A trip to Vietnam and Cambodia can be immensely enriching. Both countries abound with spectacular landscapes, diverse cultures, bustling streets, stunning architecture and welcoming people. Ditch your typical beach holiday and join Outlook Traveller's exclusive holiday to awaken all five senses!
Unesco World Heritage Sites
A trip to Vietnam and Cambodia is incomplete without visiting at least one of these 5 Unesco World Heritage Sites—the Angkor Temples, Halong Bay, the old town of Hoi An, My Son Sanctuary and the Hue Imperial City. A trip with Active Holiday Company includes all five!
In Cambodia: Built in the 12th century, Angkor Wat is the largest religious monument in the world, comprising of some 1,200 square meters of intricately carved bas reliefs. Originally dedicated to the worship of Vishnu by the Khmer Emperor Suryavarman II, it was converted into a Buddhist temple by his successor Jayavarman VII, who also built the famous Buddhist temple of Bayon nearby. You could spend a whole day in this mossy wonderland soaking in the magical and mysterious atmosphere and exploring the architecture and history of the ruins.
In Vietnam: Cool off in Halong Bay, surrounded by marine limestone islands and thick rainforests. Traverse these emerald waters in a traditional rowing boat and later kayak around a fishing village!
My Son Sanctuary is a feast for the eyes. Constructed between the 4th and 13th centuries CE by the rulers of the ancient kingdom of Champa, this temple complex is dedicated to Shaivism, the state religion of Champa. The temples are incredibly sophisticated in their layout and construction, and the tower-temples’ elaborate iconography and decorations are absolutely stunning. Admire the magnificent brick carvings and immerse yourself in this phenomenal site.
The Same Thu Bon River that rises in My Son flows past the vivid guildhalls, pagodas, old lanes and quaint houses of ancient Hoi An, once the chief port of the Champa kingdom and an important international port in the 16th and 17th centuries CE under Chinese influence. Notice the diverse cultural influences that characterise this unique area, including the famous covered bridge with its Japanese pagoda and the old houses and halls of the medieval period.
Hue Imperial City is a walled fortress and palace that bore the brunt of the Vietnam War, but the towering palaces, ramparts, moats and breathtaking temples of the city are an architectural paradise.
Street Food and Cookery Classes in Vietnam
On a bike foodie tour, go pillion riding through the narrow alleys of Hoi An and Ho Chi Minh City for some diverse street food experiences. Stop at the wine market at Ho Chi Minh City for a sip of snake wine, ginseng wine and goat wine before attending the famous ‘street barbeque’. Don’t miss out on the banh trang kep, a wet white rose gridle cake; bánh bÃ¡»?t lÃ¡»c, a clear shrimp & pork dumpling; cao lau noodles with sliced pork wrapped in rice paper; and of course, Vietnamese coffee. On a junk boat cruise, you visit a noodle factory to watch manually prepared rice-paper. The cherry on top is an exclusive Vietnamese cooking demonstration.
Junk Boat Cruise in Vietnam
Take a dragon boat across the Perfume River to Tu duc’s tomb in Hue Imperial City. Dragon boats are seldom used in comparison to the junk boats. Vietnam’s famous junk boats were once used by the Chinese as ocean-going ships for trade across Asia. These days, they’re used for recreational cruises. These wooden ships can measure up to 490 feet in length, and they’re a great way to get a feel of the country, especially when you’re floating down the Perfume River to the tomb of Emperor Tu Duc in the Hue Imperial City. A junk boat cruise in Halong Bay, famous for its karst landscape, is a must, as well as a visit to the Cai Rang Floating Market.
The Killing Fields in Cambodia
Choeng Ek, just outside Phonm Penh is an unsettling and memorable sight. Cambodia’s very own holocaust museum, the site commemorates the torture and extermination of thousands of people by the Khmer Rouge. Today, the memorial site it holds the remains of almost 9,000 people and serve as a reminder about the darkest phase of Cambodia’s history.
Tai Chi Lessons in Vietnam
In between all the sightseeing, eating and drinking, take a relaxing Tai Chi lesson taught by a local master. Learning the slow-paced, flowing movements of this relaxing and re-generating art-form is great under any circumstance, but on a Bespoke Journey, you get to experience it at dawn while cruising on a junk boat in Halong Bay!
Outlook Traveller Bespoke Journeys in association with Active Holiday Company offers a 12-day Best of Vietnam & Cambodia tour, where you get to explore and immerse yourself in the wonders of these two countries like never before. The tour leaves for Vietnam and Cambodia on July 23. To find out more about the trip and to book your spot, go to www.outlooktraveller.com/bespokejourneys