Karen’s Wendy Wu Trip to Vietnam & Cambodia
Having been lucky enough to go to China with Wendy Wu Tours in 2009 I jumped at the chance of another amazing opportunity to go on another Wendy Wu tour this time to South East Asia visiting Vietnam and Cambodia. A small private group of only ten people set off on Vietnam Airlines to Ho Chi Min City on their Dreamliner aircraft a first for me and many others with an eleven hour flight ahead of us I settled down in our premium economy seats ready for my Wendy Wu adventure.
We landed in Ho Chi Minh after a very pleasant flight with Vietnam Airlines with our guide waiting for us on arrival we were transferred to our first hotel the Au Lac which most notably had a great spa with the prices of treatments unbelievably cheap$20 dollars for a full body massage lasting 70 minutes, fabulous to do after a long flight. After a couple of hours rest we were on our way to our first site of the trip being the Notre Dame Cathedral and iconic landmark admired for its neo-Romanesque architecture in which really stands amongst modern surrounding building blocks. Next we strolled up to the Saigon River along Dong Khoi Street everywhere you look there is history and most of it from the Vietnamese war some very graphic of the wartime hardships and atrocities. The next day we took a cruise around the floating markets of Ho Chi Minh which had all sorts of hand made products to take home to your friends and family. The next day we headed to the historic Cu Chi Tunnels which formed an underground city for the Viet Cong soldiers during the war. I had the misfortune of getting stuck in one, lets face it the Vietnamese are more petite than us Europeans, what an experience! I also had a go on an AK47 on the shooting range there, again another must to enhance the full wartime vibe. Next destination, Cambodia.
We flew to Siem Reap only an hours flight from Ho Chu Minh City. The way of life seems less hectic here. The tour here started with a visited to the South gate of Angkor Thom where the statues of the gods of good and evil line the entrance. The next stop is Bayon , known for the hundreds of smiling faces that grace the towers. After lunch in Siem Reap (they use locally sourced restaurants) which are excellent we then move onto the real highlight of Cambodia the magnificent Angkor Wat. The worlds largest religious monument and wow is it impressive, it consists of a massive 3 tiered pyramid rising 65 metres from the ground and crowned by five lotus towers, the lotus flower is the national symbol of Cambodia. I had a blessing here off the Buddhist monks. The day ended with a sunset view over the jungle from the top of the Pre Rup Temple before returning to Siem Reap. If you want to sample the nightlife Pub Street has a wide range of lively bars and eateries and only $1 dollar for a large beer.
The journey continued on another short hop flight to Hoi An. The hotel Emm our next base is brand new only been open a couple of months and all mod cons and bright and airy. Hoi An was a former trading portfor the Chinese, Dutch , French , Japanese , Portuguese and Arab merchants between the 16th and 18th centuries. It is famous for its homemade silk expert tailors. Several of our group were measured for new attire in the morning and by early evening the clothes were made and delivered to our hotel, amazing turnaround. Hoi An has several famous landmarks including the Chua Ong Pagoda dating back to the 1653 and was built in honour of the Chinese general Quan Cong. There are several beautifully built bridges in which reminded me of Venice . I enjoyed a boat trip along the Thu Bon River. In the evening when I was there I was fortunate to see the lantern festival so pretty in the evening the whole town lit up by coloured paper lanterns. Hoi An was my favourite place in Vietnam. In Hoi An I rode a buffalo for one dollar through the rice fields and followed this with a 10 k bicycle ride through the countryside, a great way to see local village life and culture. (Having not ridden a bike since I was a small child) I was impressed I lasted the distance .Our next stop was a flight of just 1 hour and 20 minutes to Hanoi. This time I didnt have to ride a bike solo we were taken on breezy cycle ride through the Old Quarters 36 streets. Here you can buy everything from noodles to light fixtures to Buddha statues. All the streets are named after the items you can purchased such as shoe street, bag street etc.
I left the noise of Hanoi behind for a 4 hour drive to Halong Bayto board our traditional junk boat with Bhaya classic cruise company. The cabins are all en suite and comfortable beds. Halong Bay is truly picturesque, endless islands and limestone pillars. We took the smaller boats and went to explore the caves. I advise you to take trainers for this part of the tour. In the afternoon you can hire a kayak to explore the lagoons. This is an extra cost and you can pre book at the reception on the boat. There is no entertainment on the boat as such we made our own. They do have film showings now and again on deck and a Vietnamese cooking demonstration was fun to participate in making spring rolls out of the rice paper. Tai chi on the sundeck over the bay was great for the mind. Body and soul but you have to be up at 6am for this activity. Another 4 hour drive back to Hanoi for an afternoon at the Temple of Literature an 11th century relic built in homage to the Chinese Scholar Confucius. It is one Vietnams few remaining traditional examples of architecture dating back almost a 1000 years. The finale of the trip before our flight back to Heathrow was the famous water puppetshow, a traditional art form that is still being performed today, very clever how they operate the puppets.
So to recap come and see for yourself, it really is a great value for money destination which offers so much history, site seeing and culture.
If you’d like to hear more about Karen’s amazing trip don’t hesitate to call her on 0161 755 3081 or send her an email on firstname.lastname@example.org.