Image: Tourists take in the sites of the Old Quarter neighborhood in Hanoi, Vietnam
Chitose Suzuki  /  AP
The Best of Vietnam & Cambodia package includes round-trip airfare, 12 nights' accommodations, intercity air and ground transportation, some meals, and escorted tours.
updated 5/30/2008 10:01:20 AM ET 2008-05-30T14:01:20

The Real Deal: Round-trip airfare, 12 nights' accommodations, intercity air and ground transportation, some meals, and escorted tours, from $2,599 per person—plus taxes of $95.

When: Depart on Sept. 21, 2008; add $100 for Oct. 19; $200 for Nov. 16; $300 for Dec. 7; $400 for Jan. 4, Feb. 1, 15, March 1, 15, 2009; $800 for Dec. 21, 2008.

Gateways: L.A.; add $150 for New York City.

The fine print: Breakfast daily, eight lunches, seven dinners, guided sightseeing tours, admission fees, the services of local guides and of a professional English-speaking tour director, and all local transportation and transfers (by motor coach or plane) are included. While hotel taxes are covered, airport taxes and fees are an additional $95 per person. Additional charges that are paid locally include two $25 visa fees, one for Cambodia and one for Vietnam—visas are granted upon arrival in each country—and a $25 Cambodia departure tax. You can purchase an optional travel insurance plan through Friendly Planet for $129 per person. Based on double occupancy; single supplement is $649. Read these guidelines before you book any Real Deal.

Book by: June 13, 2008; afterward, add $400 per person.

Contact: Friendly Planet, 800/555-5765,

Why it's a deal: In comparison, according to a recent Kayak search, the lowest multicity airfare from L.A. to Phnom Penh, Cambodia, and from Hanoi, Vietnam, to L.A., departing on Sept. 21 and returning on Oct. 5, is $1,076 (China Airlines). For an additional $1,643, which includes airport and departure taxes of $120 ($95 plus the $25 Cambodia departure tax), Friendly Planet covers the round-trip international airfare as well as intra-Asia flights to Siem Reap, Ho Chi Minh City, Da Nang, and Hanoi; 12 nights' accommodations; some meals; sightseeing tours and admission fees; all transfers; and the services of English-speaking tour guides. You also benefit from the convenience and reassurance of having all the details arranged by a reliable operator.

Trip details: The Best of Vietnam & Cambodia package includes an overnight flight (via Taipei) on a China Airlines carrier to the capital of Cambodia, Phnom Penh. From there, you'll travel by plane and motor coach to the various destinations. The intra-Asia flights are booked by a local tour operator in Vietnam, and the carriers vary.

When you arrive in Phnom Penh in the morning, you'll meet your guide and then transfer to the 346-room InterContinental Phnom Penh hotel for an overnight stay. You'll enjoy a welcome dinner that evening.

If you can scrounge up enough energy after the long flight, join an included bonus tour of the bustling Phnom Penh on the banks of the Mekong, Tonle Sap, and Bassac rivers. The tour starts atop Wat Phnom and covers the city's major sites, including the Silver Pagoda in the Royal Palace complex, the National Museum, and, if time allows, a former Khmer Rouge prison and torture chamber—now the Tuol Sleng Museum.

A morning flight will transport you to Siem Reap, where you'll spend two days exploring the area's most significant religious treasure: the ancient temples of Angkor built by the Khmer civilization between 802 and 1220 A.D. The tour starts at the royal walled city of Angkor Thom, where you'll find the Baphuon, Elephant Terrace, Leper King Terrace, and Royal Palace. You'll also stop by Banteay Srei, Ta Prohm, and Angkor Wat. Stay two nights at Borei Angkor.

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Then you'll board the bus for the ride to Tonle Sap Lake—a river-lake combination where 75 percent of Cambodia's inland fish supply comes from—home to the floating village.

A flight will bring to you to Vietnam's Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon), where you'll tour the former presidential palace, Old Saigon Post Office, Notre Dame Cathedral, and Chinatown's Thien Hau Pagoda. You'll also take a drive to the Cu Chi tunnels, a 210-mile-long network of well-disguised tunnels formerly used by the Vietcong. The Hotel Equatorial Ho Chi Minh City will be your base for two nights.

Then fly from Ho Chi Minh to Da Nang, a port city on the central coast of Vietnam, and continue by motor coach to Hoi An, a World Heritage site on the banks of the Thu Bon River. This once major Southeast Asian trading port has many great examples of Vietnamese architecture. Tour highlights include the Japanese Covered Bridge, a Chinese Assembly Hall built in 1740, and the Central Market.

You'll have a bit of leisure time to explore Hoi An on your own, so you can go for a relaxing swim in the China Sea or join an optional half-day tour to My Son, the capital and religious center of the former Champa kingdom ($35 per person). You'll stay two nights at Hoi An Trails Resort.

The next stop is Hue, with a pause en route in Da Nang. You'll arrive in Hue in the afternoon with just enough time to visit the Imperial Citadel, the former seat of the Nguyen Dynasty, home to a collection of temples, pavilions, shops, museums, and galleries. You'll also stop by the Dong Ba Market, where you can buy fruit, vegetables, fish, and traditional Vietnamese food. Stay overnight at Hotel Saigon Morin.

For the final leg of the trip, you'll take a short flight from Hue to Hanoi. Sightseeing highlights include the Maison Centrale, a tour of the Old Quarter on a chauffeur-pedaled tricycle (cyclo), the Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, the One Pillar Pagoda, and the Temple of Literature. You'll stay three nights at the 260-room Hotel Nikko Hanoi. This part of the trip also features an overnight cruise along Ha Long Bay aboard the Emeraude, a replica of a classic French colonial steamship.

You'll transfer to the airport in Hanoi to board your U.S.-bound flight. Or, you could opt to join a three-night extension to Sapa, a hill-tribe area near the Chinese border in northwest Vietnam ($550 per person; single supplement is $89).

Cambodia is warm throughout the year, with an average humidity of 60 percent. Luckily, this tour avoids the months of March through May, when the highs can reach 95 degrees. In northern Vietnam (Hanoi), the summer months of May through October are hot and humid with heavy tropical rain showers. Southern Vietnam (Ho Chi Minh) is hot and humid year-round with highs in the 90s; the best time to visit this part of the country is from September to February when the temperatures are less extreme.

For more tips on what to do in the area, visit the official tourism Web sites of Cambodia and Vietnam.

Copyright © 2012 Newsweek Budget Travel, Inc.


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