We just returned from a 15-day land/cruise package tour that we booked through My Way Travel
. The itinerary brought us from Hanoi to Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon) via Cambodia.
We kicked off the holiday flying from the US to Hanoi. Our visa-on-arrival documents were all sorted so we were able to buzz right through airport customs at Noi Bai. We had transportation awaiting us at the arrival’s lounge and we enjoyed a comfortable, air-conditioned cruise to the Sofitel Metropole... What a first stop! My wife and I were amazed at every aspect of the hotel, a true five-star experience!
Our first day of touring was a bit on the light side, as 16 hours of flying left us a bit exhausted. Our guide brought us around the streets and landmarks of central Hanoi (Hoan Kiem Lake, Ngoc Son Temple & Ethnological Museum to name a few). While the day was short, it was an excellent introduction to Vietnam (we were pleasantly surprised at the cost of things- the entire day we didn’t spend more than US$20!) That evening we “splurged” at a nearby restaurant eating a number of local dishes and sampling local beers that only put us back $20… incredible!
Day 2 we were ready for the full touring experience and our guide first brought us out to the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum. We saw “Uncle Ho” in his final resting place, followed by a visit to the One Pillar Pagoda and Temple of Literature. After indulging in a delicious local lunch (Hanoians certainly know the best places to eat!) we visited the “Hanoi Hilton” (a former prisoner of war camp), which was quite moving to visit (as an American). Dinner that evening was another local spot where we got to sample a few more ridiculously cheap Hanoi specialties (banh cuon, grilled chicken and fresh beer… yum!)
Day 3 was quite unique as we caught a seaplane from Hanoi out to Ha Long Bay. After some fantastic bird’s eye views of the bay, we landed on the water where we spent the next day aboard a traditional “junk.” It was quite spectacular cruising through the limestone islands of the Bay and, despite having a large tourist presence, it still felt quite majestic and exotic. We loved exploring the caves during the day and catching the sunset on the top deck of the boat.
Ha Long Bay
The afternoon of Day 4
we wrapped up our Ha Long Bay cruise
and headed back to Hanoi where we boarded a flight to Cambodia. A quick 2 hours brought us to Siem Reap where we were greeted by our next guide who brought us to the Borei Angkor Resort & Spa … the hotels just kept getting better! This five-star stay was simply incredible and the food and hospitality was out of this world. That evening we had the opportunity to see a Cambodian cultural performance put on by the Borei Angkor Resort & Spa - a very neat introduction to the country.
The following day we headed out into the Angkor Complex with our guide. We toured all the famous sites (including Angkor Thom, Bayon and of course Angor Wat) and a few minor visits as well that were quite secluded. We did a lot of walking during the day, must have asked a million questions and took just as many pictures… luckily our guide was well prepared!!
Cambodia's Angkor Comples
Day 6 we woke up early to catch the sunrise over a temple and then visited a local orphanage in the morning. After a few more temple visits in the afternoon we opted for a night off from the tour so we could tuk-tuk our way around Siem Reap. We sampled some great food in the “city,” shopped around in the central market and did our best to bargain our way to the best prices. We were a bit surprised to see that the Riel (Cambodia’s currency) was very seldom used- we paid for almost everything in USD.
Day 7 we opted to take a cooking class. It was around 2.5 hours long and was very one-on-one… We might even be able to recreate some dishes at home now! $20 paid for the entire course, ingredients, a cookbook and a cooking class t shirt, not too shabby!
That evening we left Siem Reap for Tonle Sap Lake- a 45 minute bus ride out where we boarded Jahan Cruise Boat- our beautiful home for the next 8 days of the trip.
Our cruise brought us from Tonle Sap into the Mekong region, spending an evening in Kampong Chhnang, touring various villages on the way south to Phnom Penh, stopping off in Phnom Penh and ultimately bringing us to the Mekong Delta. We thoroughly enjoyed our time touring the local villages (the Cambodians were extremely friendly & hospitable) and our time in Phnom Penh was certainly something we won’t forget. While the royal sites and pagodas were quite interesting, the Genocide Museum and Killing Fields were horrifically eye opening- so glad we visited but quite shocking at the same time…
We finally made our way into the Mekong Delta where we docked in Tan Chau for one night, visited a few villages and ultimately ended up about 60 miles from Ho Chi Minh City.
Ho Chi Minh City
Day 14 we disembarked from Jahan Cruise and made our way to Ho Chi Minh City. We checked into Saigon’s Caravelle Hotel and spent the day touring the main sites of the city. We visited the Reunification Palace, Notre Dame Cathedral & Post Office, had a delicious local lunch and spent the afternoon at the War Remnants Museum. While this was another eye-opening and shocking visit, it’s something that I recommend all travelers experience. That evening we ate at a local Pho shop… you can’t leave Vietnam without eating an authentic bowl of Pho!
The following day was our last of the trip (Day 15) and we picked up a few last minute souvenirs at Ben Thanh Market. While it was hard to drive a bargain there, it was quite the memorable shopping experience! My Way Travel arranged our transport from the Caravella to the airport and we took off late that afternoon.
Overall it was an excellent trip, so glad we chose to book with My Way Travel
. The hotels, destinations and experiences were unforgettable and our time aboard the cruise ship was simply magical!
For more information and bookings, My Way Travel’s experts can be contacted on +84.988.600.388 or online at https://www.mywaytravel.com or www.vietnamprivatetours.com