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11 Day Travel Package Visiting and Helping Locals in Rural Vietnam and Cambodia – have your travel make a difference in the lives of those less fortunate.
Arrive Hanoi, Vietnam – Hue – Saigon – Mekong Delta – Siem Reap – Temples of Angkor – Ta Prohm – Ta Keo – Angkor Thom – Bayon Temple – Terrace of the Elephants – Angkor Wat
Travel is not just a luxury item, for many, it’s our essence, our inspiration, our story, and our way of living life to the fullest.
Exclusive Adventures is committed to creating travel beyond your wildest dreams! Glamping trips, immersive cultural experiences, off the beaten path escapes, and totally exclusive experiences, all while staying away from the crowds! Our truly exceptional guides and coordinators are a big part of making our trips beyond anything you can plan on your own and will keep you safe and away from crowds. Not to mention, we have platinum protocol safety standards, for your peace of mind as well as health.
Reconnect with nature and wide-open spaces, visit unique and off the beaten path destinations while helping to make a difference in the lives of the less fortunate in Vietnam and Cambodia.
Located in Vietnam’s north, Hanoi is the country’s capital and second-most populous city, with a population of approximately 11 million. Compared to Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi is more traditional, renowned for its thriving arts scene and beautiful French architecture. While it is rapidly developing, the city has retained many of its attractive architectural features and cultural traditions.
Hanoi Drive 15 km southwest of Hanoi to a small village where farmers mainly grow flowers and deliver to the wholesale markets in Hanoi.
Follow the canal road along the Red River to the village, you can see vast flower fields. Stop at rustic house nestled right in the middle of a flower field and talk to the local family.
Roll up your sleeves and share the daily tasks with them, from clearing grass, watering flowers, cutting flowers, and loading up the motorbike. It will be a fun educational trip for the family and you can take with you the farmers’ appreciation for your assistance.
In the afternoon, get a glimpse of the city by visiting Temple of Literature, the first University for the sons of mandarins, for an overview of Hanoian culture and ancient Vietnamese architecture.
Continue with a visit to a local school where its students are of your kids’ age (on weekdays except during the summertime from May to August). Get an overview of the local education system and infrastructure and play some games with the pupils or teach them English songs.
‘Hold the Future’ is a non-governmental organization based in Hanoi, which was established in March 2002 by Ms. Le Minh Hien. The mission of Hold the Future is to provide its members with necessary life skills and support in order to move towards more independent lives, offering health care and rehabilitation, vocational training programs, vocational placement, and employment. Activities are funded through the sale of our handicraft products and by sharing Vietnamese culture through the beauty of traditional craftsmanship. In 2009, after 7 years of successful operation, the foundation was officially awarded an NGO status and was recognized as a registered center by the ‘Vietnamese Save the Disabled Children Association’. Spend half a day visiting them, you will have an opportunity to learn how they reach success and enjoy their time in making traditional craft products with disabled children.
In the morning, transfer to the airport with a guide for the flight to Hue. Hue served as an imperial capital to the Nguyen Lords, a feudal dynasty which reigned from the 17th to the 19th century. With splendid emperors’ tombs, ancient pagodas, and the remains of the Citadel, the city retains its royal charm. Visit the Imperial Citadel, a UNESCO listed site. Enter through the towering main gate and you will appreciate the magnificent architecture and gardens while your guide explains the events and the intrigue of the former royal court. Despite being bombed heavily, there are some incredibly well-preserved sections still intact and others that are being lovingly restored.
Then visit Uu Dam pagoda orphanage which is home to 50 children. Meet and talk with the center representative, Nun Phuoc Thien, for an overview of the Buddhist concept of human being and an insight into the daily activities as well as their efforts in taking care of the orphans. Chat with some children to understand their lives at school as well as their dreams.
Drive to the rural outskirts for a small act of kindness and help make the world a better place. A gift of just one cow can offer a big change for poor farmers. Participate in a ceremony during which you donate a small cow to a farmer together with the local authority and villagers as your witness. Chat with the family who received the gift to better understand their needs and future plans.
After breakfast, transfer to Hue airport for the flight to Saigon. Upon arrival in Saigon drive to district 5 and visit Bung Sang which is a small private home and school for nearly 50 blind children born in poor families from remote provinces. The school was founded by a blind musician – Mr. Dao Khanh Truong. With the love and care for unlucky children, he spent most of his life teaching the children and gathering support from the benefactors. After he passed away a few years ago, Bung Sang was given to the Lovers of the Holy Cross Sisters to take care of. This afternoon, visit the school, talk with the manager for a thorough understanding of their lives here, meet the children, and listen to them singing, playing music.
Afterward, transfer to a local restaurant for a special culinary journey – dining in the dark. The concept is to imitate the experience of having meals like a blind person, which is a unique mind-altering experience. Leave behind the sight and let your other senses lead your mind to feel the taste of food.
Mekong Delta area is the largest rice farming area in Vietnam and is covered with green rice paddies as well as lush fruit orchards. It is also the only region in Vietnam where riverboats and sampans are the main means of transportation due to low-lying, soft soil condition, and condensed system of rivers and canals. The Mekong River is an integral part of the daily life and culture of local people. Sampan boats are an important mode of transportation and livelihood in the Mekong Delta, and yet some families are unable to afford one.
Donating one to a family in need will ensure that they have a better future. The small sampan donation ceremony will take place with local authorities and villagers as witnesses. Spend some time to chat with the local people about their livelihood and future plans. Then bid your new friends farewell and good luck before continuing onwards.
Siem Reap (Cambodia) is more than just a place to sleep when you visit the Temples of Angkor. The city has a lot more to offer, especially Downtown. Spend the afternoon discovering and wandering around some of the most interesting locales in the city center.
Start at Artisans d’Angkor, a real showcase of Khmer workmanship in silk fabrics and garments, stone and wood carving, lacquerware, polychrome products, silver plating, and silk painting. Then, visit Wat Damnak, one of the major Pagodas in Siem Reap, and receive a blessing from one of the monks.
Finally, take your time to explore the new and old market on both sides of the river, take pictures, shop, ask as many questions as you want to your guide and locals… Be curious!
Transfer by private vehicle to Ta Prohm, this beautiful temple, built in 1186 as a Buddhist temple dedicated to the mother of Jayavarman VII, is one of Angkor’s jewels and is overgrown with fig trees, giving a haunting yet exotic atmosphere. One of the largest temple sites in Angkor it took almost 80,000 people to maintain the temple.
Drive a short distance to Ta Keo, which would have been one of the finest temples in Angkor had it been completed.
Continue to Angkor Thom, not a temple, but an entire walled city of 9 square kilometers and the royal Capital from 1181. With a population of 1 million, it was far bigger than any city in Europe at the time. The centerpiece is Bayon temple crowned with 216 giant, smiling faces of King Jayavarman VII. Also visit the Terrace of the Elephants and the Terrace of the Leper King, which houses almost perfectly preserved carvings. Return to your hotel to relax and have lunch (on your own).
After a leisurely break, your exploration continues as you enter the rear gate of Angkor Wat (early 12th century). Surrounded by a 190-meter wide moat 1.5 kilometers by 1.3 kilometers it is claimed to be the largest religious building in the world. The temple, which took 30 years to construct & used the labors of 300,000 workers was built as the earthly representation of the universe with its’ central tower symbolizing Mt Meru which, Hindus believe, is at the center of the Universe. Later, return to your hotel late afternoon.
Running water in Siem Reap is scarce and locals often have to trek to neighboring villages in an effort to locate potable water. Engage in a hands-on activity and help to build a water filter together with local workers which will allow rain or lake water to be treated to a standard that it is drinkable.
In the afternoon, enjoy lunch with a member of staff who will tell you more about the surrounding villages and the problems which are encountered by the local communities. After lunch, you will take a water filter personally to a village. Together with a local staff member, you will install the filter at a local home where the family will be briefed on how to use and maintain the filter. Stroll through the village and learn how the people have adapted to the missing of the basic amenities of electricity and running water. Return to Siem Reap knowing that you have made an impact on the lives of one Cambodian family.
All across Asia, food is at the very heart of every single person’s day. As the average Cambodian makes $3 per day, the means and ways of eating fresh healthy & seasonal food are at the forefront of every mealtime.
Today you will be part of a culinary experience, creating some of Cambodia’s most fashionable & iconic dishes, while engaging with the day to day lives of its people. Starting out from the private farm, with your Chef, you will view the range of different vegetables, available in the season growing fresh & organically. Your Chef will explain to you the key ways in which they filtrate water, tend to their crops, and create the perfect harvest!
A small journey onwards will take you to a very local and completely tourist-free village, where you will be the highlight of the villager’s day! Walking with the chef to explore local traditions, weave past market traders & view the range of produce, selecting key ingredients to use in your class. Furthermore, the experience will engage with the locals in need, through a generous donation. Together with your chef, you will select a basket of harvest & dried goods for you to present to the Head Villager, as a kind offering in their day to day lives; giving back in the purest & simplest way! Taking tea, or sugar cane juice in the Village in a simple cafe, you will get a real feel of the true lives of the Khmer.
Returning back to the farm, your Chef will then lead you through the remarkable ingredients used to make your 3-course lunch. Preparing at your own station, while he talks you through the methods used to create each dish.
Have fun with learning about the new vegetables, creating the sauces & tasting as you go, the experience can be as advanced, or as Chef led as you wish! Afterward, you will eat your lunch, at the Farm House and enjoy the fruits of your labor in a truly philanthropic, engaging experience in Cambodia.