Over 10 days, discover the rich culture and lush landscapes of two Southeast Asian countries as you follow the mighty Mekong River north. The adventure begins in southern Vietnam with city tours and excursions into the markets and villages of the Mekong Delta. Continue upriver into Cambodia for sightseeing in Phnom Penh, and end in Siem Reap for cultural performances and a couple of days exploring the ancient ruins at Angkor.


  • Experience wartime history and modern high rises in Ho Chi Minh City
  • Visit floating markets and local villages as you follow the famous Mekong Delta
  • Tour Phnom Penh, from the palaces to the Killing Fields
  • Explore the ruins at the ancient Khmer complex of Angkor

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Ho Chi Minh City (Vietnam), Free Time to Explore Ho Chi Minh City
Day 2 Cu Chi Tunnels & Ho Chi Minh City Tour Ho Chi Minh City
Day 3 Transfer to Can Tho, Mekong Delta Countryside Tour Can Tho
Day 4 Visit a Floating Market, Transfer to Chau Doc, Boat Tour of Tra Su Chau Doc
Day 5 Boat to Phnom Penh (Cambodia), Killing Fields Tour Phnom Penh
Day 6 Phnom Penh Highlights Tour Phnom Penh
Day 7 Transfer to Siem Reap, Dinner & Apsara Show  Siem Reap
Day 8 Day Trip to Angkor Thom & Angkor Wat Siem Reap
Day 9 Day Trip to Banteay Srei & the Roluos Temples Siem Reap
Day 10 Depart Siem Reap  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Ho Chi Minh City (Vietnam), Free Time to Explore

There's adventure around every corner on Ho Chi Minh City's streets

Welcome to Vietnam! This grand adventure kicks off in the country's southern end, at Ho Chi Minh City, formerly Saigon. Vietnam's largest metropolis is a wonderland of contradictions, as famous for its French colonial and wartime history as it is for its modern skyscrapers and captivatingly chaotic streets. 

Upon arrival at the airport, a driver will pick you up at the terminal for the 40-minute ride into the city and your hotel. 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 at 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: Cu Chi Tunnels & Ho Chi Minh City Tour

See landmarks of Ho Chi Minh's colonial and wartime past on a city tour

This morning kicks off with a two-hour transfer north of the city 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.

Following lunch at the local restaurant, return to Ho Chi Minh City for a highlights tour. Your guide will take you to historic 19th-century landmarks like Notre Dame Cathedral and the Central Post Office. Then, visit Reunification Palace, the Saigon government's headquarters 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. You'll also browse the handicrafts and food stalls at Binh Tay, a historic market dating to the 19th century.

Day 3: Transfer to Can Tho, Mekong Delta Countryside Tour

Travel down the canals in the famous Mekong Delta region

Leave the buzz of city life this morning and head south on a four-hour trip around the lush Mekong Delta. Known as Vietnam's rice bowl, this region is full of coconut groves, fruit orchards, and green rice paddies. Once at the delta, you'll board a boat for a ride on the Ben Tre River, one of the tributaries of the mighty Mekong. You'll travel to the waterfront city of Can Tho, and along the way, you'll pass waterfront villages. You'll also stop at local businesses that produce coconut items like candies and even brooms made from husks.

Then hop on a bicycle or xe loi (moto cart) for a ride around local villages. It's a scenic trip where you'll pass fertile rice fields, vegetable farms, and orchards. After lunch at a riverside restaurant, you'll get to kayak down a Mekong canal before continuing to Can Tho and checking in to your hotel.

Day 4: Visit a Floating Market, Transfer to Chau Doc, Boat Tour of Tra Su 

In the Mekong Delta, daily commerce takes place on the river

Leave early on a boat to the Cai Rang Floating Market, one of the largest in the region. It's liveliest before 9 am, and your guide will lead you through the throng of tiny wooden boats piled high with flowers, coconuts, and fresh produce. You'll also learn how to barter with traders as you mingle with locals and experience the infectious energy of market life.

After the market, you'll transfer 3.5 hours by car north up the delta to the border with Cambodia and Chau Doc. This culturally diverse river city is home to Cham, Chinese, and Khmer ethnic groups and is a popular destination for its nearby pilgrimage sites.

Your last stop of the day is at Tra Su Sanctuary. This nearly 2,000,000-acre (800,000 ha) wetland forest is a protected area for wading birds like storks, herons, and egrets. Most of the park is closed, but you'll enjoy a 20-minute boat tour along the canals through sunken forests to admire the exotic birdlife. Afterward, you'll return to your hotel in Chau Doc.

Day 5: Boat to Phnom Penh (Cambodia), Killing Fields Tour

There are many impressive historical sites in Phnom Penh, including memorials to the brutal Khmer Rouge era

Time to say goodbye to Vietnam. In the morning, you'll board a speedboat on the Mekong River for the four-hour ride north into Cambodia and its capital, Phnom Penh, a grand metropolis of over two million people. It was founded in the 14th century and became the capital after the fall of the Angkor Empire. There's been a lot of history in the intervening centuries, much of it represented in the city's famous temples, museums, and Art Deco buildings from the French colonial era. 

Upon arrival, meet a driver at the river and transfer to your hotel in the city. Then, join a local guide for a brisk, three-hour tour focusing on Cambodia's harrowing Khmer Rouge era (1975-1979). Historical landmarks you'll visit include the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum and the Choeung Ek Killing Fields. Also known as S21, during the genocidal Pol Pot regime, Tuol Sleng was converted into a detention center, where prisoners were interrogated before being sent to the Killing Fields to be brutally tortured and murdered. At the end of the day, return to your hotel.

Day 6: Phnom Penh Highlights Tour

Phnom Penh city highlights
End today's tour at Wat Phnom, which dates to the 14th century

After an early breakfast, meet your guide for a walking tour of Phnom Penh's highlights. First up is the National Museum, which showcases artifacts spanning millenniums-worth of Khmer history dating to pre-Angkorian times. Continue to the 19th-century Royal Palace, where Cambodian royalty resides.

Also here is the Silver Pagoda, one of Southeast Asia's most impressive Buddhist temples. These days, it serves as a repository for cultural treasures such as a life-size golden Buddha encrusted with 2,086 diamonds. Finally, visit Wat Phnom, one of the most important pagodas in Phnom Penh, which dates to 1373. At the end of the day, return to your hotel.

Day 7: Transfer to Siem Reap, Dinner & Apsara Show 

Witness hundreds of years of Khmer history in a single cultural performance
Plan your trip to Vietnam
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.

This morning, meet your driver and leave Phnom Penh on a 4.5-hour transfer north to Siem Reap. This town in northwest Cambodia sits on the shores of Tonlé Sap, part of the Mekong River system, and is the gateway to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Angkor. These ruins were once the capital city of the Khmer Kingdom from the ninth to the 15th centuries. Upon arrival in Siem Reap, you'll transfer to your hotel.

Later, you'll sit down for an Apsara dinner and dance performance. This traditional Khmer art form dates all the way back to the seventh century and is even depicted on the walls of Cambodia's ancient temples. Apsara is defined by its elegance, with dancers in ornate costumes moving deftly and deliberately to the music of flutes and reed instruments. Afterward, return to your hotel to rest up for tomorrow's busy day of sightseeing at Angkor.

Day 8: Day Trip to Angkor Thom & Angkor Wat

Spend a day exploring Cambodia's 10th to 13th-century temples and ruins

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, immortalizing himself 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 9: Day Trip to Banteay Srei & the Roluos Temples

Discover Banteay Srei, Banteay Samre & the Roluos Temples
Marvel at the elaborate stonework at Banteay Srey

After breakfast, meet your guide for a trip back to the ruins. This time, you'll visit Banteay Srey, a 10th-century Hindu temple made of pink sandstone, almost every inch of which is adorned with intricate designs. The name Banteay Srey translates to "Citadel of Women," and it's indeed likely that women completed the elegant carvings depicting scenes from the Sanskrit epic "Ramayana." Whoever built it, Banteay Srey is regarded as the finest example of Khmer art in the world.

In the afternoon, you'll visit Roluos, an archaeological site that was the center of the ancient Khmer capital city of Hariharalaya. Here, you'll find three temples dating from the ninth century, representing the start of the Khmer Empire. Begin the tour at Preah Ko, the first temple built in the area on orders from King Indravarman I. Continue to Bakong, a stepped pyramid, and then finish at Lolei, a temple originally built on an island in a reservoir that has since dried up. At the end of the day, return to your hotel.

Day 10: Depart Siem Reap

Sunset over the temples at Angkor Wat
Over 10 days, you've seen some of the most incredible sites in the world—now it's time to begin the journey home. In the morning, meet your driver for the transfer to the airport, where you'll catch your departing flight. Safe travels!

More Great Vietnam Itineraries

Looking for more inspiration for your trip to Vietnam? Check out these other Vietnam itineraries, explore different ways to spend 10 days in Vietnam and Cambodia, or discover the best time to visit Vietnam.


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Map of Mekong Discovery: Southern Vietnam & Cambodia - 10 Days
Map of Mekong Discovery: Southern Vietnam & Cambodia - 10 Days