On January 5th we flew out from Heathrow airport to Hanoi, via Dubai, for the start of an amazing 3 week holiday in Vietnam and Cambodia with Viking River Cruises.
We stayed at the 5-star Sofitel Metropole Hotel in Hanoi and visited the Museum of Ethnology, the Temple of Literature, the ‘Hanoi Hilton’ where American airmen were imprisoned during the war and toured the old French quarter of the old capital of N Vietnam by electric car.
We then flew to Siem Reap in Cambodia, where we again stayed in a Sofitel hotel, the Phokeethra Royal Angkor Wat Resort. For 2 days we visited the stunning Unesco Heritage temple Angkor Wat, together with the Angkor Thom, Bantay Srei and Bayon temples. We also enjoyed meeting the children at a local school sponsored by Viking.
On January 11th, we travelled to Kampong Cham to join our ship, Viking Mekong, for an 8-day cruise down the river Mekong. The cruise included visits to the Cambodian capital Phnom Penh, the beautiful Udon monastery, where we were blessed by the monks, an ox-cart ride through the paddy fields, a cycle rickshaw ride to visit a fish farm, a sampan trip to a farm and a colourful food market and an orphanage.
We crossed back into Vietnam near the mouth of the Mekong and transferred by coach to Saigon, now renamed Ho Chi Minh City, visiting the infamous Cu Chi tunnels, dug by the Vietcong guerillas in the 70’s. We also visited the harrowing Killing Fields of the tyrant Pol Pot and the Genocide Museum.
Once again we stayed in the 5-star Sofitel Saigon Plaza hotel and visited some of the sights in the city – the Reunification Palace, the French-built Notre Dame cathedral and Post Office, the Chinese quarter and a lacquer factory. The busy streets of Saigon, which boasts 11m inhabitants and 8m mopeds, were decorated ready for Chinese New Year the following week.
We returned home tired by but extremely happy to have enjoyed a perfect holiday, which enabled us to see so much of the culture and people of these two Asian countries still in the process of emerging from the years of war and tyranny during the ’70s and ’80s. We took so many photos of the sights along the river and some hair-raising videos of the traffic-filled streets of the cities that we have created a video set to music, which you can view on here on YouTube
We’ve also published another photo book of our holiday entitled “Our Mekong Adventure”