Presenting Southeast Asia! Explore unique natural landscapes in Vietnam and Cambodia - lush green paddy fields, picturesque river valleys and white, sandy beaches await! For the intrepid traveler, Vietnam and Cambodia have much to offer, and our destination expert Swati Iyer takes you on her search for hidden gems and off-the-beaten path treasures.
Buddhist prayer ceremony in Huế
See Buddhist monks engaged in prayers at Huế’s monastery
Attending a morning prayer ceremony in a Buddhist monastery in Huế was a very special experience for me. I arrived at the small temple early in the morning and I was immediately fascinated by the monks. The monks' aura of peace and tranquility, as they went about their daily chores - even simple tasks like cleaning the premises or watering the plants, was simply amazing!
The head monk ushered me in with many kind words and a warm, welcoming smile. He led me to the temple where the priest waited to offer me a short lesson about the Buddhist teachings and rituals, as I watched the disciples settled down to begin their melodious prayers. An almost mystical serenity settled in as I listened to the harmonious chanting for the next half hour - it was a captivating experience!
The religious teacher asked me to approach him once the monks stopped chanting and, as I stepped closer, he blessed me with a gentle pat on my head, praying for my welfare.
As I continued on my journey, the timbre of the teacher's words stayed with me, calming and soothing. What a tranquil life these Vietnamese monks lead, and how lucky I was to encounter such a wonderful ambience!
Quote: As I listened to the melodious chanting of the monks, an almost mystical feeling descended upon me, resonating in deep peace.
Street Food in Hanoi:
Throwing caution to the wind, I headed into the streets of Hanoi to begin my culinary adventure of Vietnam. My day began with an introduction from my street food expert - a lovely and wise lady, and then it was time to get going!
As we walked through the bustling streets of busy Hanoi for the next two hours, the wonderful aroma of culinary delights wafted from every corner. We stopped at small specialty shops and street-side stalls to sample freshly prepared dishes, including sweet soup and lotus rice noodle soup prepared with lemongrass and chicken. The food was fragrant and flavored with Vietnamese spices and herbs. It was a true gastronomic delight!
What makes this travel experience truly unique is that it offers deep insight into the local culture and traditions of the region as well as a glimpse into everyday life on the Mekong.
My Personal Favorites
In the Morning
Visit Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum in Hanoi to watch the morning ceremonies performed in appreciation of Ho Chi Minh - the Father of Vietnam. You will need to set out early for this but the experience is well worth it.
During the Day
Take a day long cruise through Halong Bay to experience the sheer beauty of this natural wonder for yourself.
In the Evening
Take a leisurely stroll to discover the charm of Hanoi. I highly recommend visiting the Ngoc-Son Temple, Saint Joseph's Church and the Bach Ma Temple.
Cooking Class in Hanoi
On your next Vietnamese expedition, don’t miss out on a cooking class in Hanoi where you will learn how to prepare traditional Vietnamese delicacies. Talk to us for more information.
Did you know?
The most important monument in Ho Chi Min City (formerly Saigon), is the Post Office! Many visitors come and admire this building due to its gorgeous architecture, designed by none other than Gustave Eiffel, who also designed the famous, eponymous tower of Paris.
Floating Villages in Cambodia
One of my most memorable experiences was the Mekong river cruise from Vietnam to Cambodia, to reach the largest lake in Southeast Asia - Tonle Sap Lake. I cruised along the delta in a simple fishing boat as this fascinating world of water unfolded its mysteries around me! I watched children travel to their schools by boat, and I sailed past a church sprouting from the depths of the river, close to the local settlements.
The boat was not very powerful and progress was slow thanks to the countless floating plants and algae in the water. Pessimistic at first, as I neared the destination, the lake suddenly seemed to spread open before my eyes, and I had to agree that the effort was well worth it! Next to the reeds on the lake I got my first glimpse of the legendary floating villages. To this day the area remains a hidden jewel, unveiling itself only to travelers privy to insider tips!
We sailed past a church sprouting from the depths of the river, close to the local settlements.
Discover Vietnam and Cambodia for yourself
When to Go: Between February - March and October - November
Do you wish to travel to Vietnam and Cambodia? Our luxury Asia tour experts will be delighted to help you plan your trip.