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Cambodia and Vietnam, for the serious traveller, is a match made in heaven, and you'd have to concede, based on the two nations' turbulent and tragic histories, one, at times, of hell, too. Yet it's the impossible-to-ignore aspects of these two beautiful and exotic countries that have informed the itinerary for this our second exclusive Traveller Tour for readers of The Sydney Morning Herald, The Sun-Herald, The Age and The Sunday Age.
On our specially-curated 16-day tour, in association with Wendy Wu Tours, our readers will visit the man-made and natural wonders of Indochina as far afield as Angkor in Cambodia to Halong Bay in Vietnam as well as exploring some of the key battlefield sites of what the Vietnamese prefer to call "The AmericanWar".
In an impressive lineup of tour guests, you'll be joined along every step of the way by an impressive quartet of experts including Lindsay Murdoch, the veteran and award-winning Southeast Asian correspondent for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age as well as David Brotherson, a leading Australian archaeologist based in Siem Reap, the Cambodian city close to the magnificent ancient city of Angkor.
Further along on the tour, Jimmy Thomson, a war historian and author who wrote the book, Tunnel Rats, about the exploits of Australian engineers during what we call the Vietnam War, will offer his expert insights. In Hanoi, our own Annie Dang, a young Vietnam-born Australian editor from the Traveller team, will provide her own unique take on her birthplace, as well as some tips on the art of travel-writing.
I'd love you to join us on this unique tour which I'm sure you'll agree from a reading of the itinerary will provide some truly special and memorable moments as you journey with Traveller and Wendy Wu Tours through Indochina.
DAY 1 Friday October 27
Fly to Siem Reap
On arrival at Siem Reap, your National Escort will greet you at the airport and transfer you to your hotel for a relaxing evening. Siem Reap is the gateway to Cambodia's millennium-old temples of Angkor.
DAY 2 Saturday October 28
Temples of Angkor
Begin your discovery of the temples of Angkor at Ta Prohm, an atmospheric temple that is enveloped by jungle, then continue to Angkor Thom and its enigmatic Bayon, the Elephant Terrace and the Terrace of the Leper King. Spend your afternoon in awe of the astounding Angkor Wat, one of the world's most important archaeological sites. Climb to the summit of Pre Rup temple at sunset for spectacular views of the surrounding landscape. In the evening, enjoy welcome drinks, dinner and a question and answer session with David Brotherson, an expert in Angkorian history and archaeology.
DAY 3 Sunday October 29
Banteay Srei & Banteay Samre
Wander through the captivating Banteay Srei. Distinct from the other temples, it is a richlyembellished Hindu temple constructed from rose sandstone, then take in the wonder of the early 12th-century temple of Banteay Samre. For lunch, delight in warm Khmer hospitality at a traditional Khmer home. Visit Artisan D'Angkor, an organisation working to revive traditional Khmer arts and crafts. David Brotherson will host a second question and answer session in the evening, to be followed by an Apsara dance performance.
DAY 4 Monday October 30
Fly to Saigon & Explore Chinatown
Fly to Saigon, Vietnam. Ho Chi Minh City, as it is also known, seamlessly retains its connections to the past, particularly in Cholon, the city's Chinatown, the site for the afternoon's explorations. Enjoy a cyclo ride through the city and then wander through Thien Hau Pagoda. Correspondent Lindsay Murdoch will join you for dinner to share some of his experiences in the Southeast Asia region.
DAY 5 Tuesday October 31
Saigon City Tour
Saigon is a treasure trove of fascinating heritage. Accompanied by correspondent Lindsay Murdoch, explore the colonial Notre Dame Cathedral and the Central Post Office, the Reunification Palace, and the emotionallycharged War Remnants Museum. Test your haggling skills at the dynamic Ben Thanh Market.
DAY 6 Wednesday November 1
Journey with Lindsay Murdoch to the Mekong Delta, known as the "rice basket of Vietnam". The fertile land produces huge amounts of rice,coconuts, vegetables and tropical fruit. Enjoy an up-close look at riverside life in sampans as you navigate through palm-lined canals. Later, return to Saigon.
DAY 7 Thursday November 2
Long Tan & Nui Dat
Travel to Hoa Long village in Vung Tau Province. This is the site of an infamous battle between the Royal Australian Regiment and the Viet Cong. Learn about the complex history of the region from author Jimmy Thomson. Tour the village and stop by the Nui Dat kindergarten, which Australian veterans built. Head to Long Tan village to pay respects at the Long Tan Cross. Continue to the Horseshoe (a Fire Support Base), the Long Phuoc tunnels and a museum. Return to Saigon.
DAY 8 Friday November 3
Cu Chi Tunnels & Fly to Hoi An
The Cu Chi tunnels are an infamous underground city built by Viet Cong soldiers during the Vietnam War. They were central to their strategic operations and are complete with underground hospitals, schools and canteens. Explore the tunnels accompanied by Jimmy Thomson. En route, stop at a cricket farm, where they raise crickets to become tasty local delicacies. Local folklore says hungry soldiers ate them to supplement nutrient-poor diets. Travel down the Saigon River by speedboat back to Saigon. Later, fly to Danang and transfer to the UNESCO Heritage-listed Hoi An.
DAY 9 Saturday November 4
Walking Tour of Hoi An & Red Bridge Cooking Class
Enjoy a walking tour of this laid-back town, stop by the elaborate Japanese Bridge and visit a Chinese temple and bustling market. Relax during a cruise along the Thu Bon River to the Red Bridge Cooking School. Wander through the school's herb gardens and enjoy a cooking class where you will be joined by our special guest Nick Hatton, the ex-pat Australian founder of the school, followed by dinner.
DAY 10 Sunday November 5
Travel over the scenic Hai Van Pass to the former imperial capital, Hue where you'll discover the Imperial Citadel and Forbidden Purple City. Later, visit the Royal Tomb of Minh Mang, Thien Mu Pagoda, and cruise along the Perfume River.
DAY 11 Monday November 6
Fly to Hanoi
After arriving in Vietnam's capital Hanoi, embark on an exciting cyclo ride through the Old Quarter. In the evening, enjoy a Water Puppets performance. Join travel writer Annie Dang for dinner, where you will hear anecdotes of her Vietnamese culture and heritage.
DAY 12 Tuesday November 7
Cruise Halong Bay Overnight
Halong Bay is the "jewel in the crown" of Vietnam. Travel here, along with Annie Dang, for an unforgettable overnight cruise through
the limestone islets on the Emeraude cruise boat. Unwind on the top deck as the sun sets sublimely over the bay.
DAY 13 Wednesday November 8
Return to Hanoi
Early birds may wish to watch the sunrise over the bay, then enjoy a last few hours of Halong Bay's serenity. After brunch, disembark and return to lively Hanoi.
DAY 14 Thursday November 9
Hanoi City Tour
Spend today with Annie Dang exploring the sights of Hanoi including the Ho Chi Minh Complex, Temple of Literature and Museum of Ethnology. In the evening, enjoy a special farewell dinner at Home Restaurant, set within a former French residence.
DAYS 15-16 Friday and Saturday November 10-11
Fly Hanoi to Australia
Fly overnight to Sydney or Melbourne, arriving home the following day.
To book: Phone 1300 852 958 (Saturday, 9am to 4pm; Sunday, 10am to 2pm, and Monday to Friday, 9am to 5.30pm)
Each participant will receive one of these free experiences. At the time of booking, simply nominate your two favourite choices and we will allocate one based on availability and on a first-come-firstserved basis.
Footmassage in Siem Reap (Lotus Blanc Resort)
Relax and unwind as you ease away the day's walking and bring body and mind back into balance. This traditional foot massage relieves tension in the feet with east and west combination techniques; it also helps relieve fatigue, aches and pain.
Rooftop cocktail in Saigon
The Bitexco Building is a glittering example of modern architecture in Saigon. The views from the top offer unrivalled panoramas of the sun setting over the busy city. Enjoy a laid-back cocktail as the sun dips below the horizon.
Historic Hue by cyclo
Strap yourself in for an exciting cyclo ride through the streets of Hue to the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Imperial Citadel. The Nguyen emperors ruled from this former palace until the early 20th century. From this unique vantage point, the impressive size and position of the citadel will be evident. You will pass by the imposing wall, the moat and some beautiful gates.
Afternoon tea in Hanoi
Indulge in an elegant afternoon tea at the A'telier Lounge at the Apricot Hotel. This property is positioned adjacent to Hanoi's iconic Hoan Kiem Lake. The delectable menu will complement the opulent, but relaxed, atmosphere of the hotel.
16 DAYS FULLY INCLUSIVE
● International economy class flights ex Sydney and Melbourne flying Vietnam Airlines
● Domestic transportation in Cambodia and Vietnam
● All accommodation
● All meals (from breakfast on day 2 to breakfast on day 15)
● Special guest appearances
● Sightseeing with guides and entrance fees
● Visa fees for Australian passport holders
● National Escorts and English-speaking local guides
● One exclusive experience as outlined above
October 27, 2017
$5,789 pp, twin share.
Single hotel and cruise cabin supplement from $990
Availability for single cabins on Halong Bay cruise and willing to share options on tour are limited. Contact us for pricing from other cities.
To book: Phone 1300 852 958 (Saturday, 9am to 4pm; Sunday, 10am to 2pm, and Monday to Friday, 9am to 5.30pm)
Prices are person, twin share. Single supplement applies. Subject to availability. Airline fuel surcharge and tipping included and subject to change.While every effort will be made to ensure participation by the special guests, please note that circumstances beyond our control may result in changes to the guests or itinerary. Booking conditions available at www.wendywutours.com.au.
OUR SPECIAL GUEST: DAVID BROTHERSON
A PhD candidate with the University of Sydney's Department of Archaeology, archaeologist David Brotherson began working in Cambodia in 2009 and moved to Siem Reap, near Angkor, the ancient capital city of Khmer Empire, where he is now based since 2012. He is a member of the Greater Angkor Project, an interdisciplinary archaeological research program headed by the University of Sydney. His research includes the decline of Angkor.
OUR SOUTHEAST ASIA CORRESPONDENT: LINDSAY MURDOCH
The Southeast Asia correspondent for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, Lindsay Murdoch is a three-time winner of the Walkley Award, Australia's premier journalism award. In 2013 Lindsay broke a world exclusive story on the discovery of Mahendraparvata, a lost medieval city which predates the building of Angkor by more than three centuries.
OUR TRAVEL WRITER: ANNIE DANG
Annie Dang is a writer and producer for Traveller and traveller.com.au at The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age. Born in Vietnam, Annie, who is fluent in Vietnamese, moved to Australia with her family as a young child. Her travels to Vietnam have taken her as far afield as Ho Chi Minh and Sapa, though Hoi An and Halong Bay remain her favourites. traveller.com.au/annie-dang
OUR VIETNAM WAR AUTHOR: JIMMY THOMSON
Author and journalist Jimmy Thomson has written three books set in Vietnam, including Tunnel Rats about the heroic work of the Australian sappers (army engineers), who discovered the Viet Cong's intricate network of tunnels in Cu Chi. He is a frequent visitor to Vietnam.