“A tour of history and fascinating local life, this trip allows you to explore Vietnam and Cambodia in comfort, swapping long road journeys for flights to maximise time.”
Hanoi | Hanoi Old Quarter | Halong Bay cruise | Marble Mountain | Hoi An | Cookery class in Hoi An | Saigon (Ho Chi Minh City) | Cu Chi Tunnels | Mekong Delta | Mekong River boat trip | Siem Reap | Angkor | Angkor Wat | Angkor Thom | The Bayon
Description of Vietnam and Angkor Wat holiday
This 16 day classic Vietnam and Angkor Wat holiday covers an amazing amount of ground travelling from north to south of Vietnam and then, briefly, into Cambodia using a variety of private minibus, three flights and boats. A trip of a lifetime through some of the cultural and natural highlights of these countries, you are fully guided and travel in a small group, following an itinerary that has been carefully crafted to ensure that you have a real, not rushed, experience.
In Vietnam, we travel between the busting, beautiful capital Hanoi, and work our way south after spending some time on Hanoi Bay, where we take a boat, kayak and even swim in this stunning marine karst landscape, where over thousands of limestone boulders emerge from the busy waters. As well as seeing the famous floating villages, there are remote bays to seek out and plenty of time to just chill on board.
After flying south to Danang, our next iconic stop is Hoi An which really still feels like an ancient city, with car free streets lit by lanterns, crumbling colonial architecture and tiny artisan studios poking out along alleys or bicycle filled streets. The street food here is also superb, and we get an opportunity to have a cooking lesson from local experts.
More flying takes us to Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon) where the whirr of life, be it in temples, markets, artisan workshops or restaurants never stops, and is ever exhilarating. It is also a city to ruminate on the past, as it was devastated by the Vietnam/American War. We visit the sobering Reunification Palace and War Remnants Museum as well as the Cu Chi Tunnels, outside the city, where despite being packed with tourists, are now infamous reminders of the brutality of this war. Not a trip for everyone, this one especially when invited to go down the tunnels.
The Mekong Delta is a wonderful reminder of the country’s natural heritage, and we spend two days travelling by boat through the country’s water dwelling communities, with floating markets, fishing villages and flooded paddy fields. And then, for the final leg of this Far Eastern odyssey, and in complete contrast, we take a flight to Siem Riep in neighbouring Cambodia. Because it is a shame to travel this far and not get a chance to see the world famous UNESCO World Heritage Site and ancient empire of Angkor Wat, now enveloped in jungle that covers 160km2. If ever there was a fine finale to a trip of a lifetime, this is it.
Hello. If you'd like to chat about this holiday or need help finding one we're very happy to help. Rosy & team.
Small group travel is not large group travel scaled down. It is modelled on independent travel – but with the advantage of a group leader to take care of the itinerary, accommodation and tickets, and dealing with the language. It’s easy to tick off the big sights independently – but finding those one-off experiences, local festivals, travelling markets and secret viewpoints is almost impossible for someone without the insider knowledge gained from years in the field. If you’re heading off on a gap year your, perhaps – but for those with a two-week holiday, a small group tour will save valuable planning time.
The leaders are not guides – they’re not there to shepherd you around. Instead, they’ll let you know which local restaurant serves great value food – without running the risk of travellers’ tummy. They’ll allow you to avoid hour-long queues at train stations and attractions.
We like to think of small group travel as the Goldilocks option. It is independent travel without the fuss, worry and bunk beds – and organised travel without the coaches. And it’s cheaper than a tailor made tour. It’s sits somewhere in the middle – and we think it’s just about right.
What are the main benefits?
Have big, life-enriching experiences that would be impossible to organise without lots of time and insider knowledge.
Make the most of your holiday time by letting someone else do the hard work and boring logistics!
Peace of mind
Small group tours take care of the security aspects – and provide a safety net should anything unexpected happen.
Who is it ideal for?
Travellers who are short of time
If you don’t have three months to spend exploring, small groups trips let you cover more ground in less time. Your days are not spent queuing for tickets or finding hotels – so you can squeeze more into your holiday.
Solo travellers who’d like company
Likeminded travel companions plus peace of mind for those travelling alone. Single supplements are usually available – providing privacy if you want it.
Less confident travellers
Stray from the tourist trail without worrying about getting lost, and meet local people without dealing with the language barrier.
“I won’t get any privacy!”
Couples and friends have private rooms, and you can choose to eat alone or not. Single supplements give solo travellers their own room.
“There won’t be any free time”
Free mornings or afternoons let you explore on your own, or just relax.
“The accommodation will be basic” Trips are as high or low end as you like. Though off the beaten track destinations won’t have luxury hotels, this is all part of the adventure.
“I won’t like the other travellers!”
Tour operators try to create groups with a similar demographic – age, families, activity levels... Chances are, you’ll even make new friends.
“Will we be following an umbrella?”
Meet a group Leader
Name: Valerie Parkinson
Story: The first British woman to climb Manaslu, Valerie climbed Everest for her 50th birthday. She’s spent fourteen Christmas Days trekking to Everest Base Camp, and is involved insetting up Responsible Tourism initiatives in the Himalayas.
Meet a local guide
Name: Roshan Fernando
Story: Roshan has led over 130 trips – he adores showing travellers around Sri Lanka. He won the company Leader Award in 2010, but his career highlight was working on their Tsunami Project – which earned him a responsible tourism award.
Responsible tourism: Vietnam and Angkor Wat holiday
Accommodation & Meals: We will spend most nights in comfortable hotels and one night aboard a houseboat. This combination of locally run hotels and accommodation providers contributes directly to the community as staff are from the area and food is grown and sold locally. Many of these places also have environmental policies which reduce waste, water usage and energy expenditure. Where meals are not provided, your guide will be able to point out several smaller restaurants, cafes and markets, like in Hanoi old quarter, Hoi An market or Ben Thanh. There are some weird and wonderful regional specialties to try with plenty of fresh produce available in most areas. We even have the opportunity to take a cooking class and learn the intricacies of Vietnamese cooking under the supervision of a local chef.
Local Craft & Culture: We do a lot to celebrate the cottage industries on this tour, as this is not only a way to directly benefit the locals but it is also hugely fascinating and enjoyable for travellers. For example, in the Mekong Delta, we visit a lot of these small businesses and factories which sell handmade coconut sweets, rice paper, soya bean sauce, popped rice and popcorn amongst other things. In Hoi An, we also stop by a shop called ‘Reaching Out’, which sells gifts handmade by artisans with disabilities – helping them to develop their talent and independence. Our entrance fees to the Angkor complex in Cambodia goes towards preserving these fascinating cultural sites and creating employment opportunities for local people.
A Fair Deal: We work closely with our local operator and ensure that all of our guides are local and that in exchange for their expertise that they are paid and treated fairly. Our leaders and guides have been trained in responsible travel and actively encourage our suppliers, drivers, and other members of our team to respect the environment, protect the culture and support the local economy. They have also completed Child Safe training which enables them to take positive action should they encounter children at risk as well as educating clients re child protection within tourism.
Charity: In Hanoi, we encourage groups to have a communal meal at KOTO, which is an NGO that provides a two year course in hospitality, English and life skills training to groups of 16-22 year olds from disadvantaged backgrounds. Students also receive accommodation, food, medical check-ups and treatment whilst they are being trained. Many of the 400+ graduates have gone on to continue developing their careers at KOTO restaurants or have gained employment elsewhere with their training so this is a great initiative to support.
UK Office: It all starts at home so we have first worked at reducing our carbon footprint in our UK Offices. Through energy conservation measures and recycling policies, we are proud to be actively reducing the waste produced and our impact on the environment. We support various projects all over the world to try and give something back to the places we visit.
Group Size: This small group tour has a maximum of 16 participants, meaning that we have a low impact on the environments and communities we visit and are able to ensure that we do not disrupt or lead to the displacement of local people. The small number also allows us to stay in unique, family-run hotels that cannot benefit from coach tours and other mass tourism due to their limited sizes.