Get ready for a week-long adventure in two of Southeast Asia's most beguiling nations. First up is Vietnam, where you'll marvel at French colonial landmarks and learn about wartime history in Ho Chi Minh City before taking a boat ride down the Mekong Delta. Then, travel next door to Cambodia, where you'll lace up your hiking boots and explore the ruins of the Ancient Khmer Kingdom.


  • Witness the highlights and wartime history of Ho Chi Minh City
  • Ply the waterways of the famous Mekong Delta and visit farms
  • Explore the ruins at the ancient Khmer complex of Angkor
  • Visit the floating villages on Tonlé Sap Lake in Cambodia

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Ho Chi Minh City (Vietnam), Self-Guided Tour Ho Chi Minh City
Day 2 Ho Chi Minh City Tour Ho Chi Minh City
Day 3 Day Trip to the Mekong Delta  Ho Chi Minh City
Day 4 Visit Cu Chi Tunnels, Vespa Food Tour Ho Chi Minh City
Day 5 Fly to Siem Reap (Cambodia), Tuk-Tuk Tour Siem Reap
Day 6 Day Trip to Angkor Siem Reap
Day 7 Visit Floating Villages, Depart  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Ho Chi Minh City, Self-Guided Tour

There's excitement and adventure down every street in Ho Chi Minh City

Xin chao! Welcome to Vietnam! If it's history and culture you're after, then you've come to the right place—this country has one of the oldest settled histories of any nation on earth. You'll arrive in Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon), Vietnam's largest metropolis and a modern one to boot. That said, many fascinating historical landmarks are just waiting to be discovered here. 

A driver will pick you up at the airport and transfer you to your hotel in the city center. After checking in, you can stretch your legs on a self-guided walking tour. Perhaps trawl for treasures at Ben Thanh Market, a popular spot for street food and shopping, or stop in a spa for a massage to relieve the tension after the long flight. When you're ready for a break, grab a beer in a bar at the 861-foot (262 m) Bitexco Tower and enjoy panoramic views of the city

Day 2: Ho Chi Minh City Tour

Visit some of the most iconic landmarks in Ho Chi Minh City, like Notre Dame Cathedral

In the morning, you'll embark on a half-day tour of Ho Chi Minh City. Meet a local guide at the hotel, then head over to historic 19th-century landmarks like the Notre Dame Cathedral and the Central Post Office. You'll also visit Reunification Palace (also known as Independence Palace), which was the headquarters of the Saigon government during the American War (as the Vietnam War is known to locals). Continue to the War Remnants Museum for a vivid look at the war through the eyes of the Vietnamese. After lunch at a local restaurant, you'll return to your hotel.

Later, you'll visit Cho Lon (Chinatown) and stop at Thien Hau Pagoda, an 18th-century temple dedicated to the Chinese sea goddess Mazu. Then, browse the fresh produce, handicrafts, fabrics, and food stalls at Binh Tay, a historic covered market dating to the 19th century. Spend the rest of the day relaxing and sampling some Vietnamese street food. Afterward, you'll return to your hotel.

Day 3: Day Trip to the Mekong Delta 

Venture deep into the Mekong Delta on a boat trip

This morning, you'll drive south to the Mekong Delta. Known as Vietnam's rice bowl, this region is full of mangroves, sugar cane plantations, and water-logged paddies. Board a boat to sail the Ben Tre River, one of the tributaries of the Mekong. You'll visit local businesses like a brick workshop and honey farm along the way. Tour one of the coconut candy workshops Ben Tre is famous for to sample these tasty treats and learn how they're made.

Next, you'll stop at a small riverside village for tea with a family that makes hand-woven rush mats. Explore the village by bike or xe loi (motor cart) to observe daily life. You'll pass lime-green rice fields, vegetable farms, and tropical fruit orchards. Have lunch at a local restaurant on the banks of the river before trying your hand at rowing along a creek. Afterward, transfer back to Ho Chi Minh City and have the evening free. 

Day 4: Visit Cu Chi Tunnels, Vespa Food Tour

Taste your way around Ho Chi Minh City with a food tour by Vespa

After breakfast, transfer two hours north of the city by car to the famous Cu Chi Tunnels. This immense network of underground passages was constructed in 1948 to protect the Viet Cong guerrillas from French attacks. They also served as living quarters, communications hubs, and supply routes with storage areas and hospitals. A visit here reveals Vietnam's wartime history and the hardships faced by the thousands of soldiers who survived the French and American wars. You'll even get to crawl through a section of the tunnels to experience their narrow dimensions.

Later, you'll meet a local guide at your hotel and hop on a Vespa for an evening food tour. After a welcome drink, you'll head off into the city, zipping along the streets to a local restaurant where you'll enjoy traditional favorites like Vietnamese pancakes and spring rolls. The culinary odyssey continues with a stop to try the freshest seafood in the city. End the night at a cozy local bar or café for beers and craft cocktails while listening to live music.

Day 5: Fly to Siem Reap (Cambodia), Tuk-Tuk Tour

Welcome to Siem Reap
Hop in a tuk-tuk and explore the highlights of Siem Reap
Plan your trip to Vietnam
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.

In the morning, you'll transfer to the airport in Ho Chi Minh City and catch a 1.5-hour flight to Siem Reap. This resort town in northwestern Cambodia is the gateway to the 12th-century ruins of Angkor Wat, the largest religious monument in the world. Upon arrival at the airport, your driver and private guide will pick you up in a tuk-tuk (auto rickshaw) and transfer you to your hotel.

After checking in, head out on a guided tour of Siem Reap by tuk-tuk. First, stop at the Royal Residence, a royal villa that is the official residence of the King of Cambodia when he is in town. Also in the royal compound is the town's main shrine, Preah Ang Chek Preah Ang Chorm. Dedicated to two Angkorian princesses, locals come here to pray for good luck. Later, you'll visit Artisans D'Angkor, where rural Cambodians train in the art of traditional Khmer craftsmanship. Finish the day at one of the city's lively open markets, where you can mingle with locals.

Day 6: Day Trip to Angkor

Hike around the dazzling ruins of Angkor, like Bayon Temple

Today you'll visit Angkor Thom (literally "Great City"), which comprises the ruins of what was once the most impressive royal city of Cambodia's Angkor period. During its heyday in the 12th and 13th centuries, it was also a formidable defensive area, protected by 26-foot (8 m) walls and a wide moat.

Looming over Angkor Thom is Bayon Temple. Comprised of 54 Gothic towers, Jayavarman VII commissioned it in the 12th century, and his smiling face and glaring eyes are represented in its 216 stone sculptures. Other structures you'll visit here include the Terrace of the Elephants (featuring sculptures and bas-reliefs of elephants), Phimeanakas (a three-tiered pyramid), and the Terrace of the Leper King, known for its carvings of demons and mythological figures.

After Angkor Thom, you'll tour the most famous temple in Southeast Asia: Angkor Wat. This 12th-century complex covers 200 acres (81 ha), and its five towers are so iconic they're actually emblazoned on the Cambodian flag. On this walking tour, you'll immerse yourself in the ruins as you stroll through its galleries, libraries, pavilions, and courtyards. Cap the experience with a visit to Ta Prohm, a 12th-century Buddhist temple whose crumbling towers have been all but absorbed by the surrounding jungle.

Day 7: Visit Floating Villages, Depart

Before departing, spend the morning at the floating villages on Tonlé Sap

Meet your driver in the morning and transfer about 11 miles (18 km) south to Tonlé Sap. This is the largest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia and one of the world's most biodiverse ecosystems. Here, you'll board a private boat for a ride to Tonlé Sap's famous floating villages. These unique communities have their own infrastructure, including schools, markets, and restaurants.

On a tour, you'll learn how the villages sustain themselves, visit local restaurants, and take another boat ride through flooded forests and mangroves. Afterward, you'll transfer back to Siem Reap and the airport, where you'll catch your flight home. Until next time!

More Great Vietnam Itineraries

Looking for more inspiration for your trip to Vietnam? Check out these other Vietnam itineraries, explore different ways to spend a week in Vietnam and Cambodia, or discover the best time to visit Vietnam.


A note on diacritical markings: In order to support the best technical experience and search functions, diacritical markings have been omitted from this article.


Map of Landmarks & Local Color in Vietnam & Cambodia - 7 Days
Map of Landmarks & Local Color in Vietnam & Cambodia - 7 Days
Written by Hien Do, updated Nov 7, 2023