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Crossing Cambodia in Style, Bangkok to Saigon - 15 Days Luxury

Let us guide you around this fascinating region where you will witness contemporary life blending into exquisite historical architecture in our Crossing Cambodia in Style's Bangkok to Saigon tour. You will be finely accommodated in three countries as you shop at local markets, marvel at glorious ancient architecture, and elegantly cruise along South East Asian rivers.

Turn words you have read from travel guides into actual experiences with a journey through Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam with our Classic Crossing Cambodia: Bangkok to Saigon package. You will explore marvelous ancient temples and structures unique to each country and experience the energy of various cities while you transverse across the scenic landscape to your destinations.

Day 1 - Bangkok Arrival

Upon arrival in Bangkok, you will be met and greeted by our Exo Travel guide for transfer to your hotel.

Overnight in Bangkok.

Distance and journey time:

Bangkok Airport – The Peninsula Bangkok (37.4 km): 41 min

Day 2 - Bangkok (B,L)

An early start will get you to Wat Pho in time to experience the monks early morning chanting ritual (chanting starts at 09:00 hrs). After this uplifting and often private experience, visit the temple grounds and the famous 45-metre reclining Buddha. Continue to the Grand Palace, Thailand’s most important landmark, where you will be awed by the grandeur and majesty of the building and its throne halls. Then, of course, marvel at the mysterious Emerald Buddha, the most revered Buddha image in Thailand.

Lunch is at Sala Rim Naam, the Bangkok’s most prestigious dining venue located on the banks of the Chao Phraya River, operated by the Mandarin Oriental Hotel.

In the early afternoon, board a private long-tail boat taking guests onto the peaceful Klong Bang Luang. Pass by shop houses, local temples and vendors on this waterway which was once a major trading route and lined with impressive homes of aristocrats. The guide will point out local landmarks and cultural idiosyncrasies of the area. After observing this lively area the boat stops at Baan Silapin, a 100-year old renovated house now home to an art gallery. Here, stop for up to two hours to enjoy the gallery, take part in an art workshop or explore the local community, before experiencing a unique puppet show performed by puppeteers trained under the Joe Louis School of Puppetry. (Note: Puppet show is not available on Mondays and Tuesdays.)

Overnight in Bangkok.

Day 3 - Bangkok - Chantaburi - Ban Pakkard (B,D)

Early this morning set off through the lush Thai countryside with its endless miles of rice paddies and fruit orchards. At Ban Pakkard you clear Thai Immigration and Customs, say goodbye to your Thai guide, then make a short walk to the Cambodia side of the border at Psar Pruhm. Here, you’ll meet your Cambodian guide who will assist you with immigration and customs formalities.

From here you drive east, first through Pailin and then on to south to Battambang (2 hours) along a bumpy tree-lined highway that cuts through an amazing countryside dominated by rice paddies and sugar palm trees.

In Battambang, you check into your hotel. The afternoon will be at leisure to relax by the hotel pool or stroll through the charming town centre.

A special visit awaits you at Phare Ponleu Selpak. School of Music, Visual & Performing Arts - Phare Ponleu Selpak combines the Arts to provide education, support and entertainment to the poor communities. This project is a success story of how humanitarian aid work can turn into a display of zest for life, genuine warmth and creativity, against all odds. A visit to one of their circus shows will leave you with a lasting memory of the wonderful Cambodian people and should not be missed when in Battambang. (Note: The circus performance is only performed regularly on each Monday & Thursday. On other days private performances are available on request and for a supplement).

After the show head to Jaan Bai, meaning ‘rice bowl’in Khmer, a social enterprise run by the Cambodian Children’s Trust which is working to break the cycle of poverty in Battambang by empowering underprivileged children. The training and development restaurant is located in an original French colonial building in the heart of Battambang. Jaan Bai uses seasonal organic produce sourced from their kitchen garden, local farmers and neighbouring markets. Enjoy a tasty menu showcasing the best of South East Asia with Western influences.

Overnight in Battambang.

Distances and journey time:

Prum border (Pailin) - Battambang (87 km): 2 hrs

Day 4 - Battambang (B)

Crossing Cambodia - Bangkok To Saigon - 15 Days / 14 Nights - itinerary

Battambang’s countryside is what makes this pleasant river town a real treat. The town is situated along the Sangker River, a quiet and small body of water that finds its way through Battambang Province.

You will first head towards Phnom Sampeau, meaning “Ship Hill” in Khmer, due to its distinctive shape, and one of the few hills standing out in this otherwise pancake-flat plain. From the small temple on the top, you will have a fantastic view over the typical landscape of paddy fields and sugar palm trees. Phnom Sampeau is home to the notorious killing caves, which are cruel reminders of Cambodia’s troubled past. Serenity and inhumanity represented in one place make this an interesting visit.

Then, one of the highlights and a unique experience: A fun ride on the famous Bamboo Train, an original means of transportation on the old train tracks. A true rollercoaster ride without loops! (Note: the train tracks from Battambang to Phnom Penh are currently being rebuilt. The long term future of the bamboo train ride cannot be guaranteed. Should the service stop we will arrange alternative sightseeing).

Return to your hotel to take a break around midday. In the afternoon your guide will lead you through local villages and farms on the way to Wat Banan, an 11-century temple on a mountain top situated between lush paddy fields and beautiful lotus ponds. The climb is a short but tough one, over steps that seem to have all sizes. On top of the mountain, enjoy the views over the beautiful countryside and wander around the ancient temple, which is also home to finely scented flowering trees.

Later you will be taken to some of the many cultural villages around Battambang, where you will learn how the locals produce rice paper, prahoc (typical Cambodian fish paste), grolan (sticky rice stuffed in bamboo), and other Cambodian treats. You will also visit a weaving and handicraft centre in another village. Enjoy dinner at leisure.

Overnight in Battambang.

Day 5 - Battambang - Siem Reap (B,L)

Today, you will embark on one of the most stunning boat trips in Cambodia, as you will be taken from Battambang to Siem Reap by a comfortable private boat. A packed lunch will be provided on board. (Duration 6-7 hours).

(Note: This boat trip is only possible in the high water period from July to December as water levels are too low during the dry season and transfer times can be extremely long. From January to June alternative transfer by road.)

First, you will float along the Stung Sangker River until you will reach the Prek Toal bird sanctuary, one of the most important breeding grounds for waterbirds in the region. The largest freshwater lake in Asia, Tonlé Sap Lake, is an exceptional water system as it is swelling to almost five times its size during the raining season.

The water of its main drainage, Tonlé Sap River, is being pushed back from the Mekong, carrying an incredible amount of water from the rains, causing the river to reverse its direction and thus causing the lake to overflow, flooding nearby fields and forests and supporting an extraordinarily rich and diverse eco-system. The Lake is also an important breeding ground for fish, providing more than half of the amount of fish consumed in Cambodia. The particular water system requires the people living of the lake to adapt to the living conditions. You will see many villages on the way where people live on stilted or entirely floating houses.

Arrive in Siem Reap mid-afternoon, the gateway to the majestic temples of Angkor and a charming little city. Enjoy some time at leisure to discover Siem Reap or to relax by your hotel’s charming pool.

Overnight in Siem Reap.

Distances and journey time:

Battambang – Siem Reap (174 km): 03 hours

Day 6 - Siem Reap (B,L)

Crossing Cambodia - Bangkok To Saigon - 15 Days / 14 Nights - itinerary

Today, you start your day with a visit to Angkor Wat from the East Gate. You will see the famous bas-reliefs including the Churning of the Ocean Milk, Suryavarman II’s army and the Ramayana. You will spend the morning in this astonishing building of which Helen Churchill Candee wrote; “Perhaps it is the most impressive sight in the world of edifices.”

After returning to Siem Reap town for lunch at the stunning Chanrey Tree restaurant, continue to the ancient city of Angkor Thom. Angkor Thom was the last capital of the Great Khmer Empire under the reign of Jayavarman VII. This city is surrounded by an 8 m high wall, drawing a perfect square. You will enter the city from the ancient South Gate, an impressive stone gate carved with elephants and four giant faces.

From here, continue to Bayon Temple in the exact center of the city. This 12th century masterpiece is a study in grandeur. The exterior gallery walls have extensive, superb bas-reliefs, particularly the East and South Galleries. The Terrace of the Elephants and the Terrace of the Leper King are also must-visits as they are both known for their intricate bas-reliefs. Return to the hotel. The remainder of the afternoon is at leisure.

End the day with a relaxing cruise in a gondola paddle boat at the moat of Angkor Thom compound while watching a spectacular sunset at Prasat Chroung temple. Cocktails, champagne, canapés and a soft drink will be available on the boat, as your boat paddles slowly along the ancient moat.

Overnight in Siem Reap.

Distances and journey time:

Siem Reap – Temples (06 km): 10 mins

Day 7 - Siem Reap (B,L,D)

This morning, drive out to Banteay Srei, “the citadel of women”. It is a small temple and its charm lies in its exquisite carvings in red sandstone. Located about 16 miles northeast of Angkor Wat, this 10th-century red sandstone temple is rightly considered one of the jewels of Angkor and in the words of H.W. Ponder, is “a fairy palace in the heart of an immense and mysterious forest”. Return to Siem Reap through the beautiful countryside.

Option: Helicopter Flight over Angkor:

Fly from Siem Reap over the Angkor circuit. You will have an incredible view of Angkor Wat as you view the entire temple complex from the air. This is an excellent way to grasp the sheer enormity of the former Khmer empire. Flying time is approximately 8 or a longer 20 minutes scenic flightto also include over the Tonle Sap and floating villages.

Indulge into a delicious lunch at Viroth’s and take a rest at your hotel during the midday heat. This afternoon, you will head out by tuk tuk for a visit of Ta Prohm temple, unique in that it has been left largely as it was found: overgrown by jungle trees and vines, with many parts of the temple crumbling to the ground. This makes Ta Prohm one of the most picturesque and memorable of the Angkor temples.

From there you will visit beautiful Neak Pean Temple—the ‘coiled serpents’. H. C. Candee wrote; “Neak Pean is one of the temples that makes one dream of olden days of luxury and beauty. It was worthwhile to live then and to be a woman among a race which has ever adored its women. .....it was at the tiny temple of Neak Pean that eager princesses laid their lovely offerings of wrought gold and pungent perfumes.” Today, you can see a central sanctuary surrounded by four ponds.

In the evening, a special performance of Apsara dance will be accompanying your dinner with a traditional Khmer meal being served.

Overnight in Siem Reap.

Distances and journey time:

Siem Reap – Banteay Srei (37 km): 45 mins

Day 8 - Siem Reap - Phnom Penh (B,L,D)

Crossing Cambodia - Bangkok To Saigon - 15 Days / 14 Nights - itinerary

Today, you set off south towards the country’s capital. On the way stop at the Khmer-era Spean Praptos bridge near Kampong Kdei, More than 1,000 years old you can walk the short distance across what used to be the longest corbeled stone-arch bridge in the world, with more than twenty narrow arches. The bridge was built in the 12th century during the reign of King Jayavarman VII and is one of few remaining bridges to have survived from the Khmer Empire to the modern day.

There is an optional visit to Phnom Santuk for active people who enjoy a little exercise by climbing the 809 steps up mountain. The site is considered holy and a popular pilgrimage site for Buddhists. The reward is spectacular views over the Cambodian countryside (for the not so active it is also possible to drive up!).

Your next stop is Santuk Silk Farm established by Bud Gibbons, a Vietnam War veteran. You can see the process of silk creation from growing and harvesting mulberry as food for the silk worms, the breeding process and life cycle of the silk worm. Watch the village ladies working at the looms and preparing scarves which can also be purchased. There is no obligation or ‘hard sell’ to buy. After the short tour it is time for lunch served at the silk farm.

Continue on your way to Phnom Penh to arrive in the later afternoon. Phnom Penh was once considered as one of the most beautiful cities in the Orient, and despite its recent turbulent history, it still retains a colonial charm. Cambodia’s capital is a bustling city, majestically located at the confluence of the mighty rivers of the Mekong and Tonlé Sap. Wide tree-lined boulevards and many colonial-era buildings reflect the glorious days and add to the charm of the city, where Asian and Western traditions meet in a fascinating way.

Dinner will be served at Pkar Romyool Restaurant. Set in a stunning colonial building this property was once a cinema and theatre with an incredible open air courtyard to sample some of Cambodia’s traditional delicacies.

Overnight in Phnom Penh.

Distances and journey time:

Siem Reap – Phnom Penh (320 km): 7hr

Day 9 - Phnom Penh (B,L)

This morning, you will be greeted by a driver who will take you on a tour to the most remarkable sights of Phnom Penh in a Cyclo, an original Phnom Penh means of transportation and a very fun way to explore this lively city. You will see some of the architecture including the Central Police Station, the Post Office, the Bibliotheque, the railway station, and the former Chamber of Commerce. First, visit Wat Phnom, which is situated near the northern boundary of the city. The site contains some good examples of Khmer architecture and statues.

Continue your tour to the Royal Palace. This palace dates back to 1866 and was the last palace built during the French colonial period. The same complex houses the Silver Pagoda, named for the over 5000 heavy silver tiles that cover its floors. Its original name is Wat Prakeo, meaning Temple of the Emerald Buddha. In this temple you will view a collection of Buddhas in gold, silver, crystal, and bronze.

Enjoy the views of the charming French quarter from your prime location just next to the historical Post Office while being treated to a fine lunch at Van’s Restaurant, located in an elegant French-colonial house still owned by the founder’s family.

This afternoon, visit the Russian Market, one of the city’s most popular markets where you will find beautifully woven Khmer silks and cottons, basketry and wood carvings.

Overnight in Phnom Penh.

Day 10 - Phnom Penh - Chau Doc (B,L)

Crossing Cambodia - Bangkok To Saigon - 15 Days / 14 Nights - itinerary

This morning, visit the National Museum, which was built in traditional Khmer style. It houses the world's foremost collection of ancient Khmer artistic, archaeological, and religious artefacts from the 4th to the 13th centuries. Over 5,000 pieces are on display, constituting the repository of the Kingdom's cultural wealth. In addition, the roof space is home to a large bat colony!

For lunch, you will be treated to a delicious Khmer meal at Bopha Titanic with some excellent views of the Tonle Sap River.

Later, you board the Blue Cruiser boat for your trip down the Mekong River and across the border into Vietnam into the town of Chau Doc. On arrival, you will meet your Vietnamese guide who will transfer you to the hotel. In the afernoon head to nearby Sam Mountain for sunset. There are dozens of pagodas and temples around Sam Mountain and reaching the peak is the highlight of the visit. The views from the top are spectacular (weather permitting) and you can easily look out over Cambodia.

Overnight in Chau Doc.

Distances and journey time:

Phnom Penh – Chau Doc by boat (191 km): 5 hrs

Day 11 - Chau Doc - Can Tho (B,L)

This morning you visit the local market overlooking the confluence of three rivers, and later take a boat to Chau Giang District where a tiny mosque serves the local Cham community. The Cham minority once dominated coastal Vietnam from the 2nd to the 9th centuries. The Chams also practice silk weaving and you may have the opportunity to see them at work. You’ll visit a beautiful Khmer temple, and later visit the floating houses that double as catfish farms, now a huge industry for the country. Return to land for the drive to Can Tho. En route, visit the bamboo basket-making hamlet of Long Thanh before continuing on to Can Tho. Transfer to your hotel on arrival.

Overnight in Can Tho.

Day 12 - Can Tho (B,L)

Crossing Cambodia - Bangkok To Saigon - 15 Days / 14 Nights - itinerary

Can Tho is a university town on the confluence of three rivers in the heart of the delta. The Mekong Delta was once part of the Khmer Kingdom, and today many ethnic Khmers still live here. You make an early start this morning to visit the lively and colourful floating market of Cai Rang which is in full swing by 0700am (so recommended early start for this day). You’ll take a small boat and explore the waterways which are packed with people who have come from the surrounding rural areas to sell all manner of fruits and vegetables. After the market return to Can Tho by boat through the back canals and waterways where you’ll get a view of everyday life for the locals who live along the delta’s watery arteries. Look for the 'monkey bridges': narrow, flimsy bamboo bridges that span the canals. Later you’ll visit the Muniwangsyaram Pagoda, a typical Khmer Buddhist pagoda where the resident monks are friendly, and the local museum which is well laid out and informatively provides a review of the Mekong's history. The remainder of the day is at leisure.

Lunch included at Sao Hom Restaurant.

Overnight in Can Tho.

Day 13 - Can Tho - Ho Chi Minh City (B,L)

This morning you set off early for Ho Chi Minh City. Ho Chi Minh City, universally and affectionately known as Ho Chi Minh City, with a population of 6 million and a booming free-market economy. It is a city of amazing contrasts: soaring new international hotels, exclusive restaurants and trendy bars sit side-by-side with roadside noodle stalls, street children and vociferous cyclo drivers. Golf courses, bowling alleys and shopping malls vie for space with fruit and vegetable markets, pagodas and karaoke rooms. Bustling, booming, crowded, chaotic…. yet there remain elegant, colonial French-style boulevards and buildings, and cultural memories of France under whose stewardship Ho Chi Minh City was known as the "Pearl of the Orient".

On the way to Ho Chi Minh City you will stop in Vinh Long for a cruise aboard the delightful Cai Be Princess boat. The cruise starts crossing the wide Co Chien River, one the largest arms of the Mekong River. Enter Dong Phu canal, passing along An Binh and Binh Hoa Phuc islands famous for their fruits orchard plantations. A stop will be made at Tam Ho bonsais garden before proceeding on a narrow canal to have a closer observation of the beautiful landscapes. These evergreen islands among the Mekong River bring about large networks of meandering rivers, criss-crossed with countless arroyos. Cai Be is known for its huge floating market, where displays of produce are hung from bamboo poles over the host boat in order to attract customers. From here the journey continues across the upper reaches of the river to a maze of tributaries and fruit plantations. Barges ply the route, overloaded with rice husks used as fuel for the region’s numerous brick kilns. You sampan will proceed to Phu An hamlet passing by Cai Be Church overlooking the river. Stop on the way at local cottage industries to see how rice paste is made as well as rice and coconut sweets. Lunch awaits you at Le Longanier, a superb Indochinese villa located in a lush tropical garden by the river, surrounded by fruit orchards. Disembark in Cai Be and meet your car to continue the journey to Ho Chi Minh City by road. Your evening is at leisure.

Overnight in Ho Chi Minh City.

Day 14 - Ho Chi Minh City - Cu Chi Tunnels - Ho Chi Minh City (B,L,D)

Crossing Cambodia - Bangkok To Saigon - 15 Days / 14 Nights - itinerary

This morning we visit the former Vietcong tunnels 25 miles northwest of Ho Chi Minh City. The 150 miles of tunnels, which make up an impressive underground city network, are evidence of the tremendous ingenuity and resourcefulness that are characteristic of the Vietnamese. It was from here that the North Vietnamese waged their guerrilla warfare, and you’ll see the secret trapdoors, underground kitchens, living areas and meeting rooms. The more adventurous may explore the deeper second, and even third level tunnels. If you prefer to remain above ground, there is ample opportunity to view excavated areas from above. Your guide will advise you of the length and level of difficulty of each tunnel before entering - some are easily accessed by stairs.

Return to Ho Chi Minh for a late lunch, and then enjoy a tour of the highlights of the city. You’ll begin with a visit to the landmark Reunification Palace, a 1960s award-winning building that was the South Vietnamese Presidential Palace and headquarters for the Saigon Government during the Vietnam/American war. Now preserved as a museum, your tour will also include the underground communications bunkers. Continue to the History Museum, housing an excellent display tracing the origins of the indigenous Vietnamese. You’ll have the opportunity to see a delightful performance of Water Puppetry on the grounds.

Visit the neo-Romanesque red-brick Catholic cathedral of Notre Dame, the nearby 19th century Empire-style Post Office and the ‘Hotel de Ville’ or City Hall. Walk along Dong Khoi Street, formerly known as Rue Catinat, which has some excellent shopping.

Return to the hotel to refresh before your farewell dinner in one of the finest restaurants in Ho Chi Minh City

Overnight in Ho Chi Minh City.

Day 15 - Depart Ho Chi Minh City (B)

At leisure until you transfer to the airport for your departure flight. Hotel check out time is 1200 noon.

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