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Client blog: Eyes on the prize

Vietnam and Cambodia

It’s not about winning and losing, it’s about a trip to Vietnam.

Jill was the lucky winner of a fantastic prize during our Indochina Showcase. The prize, courtesy of ITC, Anantara Hotels and Aqua Cruises, included accommodation and a luxury Mekong River cruise.

Jill and her husband, Bill, decided to add their reward to part of a 14-night trip, which saw them embark on adventures in Cambodia, Vietnam and Hong Kong.

Over to Jill...

"When we heard Abbotts Travel were holding a showcase evening at Chigwell Golf Club, we knew it was something we would love to attend, especially as we had never been to Indochina.

We were impressed and inspired by the presentations, particularly the one on the Mekong River Cruise.

Vietnam and Cambodia

It quickly turned to great excitement when I heard my name called out as the winner of the first prize, which included accommodation in Siem Reap and Phnom Penh, and a cruise along the Mekong River.

We then asked Julian to create an itinerary for us, adding an extra week to our prize.

We flew with Cathay Pacific and Cathay Dragon. All our flights were good and private transfers worked well. Our tour guides were polite, well educated, and friendly. Abbotts Travel clearly have great contacts in Indochina.

Hotel Anantara Angkor was our first opportunity to meet and appreciate the Cambodian people. It is a beautiful place to stay and has amazing staff. We tried the taster menu in the Chi Restaurant, which was a fantastic experience. A free Tuk Tuk service is offered by the hotel and a visit to the local night markets and the famous Pub Street make an interesting evening.

Trips to the temples were amazing experiences, with Angkor Wat at the top of our list. The visits were enhanced by our guide’s knowledge of the city and his pride in being able to pass this on.

Vietnam and Cambodia

After a short flight to Phnom Penh, we smiled when being greeted at the desk with a cheery “Good morning William” before even handing over our passports or tickets.

Our stay in Phnom Penh was interesting. Visiting the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum and the notorious Khmer Rouge Killing Fields was a very humbling experience, made even more emotional by the stories we heard.

A city tour, which included a visit to the Silver Pagoda containing the Emerald Buddha statue and to the Royal Palace at Wat Phnom, was impressive. We would also highly recommend the Khmer massage at La Rosa Suites.

Then it was time for the Mekong River Cruise. Every single aspect of this cruise lived up to our expectations. With a 1-1 ratio of staff to guests, the service was impeccable.

Daily A.M. and P.M. excursions by skiffs (private speed boats) allowed us to encounter the locals' way of life, and brought us back in time for a tasty lunch.

Vietnam and Cambodia

Cabins are spacious, well equipped, and staff address you by name from the moment you join them.

On the last evening, when the entire crew joined the passengers in the lounge to say their farewells, I found myself standing up to make an impromptu reply on behalf of the guests, thanking them for their amazing, friendly, courteous service, that stopped at nothing.

This was definitely not one to save for the bucket list, but one to do now.

After disembarkation, we were met by our driver, who showed us the sights on the way to our next hotel, Hotel Des Art.

Vietnam and Cambodia

Our first impression of Ho Chi Minh City… wow it’s busy! There are lots of old buildings being renovated or knocked down. The traffic is mind-blowing and crossing the road is a definite life gamble.

The Cu Chi Tunnels is another amazing experience, where visitors can enter the immense network of connecting underground tunnels. We finished the day with an enjoyable swim in the infinity pool on the 25th floor rooftop and walked across the glass bridge linking two buildings at this height.

Vietnam and Cambodia

Our final destination was Hong Kong and we stayed in the Island Shangri-La.

We went with the intention of relaxing, but as it was our first time, that wasn’t going to be the case. We made good use of the local transport and the ferries. The cable car and the harbour tour are very worthwhile.

The hotel was perfect for people who like the hustle and bustle. The outdoor swimming pool was a nice place to be late in the evening, with great views over the city.

We were both very happy with all the organisation from Abbotts Travel, and although we originally had some concern with our age and the itinerary, this was completely unfounded."

Jill and Bill

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