Vietnam & Cambodia with Sapa Express

15 Days, from AU $4,855

Rice Terraces, Sapa

Halong Bay

Angkor Complex, Siem Reap

Rice Terraces, Sapa Region

International Museum, Phnom Penh

Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, Hanoi

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Jetset through Vietnam and Cambodia visiting the must-see attractions of Hanoi, Sapa, Halong Bay, Hoi An, Saigon, Phnom Penh and the temples of Angkor in this fast paced itinerary. If you want to be whisked around without any fuss, this is the itinerary for you.

Start in the capital of Vietnam, Hanoi, with its French colonial architecture, bustling old quarter. Catch the overnight train up into the mountains of the former French hill station of Sapa, characterised by rocky mountain ridges, terraced rice paddies and lush green valleys. Colourful hill tribe minorities inhabit the surrounding mountains, each with its own distinctive style of dress. Returning from Sapa, spend a night on breathtaking Halong Bay where thousands of limestone rock sculptures jut dramatically from the sea. Visit the charming old merchant town of Hoi An with its rich architectural fusion of Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese and European styles, laid back atmosphere and nearby sandy beaches. Finally visit Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) in southern Vietnam, a sprawling metropolis with its Vietnam-American war history including the Cu Chi tunnels, and a day trip to the bustling Mekong Delta.

Fly from Saigon to the riverside capital of Cambodia, Phnom Penh, long considered the most beautiful French built city of the Orient. Explore the Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda, the haunting Tuol Sleng Museum and the Killing Fields of Choeung Ek. Travel to Siem Reap, home to the fabled city of Angkor. Discover temples including Angkor Thom the ancient royal city of the Khmer Empire and Ta Prohm, buried in the jungle. Marvel at the morphing scene of Angkor Wat as the setting sun washes this mysterious monument in haunting red hues, and finally explore Banteay Srei, the jewel of Khmer art, with its red sandstone walls decorated with elaborate carvings.

Our Express itineraries cover the must-see attractions with a priority on enjoyment and convenience. All itineraries can be customised to suit your personal tastes. Discuss itinerary options and extensions with our Asia Travel Experts.

Suggested Itinerary

Day 1: Hanoi

You will meet your guide on arrival, transfer and check-in to your hotel. During the drive your guide will provide an introduction to Hanoi, answer any questions you have, and make arrangements for the following day. Enjoy free time for the remainder of the first day.

Hanoi is Vietnam’s capital city and home to seven million people. Traditional and refined, with French colonial architecture, tree-lined boulevards, scenic lakes and a bustling Old Quarter, Hanoi has a sophisticated charm. Observe elderly people practicing Tai Chi by the lake, with barbers and food vendors plying their sidewalk trade.

Hanoi has many great restaurants with French, Vietnamese and international cuisines available. Ask your guide for personal recommendations.

Itinerary Option: If you’re arriving to Hanoi in the morning, discuss additional day 1 activities with our staff.

Day 2: Hanoi and Overnight Train to Lao Cai

Accompanied by your guide, the day starts with a visit to the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, an imposing monument lavishly built using marble and granite, where the preserved body of “Uncle Ho” resides. See the lotus shaped One Pillar Pagoda which rests on a single stone pillar emerging from the water, and then explore the Temple of Literature, the first University for the sons of mandarins, to gain an overview of Hanoi culture and ancient Vietnamese architecture.

In the afternoon, visit the Museum of Ethnology offering a fascinating insight into Vietnam’s 54 ethnic minority groups and enjoy a walking tour through the bustling Old Quarter. Later you are driven to the train station where you guide will assist you with checking in to your overnight train from Hanoi to Lao Cai, for your trip to Sapa.

Day 3: Sapa

Arriving early, you meet your guide and visit a nearby hotel for a quick refresh and breakfast.

The former French hill station of Sapa is characterised by rocky mountain ridges, terraced rice paddies and lush green valleys. Sapa is located in the picturesque Hoang Lien Son mountain range on the border with China. Colourful hill tribe minorities inhabit the surrounding mountains, each with their own distinctive style of dress. From early childhood, girls learn to grow and weave hemp, dye cloth, and decorate the families clothing with traditional embroidery motifs.

Visit a colourful market where the many different ethnic groups such as Flower H'mong, Phu La, Black Dao, Tay and Nung minorities gather to buy and sell local products that cannot be found elsewhere. Explore a remote village market where ethnic people sell homemade wares and produce such as embroidery, tobacco, rice wine, chickens, pigs, horses and buffaloes. Observe locals haggling, catching up with friends, and going about their business.

At another hill tribe village, take an optional water buffalo cart ride and later enjoy a peaceful trip on a local boat down the Chay river with more stunning scenery.

Day 4: Sapa

Spend the day touring and light trekking the beautiful mountain countryside. Take your time to photograph one of the world’s most breathtaking farmland vistas with its terraced valleys that employ traditional agricultural methods.

Trekking through the Muong Hoa valley, marvel at ancient engineering techniques employed by the local farmers as they control water flow through the rice paddy terraces on the steep mountain slopes. See the different costumes of the Zay minority and Red Dao people as you trek through Giang Ta Chai village.

Say goodbye to your guide as you depart on the overnight train back to Hanoi.

Day 5: Halong Bay

Arriving early, you will meet your guide and have the opportunity to freshen up and have breakfast.

Travel to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Halong Bay and board your deluxe junk for your overnight cruise. Marvel at the dramatic vista and relax onboard, as you sail amongst the thousands of limestone islands that rise from the turquoise waters of the Gulf of Tonkin. Rock sculptures jut dramatically from the sea and the numerous caves and grottoes have created an enchanting, timeless world.

Set sail through Bai Tu Long Bay whilst a seafood lunch is served, then sit back, relax and enjoy the scenery as you cruise past various islands en route to Cua Van fishing village. Explore the floating village by bamboo rowing boat. Visit Tien Ong Cave before returning to the junk for sunset cocktails and canapés, followed by dinner served on the deck or in the restaurant.

Day 6: Halong Bay

Why not begin the day with a Tai Chi class on the top deck? Or just admire the beautiful scenery as the sun rises over the azure waters. Choose between an excursion to a secluded island with a sandy beach for a morning swim, or join the chef for a cooking demonstration to learn more about Vietnamese cuisine. Enjoy a buffet brunch as your junk cruises Halong Bay, passing islets and caves as you make your way back to the dock.

You have the option to visit a pottery workshop on the trip back to Hanoi before flying to Hoi An in the afternoon. Meet your guide on arrival in Hoi An and transfer to your hotel. During the drive your guide will provide an introduction to Hoi An, answer any questions you have, and make arrangements for the following day.

Built on the site of an ancient Cham village, Hoi An was a prosperous port from the 16th to 19th centuries trading with merchants from China, Japan, India, Indonesia and Europe who came to buy silk, spices and porcelain. Hoi An’s UNESCO World Heritage Old Quarter is beautifully preserved with ornate pagodas, antique trading houses and old tile-roofed shops. It is a rich architectural fusion of Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese and European styles. Many of the historic buildings lining the canals and pedestrian streets have been converted into art galleries, boutique restaurants, bars and cafes. Hoi An is surrounded by attractive countryside with traditional farming and fishing, and by sandy beaches with modern seaside resorts.

Day 7: Hoi An

Experience the charm of Hoi An on a walking tour with your guide. Wander along the narrow lanes and gain an insight into Hoi An’s illustrious past as you explore this heritage listed town. Take in the old merchant houses with influences from Chinese, Japanese and Vietnamese architecture. See the 400 year old Japanese Bridge, a unique covered structure built by the Japanese, and the only known covered bridge with a Buddhist pagoda attached to the side. Visit the Assembly Hall of the Chaozhou Chinese Congregation with its outstanding wood carvings and explore the colourful market with stalls brimming with local specialties including silk which can be turned into fashionable garments within one or two days.

Enjoy free time for the remainder of the day. There is plenty to see and do in Hoi An, but many visitors find themselves relaxing by the beach, browsing the markets and boutique shops, or visiting one of the many tailors in town.

GetAboutAsia Favourite: Our customers rave about Hoi An, so check out our suggestions on personalising your trip to get the most out of your visit.

Day 8: Saigon

Enjoy free time in Hoi An until your flight to Saigon where you will meet your new guide on arrival. During the drive to the city your guide will provide an introduction to Saigon, answer any questions you have, and make arrangements for the following day. Enjoy free time for the remainder of the first day.

Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) in southern Vietnam is a sprawling metropolis of ten million people. Formally renamed Ho Chi Minh City in 1975 at the end of the Vietnam-American war, locals still refer to Saigon. With thousands of motorbikes zipping past luxury cars, French colonial buildings dwarfed by modern skyscrapers and traditionally dressed school girls riding bicycles past trendy city workers, Saigon is an exciting city of contrasts.

Saigon is a city that never sleeps and offers a plethora of great restaurants and bars catering to all tastes, from street food vendors to the rooftop bar at the Rex Hotel, where international correspondents covered the Vietnam War and where the U.S. military attaché’s press briefing was held daily and dubbed the “Five O’clock Follies”. Whatever your interests, be sure to ask your guide for personal recommendations.

Day 9: Saigon

The Cu Chi Tunnels are an immense network of interconnected tunnels near Saigon that are part of a much larger network lying below much of the country. A guided visit to these tunnels provides a better understanding of their history, the hardship of life underground and the resilience of the Vietnamese during combat.

The tunnels were built and used initially by the Viet Cong guerrillas as hiding spots to protect them from the French air and ground sweeps. They later served as communication routes, storage facilities, hospitals and living quarters for the guerrilla fighters throughout the Vietnam-American war.

You're invited to enter a section of the tunnels to witness the secrets of the tunnels firsthand. Your guide will also show you various mantraps employed from this period, the remains of an American tank and numerous B52 bomb craters. There is also the opportunity to fire an M60, M16 or AK47 rifle at the range next to the tunnel complex.

After returning to Saigon, learn about the city’s historic landmarks as you tour the city with your guide. Visit the Notre Dame Cathedral, a red brick building with twin spires based on the original construction from Paris, then head across the square to the Central Post Office designed by the French architect Gustav Eiffel. Next stop is the former Presidential Palace, headquarters to the Saigon Government during the Vietnam-American war. You may also like to visit the War Remnants Museum for a vivid insight into the Vietnam-American war from a Vietnamese perspective.

Day 10: Saigon

Skyscrapers are replaced by rice paddies and fruit farms as you travel by road into the Mekong Delta, the rice bowl of Vietnam. Witness daily life in the stilt houses and fish farms that you pass as your driver navigates the maze of canals in the traditional wooden motorboat.

Experience the vibrant energy of the floating markets where vendors trade their produce between the floating boats in a uniquely Mekong Delta fashion. Sample freshly picked exotic fruits from a small island orchard as the farmer before lunch served in a traditional Mandarin house where four generations of one family live. Walk back or be rowed in a sampan to your motorboat to return to the pier before travelling by road back to Saigon.

Day 11: Phnom Penh

In the morning fly from Saigon to Phnom Penh and meet your guide on arrival. During the drive your guide will provide an introduction to Phnom Penh and answer any questions you have.

The riverside capital of Phnom Penh, once known as “The Pearl of Asia” and long considered the most beautiful French-built city of the Orient, is a charming and captivating city. The old French ochre-coloured colonial buildings are now being filled with trendy cafes, boutiques and art galleries and many traditional ornate temples still remain. The bustling squares and frangipani-lined boulevards create an atmosphere that is unlike any other city in South East Asia. Rich in history, Phnom Penh has a number of cultural and historical sites including the National Museum, Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda, and offers an insight into its darker past with the haunting Killing Fields and Tuol Sleng Museum.

Set off with your guide to Cheung Ek, situated 17 kilometres (11 miles) from Phnom Penh town, and made famous by the movie “The Killing Fields”. The seemingly peaceful stretch of green fields of Cheung Ek does not allude to the horrors that took place here. A large memorial commemorates the 17,000 men, women and children, who died here under the reign of Khmer Rouge leader, Pol Pot. The skulls and bones inside the memorial stupa and the mass graves that dot the area are a reminder of the terrible suffering that occurred here. This journey into Cambodia’s past will provide you with a background to the cruelty of the Khmer Rouge regime. Besides the tragic past, it will also give you an appreciation of the struggle that Cambodian people have faced and their tremendous courage to move on and rebuild their nation.

After your tour you will be driven to your hotel and your guide will assist you with checking in. Before leaving you at your hotel, your guide will make arrangements for the following day and can also provide restaurant recommendations for tonight’s dinner.

Phnom Penh has many great restaurants and bars including the rooftop bar of the iconic Correspondent’s Club, an ideal spot to sit and watch the sun descending over the Tonle and Mekong rivers.

Day 12: Phnom Penh

Set out with your guide to visit the National Museum, designed in traditional Khmer style by a French archaeologist and painter in 1917. The museum houses Khmer art and sculptures from different periods of Cambodian history. Next visit the Royal Palace and the Silver Pagoda, built in 1866 by the French for King Norodom, two of the most striking buildings in the capital and amongst the finest examples of Khmer architecture. The Royal Palace stands on the site of the former citadel dating back to 1813 and is home to the current King Sihamoni. The Silver Pagoda owes its name to its floor made up of 5,329 solid silver tiles. The building houses many gold and jewelled Buddha statues including the 17th century Baccarat crystal Emerald Buddha. Other important buildings found within the compound include Wat Preah Keo Morokat where Royal ceremonies are performed, and the King Ang Doung Stupa - the burial site of former King Norodom. The palace has been inhabited by kings at all times with the exception of the period when the radical Khmer Rouge party took control in 1975.

Learn about the turbulent years of the Khmer Rouge on your visit to the infamous Tuol Sleng Museum. Tuol Sleng, a high school prior to 1975, became an interrogation prison known as S-21 during the Khmer Rouge era and today it is a genocide museum. It tells the sad story of the thousands of innocent Cambodian people who were tortured on its grounds. Walk the narrow corridors and former classrooms as you read the stories of the victims and witness the torture devices on display. Photographs were taken of each prisoner passing through the prison and hundreds of the black and white photos are now on display in the museum. Although a haunting experience, the museum is a sobering reminder of the Khmer Rouge’s brutality and a testament to their crimes.

Return to your hotel or to one of the riverside cafes or bars to watch the sunset over the Tonle and Mekong rivers.

Day 13: Siem Reap

In the morning fly from Phnom Penh to Siem Reap and meet your guide on arrival. During the drive your guide will provide an introduction to Siem Reap and answer any questions you have.

Siem Reap, situated in the north west of the country, is an enchanting town with Chinese-style shop houses, French colonial architecture and tree lined boulevards. It is the gateway to the World Heritage ancient temple ruins of Angkor, eighth wonder of the world and spectacular ancient capital of the powerful Khmer Dynasty. As well as the myriad of awe-inspiring temples and Khmer relics to explore, Siem Reap and its rural outskirts offers craft villages, silk farms, Khmer cuisine cooking classes, traditional Cambodian “apsara” dance performances and the floating villages on the tranquil waters of Tonle Sap Lake.

Accompanied by your guide start exploring the stunning temples this afternoon by tuk-tuk. Visit Angkor Thom, the ancient fortified royal city and former capital of the Khmer Empire. The city has five monumental gates and consists of several temples including the Bayon, Baphuon, Terrace of the Elephants and Terrace of the Leper King. Enter Angkor Thom through the impressive South Gate and drive towards the centre piece, the Bayon Temple. At first glance the temple may seem like a shapeless mass of stone, but further scrutiny reveals the enigmatic faces of former King Jayavarman VII looking in every direction. There are over 200 huge carved faces that stare down from fifty four gothic towers. Continue your exploration with a visit to the 350 metre (1155 feet) long Terrace of the Elephants, which served as a platform from where the King viewed the victorious return of his army. Then visit the Terrace of the Leper King with detailed carvings winding along a narrow passage that leads to the Baphuon, a pyramidal representation of mythical Mt Meru.

After your afternoon tour you will be driven to your hotel and your guide will assist you with checking in. Before leaving you at your hotel, your guide will make arrangements for the following day and can also provide restaurant recommendations for tonight’s dinner.

Day 14: Siem Reap

Explore temples of the World Heritage Angkor complex with your guide. Start with a visit to the picturesque and atmospheric Ta Prohm, built in 1186. This fascinating jungle-clad temple is one of Angkor’s most impressive and most beautiful structures. Over centuries the fig tree roots have engulfed the temple’s huge stone blocks, crumbling towers and walls. The living jungle is reclaiming this Buddhist temple, shrouding the courtyards and corridors in dappled sunlight, and creating a haunting and exotic atmosphere.

In the afternoon, visit one of the world's most impressive archaeological sites, the iconic temple of Angkor Wat. The largest and most breathtaking of Angkor’s monuments, this vast temple was constructed between the 9th and 13th centuries and is the largest Hindu structure in the world. Angkor Wat is orientated towards the west, symbolically the direction of death. It is home to hundreds of beautiful carvings of Apsara and Hindu mythology and boasts some of the most well preserved carvings in the region. As you stroll the massive hallways you discover small shrines still in use today by the local people. Return to one of the grass terraces in front of the five massive towers of Angkor Wat to watch the sun setting over the temple complex. Afterwards, return to your hotel in Siem Reap.

Day 15: Siem Reap

On your last day enjoy free time until your departure transfer.

Personalise Your Trip

Phone now to discuss options to personalise your itinerary.

Ideas to upgrade or extend your itinerary:

  • Sapa: For the adventurous consider staying multiple nights, spending the days hiking or mountain biking independently or on GetAboutAsia day trips.
  • Hanoi: Other options include cycling tours, Van Long nature reserve including a boat trip (recommended), Perfume Pagoda and grotto tour, wildlife tours, cooking classes, culinary tour and art tours.
  • Halong Bay: Why not spend two nights on your traditional junk boat? Refer below for details on the different boats.
  • Hoi An: For those not inclined to relaxing, Hoi An has the most exciting array of activities in Vietnam, from cooking classes, culinary tours, cycling trips, fishing or farm visits, to island snorkelling and lantern making lessons.
  • Cu Chi Tunnels: Learn about life in the tunnels from a Viet Cong war veteran who lived here during the war.
  • Saigon: Squeeze in a Vespa motor scooter tour. Options include street food tours, a wartime landmarks tour, an art and architecture tour, and a locals insider tour.
  • Saigon: Add a cooking class to spice up your itinerary, either at the renowned Saigon Culinary Arts Centre, or an exclusive class at an historic villa.
  • Saigon: War history tours, including itineraries that focus on Vung Tau and Nui Dat for Australian war veterans.
  • Mekong Delta: Consider adding a night in the Mekong Delta to spend more time getting to know this fascinating area of Vietnam.
  • Phnom Penh: Options include cycling trips, countryside visits to the Tatai waterfalls, and a visit to the Phnom Tamao wildlife rescue centre.
  • Siem Reap: Angkor includes a large number temples to visit, some well know and others off the beaten track. Some customers also like to spend an extra day wandering the temples on their own. Discuss options with our staff.
  • Siem Reap: Other options include horse riding and quad bike tours, local handicraft visits, a silk farm visit, temple bike tours, and cruises on Tonle Sap Lake.
  • Why not extend your trip to visit Cambodia's coast with great value beach resorts.

Halong Bay Cruise Ships

Note that the schedule above refers to the Jasmine and Ginger luxury sailing Junks. The schedule on the Halong Bay Sails junk used on the budget price standard differs, although it is similar.

Jasmine / Ginger

The Jasmine and Ginger are luxury sailing junks with polished woodwork, French Indochina design, refined Asian decor and golden sails. The sundecks are complete with lounge chairs giving you the opportunity to sit back, relax and enjoy the spectacular scenery of Halong Bay. Relax at the bar and enjoy meals in the restaurant where lavish international brunches, casual Vietnamese lunches and formal dinners are served.

The cabins offer panoramic windows or private balconies, with individually controlled air conditioning and glass standing showers. Various optional activities are offered including kayaking to explore the bay’s uninhabited islands and caverns, tai chi, cooking classes and wine tasting.

GetAboutAsia recommend these Heritage Line junks for our Halong Bay one and two night stays due to the fantastic feedback received from our customers and from our own experience on these amazing boats. With our good relationship with Heritage Lines, we also believe these boats represent good value for this once in a lifetime experience.

Heritage Line Ginger and Jasmine photos.
Jasmine / Ginger Junk Photos

Halong Bay Sails

The Halong Bay Sails is a traditional wooden junk with modern facilities and amenities. Cabins are decorated simply but comfortably, with large windows, en-suite showers and air conditioning. The restaurant serves fresh seafood caught locally, and the bar serves coffee and cocktails. There is a large sundeck complete with sun lounges enabling you to relax and enjoy the beauty of Halong Bay.

Excursions are similar to those on the Jasmine / Ginger junks, and include trips to floating villages or exploring rock formations by boat or kayak.

The Halong Bay Sails is used on the budget itinerary option.

Travel Styles

All Get About Asia trips have been designed to make sure you have an unforgettable travel experience. We have developed several trip styles to cater for our diverse range of travellers. Read what your ideal Get About Asia experience might look like here.

Standard:from AU $4,855
Superior:from AU $5,708
Deluxe:from AU $7,178

All GetAboutAsia prices are based on twin share and depend on availability and season. All our itineraries can be customised including international flights and extra nights. For questions or further information, Enquire Now!

Important Information

Accommodation:

Hotels, Halong Bay Junk, or overnight train each night of the itinerary (excluding your departure day). All GetAboutAsia accommodation is handpicked by us. Upgrades are available for this itinerary.

Inclusions:
  • All breakfasts at your hotel each morning.
  • All airport transfers.
  • All internal airfares and transport on tour.
  • All itinerary attractions including fees or permits.
  • Professional tour guides for all airport pickups, day tours and activities.
  • Lunch and dinner as indicated on trip notes. We do not include lunch or dinner where it is practical for you to make your own choices, as we find that GetAboutAsia customers prefer the freedom of eating what they want, which is one the of joys of travelling.
Notes:

This trip package includes 3 internal flight (Hanoi - Hoi An, Saigon - Phnom Penh and Phnom Penh - Siem Reap) which retail at about 200AUD per flight.

Visa for Vietnam
When obtaining your visa you should allow 2-3 weeks for processing, the cost is approximately US$60 to US$100. Check with your embassy or consulate for further details. The Vietnamese Embassy in Edgecliff, Sydney has been known to issue a visa in 4 working days if all the correct documents are submitted at the time of application.

Visas for Cambodia
It is possible to obtain your Cambodian visa on arrival at the Phnom Penh or Siam Reap international airports or any border crossing for approx. US$30 (cost subject to change) - you will need 2 passport photos.

Price Dependent:

Availability of accommodation and season.

Trip Information

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"I would like to say huge THANK YOU to you and your organisation for my trip to Cambodia and the tours arranged during Vietnam. It has been quiet the adventure. All guides where punctual and well informed and each tour was amazing. One of our favourite guides was in Sapa. I will be happy to recommend Get About Asia to all my friends and relatives." — Natalie and party, Willamsdale NSW, March 2016

"My Sapa trip was great! The guides spoke clear English and were very friendly, informative and nothing was too difficult. I learnt so much, even about their families. They certainly tried to accommodate and were attentive to needs. I would definitely recommend GetAboutAsia." — Kylie, Australian working in Cambodia, April, 2015

"The trip was well planned and an absolute eye opener. The Vietnamese people do so much with so little. My sister and I had a great time, learnt such a lot and enjoyed everything on the itinerary. We made the most of every single day - we went flat chat and came home happy and exhausted! All of the guides and drivers were very good, hotels clean & comfortable with a good choice of breakfast dishes and very central for looking around, markets and restaurants We could do it again with a few changes here and there with longer in places like Halong Bay and the Mekong! Thanks to Get About Asia for organising the trip. " — Anne Johnson, Davidson, NSW, September, 2014

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