Since Cambodia reopened its borders to tourists in the early 1990s, visitors from around the world have flocked to this intriguing Southeast Asian country to experience its fascinating cultural heritage, to engage with the wonderfully welcoming locals, and to marvel at the numerous spectacular natural wonders Cambodia has to offer.
Phnom Penh, the nation’s bustling capital, is home to a slew of excellent restaurants, lively outdoor markets and a boisterous nightlife.
However, most of Cambodia’s most popular attractions are located beyond the capital.
Tourist favourites include: the sleepy French-influenced town of Kampot with its lovely promenade dotted with gorgeous French villas and charming riverside cafes; the breathtaking waterfalls of the lush jungle-clad Cardamon Mountains; and, of course, the awe-inspiring ancient temple complex of Angkor Wat - the world’s largest and arguably most impressive religious structure.
Off-the-beaten track Cambodia offers wildlife, little-explored mountain ranges and unique tribal cultures. With two excellent luxury lodges, Cambodia's Cardamom Mountains are the place to head to nature lovers.
Mekong River Cruises in Cambodia are a superb option for those looking to explore Cambodia at a leisurely pace.
Days 2 - 4
Located at the meeting of the Mekong and Tonle Sap rivers, Cambodia’s energetic capital, Phnom Penh, is known for its rich history, friendly locals and world-class food scene. The primary drawcard of the city its visible heritage.
The National Museum of Cambodia features a millennium’s worth and more of incredible Khmer design. The monumental Royal Palace, the official residence of King Sihamoni, houses the famous Throne Hall, used for coronations and ceremonies.
Within the Royal Palace is the spectacular Silver Pagoda, named for its floor covered with five tons of gleaming silver.
The Tonle Sap riverfront area provides a charming place to enjoy a meal and some fine French wine (an enduring colonial legacy), while the local nightclubs provide a fun, if somewhat bizarre, time out on the town, complete with karaoke singers and stage dancers.
Days 4 - 6
Best known as the gateway to the magnificent ancient temple complex of Angkor Wat, Siem Reap is a pleasant town with lovely French colonial and Chinese architecture, and a laid-back ambience.
The main attraction here is of course the Angkor complex. Covering an area larger than Paris, it encompasses scores of exquisite temple structures featuring intricately carved detail – dancing ladies and lotus flowers embellish the walls, five-headed naga (serpent deities) fan out from chunks of rock.
Abandoned for unknown reasons thousands of years ago, it was rediscovered in 1860 by a French explorer, Henri Mahout, and has been Cambodia’s crowning glory ever since.
Other attractions in and around Siem Reap include an array of arts and crafts shops, a cultural village that allows a glimpse into traditional local life, and a bird sanctuary on the outskirts of town.
Vietnam has a wealth of cultural, historic and natural attractions, making it one of the most exciting countries to travel to in Asia in addition to being one of the most welcoming.
Vietnam has no end of cultural attractions including the old Imperial capital of Hue, the ancient trading port of Hoi An and the fertile Mekong Delta plus the two major cities, Saigon and Hanoi.
Those looking for spectacular scenery should head to the far north of Vietnam or to Halong Bay for an overnight cruise on a traditional Vietnamese Junk.
With over 3,000 km of coastline, it's also no wonder that more and more people are heading to Vietnam to combine some touring with a beach holiday in Vietnam, staying in a luxury or boutique hotel.
Jasmine Holidays has staff based in Vietnam as it's one of our most popular destinations. This helps us keep up to date with developments in the country and the wider region.
Days 6 - 8
With its wide boulevards, ancient pagodas and tree-lined lakes, Vietnam’s capital is also the country’s most atmospheric and beguiling city.
There is an energy and charm here arising from the genteel mix of French colonialism and Asian grace and tradition.
Enjoy a showcase of synchronised t’ai chi at Hoan Kiem Lake; stroll around the lively Old Quarter with its narrow streets, traders and packs of scooters weaving in and out, and don’t miss the chance to see a water puppetry show at the Thang Long Puppet Theatre.
Other places to visit include the Imperial Citadel of Thang Long, the Perfume Pagoda temple complex and the Hanoi Opera House in the heart of the French Quarter.
Ha Long Bay
Imagine thousands of soaring forested islands rising out of emerald waters and you have a vision of the breathtaking beauty that is Halong Bay.
Halong (declared a World Heritage Site in 1994) means ‘where the dragon descends into the sea’ with the legend telling of a massive dragon descending from the mountains, gouging out crevasses and valleys and as it charged towards the coast.
Halong Bay is a stunning limestone seascape a 2.5 hour drive from Hanoi and is a highlight for many on a tour of Vietnam.
A Halong Bay Cruise is a great experience and whatever the weather, the beauty of the bay is outstanding and cruising on a traditional junk is a very relaxing experience.
Cruising Halong Bay is best done as an overnight trip, in order to really experience the beauty of Halong Bay. We only recommend the best vessels for our cruises on Halong Bay.
The Halong Ginger, Jasmine and Violet each offer a very personalised experience and high standards whilst Paradise Cruises offers one of the best overnight cruises on Halong Bay.
Bhaya Cruises offer great value and a choice of cabins for up to 3 adults. It is even possible to cruise Halong Bay in a private one-cabin junk.
Days 9 - 12
Many travellers' favourite town in Vietnam, Hoi An is a historic and enchanting town, just ten minutes from a quiet stretch of beach.
This once-bustling port town has a colourful blend of French, Chinese and Japanese-influenced architecture, canals, bridges and temples, and the lack of noisy traffic (no cars are allowed on the main streets) means you can take it all in in relative peace and quiet.
Its waterfront area is alive with boutique hotels, eateries and tailor shops, and art and craft shops.
Hoi An really offers the best of both worlds, with an old-town atmosphere, with winding streets, old temples and ancient meeting halls so close to the beach.
If you have time, try to fit in a visit to the ruins of My Son Sanctuary, an ancient Hindu tower temple complex close to Hoi An.
Days 12 - 14
The perfect complement to the more laid back Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City (more commonly known as Saigon) has a pulsating energy that is impossible to resist.
Saigon is the economic engine of Vietnam, a thriving, sprawling metropolis of 13 million people with about 7 million scooters on the streets.
Attractions include the bustling Ben Thanh Market, where vendors sell everything from food, sweets and spices to tobacco, souvenirs and clothing - including custom-made suits, and Nha Hang Ngon, where you can taste traditional street food served up from food stalls in a leafy garden.
Other notable sites and experiences include the Notre-Dame Basilica, the Jade Emperor Pagoda for its statues and woodcarvings, the War Remnants Museum, and the Khanh Van Nam Vien Pagoda, said to be the only pure Taoist temple in Vietnam.
Many people make trips out to the Mekong Delta and to the Cu Chi Tunnels from Saigon.
Hotel accommodation in Saigon is very good value and there is just a handful of colonial style, boutique hotels in Saigon.
Jasmine Holidays has staff based in Saigon which helps keep us right up to date with developments in Vietnam and the wider region.
As previously described
Mekong River Delta
The Mekong Delta in Southern Vietnam is comprised of a 60,000 km long web of interconnected waterways which spans across three Vietnamese provinces.
This lush, tropical delta is dominated by Southeast Asia’s mightiest river, the Mekong. The Mekong splits in Cambodia into two main rivers, the Bassac and the First River, then in Vietnam into a more complex system, creating a maze of small canals and rivers.
Exploring these rivers and their numerous tributaries by boat is an ideal way explore the Mekong Delta at a leisurely pace and provides an opportunity to experience the truly unique Mekong River lifestyle.
The area is brimming with small craft villages, Khmer Pagodas, magnificent mangroves, picturesque orchards and some remarkable floating markets.