A Dream of Indochine: Vietnam & Cambodia.
This is an 18-day sample itinerary. Remember that R. Crusoe can create an Indochina itinerary of any length to meet your exact specifications.
Jungles are secret places (just ask Bogie and Hepburn). They’re full of mystery, history, and not a few surprises.
Indochine’s shy jungle nations wait to be revealed. Vietnam and Cambodia have survived colonialism, war, and deep political intrigue—and have come through still graceful and serene. And plainly beautiful. Get past the impulse to shudder when you hear “the Mekong” or “Da Nang,” and you'll find (ancient) history and meet incredibly warm and hospitable people.
Your first taste of Indochine on Crusoe's custom guided tour? Vietnam. Hanoi amazes us. Put aside your small-screen memories, and take a good look at what’s here now: authentic French colonial splendor, gentle souls, seductive sights, smells, sounds. Have we mentioned the baguettes? Take a rickshaw ride through the French Quarter. Poke around the ethnology museum with a top scholar to assess the country’s ethnic diversity and the 21st century’s impact on the country’s population. Visit the “Hanoi Hilton” and the Temple of Literature. Experience a traditional water-puppet performance.
Then, options for you. Head for the chalk cliffs of gorgeous Halong Bay (at additional cost, opt for a helicopter ride to and from the bay instead of driving); take a day at leisure in Hanoi (after all, you are on holiday); or tour historic Quan Thanh Temple and Tran Quoc Pagoda, among Vietnam’s oldest treasures.
Fly to Da Nang to get familiar with the Cham people during a visit to the excellent Cham Museum. Then Hoi An, a UNESCO World Heritage site and an interesting mix of cultures. The streets speak volumes about its interesting past as a trading outpost.
Excavations at My Son round out our understanding of the ancient Cham people. UNESCO recognizes the site’s value and recently added it to the World Heritage list. Take a private cooking lesson at a wonderful restaurant in town. There are options to consider in and around town, too.
Next, a day at leisure in and around Da Nang. Golf is a possibility, if you'd like. So is a day of retail therapy in Hoi An. Or simply take advantage of the amenities at your five-star resort.
Drive to Hue, next, one of Vietnam's foremost religious, cultural, and educational centers. Take some time in the citadel and the Forbidden Purple City. To the Nguyen Tombs, each one unique, each a reflection of the emperor buried within. Visit the beautifully restored and recently reopened Long An Palace, where kings came to kick back after royal ceremonies. Step inside a historic royal home in the company of the present owner, who has marvelous tales to tell.
To Ho Chi Minh City (once upon a time, Saigon), having reread your dog-eared copy of Graham Greene's The Quiet American. The city draws our focus to the future of Vietnam. But the past is a part of the scenery here, too. If you'd like, have an adventure in the Cu Chi Tunnels, whose very existence changed the shape of Indochina’s history during the Vietnam War. At the War Remnants Museum, get a handle on the conflict from the Vietnamese perspective.
On to Cambodia, monument to the mighty Khmers, who moved in during the early ninth century and never left. Phnom Penh first. For those who wish, get an eye-opening dose of reality at Tuol Sleng Prison and at the haunting and notorious Killing Fields. We suggest you have a private dinner with a top foreign expat reporter we know at the Foreign Correspondents Club for a lively discussion of current affairs in Cambodia.
Reach back to a glorious past at Angkor, ancient capital of the empire and one of the best sites in Southeast Asia. Watch dusk, and then dawn, creep over this incredible complex. There are options to consider here: meet our friend, expat photographer John McDermott, at one of the art galleries he's opened in Siem Reap; take a helicopter ride over the vast site (at additional cost); visit an artisans’ center; cruise Tonle Sap, Indochina’s largest lake; explore Banteay Srei, the Citadel of Women. There's also the option to visit Ta Phrom and Preah Khan, untouched treasures in the Cambodian jungle.
We hope you'll opt to join us on our mini-journey to the Vietnam Highlands, Bangkok, Laos, Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, and/or aboard the luxurious Eastern & Oriental Express train through Thailand and Malaysia and into Singapore.
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