Vietnam and Cambodia Itinerary
This is an unforgettable tour to a unique and almost undiscovered world. Unlike other tourist destinations, the landscape, villages, and people are unspoiled. Vietnam and Cambodia offer exquisite natural scenery and some of the warmest, friendliest people you ever will meet. Vietnam’s culture is interwoven between city life and traditional tribal practices. Despite the scars of its recent history the country possesses a serene environment. And wherever you look, there’s lots and lots of water. Added to the beauty of Vietnam in this tour is the magnificence of the Temples of Angkor and the unique Cambodian culture. This is an exhilarating, thrilling, and breathtaking experience.
Note: this tour can be purchased “land only” but begins and ends in Bangkok, i.e., those coming to the far east themselves must join us in Bangkok and return to Bangkok with us.
Day 1, Sunday Tel Aviv – Bangkok
From Ben Gurion Airport we’ll fly to Bangkok, our gateway to the mysteries of East Asia.
Day 2, Monday Bangkok – Hanoi
We’ll continue our flight from Bangkok and arrive in Hanoi, capital of Vietnam. Dinner and overnight.
Day 3, Tuesday-Ninh Binh
We begin our tour with a drive to Ninh Binh, a city in the Red River Delta area of Vietnam. There we will take a boat trip to visit the Trang An Grottoes. Later we will visit the Dinh and Le Temples, both constructed in the 11th century. Afterwards, we return to Hanoi for dinner and overnight.
Day 4, Wednesday Hanoi- Halong Bay
This morning we will tour Hanoi. We will visit the compound housing the mausoleum of Ho Chi Minh which is one of the most important sites in Hanoi, and indicative of the personality cult that is prevalent here. Ho Chi Minh’s home stands alongside the mausoleum, as well as a lotus-flower-shaped museum dedicated to him. In the compound we will see Chùa Một Cột Pagoda, also known as the One Pillar Pagoda, built of wood around a single rock shaft, representing the pristine, sacred stamen of a lotus flower.
We will also visit Maison Centrale, also known as “the Hanoi Hilton” where US prisoners of war were housed during the Vietnam War. Then we will visit Hoan Kiem Lake and Ngoc Son pagoda.
Afterwards, we will leave Hanoi and drive along the Red River toward Halong Bay – according to the locals this is where “the dragon descended into the sea.” A beautiful bay, considered one of the natural wonders of the world, its still waters are dotted with small islands from where lofty rocks rise out of the water creating a unique and unusual waterscape.
Once there, we will have dinner and spend the night.
Day 5, Thursday Halong Bay- Hanoi
This morning we’ll take a relaxing cruise on the bay from where we’ll enjoy a water-level view of the lifestyle of the local fishermen. We will see life on the bay with its floating villages and schools and markets. We will marvel at the magnificent Karst formations that make this a World Heritage Site. After the cruise we’ll return to Hanoi where we will have dinner before boarding our overnight train to Lao Cai, a colorful tribal area of North Vietnam, near the Chinese border. Overnight will be in compartments for two people on the train.
Day 6, Friday Lao Cai – Sapa
Upon our arrival in Sapa we’ll have breakfast. Afterwards we’ll head out to visit the colorful local mountain tribes. We’ll visit a local village such as Ta-Van and the ethnic minority people who live there. In the afternoon we’ll arrive at our hotel to prepare for Shabbat, Shabbat services and dinner.
Day 7, Shabbat Sapa
After Shabbat services and and our second Shabbat meal we’ll take a walking tour to Ham Rong Mountain. We’ll see an orchid flower garden and the village of Cat-Cat. We’ll observe the lifestyle of the local population and talk with some of the residents. We will return to the hotel for a rest and then mincha and our main Shabbat meal followed by maariv and havdalah.
Day 8, Sunday Sapa and environs
After breakfast we’ll head for the village of Bak Ha where there’s a colorful Sunday market every week – the largest of its kind in Northwest Vietnam. We’ll be able to enjoy the beauty of it, the exquisitely dressed women of the Flower Hmong in their brilliant embroidered clothes and the items that are for sale such as fruit and vegetables, as well as donkeys and other animals (!), clothing and local arts and crafts.
From the market we’ll make our way back to Lao Cai. On the way, we’ll tour the valley with its villages, and the rice terraces that ring the surrounding mountains, marveling at the local town-folk and their colorful traditional clothing.
In the evening after dinner, we’ll take the overnight train from Lao Cai back to Hanoi.
Day 9, Monday Hanoi –Hoi An
We arrive in Hanoi at 5:00 a.m. Hotel rooms will be available to us to shower and freshen up before we have breakfast. After breakfast, we will visit the Temple of Literature, Vietnam’s first university, founded shortly after the founding of Hanoi in 1010. We then transfer to the airport for our flight to Da Nang and will pass by China Beach on our way to our hotel in Hoi An, 45 minutes away. Dinner and overnight in Hoi An.
Day 10, Tuesday HoiAn
This ancient city used to be one of the main trading harbors in all of South East Asia. Hoi An’s character and past have been splendidly preserved, and it has been designated a World Heritage Site. We will see many temples, pagodas and small stores selling local crafts on our way through the ancient quarter of this most picturesque town.
We’ll visit the Japanese Covered Bridge. Designed very solidly due to fear of earthquakes, the bridge has remained a symbol of Japanese design – very different from the ornate local Vietnamese or Chinese themes. The bridge houses a small temple, Chua Cau. It’s protected on one end by statues of monkeys and on the other by statues of dogs – both connected to ancient local mythology.
We will visit a Chinese assembly hall and we will take a boat trip to visit Thanh Ha village. We will return to Hoi An for dinner and overnight.
Day 11, Wednesday Hoi An- Da Nang -Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)
This morning we’ll visit the very lovely Cham Museum. Then we will fly to Ho Chi Minh City, formerly Saigon. Upon arrival we’ll start our tour of the city. This is the largest city in Vietnam, the heart and soul of the country. It’s a dynamic, bustling city – the country’s commercial, industrial and cultural center. The streets are filled with stores and stalls and caravans selling all kinds of goods and wares – all on the sidewalks. Despite it all, here in the metropolis you can still find islands of ancient culture.
We will visit the Vinh Nghiem Pagoda and enjoy a performance of the traditional Vietnamese water puppets! We will have dinner at Chabad and return to our hotel.
Day 12, Thursday Vin Long – Mekong Delta
Today we’ll leave Ho Chi Minh City for a day tour of the Mekong delta. We’ll stop along the way to see how the rice paddies are farmed. Upon arrival to Kai Beh; we’ll start off by sailing to the local unique, authentic floating market. We’ll watch the locals trading goods, fruits and various wares as they sail in their small boats. We’ll stop in one of the villages to visit the tropical fruit plantations. We’ll continue sailing through the narrow canals and enjoy the view of the upper Mekong delta. We’ll visit some home-factories that produce coconut candies and puffed rice snacks. When we arrive at the village of Vin Long – the emerald of the area – we’ll be able to feel how life and nature blend together. We’ll enjoy a performance of Vietnamese music in a bonsai garden. In the late afternoon we’ll return to Ho Chi Minh City. Dinner will be served at Chabad and we return to our hotel.
Day 13, Friday Cu Chi Tunnels
The 75 miles of the Cu Chi Tunnels are our main destinations today. Cu Chi means The Land of Flowering Gardens – but it’s not indicative of where we’ll be.
We’ll travel southeast from Ho Chi Minh City to visit the hidden paradise of the Vietcong guerillas and the local villagers among whom they hid. It’s considered one of the main battlefields of the Vietnam War and has been transformed into a major area of tourist interest. Painful, but fascinating!
In the afternoon we’ll return to Ho Chi Minh City to prepare for Shabbat, Shabbat services and dinner.
Day 14, Shabbat Ho Chi Minh City
We will daven shacharit in the hotel and have our second shabbat meal. We then will join Chabad for torah reading and musaf at Chabad. After Shabbat services, we’ll take a walking tour of the area around the hotel. We will see the very famous post office (that everyone thinks is a train station) and the Notre Dame Cathedral and will take a tour of the Reunification Palace. We will return to Chabad for mincha and our main Shabbat meal and maariv and havdala.
Day 15, Sunday-Ho Chi Minh City- Siem Reap, Angkor
We bid a sad farewell to Vietnam – but we’re headed for a place that will be unforgettable! We’ll fly from Ho Chi Minh City to Siem Reap in Cambodia. This is the ancient Khmer capital that was swallowed up by the jungle over 750 years ago. The temples, built between 879-1191 when the Khmer empire was at its peak represent one of the most impressive architectural creations of the human race. From the enormous Angkor Palace, the Khmer emperors ruled over an expansive area, stretching from southern Vietnam to Yunan province in China, and as far as the Bay of Bengal in the west. The buildings that stand today in Angkor – more than 100 temples in all – are the remnants of religious buildings of an immense social and administrative society, the other buildings of which – palaces, public buildings and private homes – were built of wood and have completely eroded over the ages. Angkor is a UNESCO heritage site.Upon arrival we will visit the ancient capital of Angkor Thom. We will visit the Bayon Temple, unique for its 54 towers decorated with over 200 smiling faces of Avolokitesvara, the Phimeanakas, the Royal Enclosure, the Elephant Terrace and the Terrace of the Leper King.
In the afternoon, we will visit Angkor Wat. Angkor Wat is a World Heritage Site since 1992, famous for its beauty and splendor. Angkor Wat features the longest continuous bas-relief in the world, which runs along the outer gallery walls and narrates stories from Hindu mythology. After this amazing day, we will return to the hotel for dinner.
Day 16, Monday – Siem Reap- Bangkok
This morning we will see Banteay Srei, also known as the women’s temple, one of the most beautiful of the temples of Angkor. We will see the daily life of people who live in simple bamboo dwellings and see some of the products they produce. In the afternoon, we will visit Tonle Sap Lake, a fascinating lake from both cultural and scientific points of view. Before our flight to Bangkok, we will have an early dinner.
Day 17, Tuesday, HOME!
We finish our tour filled with memories of magnificent places and wonderful experiences!
If you are interested in joining me for a tour to Vietnam and Cambodia, write me at firstname.lastname@example.org