|Cambodia, Thailand, Vietnam|
|Saigon, Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam||Bangkok|
Forget everything you know about traffic lights, pedestrians and stop signs. They don't matter here. Wait until you're safely on the other side before you start high-fiving your success.
(Was Overland Indochina)
Nothing planned for the first day. You can shop for tiny ceramic tea sets at Ben Thanh Market while snacking on chao tom (barbecued shrimp paste on sticks of sugar cane).
Arrive in Ho Chi Minh City and explore this fascinating city. There will be a pre departure meeting at approx. 6pm tonight!
Buckle up (even though there’s probably no seatbelts) for a full day of travel to Phnom Penh. When you arrive, hit the Foreign Correspondents Club for a mojito on the rooftop.
Drive to Phnom Penh by public bus (approx 6-7 hrs).
Head out to the Choeung Ek Memorial
Learn more about Cambodian history with a visit to the Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda.
Check out the National Museum
Explore Wat Phnom, a peaceful temple situated on a hill for which the city is named
Take in the sites by cyclo! Tours generally take in the following: central market, US Embassy, Wat Phnom, Mekong river front, independence monument, finishing at the Royal Palace.
If you're in the mood for shopping, stop at Psar Thmei (Central Market) or travel out to Psar Tuol Tom Pong (the Russian Market)
Meals included: 1 dinner
Sitting close to the greenery and beauty of the Kirirom National Park, Chambok provides serenity, an abundance of nature and a taste of traditional Khmer life.
Travel by private bus into rural Cambodia (approx 3 hrs).
Enjoy a homestay - witness everyday Cambodian life and enjoy a traditional-style dinner
Facilities are basic and multishare with mattresses, bedding and mosquito nets all provided
Meals included: 2 breakfasts
Visit the lively or quiet beaches of Sihanoukville or scoot out to the nearby islands on a boat tour. You can even go on a tropical safari in Ream National Park, if you want. Take a private bus to Sihanoukville (approx 3 hrs) - named for the Cambodian royal family
Sihanoukville is a beach town with warm, welcoming people
Take a boat to one of the nearby islands, perhaps enjoy a barbecue lunch and relax on the beach
Make a trip out to the Ream National Park - home to a variety of animal and bird species
Meals included: 1 breakfast
Shake the sand off your 'nads and jump on a bus back to the capital. Here you have the option to soak up more reminders of the country's horrific past in Tuol Sleng Museum, or visit Seeing Hands for a massage.
Take a local bus to Phnom Penh (approx 4 hrs) Perhaps visit the infamous Tuol Sleng Prison or indulge in a traditional massage at the Seeing Hands Massage parlour. An initiative set up to support visually impaired masseurs, who are also some of the best massuers in the city
Kampong Cham. Frontier charm, French-colonial character, etc. Hire a bike and pedal to Koh Paen island, if you want, or visit some nearby mountain temples.
Travel by public bus to Kompong Cham (approx 4 hrs) - once an important trading hub and now a laid-back small town
Explore the serene 11th-century Wat Nokor
Hire a bike to explore the island of Koh Paen, linked to Kampong Cham by a bamboo bridge (passable only in the dry season, take a ferry in the wet)
Get a better understanding of local cottage industries
Perhaps travel further to the twin 'mountain temples' of Phnom Pros and Phnom Srei.
Angkor Wat is the obvious highlight but you’ll get a real kick out of counting the faces of Bayon and exploring the jungle temple of Ta Prohm. There’s a bit of temple overload here, so take some free time to haggle for souvenirs at the market or get a pedicure from thousands of tiny fish.
Take a bus to Siem Reap (approx 8 - 9 hours)
Visit the South Gate of Angkor Thom, Bayon, Elephant Terrace, Baphoun, the Royal Enclosure, Phimeanakas, Terrace of the Leper King, Ta Prohm and, of course, Angkor Wat.
Kick back in Siem Reap and just wander around the town, visiting its market, shops and restaurants
Depending on the season, perhaps visit Tonle Sap Lake to see local life.
Bangkok is as crazy as you expect it to be. It's a South East Asian gem, so make the most of everything on offer here. If you don't return home absolutely exhausted and overwhelmed, you did it wrong. Go back and try again.
Drive from Siem Reap to Bangkok (approx. 8-9 hours including border crossing and lunch)
On arrival enjoy some free time. Perhaps indulge in a Thai massage, or travel by longtail boat down the Chao Phraya River to explore the famous 'khlongs' (canals)
You could also explore the Grand Palace and the Temple of the Emerald Buddha
The trip will end after breakfast on Day 12
There are no activities planned for the final day and you are able to depart the accommodation at any time
• Gecko’s expert English-speaking local tour guide throughout the tour
• Free time to explore Ho Chi Minh City, Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Bangkok
International flights, arrival and departure transfers, departure and airport taxes, visas, all other meals, all optional tours or activities during free time, transfers outside of the tour program, travel insurance, tips and items of a personal nature.
Crossing cultures When you are taking a tour that covers 3 different countries, you will be tempted at times to draw comparisons between them. However, you will get the most of your travel experience if you try to understand and respect each culture and the people living there, regardless of whether you preferred the destination you were in previously. There are some cultural elements that do cross over between countries in South East Asia: · Patting someone on their head is considered extremely rude and insulting. · Public displays of affection are not acceptable, especially kissing. · Losing your temper or showing anger and shouting or yelling will lose respect immediately, to remain cool, calm and collected at all times is an admired quality · When visiting temples ensure your shoulders and knees are covered. They are places of worship please treat them as such. · The monarchy is held in high esteem in Thailand & Cambodia, please treat them with respect
Local Tour Guides By employing and training local site guides to lead our group holidays, there is a two-fold benefit. Firstly, we provide employment opportunities for the local community. Just as importantly is the benefit to you, the traveller. Your tour guide’s friendship, humour, passion and intimate knowledge of the region will be key factors in making your holiday a success.
Infrastructure and Tet Holiday Period Please note that Vietnam and Cambodia are developing countries whose infrastructure may differ from what you expect in your homeland. Expect poor road conditions and be prepared for some inconveniences due to such things as restaurants or tourist sites being closed and our regular transport services not always being available, especially so during the Tet holiday period (Vietnamese New Year), Songkran festival (Cambodian and Thai New Year) and Chinese New Year. During Tet (Vietnamese New Year) most businesses will be closed as Vietnamese people usually spend this period returning to their homes and celebrating with their families. This will involve a major burden on all forms of transport, and despite booking in advance, tickets for planes and trains especially are extremely difficult to obtain. Even if bookings are obtained, transport services during this period will be overcrowded and heavy delays are to be expected, so you will need to make sure that you pack your sense of humour. In order to facilitate your travels during the Tet period, we may need to substitute your train/plane journey with a private bus trip, if required. This is an 'adventure' trip and we hope to expose you to all aspects of the local cultures. Please be open-minded. Please note that, on your tour, you may link up with passengers booked on other tours in our Gecko’s Asia program.
(any additional information from trip notes that may only apply to some trips)
Due to the style of accommodation on our trips it might not always be possible to book you in a single room throughout the trip. If you book a single supplement it will not apply to nights in homestays. If you are unsure of where a single supplement will apply please check with your travel agent before booking.
The information provided here is given in good faith and has been compiled with all reasonable care. However, things change and some of the information may become out of date. Please ensure that you have the most up-to-date information for your trip. We recommend that you check the trip notes for your tour around one month before departure. If you have any queries, please contact your travel agent or our staff in Australia. We are here to help you!
21 November 2013