Like Lindsay Lohan, Vietnam and Cambodia have an image problem.
For many Americans, their frame of reference is the Vietnam war, and they still picture these countries – filled with fascinating historical sites and lush scenery – as ravaged and war-torn.
Generally speaking, nothing could be further from the truth – over the past 45 years, these countries have literally risen from the ashes. Yes, infrastructure in the poorer communities can still be something of a challenge; but overall, they are – like their neighbor, Thailand – booming.
Which means luxury hotels. Exceptional restaurants. And amazingly well-produced tourism sites, like Angkor Wat, Phnom Penh’s Royal Palace, and the Cu Chi Tunnels.
(Cu Chi Tunnels)
And yet, along the mighty Mekong river, life remains as it has for centuries, with families making candies, baskets, scarves, and local art.
So, when you take a trip like Brand g’s Jewels of Vietnam and Cambodia, you can have the big-city experience of places like Ho Chi Minh and Siem Reap, and then step back in time as you travel by 5-star riverboat along the Mekong.
You can, of course, travel on your own – but much like other countries where language is a barrier, few locals speak much English, so navigating can be tricky. Whether with us or a straight tour company, we highly recommend a group tour.
Best of all, a trip to this corner of Asia is a relative bargain. You can enjoy a truly 5-star trip for the price of a 3.5 or 4-star trip elsewhere. Brand g’s Jewels of Vietnam & Cambodia trip is a quite luxurious trip – and also the most inexpensive one (on a per-day basis) that we offer.
Here are just a few of the highlights of a trip to Vietnam and Cambodia:
- Angkor Wat – a Hindu temple complex, it is the largest religious monument in the world.
- The Khmer Rouge Killing Fields – mass grave sites where nearly 1.4 million people were executed by the Khmer Rouge in one of the world’s largest genocides.
- The Cu Chi Tunnels – although the video that precedes your eye-opening tour of the tunnels labels the U.S. (perhaps rightfully so) as “the American Imperialists”, the tunnels where the people of Cu Chi lived underground during the war – as well as the booby traps made to catch and maim soldiers – are astonishing.
- Phnom Penh’s Silver Pagoda – home of the Emerald Buddha and the diamond-encrusted Maitreya Buddha.
- Ho Chi Minh’s Notre Dame Cathedral and the Central Post Office – gorgeous examples of the French Colonial architecture created by France’s 19th century occupation of Saigon.
- The Mekong Delta – a lush, tropical area of the Mekong river, where families run small, local businesses making a variety of beautiful (and tasty) handmade products, much as they have for centuries.
- Ha Long Bay – If it fits into your plans (it’s set in the north of Vietnam), don’t miss this UNESCO World Heritage site where 2,000 limestone islands soar out of the water. (It’s an available add-on with Brand g’s vacation.) Taking a cruise through the bay is an ethereal experience.
- Shopping – Because of the outrageously favorable exchange rate, you can find fabulous deals on local art, from contemporary Asian paintings to sculptures and local handicrafts. We bought a beautiful unframed painting of a geisha in a gallery for $65.
If you choose to do these countries with Brand g, you will, of course, enjoy an all-LGBT experience, as we charter the gorgeous new Mekong Jewel river cruise ship.
But whether you travel with us or another tour company (or on your own), these are can’t-miss countries for any traveler with a bucket list!