siem Reap – Angkor Temples (B) 
    Morning, transfer to Banteay Srei temple (10th c), regarded as the jewel in the crown of Classical Khmer Art. Continue to Ta Prohmone of the areas most beautiful temples. Ta Prohm has been relatively untouched since it was discovered and retains much of its mystery.

    In the afternoon, you continue your temple visits to Preah Khan. Built by the King Jayavarman VII, Preah Khan is, like Ta Prohm, a place of towered enclosures and shoulder hugging corridors. Unlike Ta Prohm, however, the temple of Prea Khan is in a reasonable state of preservation and ongoing restoration efforts should maintain and even improve this situation. Neak Pean, a fountain built in the middle of a pool (representing the paradisiacal Himalayan mountain-lake), Ta Som and Banteay Samre, built in the third quarter of the 12th century. It consists of a central temple with four wings preceded by a hall and accompanied by two libraries, the southern example remarkably well preserved. Two concentric walls enclose the ensemble.  Overnight at hotel in Siem Reap.

    Day 04: Siem Reap – Phnom Penh (B) 
    Morning, take the 50 minute flight from Siem Reap to Phnom Penh. Arrive in Phnom Penh, we will visit this charming city of Phnom Penh: the Royal Palace, built by King Norodom in 1866 on the site of the old town, and the Silver Pagoda. Located within the grounds of the Royal Palace, the Silver Pagoda is so named because of its floor, which is made up of 5000 silver tiles. The treasures found inside include a solid gold Buddha encrusted and weighing 90kilograms and a small 17th century emerald and baccarat crystal Buddha. Visit Wat Phnom temple. Before ending the tour of today, we enjoy the Cyclo ride along the Mekong River. Overnight at hotel in Phnom Penh. 


    Day 05: Phnom Penh – Chau Doc (Vietnam) (B) 
    Morning, visit the Tuol Sleng Prison Museum and the notorious ‘Killing Fields’ of Choeung Ek are not to be missed. A visit to these sights provides a deep insight into the painful bloody rule of the Khmer Rouge. We continue to one of the city’s lively open markets, Psar Toul Tom Pong, all called the “Russian Market”, where anything and everything is for sales.
    Early afternoon, you will be transferred to the boat station for the express boat trip to Chau Doc, the border town of Vietnam. To enter Vietnam at border with Cambodia, you will must have Vietnam visa in advance. Arrive Chau Doc in late afternoon, you will be met and transferred to your hotel. Overnight at hotel in Chau Doc. 

    Day 06: Chau Doc – Mekong River on private Song Xanh Cruise (B/L/D) 
    Located on the upper Mekong Delta, Chau Doc town is 280 km (174 miles) south-west of Ho Chi Minh City close to the Cambodian border. With such proximity to Cambodia, the local population is an eclectic mix of Cham, Khmer, Chinese and Vietnamese, sharing different cultures and historical richness. 
    Your cruise journey on the private Song Xanh sampan will start at noon in Chau Doc. We will be cruising the Mekong river and see the floating fish farming villages, floating markets and Cham villages, an ancient Muslim ethnic population with their kingdom covering Cambodia and south Vietnam during the 10th century. 
    We will continue our cruise to Cho Moi on such a beautiful river, little arm of the Mekong, where several traditional activities can be observed on the banks (artisanal boat factories, bamboo baskets making, palm leaves cutting, net fishing), as well as old Vietnamese temples dating from late 19th century.

    In the evening, we will organize for you an exciting experience in a village located in the suburbs of Cho Moi, where your dinner will be arranged at some typical local house. You will be able to share experiences with family members and learn about traditional Southern Vietnam lifestyle, one of the highlights of your journey on the Mekong which should not be forgotten! Back on board your private sampan for your first night on the boat on the river.


    Day 07: Mekong River on private Song Xanh Cruise (B/L/D) 
    The breakfast will be served on board at 07am.Your Sampan will slowly leave Cho Moi for Sa Dec and proceed the cruise downstream the river to Long Xuyen, a peaceful provincial town located on the Mekong’s banks. We will pass by several luxuriant islands, crossing countless sampan boats carrying sand, rice, fruits and vegetables, fishes, showing an intense activity on the river. Approaching Long Xuyen, your lunch will be served on board. Later, you will have a quick tour of Long Xuyen typical center before cruising further to “Cu Lao Ong Ho” (The Tiger Island) for a visit at Ton Duc Thang museum, second president of Vietnam…We will proceed downstream on the Mekong river to Sa Dec. Some stops on the banks will be possible for cycling tours to discover deeper the inhabitants’ life style. 
    Back on board your sampan, you will enjoy a romantic dinner served on the deck during the sunset. Second night on board on the Mekong River…

    Day 08: Cai Be – Saigon (B)
    Early morning, your breakfast will be served on board while cruising. Further, Sa Dec town will appear like a little “Venice” with numerous narrow canals…You will disembark for a guided visit of this charming and peaceful town, walking along its narrow streets where beautiful French old houses and Chinese temples dating from the last century are numerous… You will visit the local market and the Trung Vuong primary school where well known writer Marguerite Duras spent her childhood (see her famous novel turned into the movie “The Lover”).
    After lunch, your sampan will proceed to Vinh Long, cruising by Dong Phu and An Binh islets famous for their fruit orchards. These evergreen islands among the Mekong River bring about large networks of meandering rivers, criss-crossed with countless arroyos, and remaining unknown to many people. Crossing the large Co Chien River we will pass under the spectacular My Thuan Bridge. On the banks, some dark smokes in the sky will lead us to one of the largest artisanal bricks and tiles factory where you will have an interesting visit. 
    We will proceed to Phu An hamlet, an untouched beautiful area reflecting some of the best sights the Mekong Delta can offer. A delicious lunch will await you.
    Our cruise continues on to Cai Be where you will visit Cai Be colorful floating market cruising among local barges full of fruits and vegetables. Visits will be made at an ancient mandarin house dating from 1890 where you will we welcomed by the owner. Another stop at some local home factories will allow you to observe how rice paste, coconut candies and other specialties are traditionally made. 
    We will finish our Mekong River adventure on private Song Xanh sampa in Cai Be where will take our car for the trip to Saigon. Overnight at hotel in Saigon. 

    Day 09: Saigon (B) 
    Although Saigon is a big and chaotic metropolis, but this makes your discovering the city are unique. Nice colonial center, with broad promenades and squares, and some French influence buildings that should not be missed. There are also many nice temples and pagodas. Another of the things visitors should not miss is popular markets - a great place to taste the local food specialties. Our sightseeing in this city tour inclusive Reunification Palace, War Museum, Jade Emperor Pagoda, Notre Dame Cathedral, Binh Tay Market, on the way back we visit bustling China Town, and Ben Thanh Market. Overnight at hotel in Saigon. 


    Day 10: Saigon – Cuchi Tunnels & Cao Dai Great Temple (B) 
    We depart the hotel in the morning for Cu Chi to visit the Tunnels. Cu Chi Tunnels are a network of underground tunnels begun in 1948 by the Viet Minh in their struggle against the French. These  tunnels were expanded and used by the Viet Cong during the war between Vietnam and America. Americans called this the “Iron Triangle” and was a stronghold of the Vietcong for almost thirty years. Walk underground in the tunnels. From here you will continue on to see the Cao Dai Temple in Tay Ninh, where each day at noon a prayer service is held. It is a striking structure on a very large compound. The term Cao Dai (meaning higher tower or place) is a euphemism for God. Caodaism was found in the 1920’s by Ngo Minh Chieu, using a combination of teaching from Buddism, Confucianism, Taoism, Hinduism, Christianity, Islam and other religions into one religion to promote peace. Have lunch on your own and back to Saigon. Overnight at hotel in Saigon.


    Day 11: Saigon – Muine Beach resort (B) 
    We depart after breakfast for the 4-5 hour drive to Phan Thiet Province, seaside resort of Mui Ne. Besides fine sandy beaches, Mui Ne has an imposing landscape of sand dunes that impress all visitors. Many of them have been an inspiration of artistic photographs and paintings shown in postcards and travel brochures that promote Vietnam tourism.
    Enjoy this afternoon o­n the beach. Overnight at beach resort in Muine. 


    Day 12: Muine Beach resort (B) 
    Free day at leisure in the beach resort. Overnight at beach resort in Muine.

    Day 13: Muine – Back to Saigon for departure (B) 
    You will be free until the transfer back to the airport in Saigon for the departure flight. Say “Farewell to Saigon and Vietnam”.


  • Categories of Accommodation


    Value:

    With basic hotels and simple accommodation, this is a no frills option with an adventurous authentic feel. We would normally accommodate your in these in remote areas.


    Standard:

    Standard accommodation equates to a Western 3-star standard, always featuring en-suite rooms and usually a restaurant. Sometimes these are a good affordable choice in cities where accommodation is very expensive, but where being centrally located is a prime consideration.


    Superior:

    Superior accommodation equates to a Western 4-star standard, featuring en-suite rooms and usually a restaurant and often a swimming pool and/or a fitness centre. This is the 'classic' hotel standard we use on most of our group based tours.


    Deluxe:

    Deluxe accommodation equates to a Western 5-star standard, usually featuring spacious, en-suite rooms, a restaurant, swimming pool and fitness centre and an array of amenities, excellent service and customer care. India and Southeast Asia have a fabulous array of top notch 5-star properties.


    Luxury:

    Luxury accommodation equates to a Western 5-star plus standard - the creme de la creme. Featuring spacious, en-suite rooms, a restaurant, swimming pool and fitness centre and an array of amenities, this accommodation is a cut above the rest. Sheer opulence!



  • Visa and Passport
    Except for a number of ASEAN countries a visa is required to visit Vietnam. If your itinerary requires two
    entries into Vietnam then a double entry visa must be obtained. If your trip is postponed or delayed it may be necessary to obtain another visa if your original visa is not valid for your new dates of travel.

    Tourist Visa
    A Vietnam Tourist Visa is valid for the period of 30-days and for a single entry (unless endorsed for a double entry at additional cost). The cost charged by the Vietnamese embassy is $65 for a single entry visa and $130 for a double entry visa. Your passport must be sent to the embassy along with payment with prepaid shipping arrangements with Priority Mail with Delivery Confirmation, FedEx, etc., two completed visa applications and two passport photos. Allow five-business days for processing.

    Visa-on-Arrival
    A Visa-on-Arrival is available if you are pre-approved for the visa. In lieu of a stamped visa in your passport prior to departure a fax from the Department of Immigration is issued and used as your travel document for boarding your international flight to Vietnam. This system has been working for a number of years now and is extremely reliable. Visa-on-Arrival processing charges are normally $25 and a $45 fee is payable directly to Vietnamese Immigration upon arrival.

    Double Entry Visa
    A Double Entry Visa is a Tourist Visa endorsed for a double entry. If your itinerary requires a double entry be sure and obtain the Double Entry Visa.

    Re-Entry Visa
    Re-entry Visas, prior to departing Vietnam, are possible to obtain in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City through authorized agencies for a fee of approximately $25, however it requires one-to-two days and the deposit of your passport. This is not advisable unless your itinerary allows ample time and you remain in the city where the application was filed until the visa is issued. It is strongly advised to obtain a Double Entry Visa prior entering Vietnam.

    Passport Validity Dates
    Your passport must have a validity date of at least six-months remaining after your visit to Vietnam is completed.

    Travel Document Companies
    Unless you live nearby a Vietnamese embassy or consulate or are experienced in dealing with embassies by mail or telephone, it is advised that you use a travel document company to obtain your visa.
    Notes: You can email us at info@privateasiatours.com for more advice on Vietnam Visa information. The service is free of charge. All the emails will be replied within 24h.

    Entry Procedures
    Arrival and Departure Cards are required to be completed upon entry into Vietnam; they will be provided by the airline or at the border gate. The yellow copy of the card will be returned to you and must be submitted when you depart Vietnam; keep it in a safe place. Making a photocopy of it is a good idea and keeping it with your other photocopies.
    If you have been pre-approved for a Visa-on-Arrival simply process though the Visa-on-Arrival lane at immigration.
    Once your visa formalities have been completed claim your baggage and process through customs.

    Duty Free
    One-carton of cigarettes and one bottle of liquor.

    Exit Procedures
    Complete the customs declaration and process through customs then complete the immigration processing where you will be required to return the yellow copy of your Arrival and Departure Card.

    Airport Departure Taxes
    Domestic Departure Taxes are included in the price of the airline ticket. International Airport Departure taxes are $14 (Hanoi) and $12 (Ho Chi Minh City). First check-in for your flight and then obtain the receipt for the payment of your departure tax to present upon clearing customs.

    Tendering Passports
    Vietnamese law requires that passports be tendered to the hotel each evening. This may appear odd to Western travelers but until the 1960's a number of European countries required that passports be tendered to the hotel each evening.

    Travel Insurance
    Traveler's Insurance is strongly recommended. A number of companies sell competing policies and it is a good idea to read the fine print and ask questions if you are in doubt. Note : some insurance companies cover travel insurance in their existing policies; check, you may already be covered. Policies have differing benefits for trip cancellation, trip interruption, emergency medical and dental coverage, emergency medical transportation, lost baggage, missed connections, and accidents.
    Of special note is the emergency medical transportation. This is extremely costly; if you any health condition which may require medical evacuation you should check to see if you are currently covered and if not purchase the insurance. Medical treatment, if required, can be costly and the pay is usually in cash.

    Electricity
    220 volt at 50 cycles however 110 volt at 50 cycles in the cities is sometimes encountered, but not often; in the countryside 110 volt via generators is common. For your convenience obtain electrical converters at outlets like Radio Shack prior to your departure. You hotel may have converters but it is always easier to come prepared. Electronic equipment should be protected with a surge protector.

    HEALTH AND SAFETY
    Common Health Problems

    Water
    Hydration is a concern in the tropics; the rates of water loss exceed those which most people are accustomed to in the northern hemispheres. Particular attention should to be paid to hydrating your body through above the average consumption of water. Bottled water is readily available throughout Vietnam and we strongly recommend that you carry a bottle with you . . . and drink it.

    Sunburn
    The sun in the tropics is not the sun in the northern hemispheres. Particular attention needs to be paid protecting your skin: bring and use sunscreen lotions. Even if you are not on the beaches, wear a hat and protect your arms and exposed skin with sunscreen if you are exposed to excessive hours in the sun.

    Diarrhea
    Diarrhea can be caused by simply a change of diet; it can also be caused by intestinal parasites or bacteria which are acquired by drinking non-boiled water or by eating vegetables which have been washed with non-boiled water such as lettuce and tomatoes; it can also be caused by drinking drinks with ice which was produced with non-boiled water.
    You can expect diarrhea as a normal result of changing diet, but if you suspect that the diarrhea is not the result of a change in diet or is ongoing for more than several hours, you should do something about it for dehydration is the major problem associated with diarrhea.
    Either use medications which you bring with you (none of which I have found to be effective) or consider over the counter medications from a Vietnamese pharmacy. Diarrhea is a typical Vietnamese healthcare problem and all pharmacies in Vietnam sell pharmaceuticals which eliminate nearly all cases of it. My personal experience has been that within of hours of taking over the counter medication one is on the upswing and within 12-hours one is nearly restored.

    Heat Exhaustion
    The least common health care problem in Vietnam with visitors to Vietnam is Heat Exhaustion. Proper hydration and not being a fool by walking, hiking or unduly exercising in the afternoon peak heat of the day, is the solution. Siestas in Mexico and the Mediterranean countries are for a reason: to stay out of the heat of the sun. So too in Vietnam.

    Health Concerns

    Avian Flu
    Avian Flu has been and still is a concern of many who are planning holidays to Southeast Asia. A U.S. Department of State Avian Flu Fact Sheet is published below providing excellent information on this topic.
    Influenza, or simply "flu," is a yearly and ongoing problem for North Americans. Each year in the United States thousands of people die from flu, and this is not avian flu, but the annual flu's which appear in the winter months and are transmitted by human-to-human transmissions. The flu is a serious matter: the flu of 1917 killed millions of people worldwide . . . these annual strains of flu have the ability to metamorphosize quickly and into many different forms, and all are potentially deadly.
    With avian flu deaths world-wide, numbering in the few hundreds over a two-year plus period, the threat pallor's in comparison to annual flu deaths in North America, gunshot wounds and highway automobile accidents. What sets avian flu apart from the normal reoccurring annual flu's is that its transmission is believed to be almost entirely from animal-to-human contact, not human-to-human contact. Therefore a number of specific precautions, outlined in the article below, are advised to further diminish the threat.
    Like HIV/Aids, avian flu will probably be with us for a very long time, however one's chances of contacting the avian flu are minute.

    MONEY GUIDE: 
    Banking Hours
    Normal banking hours are from 8:00 to 11:30 am and from 1:00 to 4:00 pm Monday through Friday and 8:00 to 11:30 am on Saturday. A few banks in the major metropolitan areas will remain open during lunch hour and on Saturday afternoons and Sundays. Currency is also readily exchanged at official exchange counters at hotels and other retail establishments; the exchange rates are nearly identical to the bank rates.

    Convertible Currencies
    All major currencies including the sterling, the Yen, the Canadian dollar, the Euro and the U.S. dollar are convertible. The preferred currency is the U.S. dollar. Please note bills which are defaced, torn or simply old are often declined; be sure and bring fresh new bills.

    Re-conversion upon Departure
    It is illegal to take VND out of the country. Small amounts of VND can be redeemed upon departure at airport kiosks; large amounts require the initial transaction documents.

    Credit Cards
    Major credit cards (Visa, Master Charge and to a lesser extent American Express) are finally beginning to find wider usage in Vietnam as more and more establishments accept them; in major cities nearly all major and mid-level hotels, restaurants and major tourist shops now accept credit cards. Except for the higher end hotels most establishments charge a three-percent transaction fee; some establishments charge a five-percent surcharge.

    ATM Machines
    ATM machines have arrived in Vietnam. Vietcombank has an expanding network of ATM machines in the major cities of which many are open for 24-hours. The machines currently accept only Visa and Master Charge. The maximum daily withdrawal is two-million VND per transaction with a Vietnam 20,000 VND service charge which is in addition to your bank's charges. A four-digit PIN number is required. Foreign banks are also entering the ATM market. Larger cash advances require a visit to the teller.

    Traveler's Checks
    Traveler's checks denominated in most major currencies are accepted in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City but USD is the preferred currency. Traveler's checks issued by Visa, MasterCharge and American Express are the most widely accepted. Outside of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City it is often difficult to redeem traveler's checks. The purchase receipt and the traveler's check numbers should be kept separately from the traveler's checks in the event of loss. A redemption fee of up to four-percent is charged. Passport ID is required for redemption.

    TET Travel (Vietnamese New Year) Considerations
    TET (the Vietnamese New Year) is not a good period to visit Vietnam for several reasons: the streets are near empty on the first day of TET and remain so for up to 4-days; Vietnamese want to be with their families, not working; airline tickets to and from Vietnam during the TET period are difficult to obtain and are offered at a premium price.
    While the days leading up to TET are joyous days, at midnight on the commencement of TET, the country goes silent. Only very gradually over the next week does it return to normal.
    Also taking into account the below tips before traveling to Vietnam

    Photocopies
    A photocopy of the information page of your passport along with a photocopy of your visa (or visas if you are traveling to more than one country) should be made and kept at a different place from your passport; it serves no purpose to loose your passport and the photocopies at the same time. In the event of loss these will speed the re-issuance of your passport and visas.

    Clothing
    One rarely needs a coat in Ho Chi Minh City but one nearly always needs a coat in Sapa in the winter. Vietnam reaches nearly from the Tropic of Cancer to the Equator and its climates range from tropical to temperate. Winter gets chilly in Hanoi and even moreso in the mountainous regions in the north and especially in the northern highlands. The Central Highlands in the center, as far down as Dalat, also get cold in the winter and chilly on summer evenings. The best strategy is "layering": a T-shirt, a long sleeved shirt along with a light coat will often suffice for chilly evenings. For colder climates and times of the year appropriate gloves, hats and even scarves are desirable. Hats, umbrellas and sunscreen work well to protect the skin.

    Food
    Three things to avoid: buffets where it is obvious the food has sat for a period of time; anything which has or could have a water residue on it (lettuce, tomatoes, unpeeled fruit); and mayonnaise which has a tendency to rapidly spoil in tropical climates and can cause food poisoning. Other than this Vietnamese food is a culinary delight: light, flavorful, delicate and filling but not "laden" as many Chinese dishes are. In the countryside, as well as in the cities, the many and varied soups of Vietnam are a delight with the ubiquitous "pho" being the national favorite.
    In the major cities of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City a rainbow of culinary delights from all corners of the world awaits the traveler.

    Bargaining
    Rarely is the first price or the posted price the real price: bargaining is expected, however unrealistic offers to purchase should be avoided as they are considered insulting.

    Tipping
    Tipping, until Vietnam opened its doors to the outside world, was never expected in Vietnam. With the advent of tourism the times have changed but still tipping is not nearly as routine as it is in some Western countries. For services, a 10% tip is gracious. For guides (for one or two people) for extraordinary service, $10 per day (or more depending on the service) tip is good; for adequate service $5; for so-so service: nothing. Driver's do not expect tips but welcome them.

    Laundry
    All good hotels provide laundry services. Laundries in Vietnam offer the quality at bargain prices.

    Maps
    A good map always places time and space in a far more understandable sphere. There are numerous maps available in Vietnam at bookstores and good city maps of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City available at good hotels (sometimes for free), but the best country maps as well as the best city maps are ITMB Maps from Vancouver, Canada. For years Jack Joyce, in conjunction with geographic institutes in Vietnam, has been making the best maps available. These maps can be purchased at most good map stores and online.

    Taxis
    Vietnam has perhaps the best taxi services in the world. Always take metered taxis which are plentiful in the major cities.

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    Departure: from Saigon or Siem Reap

    Highlights: Saigon, CaiBe, VinhLong, CanTho, ChauDoc, Phnom Penh, Siem Reap

    The majestic Jayavarman is considered the father in Heritage Line’s “family” of cruise ships. This vessel was named after Angkor’s most venerated king, who ruled from 1181 to 1218, and was a devout Buddhist. King Jayavarman oversaw the construction of some of the most famous temples in Angkor, including Ta Prohm, Preah Khan and the unforgettable Bayon. Inspired by the serenity and artistry associated with this great Khmer monarch, The Jayavarman’s design was also influenced by the French cruise liner Normandie, which launched in 1935. Traveling between Saigon and Phnom Penh, the Jayavarman marries the art deco charm of 1930’s France with the romance of Indochine. Measuring 57.8 meters from bow to stern, the Jayavarman holds 27 elegantly decorated cabins. Thanks to its intricate woodcarvings, Khmer bas-reliefs and Vietnamese lacquer paintings, this impressive cruise ship resembles a floating art gallery. Wherever they look, guests are reminded of the local arts and culture. With three-and-a-half decks the Jayavarman is as spacious as it is beautiful. Guests can admire Khmer artifacts in the Henry Mouhot Lounge, mingle in the Club 1930 Bar, dine in the elegant Indochine Dining Hall, and recharge with spa treatments in the Apsara Spa. A Jacuzzi is located on the top sundeck, which offers spectacular views of the passing delta. Along with its peaceful beauty, the Mekong Delta is known for its friendly locals. The crewmembers of The Jayavarman are no exception. From the moment they board, guests are made to feel at home. Offering exceptional service, comfort and style, The Jayavarman is a name to remember. This beautiful vessel is an unforgettable means of exploring some of the finest scenery in Asia.