Day 1: Hanoi Arrival
Xin chao! Welcome to Hanoi!
Upon arrival, your guide or driver will be waiting to transfer you to your hotel.
Day 2: Hanoi Half Day City Tour, Cyclo & Water Puppet Show
Begin the morning with a visit to the Ho Chi Minh mausoleum and hear about the man who led Vietnam’s campaign for independence from French colonial rule. After dedicating his life to the liberation of his country from foreign rule, Ho Chi Minh died in 1969 and his body was preserved for posterity. Every October the mausoleum is closed for a month and Uncle Ho is given a bit of a spruce up! Then wander the grounds to see the one pillar pagoda and the presidential palace. Next,visit the 11th century relic, the Temple of Literature, which was built in homage to the Chinese scholar Confucius.
In the afternoon start with the Museum of Ethnology that is widely acknowledged as the best in the country, with an extensive display dedicated to Vietnam’s 54 ethnic minority people. Take a breezy cyclo ride through the Old Quarter’s 36 streets, named for the products that were sold from their shops. Today, vendors on Tin and Bamboo Streets still sell the same wares. Next, sip astrong Vietnamese coffee in a café overlooking Hoan Kiem Lake - an important symbol in Vietnamese folklore. End your day with a delightful water puppet show, a traditional art that is still being performed today.
Day 3: Hanoi - Ha Long Bay - Lan Ha Bay
Depart from Hanoi and travel by road to the Tuan Chau Island pier in Halong Bay. Set off on your luxury cruise, where you’ll be pampered in style and comfort whilst meandering through the towering limestone cliffs and emerald green waters of Ha long Bay. Stop in Tra Bau, a secret hideaway in Lan Ha Bay that has beaches, caves and coves.
You can try kayaking or simply swim in the clear waters of the bay. Back to your boat, enjoy life aboard the vessel or in your suite, and with cocktail in hand watch the sunset over the Gulf of Tonkin. In late afternoon part in a professional cooking demonstration before indulging in a luxurious dinner in the dining hall. Spend the rest of the evening as you’d like: watch a movie in the dining area, relax on the deck with a cocktail, or go squid fishing under the cover of night.
Day 4: Ha Long Bay - Hanoi - fly to Hue
Pic above: President Suite, Stellar of the sea
Rise with the sun and practice Vivonam on the sundeck while taking in majestic views of the surrounding bay and the cool sea breeze. Wrap up your experience with a bamboo boat trip to visit Dark and Bright Cave before cruising back to Tuan Chau Marina. Your guide and driver will take you to Hanoi airport for your flight to Hue.
Upon arrival you will be taken to your hotel in Hue.
Day 5: Hue Full Day City Tour
Start your tour with the ancient walled Citadel, which was closely modelled along the lines of the Forbidden City in Beijing. Then visit Khai Dinh tomb, admire the unusual combination of architecture that blends a traditional Chinese past with a modern Western future. Khai Dinh was the Nguyen Dynasty’s most eccentric and unusual king, who reportedly embraced French colonialism. Much like his father, Khai Dinh favoured imported luxuries, spent huge sums of money on his tomb, and was the subject of ridicule by nationalist leaders. Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant.
In afternoon you’ll have a tour of Thien Mu pagoda, one of iconic sights in Hue and An Hien garden house. An Hien garden house contains many large and small architectures built according to the traditional architecture style of Vietnam in general and Hue in particular. The garden house is strongly influenced by fengshui. The main architecture of An Hien garden house is a 3-room 2-gable house with wooden structure and beautifully sculpted patterns. Over a century of existence, An Hien remains almost intact both in landscape and architecture
Day 6: Hue drive to Hoi An via Hai Van pass
Today you will be transferred to Hoi An over the scenic Hai Van Pass,probably the most scenic stretch of coastal road in Vietnam. You will visit Cham museum which houses the largest exhibition of Cham sculpture in the world with almost 300 terracotta and stone works of art ranging from the 7th to the 15th centuries. The tour continues with a visit to the Marble Mountains which are a group of five limestone and marble hills in Ngu Hanh Son District. The mountains sheer porous limestone is punctuated by caves and tunnels which are fitted with spectacular Buddhist and Hindu shrines. Check in your hotel in Hoi An.
In the evening take a boat ride from Bach Dang pier to see Hoi An Memories Show, perhaps Vietnam's most impressive art show. With 500 performers taking over the outdoor stage in their traditional ao dai costumes and modern staging techniques, the show is one spectacular visual performance that showcases the rich history, culture and identity of Hoi An.
Day 7: Hoi An Full Day City Tour with Cam Thanh boat trip
Begin your story of Hoi An, a former port that welcomed Chinese, Dutch, French, Japanese, Portuguese and Arab merchants between the 16th to 18th centuries. Today it is renowned for its old quarter lined with two-storey Chinese shops, with elaborate carved wooden facades and terracotta tile roofs. And not forgetting expert tailor shops and delicious food! The tour includes stops at several famous landmarks. The first is Chua Ong Pagoda, dating back to 1653 and built in honor of the Chinese general Quan Cong, who is worshipped by many as a symbol of loyalty and justice. Next, pop into Phuc Kien Assembly Hall, to see the Jinshan Temple which is dedicated to the goddess of the sea and the protector of sailors. From there it’s a short walk to Tam Ky House, a 200 year old ancestral house and finally, stroll across the often photographed 17th century covered bridge built by Japanese craftsmen. The beautifully built bridge doubles as a temple and is a major landmark of Hoi An. After a Vietnamese lunch, take a short boat trip down the river and visit a craft village where local artisans make ceramics. End your afternoon with a visit to the docks and see traditional fishing boats and the unusual round basket boats that ply the water.
Day 8: Hoi An - Ho Chi Minh City - Half Day Tour
Your guide will meet you at your hotel and transfer you to the airport for your flight Upon arrival, your guide or drive will be waiting to transfer you to your hotel.
Start the tour with a visit to the Reunification Palace, once a symbol of the South Vietnamese Government. It was here on 30 April 1975, that the war ended when a North Vietnamese Army tank crashed through its gates. See the war room, the banquet hall and the presidential office with the unusual gifts which have been received. Then,continue to the Central Post Office, designed and constructed by the renowned architect Gustave Eiffel, and take a moment to send a postcard! Just behind the post office is the Notre Dame Cathedral, an iconic Saigon landmark built in neo-Romanesque style by the French between 1863 and 1880. Today it’s a favoured backdrop for Vietnamese wedding photographs.
Next, stroll down Dong Khoi Street, which figured prominently in Graham Greene’s famous Vietnam novel, The Quiet American, as Rue Catinat. The walk ends at the Saigon Opera House. From a bomb shelter to housing the parliamentary Lower House, the Opera House has had an interesting history.
Day 9: Mekong Delta Full Day Tour
Depart from your hotel at 8am and drive about 2 hours from Saigon to the township of Cai Be to board the Cai Be Princess. The crew welcomes you aboard with cold towels and are freshing drink as the Cai Be Princess Sampan sets off for its leisurely cruise on the busy waterways of the Mekong Delta. On the river, all sorts of boats ply the water, from small fishing boats to cargo barges loaded with fruit and vegetables. Observe a little of river life as it plays out on the banks - noting the people and the stunning landscapes - while your attentive crew serves you tea and seasonal fruit. At Tan Phong Islet board a little rowing boat to explore the canal’s hidden mangroves. Return to yoursampan to visit an ancient house built in the 19th century. Make stops along the way to provide glimpses of local cottage industries, including factories for the production of coconut candy and puffed rice (the local equivalent of popcorn), products that provide a living for the river people. Your cruise ends at Le Longanier Restaurant. Lunch is served in this exquisite colonial-style villaset in a lush tropical garden by the river, surrounded by fruit trees, giving you a sense of life during the Indochina of yesteryear. After lunch, take a short walk along a small canal, towards the Ba Bon Bridge where your personal vehicle awaits to drive you to Ho Chi Minh City.
Day 10: Ho Chi Minh City - fly to Siem Reap
Day is at leisure until you are transferred to the airport for your flight to Siem Reap. Upon arrival in Siem Reap, check in your hotel and relax.
Day 11: Siem Reap Full Day Temple Tour
Feel your excitement build as you drive through towering old trees on your way to the awe-inspiring Angkor Complex. The tour will begin at Bayon, a richly decorated temple. Its most distinctive feature is the hundreds of smiling faces that grace the towers. Impressive bas-reliefs tell stories of daily life and of the great battles that were fought between the Khmers and ancient Thais.
Continue to Ta Prohm, one of Cambodia’s most beloved temples. Unusually, Ta Prohm is in much the same condition in which it was found. The combination of large trees growing out of the ruins and the surrounding jungle give the temple a truly magical feel.
In the afternoon explore the magnificent Angkor Wat, the world’s largest religious monument and best-preserved temple in the complex. This visually spectacular massive three-tired pyramid has become a symbol of Cambodia, appearing on its flag. Admire the grandeur of its architecture and its extensive decoration of bas-relief friezes. End your day taking in the views of the sunset over the jungle from the top of Pre Rup Temple before returning to Siem Reap.
Day 12: Siem Reap - Tonle Sap Lake Tour
Day 12: Siem Reap - Tonle Sap Lake Tour
Take a short 15-kilometer drive to Tonle Sap Lake, located south of Siem Reap. Here embark on a cruise to Kompong Phluk, an isolated Khmer community of three villages built on stilts. The community hasabout 3,000 residents who farm fish and vegetables on the floating platforms.Admire the floating village with a Buddhist monastery right in the middle. The cruise will also take you through the flooded forests that surround the village, a unique ecosystem where millions of fish come to spawn each season, attracting a myriad of water birds. Enjoy the views and keep an eye out for wildlife, especially birds and crab-eating macaques.
Get a taste of both contemporary and historic Cambodia with an evening under the big top in downtown Siem Reap. Phare Cambodian Circus, an NGO that supports disadvantaged Khmer youth with art and performance training, is a show without animals that showcases a talented cast accomplished in acrobatics, contortion, aerial ballet, tightrope walking,juggling, mime, drama, and comedy. Cambodia has a long history of circustradition, dating back as far as the 6th century from temple carvings depicting circus performances for ceremonies and festivals. While the show is fully modern, it draws on Cambodian tradition, folk stories, and folk music
Day 13: Siem Reap - Departure
At leisure until you are transferred to the airport for your departure flight.