Vietnam Cambodia Tours

Vietnam Cambodia Discovery

Number of days: 14

Price from: 1,372$

Tour type: Private Tour

Departure: Daily

Start from: Hanoi or from any other city on request

Highlights: Hanoi, Sapa, Halong Bay, Hue, Hoi An, Ho Chi Minh City, Mekong Delta, Cuchi Tunnels, Tay Ninh, Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, Angkor Wat

This program combines the hidden charm of Vietnam and the mystical treasures of Angkor in Cambodia with a unique opportunity to experience the natural beauty and traditional lifestyle found throughout the Mekong Delta. The whole tour is accompanied by experienced, local guides.

  • Overview
  • Trip Itinerary
  • Accommodations
  • Travel Info
  • Trip Map
  • Request a Quote
  • DESTINATIONS 


    * Hanoi - Exploration of this charming, historical centre and its French provincial influences 
    * Sapa – A French Hill Station nestled within the mountains high above Hanoi and is home to colorful ethnic groups.

    * Halong Bay - Vietnam’s ‘Jewel in the Crown’; the stunning beauty of the 3,000 islets of the Gulf of Tonkin

    * Hoi An - Discover this charming UNESCO World Heritage listed site 

    * Hue - The country’s former imperial capital  

    * Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon) - Vietnam’s most cosmopolitan and vibrant city 
    * Mekong Delta - ‘Rice basket of Vietnam’ and home to many living, working and travelling along the river 

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

    * Siem Reap - Gateway to the Angkor Wat temple complex  


    ACTIVITIES

    * Phnom Penh - Capital of Cambodia surrounded by the Mekong River; home to majestic palaces and pagodas  
    * 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  
    * 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  
    * Siem Reap - Gateway to the Angkor Wat temple complex ACTIVITIES

    Cultural Tours / History & Archaeology Tours / Museums & Galleries / Caves / Music / Shopping / Walking Tours / Boating & Sailing


    BRIEF ITINERARY:


    Day 01: Arrive Hanoi

    Day 02: Hanoi city tour – Night train to Sapa (B)

    Day 03: Sapa & the Hill tribe villages (B)

    Day 04: Sapa – Visit a Hill Tribe Market – Night train back to Hanoi (B)

    Day 05: Hanoi – Cruise Halong Bay – O/n on boat (B/L/D)

    Day 06: Halong – Hanoi – Danang – Hoian (B/L)

    Day 07: Discover Hoian Charming Town (B)

    Day 08: Hoian – Hue, visit Old Citadel (B)

    Day 09: Hue – Saigon, city tour (B)

    Day 10: Saigon – Day trip to Mekong delta (B/L)

    Day 11: Saigon – Cuchi - Tayninh Phnom Penh (B)

    Day 12: Phnom Penh City tour – Siem Reap (B)

    Day 13: Siem Reap – Angkor Temples (B)

    Day 14: Siem Reap – Departure (B)

    Include:

    - Accommodation with daily breakfast bases on twin/double sharing

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

    - Transportation by private car with A/C

    - Overnight cruise on Halong bay 2 days/1 night

    - 4 Internal flights: Hanoi-Danang, Hue-Saigon, Saigon-PhnomPenh, PhnomPenh-SiemReap
    - Return train tickets in soft berth cabin with A/C: Hanoi – Sapa – Hanoi

    - Boat trips as mentioned in the programs and excursions 

    - Private 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 (20 US$/Person, can get at airport by yourself)

    - International flight and departure tax

    - Tipping, drinks and other personal expenses

    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


    Wanted to write and thank you so much for our wonderful holiday.  It was amazing and I was very very impressed.  Will definitely recommend you to anyone thinking of visiting your country. 

    The best guide we had was the one in Sapa.  I'm not sure how you spell her name but sounds like Sui-Mai.  She was truly amazing and by far the best.  We learnt so much from her.  If possible please let her know how pleased we were.

    Again, many thanks for all your patience, support and wonderful organisation.

    Kindest regards

    Sue Banwell-Moore

  • DETAILED ITINERARY:


    Day 01: Arrive Hanoi
    On your arrival in Hanoi, you are welcomed by your private guide and driver at the airport and get transfer to hotel in city center. Free at leisure after the long flight in the rest of the day. Overnight at hotel in Hanoi.

    Day 02: Hanoi city tour – Night train to Sapa (B)
    Morning sightseeing of the most city's outstanding historical and cultural sites. The visit includes:
    - The complex of Ho Chi Minh historical sites, also called the political center of Vietnam.
    - One-pillar Pagoda and The Temple of Literature for the brief understanding about the two most popular religions in Vietnam (Buddhism and Confucianism).
    - Visit one of the museums in Hanoi (Museum of History, Museum of Ethnology, Museum of Fine Art)
    - Walking tour around the guild streets in the Old Quarter of Hanoi, Hoan Kiem Lake, the Opera House.
    Late afternoon highlight is with Water Puppet Show- the traditional performance dated 11th century. You will have time for dinner then transfer to Railway station for night train to Sapa.
    Overnight on the train in 4 soft berths cabin with A/C.
    Note: If you wish to upgrade to the private cabin for 2 of you, please pay extra 70 US$/Person for the round trip. 


    Day 03: Sapa & the Hill tribe villages (B)
    Early morning arrival at Lao Cai - The Chinese border town, then transfer uphill to Sapa town. Have breakfast in a local restaurant. Spend the rest of the day for exploring the charming town, visiting market and getting acquaint with the hill-tribal people such as H'mong, Red Zao, Zay... 
    After that, discover the nature as well as different culture of hill tribal people with the local guide. Up and down hill from village to villages around Lao Chai and Ta Van Villages which is decorated by terraced-fields and the house of H'mong, Red Zao and Zay people
    Great opportunity for taking photos of breathtaking landscapes, meeting friendly hill-tribe people at home and work...enjoy the great view of the magnificent Fansipan mountain range, deep valleys and terraced rice paddies. Overnight at hotel in Sapa town. 


    Day 04: Sapa – Visit a Hill Tribe Market – Night train back to Hanoi (B)
    In this area there are some Fair Markets which can't be missed. (Can Cau on Saturday, Bac Ha on Sunday and Coc Ly on Tuesday)
    You will check out hotel early and leave Sapa for about 3 hours driving to the market. Join in the colorful market of the tribal people in this region. On the fair market the H'mong, Dzao, Phu La people in their best traditional costumes go to the market for shopping and meeting friends and relatives 
    Late afternoon, Drive to the Chinese border gate for a short visit. Transfer to a mini hotel or guest house in Laocai town for refreshment or have a shower. 
    You will have time for your own dinner before driving to the railways station for night train to Hanoi. Overnight on the train in 4 soft berths cabin with A/C.

    Day 05: Hanoi – Cruise Halong Bay Cruise (B/L/D)
    The train arrives back to Hanoi around 4:30am, get to a dayuse hotel near the train station that we have arranged for you for few hours relaxing and having breakfast. 
    After breakfast around 8am, we depart for Halong Bay – the World Heritage Site on a comfortable drive in 3 & a half hours passing the countryside of the Red River delta. There will be a stop on the way to relax or have a cup of coffee. 
    12h00: Arrive to Halong city, boarding the traditional junk for departure
    12h45: Start cruise
    13h00: Lunch is served with welcome wine
    13h30: A Breath-Taking cruise in Ha Long bay. Great photo opportunities of shaped islands like Dog island, Incense Burner Island, Fighting Cock Island and so on. Visiting Sung Sot cave and have a siwm at Titop beach. Enjoy sunset
    Dinner is served. Relax, drinking or fishing at your pleasure before spending a night on board the boat. 


    Day 06: Halong – Hanoi – Danang – Hoian (B/L)
    7h00: Breakfast is served
    7h30: A morning cruise toward islets of Man’s head, Tortoise and visit Luon cave by a small bamboo row boat. Cruising through Bai Tu Long bay and heading back to Ha Long pier.
    09h45: Check out
    10h00: Enjoy brunch on board
    11h45: Arrive at Halong pier. Meet our driver for the direct transfer to the airport for the late afternoon flight to Danang. Arrival in Danang, transfer to hotel in Hoian for overnight. 

    Day 07: Discover Hoian Charming Town (B)
    Today you will have a guided tour to see the interesting sights of this ancient city. Some hundreds years ago, this town thrived o­n trading with the Chinese, Japanese and Spanish. You will visit a historical Old House, Japanese Covered Bridge, Old Temple and Silk Factory. Overnight at hotel in Hoi An.


    Day 08: Hoian – Hue, visit Old Citadel (B)
    After breakfast, we drive 4 hours northwards to Hue, the ancient capital of Vietnam. Take some stops on the way to see the spectacular view on the top of “Hai Van Pass”and the legend beach of Lang Co. Visit Marble Mountain in Danang.  
    Afternoon, sightseeing in Hue to the Ancient Imperial Citadel, a complex of palaces and temples built by the Nguyen from early 19th Century for which Hue was recognized by UNESCO as a World Cultural Heritage. Drive to the countryside of Hue to visit King Minh Mang tomb (typical formal oriental style designed). Late in the afternoon, enjoy a leisure boat-ride along the scenic Perfume River to visit Thien Mu pagoda. Overnight at hotel in Hue.


    Day 09: Hue – Saigon, city tour (B)
    Start the day the Vietnamese way! Take an early morning walking tour of Hue on your own before returning to the hotel for breakfast. Check out hotel and get the transfer to the airport for the morning flight to Saigon.
    Briefing tour of Saigon to famous landmarks such as: the Post Office and Notre Dame Cathedral - two of the city's architectural landmarks then visit the War Remnant Museaum and Ben Thanh Market.... Overnight at hotel in Saigon. 


    Day 10: Saigon – Day trip to Mekong delta (B/L)
    Leaving the busy city, you are going to visit country side in the Mekong Delta. On arrival at MyTho. The only way for you to observe the local lifestyle is getting on a boat navigating around the small canals in the delta region. Lunch at local restaurant or Vietnamese house. Roaming around and observe how the people make the living from fruit trees such as coconut, corn and other local products. You may love to enjoy tea and tropical fruits prepared by the locals. Return to Ho Chi Minh City in the late afternoon for overnight.


    Day 11: Saigon – Cuchi Tunnles - Cao Dai Temple – Phnom Penh (B)
    Check out the hotel and 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. You’re your own lunch and drive directly to the airport in Saigon for the late afternoon flight to Phnom Penh. 
    Arrive in Phnom Penh, transfer to the hotel in city center for check in. Overnight at hotel in Phnom Penh.


    Day 12: Phnom Penh City tour – Siem Reap (B)
    Enjoy breakfast in the hotel. 
    Morning, take the sightseeing tour to visit the most highlights of cultural and historical sites of Phnom Penh. The visit includes: Royal Palace, Silver Pagoda, and Toul Sleng or S21 Prison, Wat Phnom and Russian market
    Afternoon, transfer to airport in for the 50 minute flight to Siem Reap in late afternoon. Arrive in Siem Reap, transfer to hotel in the city center for check in. Overnight at hotel in Siem Reap. 


    Day 13: 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 Wat's five towers symbolize Meru's five peaks - the enclosed wall represents the mountains at the edge of the world and the surrounding moat, the ocean beyond.
    Afternoon, Visit the ancient capital of Angkor Thom (12th century). See the South Gate with its huge statues depicting the churning of the ocean of milk, the Royal EnclosurePhimeanakas, the Elephants Terrace, the Terrace of the Leper King and Bayon Temple (unique for its 54 towers decorated with over 200 smiling faces of Avolokitesvara). Overnight at hotel in Siem Reap.


    Day 14: Siem Reap – Tonle Sap Lake - Departure (B)
    After breakfast, transfer to take the Tonlé Sap for a cruise on the lake with the visiting to floating village to explore the fishman’s life. Then visit Chantier Ecole-Artisant d’Angkor. Free time for shopping before the transfer to the airport for the departure flight to the next destination. End of the trip. 

  • 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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    Start from: Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) or reverse

    Highlights: Ho Chi Minh, Mekong Delta, Nha Trang, HoiAn, Hue, Hanoi & Halong Bay

    Adventure through Vietnam on a highlights tour to experience the beauty, history, wonder, and grandeur of the country. On this custom tailored tour you will discover the breathtaking scenery of Ha Long Bay and the charismatic floating lanterns of Hoi An. From Saigon to Hanoi, the Imperial City of Hue to the labyrinth of tunnels at Cu Chi, the diversity of Vietnam is yours to enjoy, while the marvel is yours to explore.

  • Luxury MV Jayavarman Cruise from Saigon to Siem Reap

    Trip type: Sharing Boat

    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.