The Angkor Temples, Phnom Penh and Saigon act as bookends to contain an overland adventure that follows the Mekong into remote countryside to walk with elephants, hike through forests, swim in water holes and search for the rare Irrawaddy dolphins.
All topped or tailed with a few days on the beach.
Day 1: Depart on a choice of flights to Siem Reap, Cambodia.
Day 2: On arrival private transfer to your choice of hotel for 3 nights in Siem Reap.
Day 3: Full day private guided tour of Angkor Archaeological Park with lunch.
Day 4: Morning tour to stilted villages on Tonle Sap Lake.
Day 5: Fly to Phnom Penh for 2 nights.
Day 6: Full day private guided Phnom Penh City Tour with Killing Fields.
Day 7: Follow the Mekong River up to Kratie for 2 nights on river island.
Day 8: Morning cycle tour of island and afternoon river dolphin boat
Day 9: Continue deeper into the countryside. Check-in for 2 nights at the Nature Lodge
Day 10: Enjoy a fantastic day trekking with your elephant (1 between 2) and mahout.
Day 11: Time to head to the border. Cross over into Vietnam for 2 nights in Saigon.
Day 12: Morning tour to the Cu Chi Tunnels (Vietnam War) and afternoon Saigon city tour.
Day 13: Full day tour to the Mekong Delta with boat ride. Overnight Mekong Delta.
Day 14: Short flight from Saigon to the beautiful island of Phu Quoc for 3 nights on the beach.
Day 15: Free day to relax and enjoy your beachside setting
Day 16: Free day to relax and enjoy your beachside setting
Day 17: Final morning by the beach before flying home via Saigon.
Day 18: Arrive home.
Day 1: UK Airport / Siem Reap
Depart on a choice of overnight flights to Siem Reap. As there are no direct flights to Cambodia this is a chance to add on an extra destination such as Bangkok, Hong Kong or Kuala Lumpur or just book a through flight.
Day 2: Arrive Siem Reap
On arrival you will be met by your private guide and transferred to your hotel. Depending on your time of arrival you may want to just relax by pool and recover from your journey or perhaps make your first foray into the Angkor Archaeological Park with your private guide.
Day 3: Siem Reap - Private Guided Angkor Temples Tour (B / L)
This morning your private guide will pick you up for a private guided tour of the iconic Angkor Archaeological Park. Start off at Angkor Thom, the last great capital of the Khmer Empire. Highlights include the magnificent Bayon, one of the most recognisable sites because of the 54 towers adorned with 216 enigmatically smiling stone faces, the Terrace of Elephants, a giant viewing stand for public ceremonies and the Terrace of Leper Kings, whose walls boast beautifully carved nagas, demons and other mythological beings. In the low morning sun the carvings really stand out and as you stand on the Terrace of Elephants you get a great view across a parkland scene interspersed with giant trees protected in the National Park.
Then move onto the temple of Ta Phrom, jungle covered and pretty much left as originally found by European explorers to create a mystical atmosphere.
Back to Siem Reap (15 minutes away) for lunch and a rest in the hot midday. This afternoon return to explore Angkor Wat, the most famous and best preserved of all the Angkor temples. You’ll have time for a thorough exploration before climbing to the top of Pre Rup temple to watch the sunsetover the jungle. Back to the hotel by early evening.
Extra…The great thing about having your own specialist guide is that the itinerary can be tailored to you and be adapted on the ground to take advantage of local knowledge and keep ahead of the crowds. Angkor represents the universe in miniature and you could spend weeks touring round the thousand or so temples, so on this tour we focus on the highlights, but we can easily extend your stay.
Day 4: Siem Reap (B) - Tonle Sap Lake Stilted Villages Tour
This morning you’ll be collected by your guide and transferred 45 minutes through the Cambodia countryside to Tonle Sap Lake where you board a longtail boat to explore the lake and visit Kompong Phluk, an isolated community of three villages built on stilts. These scenic villages are flooded for around half the year and you will board a local boat, rowed by a villager, to explore the local community. You will also be taken through the flooded mangrove forests that are the main building block of this valuable ecosystem that supports a variety of wildlife. Back in Siem Reap in time for a late lunch.
Day 5: Fly Siem Reap (B) / Phnom Penh
Private transfer to the airport in time for your flight to Phnom Penh. On arrival you will be met and transferred to your hotel.
Phnom Penh is a traditional Far East city, full of energy and still tatty around the edges. A great place to start in the early evening is to take a tuk tuk to the riverside promenade. As you walk along the Mekong look across to the French colonial buildings that are interspersed with the Royal Palace, Silver Pagoda and National Museum. Evening is the time everyone congregates along the wide promenade with impromptu aerobics, football matches and time to catch up with friends. There are plenty of restaurants and bars along the way
Day 6: Phnom Penh - Private City Tour with Killing Field (B / L)
After breakfast your guide will pick you up for a half day city tour of the fascinating Khmer Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda. After lunch in a local restaurant you visit the sobering and poignant Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, a testament to Cambodia’s bloody past. Then you can explore the colourful stalls of the vast Central Market. The tour ends at the Choeung Ek Killing Fields just outside the city. This is now a Buddhist memorial park that has been constructed around the mass graves of the thousands of victims. Dozens of mass graves are visible above ground, several which have not yet been excavated. The field is marked by a Buddhist stupa that has glass walls and is filled with over 5,000 skulls. You’ll be back at the hotel by the late afternoon.
Day 7: Phnom Penh - Kratie - Koh Trong Island (B / L)
This morning at 07:00am the tour drives east following the Mekong to Kratie approximately 5 hours/300km, offering a great chance to enjoy the rural heart of this beautiful country. Lunch will be in a local restaurant. On arrival in Kratie you transfer by local boat across the Mekong to Koh Trong Island and 2 nights at the Rajabori Villas (Standard double room with fan). The rest of the day’s free to relax by the pool or explore your immediate environs. Koh Trong is a completely unspoilt rural working island with no cars and is a world away from UK life. After dinner if it’s a clear night take a short walk and enjoy the star studded sky.
Day 8: Koh Trong Island - River Dolphin Boat Tour (B / L)
This morning your guide will take you for a gentle cycle ride around the island. Shaded by the trees you have the Mekong on one side and villages on the other as you follow the flat sandy paths that skirt the island and offer access to the people, farms and orchards that make this rural idyll their home. Your guide will explain what life’s like here, but be prepared to shout a welcome to every child you see!
The Mekong around Kratie is one of the best places to see the rare freshwater Irrawaddy dolphins and so after a relaxing lunch the tour heads further up the Mekong River to search for these beautiful mammals aboard a local boat for about one hour. After the tour head back to Koh Trong for a final night.
Day 9: Kratie / Mondulkiri (East Cambodia) (B / L)
After breakfast you head deeper into Mondulkiri Province for approximately 3.5 hours/195km where you check into the Nature Eco Lodge for 2 nights. Your room will be a cosy wooden bungalow with a hot shower and private veranda. This afternoon take your time exploring your immediate environment and take a choice of trails around the lodge. This evening enjoy dinner in the lodge’s restaurant. If the weather’s good you can relax around the outdoor fire, meet fellow travellers and do a spot of star gazing.
Day 10: Jungle Elephant Trekking (B / L)
This morning your guide will collect you for a day at the Elephant Valley Project. During the day you will shadow two families of elephants in the jungle, learning about the elephants, the local mahouts and the forest. This is a unique experience and the first of its kind in Cambodia.
A typical day’s highlights include:
- Hike out to the forest to meet the elephants and walk beside them in their natural forest habitat. You can watch them interact with each other in their bonded family groups, where they are relearning and showing real elephant behaviour again.
- Meanwhile you will learn about the elephant’s individual history and ongoing stories and also importantly learn about the unique role the local villagers in protecting these incredible animals.
- One of the main highlights of the day is to observe the elephants washing in the river, playing in the mud and dusting themselves in their daily beauty routines!
Day 11: Mondulkiri to Saigon (B)
Time to leave the Mondulkiri and head north through rural Cambodia to the Vietnam Border that is about 3.5 hours away. Almost as soon as you cross the border you’ll see the stark contrast between the relative wealth and development of Cambodia compared to Vietnam. Modern life quickly becomes the norm and you’ll reach the outskirts of Saigon with 2.5 hours. On arrival check-in to your choice of Saigon hotel for 2 nights. Evening free to get your first taste of this vibrant city.
Day 12: Cu Chi Tunnels & Saigon City Tour (B / L)
This morning your private guide will collect for a tour to the Cu Chi Tunnels, remnants of the Vietnam War that offer an evocative insight into the horrors that were faced by those involved. During the guided tour it’s possible to descend into the layers of tunnels that although widened still create a feeling of creeping claustrophobia. Few other places can encapsulate the sheer will-power that the American military was up against, and the lengths that the Viet Cong were prepared to go to in order to evict them.
Back to the city for this afternoon’s private guided tour of vibrant, cosmopolitan Saigon. Highlights include the Reunification Palace, War Remnants Museum, History Museum, Jade Emperor Pagoda and Notre Dame Cathedral. Back at the hotel by 5pm.
Day 13: Saigon - Mekong Delta Tour - Overnight Mekong Delta (B / L)
This morning you’ll be picked up by your private guide for the drive south to the Mekong Delta. Stop en route to visit the Cai Be floating market and some of the varied traditional cottage industries that dot this region. Then board a boat to explore some of the small canals that spider web the delta and enjoy a delicious lunch in an orchard restaurant. After lunch drive onto Can Tho and check-in to the Victoria Can Tho hotel for 1 night, a beautiful colonial hotel on the banks of the river. Relax by the pool as river life passes you by and enjoy dinner in the garden serenaded by river frogs.
Day 14: Fly from Mekong Delta (B) to Phu Quoc Island - Beach
Up early this morning to board a boat with your guide to visit the famous Cai Rang floating market, a shop floor for hundreds of small boats loaded down with local produce, darting around until everything is sold. Start the day with a local coffee or perhaps a piece of fresh pineapple. Back to the hotel for breakfast and then the short flight over to Phu Quoc Island. On arrival you will be met and transferred to your beach side hotel for 3 nights or more.
Day 15-16: Phu Quoc (B) - Beach Day
2 days to enjoy your beachside setting and explore this idyllic island. There are a range of options you can book locally including diving, snorkelling and fishing. You can perhaps rent a car & driver to explore the lush interior, fishing villages and undeveloped areas / beaches of this beautiful island.
Day 17: Phu Quoc (B) / Saigon / UK Airport
Morning free then airport transfer and fly home via Saigon.
Each featured itinerary is really a starting point from which to create your ideal holiday.
We can include as much or as little as you like, mix and match hotels, excursions and experiences, add extra nights and change the destinations you'd like to visit.
The common thread is that each is a privately guided holiday, allowing you to travel where and when you want, with your own private transport and dedicated guide.
- Return scheduled international flights (optional if you would like to arrange your own)
- English speaking, local guide & driver
- Choice of hotel accommodation
- Transport in private air-conditioned vehicles
- Domestic flights detailed in itinerary
- Admission fees to all attractions, temples and activities as mentioned in the itinerary
- All meals as detailed (B = breakfast, L = lunch, D = dinner)
- Entry visas (if applicable)
- Optional Tours / Excursions
- Any meals not listed in the itinerary
- Personal expenses
- Tips for Guides / Drivers (discretionary)
- Travel insurance
- Any camera or video fees charged at sites
The hotels below are there as examples, designed to act as a starting point from which to create your holiday. There are plenty of alternatives to choose from and when we quote we will include other suggestions so we get to understand your likes and dislikes. Quite often clients mix and match hotel categories throughout their holiday.
Hotels in Siem Reap (Angkor Temples)
As the main gateway to the temples of Angkor, Siem Reap offers a great range of hotel accommodation.
Hotels in Phnom Penh
Authentic and cultured, Phnom Pehn is filled with amazing sights
Hotels in Kratie
A sleepy town on the Mekong River. Ideal for those touring from Cambodia to Vietnam.
Hotels in North East Cambodia (Nature Lodge)
Superb access to miles of wilderness in North East Cambodia.
Hotels in Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon)
The bustling but elegant city of Saigon understandably provides a wealth of hotel choice.
Hotels in Mekong Delta
The green lungs of Vietnam, enter a world of peace and calm.
Hotels in Phu Quoc
Relax on the pristine beaches of Phu Quoc Island. Perfect for lazing as well as pampering and watersports.