Bangkok to Saigon Tour: Cross ancient empires and lush jungles on a journey from Bangkok to Ho Chi Minh City. Join us as we take in the splendors of Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam on a trip through the heart of the Khmer empire. You’ll bask in the shadows of jungle-clad ruins, barter at floating canal markets, and sip coffee in elegant sidewalk cafés.
Begin with an evening tour of historic central Bangkok where illuminated temples, bustling flower markets and tranquil river scenery mix into a spellbinding combination. Then, a fascinating day tour of Bangkok explores the city’s museums and temples and provides an in-depth look at Thai culture and history.
From Bangkok, a journey through the rice paddies of the Thai countryside will take you to the border of Cambodia. After a night spent in the faded colonial charm of Battambang, you’ll arrive in Siem Reap, home of the astounding ruins of Angkor. Since its discovery in the 19th Century, Angkor has lured travellers with its majestic stone temples and mysterious ruins.
Next, you’ll be onto Phnom Penh, a riverside city of leafy boulevards, delicately towering pagodas and some surprisingly hip hotels, bars and restaurants. Departing from the Cambodian capital, you’ll journey by riverboat into Vietnam’s lush Mekong Delta, where you’ll slip along quiet waterways through bamboo groves and busy floating markets.
Finally, your journey will come to a close in Ho Chi Minh City, a refined but fast-paced city that was once known as the ‘Pearl of the Orient.’ There, you’ll marvel at candy-coloured French buildings, shop on palm-lined boulevards, and relax in sidewalk cafes, reveling in the wonders you’ve experienced on your journey.
Bangkok to Saigon Tour: Day 1 – Arrive Bangkok (D)
Arrive Bangkok where you are met by your guide and transferred to your hotel.
In the evening, we drive through Bangkok’s old quarters that deliver sights of an illuminated Grand Palace, the Royal Ground, temples and the lit-up Rachadamnoen Avenue. A lavish Thai dinner and cocktails against the stunning backdrop of the Rattanakosin skyline at “The Deck” riverside restaurant will keep your night pleasurable. Then stroll along the Flower Market to see the myriad varieties of exotic orchids and sweet smelling flowers. The buzz in this market is best experienced at night during which busy vendors load their wares up and down their mopeds. A potential shopping opportunity awaits you at an adjacent local night market along the Memorial Bridge that overlooks the Chao Phraya River, where you can rummage for handicrafts or souvenirs to bring back home for your family and friends.
Overnight in Bangkok
Bangkok to Saigon Tour: Day 2 – Bangkok (B)
This morning visit Thailand’s National Museum (closed on Mondays, Tuesdays and public holidays) which is indispensable to gaining an understanding of Thailand’s immensely rich cultural heritage. There are beautiful collections of Buddhas, clothing and textiles, weaponry, and royal regalia. From here you’ll take a boat on the Chao Phraya visiting the Royal Barge Museum, which has a fabulous collection of richly-decorated barges used by the Royal Family, and the Temple of Arun whose spire is an ineffable symbol of the “City of Angels”.
In the afternoon, visit to Jim Thompson’s famed House by the Klong. Known as the Father of Thai Silk, Thompson almost single-handedly transformed Thailand’s silk from a cottage craft to a major art and export industry. The beautiful, traditional Thai-style house is packed with art objects and antiques Thompson collected on his travels over the years before his mysterious disappearance in 1967 in the Cameron Highlands in Malaysia. End the day with a visit to Suan Pakkad Palace, originally the residence of the late Prince Chumbhot, the grandson of King Rama V and his wife, Princess Pantip. Suan Pakkad is surrounded by finely-arranged gardens and its exquisite lacquer reception pavilion (a good example of traditional Thai domestic architecture) is now a private museum with a collection of pre-historic artifacts, antiques, porcelain, paintings, furniture and other treasures.
Overnight in Bangkok.
Bangkok to Saigon Tour: Day 3 – Ban Pakard – Battambang (B)
Early this morning set off through the lush Thai countryside with its endless miles of rice paddies and fruit orchards. At Ban Pakard, you clear Thai Immigration and Customs, say goodbye to your Thai guide, then make a short walk to the Cambodia side of the border at Pailin. Here you’ll meet your Cambodian guide who will assist you with immigration and customs formalities. Walking through the border crossing between Thailand and Cambodia is quite an experience. Casinos are banned in Thailand so in this “No-mans’s land”, the border casinos are packed with Thais who love to gamble.
From here you drive south to Battambang along a bumpy tree-lined highway that cuts through an amazing countryside dominated by rice paddies and sugar palm trees. Not long ago, Battambang was not on the tourist map, as its location right on the front line during the Khmer Rouge times has left its traces even long after. However, like the remainder of this beautiful country, Battambang has recently re-opened to the outside world. The particular friendliness of the people here, paired with historical sights and the gentle scenery formed by rice and fruits cultivation make Battambang a destination that is as interesting as it is authentic.
Stop to visit Phnom Sampeau, meaning “Ship Hill” in Khmer, due to its distinctive shape, and one of the few hills standing out in this otherwise pancake-flat plain. Phnom Sampeau is home to the notorious killing caves, which are cruel reminders of Cambodia’s troubled past. Serenity and inhumanity represented in one place make this an interesting visit.
Arrival in the late afternoon and check in at the hotel. The rest of the day will be at your leisure to relax at the hotel pool or to discover this charming city. Even as Cambodia’s second largest city, Battambang has a very laid-back atmosphere and boasts with many beautiful examples for French colonial architecture.
Overnight in Battambang.
Bangkok to Saigon Tour: Day 4 – Battambang (B)
Battambang Province is well known for its fruit orchards and the typical countryside and extremely worth a visit. From Wat Banan, a beautiful quiet hilltop temple from Angkorian times, you will have fantastic views over the plains. Your guide will lead you through local villages and farms, where you can taste oranges, fresh from the tree! Here, you will find Cambodia’s only vineyard (can be visited if you are interested!) Note: The roads are mostly unsealed and can be bumpy.
Now head to the Bamboo Train station. The Bamboo Train has been set up by the villagers in order to facilitate the transportation of goods and persons as there are no regular trains running any more. The “train” itself is very basic: one bamboo platform on 4-wheels is activated by a small motor. Sitting on the platform (we will provide some cushions for your comfort), you will travel the 8 km to the next station through beautiful landscape and rice paddies (depending on season of visit). A true roller coaster ride without loops! (Note: the train tracks from Battambang to Phnom Penh are currently being rebuilt. The long term future of the bamboo train ride cannot be guaranteed. Should the service stop we will arrange alternative sightseeing).
This afternoon, you will be taken to some of the many cultural villages around Battambang, where you will learn how the locals produce rice paper, prahoc (typical Cambodian fish paste), grolan (sticky rice stuffed in bamboo), and other Cambodian treats. You will also visit a weaving and handicraft centre in another village. Return to the hotel in the afternoon.
Overnight in Battambang.
Bangkok to Saigon Tour: Day 5 – Battambang – Siem Reap (B,L)
Today, you will embark on one of the most stunning boat trips in Cambodia, as you will be taken from Battambang to Siem Reap by a comfortable private boat.
First, you will float along the Stung Sangker River until you will reach the Prek Toal bird sanctuary, one of the most important breeding grounds for waterbirds in the region. The largest freshwater lake in Asia, Tonlé Sap Lake, is an exceptional water system as it is swelling to almost five times its size during the raining season. The water of its main drainage, Tonlé Sap River, is being pushed back from the Mekong, carrying an incredible amount of water from the rains, causing the river to reverse its direction and thus causing the lake to overflow, flooding nearby fields and forests and supporting an extraordinarily rich and diverse eco-system. The lake is also an important breeding ground for fish, providing more than half of the amount of fish consumed in Cambodia. The particular water system requires the people living of the lake to adapt to the living conditions.
You will see many villages on the way where people live on stilted or entirely floating houses. A packed lunch is served on board the boat. (Duration of the boat ride ca. 6-7 hours without a visit to Prek Toal depending on water level).
(Note: This boat trip is only possible in the high water period from July to December as water levels are too low during the dry season and transfer times can be extremely long. From January to June alternative transfer by road.)
Arrive in Siem Reap mid-afternoon the gateway to the majestic temples of Angkor and a charming little city depending on water level. Enjoy some time at leisure to discover Siem Reap or to relax by your hotel’s pool.
Overnight in Siem Reap.
Bangkok to Saigon Tour: Day 6 – Siem Reap (B)
This morning, visit the ancient city of Angkor Thom. Angkor Thom was the last capital of the Great Khmer Empire under the reign of Jayavarman VII. This city is surrounded by an 8 m high wall, with each side of the city being 4 km long, drawing a perfect square. You will enter the city from the ancient South Gate, an impressive stone gate carved with Elephants and four giant faces. On each side of the entrance path, a row of 54 gods or demons is holding the sacred Naga snake.
From here, continue to Bayon Temple in the exact centre of the city. This 12th century masterpiece is a study in grandeur. The exterior gallery walls have extensive, superb bas-reliefs, particularly the East and South Galleries. The Terrace of the Elephants and the Terrace of the Leper King are also must-visits as they are both known for their intricate bas-reliefs.
Another temple not to be missed is Ta Prohm, built in the mid-12th to early 13th centuries. Ta Prohm is unique in that it has been left largely as it was found: overgrown by jungle trees and vines, with many parts of the temple crumbling to the ground. This makes Ta Prohm one of the most picturesque and memorable of the Angkor temples.
This afternoon explore a few of the Grand Circuit Temples. Begin at Ta Som, a Buddhist temple built under Jayavarman VII. The temple has been left largely unrestored with numerous trees and vegetation growing amongst the ruins including a sacred fig tree strangling one of the entrance gates.
From Ta Som begin a visit to a community project set up to protect and preserve the natural and cultural heritage of Baray Reach Dak, the park’s newly flooded north reservoir. The baray (artificial body of water) was only recently re-flooded in 2007 after heavy rainfall. Appreciate the nature of the baray with a walk through the forest accompanied by a community guide. You will also have the special experience of visiting Neak Poan temple, arriving as the ancient Khmer did by boat. The tour finishes at Preah Khan Temple, built approximately during the same period as Ta Prohm, and originally served both as a religious university and a temple. All aspects of the tour are run and managed by members of the community. Return to Siem Reap.
Overnight in Siem Reap.
Bangkok to Saigon Tour: Day 7 – Siem Reap (B)
This morning, travel to the “gem” of the Angkor area, the pretty temple of Banteay Srei, which is best viewed in the warm afternoon light. The so-called “Citadel of the Women” was built between the 11th and 13th century and remains the best preserved temple in Cambodia. It displays some of the finest examples of classical Khmer art as this small temple is noted for its truly remarkable fine bas-reliefs, depicting Hindu god Shiva. Banteay Srei is unique in that it is constructed of pink sandstone, which is seen nowhere else in Angkor.
On the way back, you will have the possibility to stop at local communities along the way and your guide will help you to interact with the local community to learn about the way of life here. Seize the opportunity to see how rice paper is produced and to taste Palm Wine and Palm Sugar, which are a popular local produce. Peek into Banteay Samre, a fine temple in the style of Angkor Wat, before returning to your hotel for some time at leisure.
This afternoon, visit the famous Angkor Wat by local ‘remork’ (similar to the Thai tuk tuk). Built during the reign of King Suryavarman II in the early 12th century, it is constructed following the model of the temple mountain symbolising the Mount Meru, home of the gods. The divine residence of Vishnu, the King himself was to reside here after his death. Inside the temple, the walls are covered with stone carvings and bas-reliefs depicting Hindu mythology and the wars Suryavarman II fought during his reign. Moreover, Angkor Wat is well known for the more than 2,000 Apsara dancers decorating the temple. Construction is thought to have taken around thirty years of intensive labor. Today, Angkor Wat is figured on Cambodia’s national flag as the temple symbolises the soul of the Khmer people.
Overnight in Siem Reap.
Bangkok to Saigon Tour: Day 8 – Siem Reap – Kampong Thom – Phnom Penh (B,L)
Today, you head towards the rarely visited Sambor Prei Kuk, one of the most important pre-Angkorian sites in the country that is enlisted to potentially become Cambodia’s next UNESCO World Heritage Site. Sambor Prei Kuk was built in the Chenla period between the 6th and 7th century and there are over 100 well preserved temples scattered in the forest. The three main sites are linked by small and shady tracks. Enjoy a beautiful walk through the jungle with breath-taking views. You will have the chance to visit and contribute to the sustainability of the people’s livelihood as the local community will prepare a simple but very tasty lunch for you near the temples.
The villages around the temple complex still practice the ancient art of craft making, using materials such as bamboo and rattan. Stop at one village to observe the local production. The community runs the Isanborei Craft Hut next to the temples and sells their products there as part of a community-based tourism project. Continue towards Phnom Penh, about 4 hours away.
Arrival in Phnom Penh late afternoon. Phnom Penh was once considered as one of the most beautiful cities in the Orient, and despite its recent turbulent history, it still retains a colonial charm. Cambodia’s capital is a bustling city, majestically located at the confluence of the mighty rivers of the Mekong and Tonlé Sap. Wide tree-lined boulevards and many colonial-era buildings reflect the glorious days and add to the allure of the city, where Asian and Western traditions meet in a fascinating way.
Overnight in Phnom Penh.
Bangkok to Saigon Tour: Day 9 – Phnom Penh (B,L)
This morning, you will be greeted by a driver who will take you on a tour to the most remarkable sights of Phnom Penh in a Cyclo, an original Phnom Penh means of transportation and a very fun way to explore this lively city. You will see some of the architecture including the Central Police Station, the Post Office, the Bibliotheque, the railway station, and the former Chamber of Commerce. First, visit Wat Phnom, which is situated near the northern boundary of the city. The original temple was built in 1372 by a Khmer lady named Penh, who found a collection of statues of the Buddha washed up on the river bank and decided to house them on a nearby hill (“Phnom”). The site contains some good examples of Khmer architecture and statues.
Have lunch at Le Lotus Blanc, the centre’s training restaurant, where you can support the training of these kids by being their guest. (Note: Le Lotus Blanc is usually closed during national holidays and for the entire month of April over the Khmer New Year holiday). Continue your tour to the Royal Palace. This palace dates back to 1866 and was the last palace built during the French colonial period. The same complex houses the Silver Pagoda, named for the over 5000 heavy silver tiles that cover its floors. Its original name is Wat Prakeo, meaning Temple of the Emerald Buddha. In this temple you will view a collection of Buddhas in gold, silver, crystal, and bronze.
This afternoon, visit the Russian Market, the best place in the city for wood and stone carvings, jewellery, clothes and Cambodian silk souvenirs.
Overnight in Phnom Penh.
Bangkok to Saigon Tour: Day 10 – Phnom Penh – Chau Doc (B,L)
This morning, visit the National Museum, which was built in traditional Khmer style. It houses the world’s foremost collection of ancient Khmer artistic, archaeological, and religious artefacts from the 4th to the 13th centuries. Over 5,000 pieces are on display, constituting the repository of the Kingdom’s cultural wealth. In addition, the roof space is home to a large bat colony!
For your farewell meal in Cambodia, you will have lunch at Bopha Phnom Penh Titanic Restaurant overlooking the port.
Later, you board the Blue Cruiser boat for your trip down the Mekong River and across the border into Vietnam into the town of Chau Doc. On arrival, you will meet your Vietnamese guide who will transfer you to the hotel. Time permitting late this afternoon visit Sam Mountain, an important pilgrimage site that is frequently visited by pilgrims from all over the Mekong Delta.
Overnight in Chau Doc.
Bangkok to Saigon Tour: Day 11 – Chau Doc – Can Tho (B)
This morning visit a local market overlooking the confluence of three rivers, and later take a boat to Chau Giang District where a tiny mosque serves the local Cham community. The Cham minority once dominated coastal Vietnam from the 2nd to the 9th centuries. The Chams also practice silk weaving and you may have the opportunity to see them at work. You’ll visit a beautiful Khmer temple, and later visit the floating houses that double as catfish farms, now a huge industry for the country. Return to land for the drive to Can Tho. En route, visit the bamboo basket-making hamlet of Long Thanh before continuing on to Can Tho. Transfer to your hotel on arrival.
Overnight in Can Tho.
Bangkok to Saigon Tour: Day 12 – Can Tho (B)
Can Tho is a university town on the confluence of three rivers in the heart of the delta. The Mekong Delta was once part of the Khmer Kingdom, and today many ethnic Khmers still live here. Make an early start this morning to visit the lively and colourful floating market of Cai Rang which is in full swing by 0700am (recommended early start for this day). You’ll take a small boat and explore the waterways which are packed with people who have come from the surrounding rural areas to sell all manner of fruits and vegetables.
After the market return to Can Tho by boat through the back canals and waterways where you’ll get a view of everyday life of the locals who live along the delta’s watery arteries. Look for the ‘monkey bridges’: narrow, flimsy bamboo bridges that span the canals. Later you’ll visit the Muniwangsyaram Pagoda, a typical Khmer Buddhist pagoda where the resident monks are friendly, and the local museum which is well laid out and informatively provides a review of the Mekong’s history. The remainder of the day is at leisure.
Overnight in Can Tho.
Bangkok to Saigon Tour: Day 13 – Can Tho – Ho Chi Minh City (B,L)
This morning set off early for Ho Chi Minh City. En-route take a cruise of the small floating market of Cai Be. Traders work the river and some have been living on these waters for generations. Produce at the market are hung on a pole in front of boats to attract customers and make it easier for people to see from afar what is on offer.
After visiting the market continue to a cottage factory where ‘pop-rice’, rice paper and coconut candies are made. Return to the boat for the cruise to Dong Hoa Hiep Island along the way, admire the scenery and the daily life of the local villagers. Lunch will be local Mekong style serving specialties of the area. Following your cruise, drive 2-hours onto Ho Chi Minh City. Ho Chi Minh, affectionately referred to as the old name of Saigon, with a population of 6 million is a booming city.
It is a city of amazing contrasts: soaring new international hotels, exclusive restaurants and trendy bars sit side-by-side with roadside noodle stalls and vociferous cyclo drivers. Golf courses, bowling alleys and shopping malls vie for space with fruit and vegetable markets, pagodas and karaoke rooms. Bustling, booming, crowded, chaotic…. yet there remains elegant, French-style boulevards and buildings, and cultural memories of France under whose stewardship Ho Chi Minh City was known as the “Pearl of the Orient”.
Overnight in Ho Chi Minh City.
Bangkok to Saigon Tour: Day 14 – Ho Chi Minh – Cu Chi – Ho Chi Minh City (B)
This morning we visit the former Vietcong tunnels 1.5-hours drive from Ho Chi Minh City.
The Cu Chi Tunnels consist of an incredible underground tunnel network constructed by Vietnamese resistance fighters (Viet Cong) during both the French and American wars. Start the visit with the Ben Dinh section of the tunnel. Here you can imagine what it was like to be a guerrilla complete with Russian Carbine rifles and AK 47’s.
In the late morning return to Ho Chi Minh, and then enjoy a tour of the highlights of the city. Your program includes the Reunification Hall, formerly known as the Presidential Palace it was towards this modern building that North Vietnamese tanks seized on the morning of April 30 1975, as Saigon fell. This fascinating building is filled with history still fresh in the minds of many. From there stroll (your vehicle will be available at all times) to the major sights of colonial Ho Chi Minh City: the Old Saigon Post Office, Dong Khoi Street (formerly Rue Catinat), Continental Hotel, Opera House and City Hall.
After this historical visit continue to the War Remnants Museum where exhibition halls display imagery of both the French and ‘American’ wars. Continue to the Jade Emperor Pagoda located on the fringes of district 1. Dating from 1909 and built by Cantonese Buddhists this quiet oasis was designed using feng shui principals showcasing ornate statues and effigies. Following your tour head back to your hotel.
Overnight in Ho Chi Minh City.
Bangkok to Saigon Tour: Day 15 – Ho Chi Minh Departure (B)
At leisure until you transfer to the airport for your departure flight
Bangkok to Saigon Tour: Rates vary frequently. Please contact us to get the best possible price based upon your travel period and specific touring needs, private basis not join in, please inquire for pricing which varies depending on accommodation standards.
Bangkok to Saigon Tour: What’s Included:
Hotel accommodation in shared twin/double room.
Meals as mentioned in the itinerary (B = Breakfast, L = Lunch, D = Dinner).
Tours and transfers by private air-conditioned vehicles.
English speaking local guide (for other languages supplements apply).
All entrance fees as indicated in itinerary.
Bangkok to Saigon Tour: What’s NOT Included:
International and domestic flights (quoted separately).
Meals other than mentioned above.
Camera/video entrance fees.
Travel insurance, tips, visa.
Other services not clearly indicated in the package inclusions above.
Bangkok to Saigon Tour: Creating Unique Touring Experiences
All the touring itineraries on this website have been carefully crafted by our in-country management teams and represent a series of experiences we can certainly recommend. However, we understand that every travel experience should be as unique and individual as each traveler. Our consultants are waiting to hear from you so that we can tailor or custom design a Laos tour to your individual specifications.