Discover the best cultural gems of northern Vietnam and Cambodia on this exciting weeklong tour. Touch down in Hanoi, where you'll sample street food and visit ancient pagodas, before escaping the city to cycle through rice paddies in Ninh Binh and sail the emerald waters of UNESCO-listed Ha Long Bay. The adventure ends in neighboring Cambodia with a temple-hopping tour of the world-famous Angkor Archeological Park, culminating with a sunrise trip to mighty Angkor Wat.


  • Discover Hanoi's historic landmarks, street food, and water puppet shows
  • Take an overnight cruise through the dramatic landscapes of Ha Long Bay 
  • Cycle through paddies and sail karst-studded landscapes in Ninh Binh
  • Temple-hop around Cambodia's UNESCO-listed Angkor Archeological Park
  • Enjoy a boat trip on Tonlé Sap, Southeast Asia's largest freshwater lake

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Hanoi (Vietnam), City Tour & Water Puppet Show, Street Food Tour Hanoi
Day 2 Visit Hoa Lu & Ninh Binh, Cycling Tour & Tam Coc Boat Trip  Hanoi
Day 3 Transfer to Ha Long Bay, Athena Royal Cruise  Ha Long Bay
Day 4 Athena Royal Cruise, Transfer to Hanoi, Fly to Siem Reap (Cambodia) Siem Reap
Day 5 Angkor Temple Tour: Bayon Temple, Angkor Wat & Bakheng Hill Siem Reap
Day 6 Angkor Temple Tour: Banteay Srei, Ta Prohm & Ta Keo Siem Reap
Day 7 Khmer Village & Tonlé Sap Lake Tour, Depart  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Hanoi (Vietnam), City Tour & Water Puppet Show, Street Food Tour

Hit the streets of Hanoi, Vietnam's high-energy capital 

Welcome to Vietnam! Touch down in Hanoi, the high-energy capital and cultural heart. A private driver will take you to your hotel, navigating the motorbike-choked streets of the city. Along the way, take in your first views of Hanoi's tree-lined avenues, which feature a mix of temples and French colonial buildings contrasted with modern, glassy malls and office buildings.

Get oriented with a guided tour of Hanoi's top sights, starting at the Presidential Palace in the Ho Chi Minh Complex, where Vietnam's revered revolutionary leader, Ho Chi Minh, lies embalmed in a mausoleum. Wander the serene grounds to see the humble wooden stilt house where he once lived and the ornate One Pillar Pagoda, which sits in the middle of a lake and resembles Vietnam's national flower, the lotus.

Continue to Hanoi's Old Quarter, known as the "36 Streets" area. These bustling, narrow streets and alleys are home to thousands of small businesses, street vendors, and shopkeepers. Take a walk past Hoan Kiem Lake, an oasis where locals come to exercise and relax, then take a seat at the nearby theater for a water puppet show, a northern Vietnamese art form thought to have originated in the flooded rice fields of the Red River Delta region.

Tonight, you'll dine on Hanoi's fabled street food delights. Navigate the streets of the Old Quarter with a guide, sampling typical dishes such as cha ca (grilled fish with turmeric), pho bo (beef noodle soup), and bun cha (grilled pork served with vermicelli noodles). If you're feeling adventurous, sample trung vit lon, Vietnam's fertilized duck eggs. Wash it down with Hanoian beer and a cup of the city's distinct egg coffee. 

Day 2: Visit Hoa Lu & Ninh Binh, Cycling Tour & Tam Coc Boat Trip 

Escape the city to discover Ninh Binh's karst-studded landscape

Today, you'll journey two hours south to Ninh Binh, a region loved for its ruined palaces and patchwork paddy fields bisected by winding rivers. Your first stop is Hoa Lu, Vietnam's capital in the 10th and 11th centuries, which features decorative temples built in honor of former emperors like Dinh Tien Hoang of the Dinh Dynasty and Emperor Le Dai Hanh of the Le Dynasty. Afterward, visit Bai Dinh, the largest pagoda complex in the country.

Stop at a restaurant for lunch before cycling to Tam Coc, passing through lime-green rice paddies and sleepy villages. Board a sampan boat at the dock, which your driver will row with their feet, local style. Float through limestone grottoes and spot spiritual sites like Dia Linh Mountain among the dramatic karst scenery, earning itself the nickname "Ha Long Bay on Land." After your boat trip, return to Hanoi for a final evening in the capital. 

Day 3: Transfer to Ha Long Bay, Athena Royal Cruise 

Sail among 2,000 limestone karsts on Ha Long Bay
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Today starts with a three-hour drive to Ha Long Harbor, where you'll board the luxurious Athena Royal for your overnight cruise of this UNESCO-listed landmark. Sail across the bay, taking in views of more than 2,000 limestone karsts steeped in Vietnamese legend. A delicious seafood lunch onboard awaits, followed by plenty of time to sit on the sun deck as you sail to the most remote corners of Ha Long Bay.

In the afternoon, visit limestone caves and secret coves, where you can swim and kayak to hidden beaches. Return to your ship to watch the sunset from the deck, accompanied by snacks and drinks. The ship's chef will lead a cooking masterclass, teaching you how to make specialties such as nem (Vietnamese fried spring rolls) for dinner. You can spend the evening relaxing, join the locals for a spot of night fishing, or indulge in a massage. 

Day 4: Athena Royal Cruise, Transfer to Hanoi, Fly to Siem Reap (Cambodia)

Rise early for sunrise views over UNESCO-listed Ha Long Bay

Wake early for breakfast on the ship's deck, watching the sun rise over Ha Long Bay, deemed one of the New Seven Wonders of Nature. The morning is yours to absorb the view, join a tai chi class, or kayak across the paper-flat waters to a limestone cave full of stalagmites and stalactites. Enjoy a buffet lunch on board while you sail back to the harbor.

Back on land, a driver will be waiting to take you back to the airport in Hanoi, where you'll board a two-hour flight to Siem Reap in Cambodia. You'll be taken straight to your hotel in this vibrant city, which serves as the gateway to the historic Angkor Archeological Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Day 5: Angkor Temple Tour: Bayon Temple, Angkor Wat & Bakheng Hill

Tour the 12th-century temple, Angkor Wat

Explore some of Angkor's most revered temples today, starting with Angkor Thom, the last capital of the Khmer Empire, surrounded by a 26-foot (8 m) wall. Enter the ancient city through the south gate, carved with elephants and four giant faces. Then, follow a path with 54 gods and demons holding the sacred naga (snake). End at Bayon Temple in the city's center, a 12th-century masterpiece with 54 towers carved with faces representing the Khmer Empire's 54 provinces. 

Next, visit the mighty Angkor Wat, a 12th-century temple with elaborate sculptures, carvings, and impressive architecture that covers 154 square miles (400 sq km). Highlights include the five iconic towers and the world's longest continuous bas-relief, which runs along the temple's outer gallery walls and tells stories from Hindu mythology. Wander the temple with an expert guide, ending with a sunset from Bakheng Hill

Day 6: Angkor Temple Tour: Banteay Srei, Ta Prohm & Ta Keo

Visit Ta Prohm's vine-covered ruins

Wake early today for a bucket-list sunrise trip to Angkor Wat. Watch the light transform this world-famous monument in shades of gold. Afterward, head back to your hotel for breakfast before heading out again, stopping to visit rural villages on your way to Banteay Srei, also known as the Citadel of Women. Marvel at the 10th-century temple's intricate carvings and sandstone architecture. 

In the afternoon, you'll move on to Ta Prohm, built between the late 12th and early 13th centuries. Its ruins are entwined with the forest's trees and vines and were featured in the "Tomb Raider" movies. Next is Ta Keo, an unfinished mountain temple that predates Angkor Wat; admire its five sanctuary towers set on a 72-foot-high (22 m) pyramid, offering sweeping views of the temple-studded landscape. 

Day 7: Khmer Village & Tonlé Sap Lake Tour, Depart

Spend your final morning visiting floating villages on Tonlé Sap Lake

Spend your final morning exploring Cambodia's natural and rural wonders. Take a scenic drive to a Khmer village, enjoying views of rice fields and tropical palm trees. Continue to Tonlé Sap, the largest freshwater lake in Southeast Asia, where you'll board a boat to sail across the sparkling water while catching a glimpse of floating villages where communities have lived for generations. Afterward, return to Siem Reap in time to catch your homebound 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 a week in Vietnam and Cambodia, and discover the best time to visit Vietnam.


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Map of Northern Vietnam & Siem Reap Culture Escape - 7 Days
Map of Northern Vietnam & Siem Reap Culture Escape - 7 Days
Written by Kelly Lu, updated Nov 7, 2023