It has been a long 16 weeks counting down to my holiday, the adventure finally begins this Friday night. I’ve started to pack my bag, scanned all my Travel documents and signed up at the Smart Traveller website (I am a responsible Australian). Arriving in Hanoi, Vietnam around 12.30pm Saturday, we will then be traveling with a tour group from the North to the south of Vietnam. Saturday night we plan to go see the Water Puppetry Show in Hanoi, that is said to be spectacular.
Our tour begins on Sunday – Day 1 Hanoi – With its French-colonial buildings, graceful boulevards and aromatic cafe au lait, Hanoi has an elegant timelessness. Plan to get lost in the hubbub of Hanoi’s streets, visit the Temple of Literature or enjoy Vietnam’s fusion of traditional European and modern Asian cuisine.
Monday & Tuesday – Days 2-3 Halong Bay – We will have breakfast before setting sail on an overnight Halong Bay cruise. Kick back and enjoy the dramatic scenery, take a dip in the balmy waters and sleep under a star-studded sky. On Tuesday its time to climb aboard the famed Reunification Express for an overnight train ride.
Wednesday & Thursday – Days 4-5 Hue – Appointed as the imperial capital due to its beauty and isolation, Hue will enchant. Let the royal past come to life among the ruins of the Imperial Citadel, enjoy a cyclo tour and unwind on a dragon boat cruise down the Perfume River.
Friday & Saturday – Days 6-7 Hoi An – We will travel along the spectacular Hai Van Pass to Hoi An, once a thriving port town. Today, trade remains central to everyday life with shops offering everything from tailored clothes to custom-made shoes and silk lanterns. Thinking of signing up for an optional cooking class or simply enjoying the many fine restaurants along Hoi An’s riverside.
Sunday & Monday – Days 8-10 Ho Chi Minh City – After a short flight, take to the streets of vibrant Ho Chi Minh City on a cyclo tour. Be moved by the displays at the War Remnants Museum. Head out to the Mekong Delta for a fascinating day tour and sample local specialities like the quirky elephant ear fish. Board sampans and paddle through the delta’s mangrove tributaries via the stunning Dragon, Unicorn, Tortoise and Phoenix islets. Head back to Ho Chi Minh City where the adventure comes to an end.
Tuesday we depart Ho Chi Minh City to fly to Siem Reap, Cambodia for the next four and a half days.
Wednesday – Day 1 Siem Reap/ Angkor Wat
Just a short distance from the temples of Angkor, the town of Siem Reap is a perfect base for this Khmer experience. Start the adventure at the south gate of Angkor Thom – its stone-carved heads provide a fitting introduction to the spectacular temples within. Enter into the heart of Angkor Thom to see the smiling faces of the Bayon, admire the intricately carved Terrace of the Leper King and walk the Elephant Terrace. Later, travel to the most famous temple complex of them all – Angkor Wat. With its soaring towers and extraordinary bas-reliefs, Angkor Wat is considered by many to be one of the most inspired and spectacular monuments ever built. Surrounded by a huge glistening moat, it is a truly awe-inspiring sight.
Thursday – Day 2 Banteay Srei/ Ta Prohm
Start the day by watching an unforgettable sunrise over Angkor Wat. Then, travel through rural countryside to the pink sandstone temple of Banteay Srei, a small but exquisitely carved structure. Visit the atmospheric Ta Prohm whose crumbling edifices have been left to the ravages of the jungle. Later, take a boat cruise over Tonle Sap Lake and stop by a floating fishing house to see how locals live. Enjoy a guided tour of the three pre-Angkorian temples of the Roluos group – Bakong, Preah Ko and Lolei. Their construction marked the beginning of a brilliant Khmer age.
Friday – Day 3 Tonle Sap
Tour Siem Reap by remork before heading out-of-town to Tonle Sap. Take a boat trip around the lake to see floating villages and get a taste of life ruled by monsoonal rains and water-based agriculture. Take the back roads on your return to town, stopping at a local village to pick up Khmer snacks and paying a visit to a modern Buddhist monastery.
Saturday – Day 4 Siem Reap
Back in bustling Siem Reap, there’s time to buy Cambodian handicrafts, discover the delights of the town centre or enjoy a final taste of spicy Khmer cuisine. Our final day in Cambodia we will be traveling to the airport for the journey home early afternoon.
I am really looking forward to my dad picking us up and taking us to the airport tomorrow night, feeling nervous about flying already (totally normal for me). I’ll have my partner to comfort me and talk non-stop too. Already planning to buy a magazine to read and bring Dipper my plush Dalmatian on the plane to help me sleep through most of the flights to and from Australia. This trip feels like a beginning of many more overseas travels for myself.
I will stay safe and come back in on piece just before Christmas.
Mars on Life.
(Information regarding tours obtained from Intripid websites tour notes)