Day 01: Arrive Hanoi (VIETNAM)
Chào ban! (Welcome in Vietnamese) Upon arrival to one of Vietnam’s capital we are met and transferred to our hotel. Check in time starts from 1500 hrs.
Overnight: Sunway Hotel, Hanoi (1 night) (B)
Day 02: Hanoi/Ha Long Bay (Drive)
This morning we depart for Ha Long Bay. Boarding and check-in with welcome drink at noon, then the cruise starts through Cho Da, Dinh Huong, Ga Choi and Hoa Cuong limestone islets while a lunch is being served on board. Then visit Sung Sot Grotto, the “Cave of Surprises”, before taking a swim in Titov Beach or Soi Sim Beach’s pristine waters. The vessel then cruises further to reach its overnight anchorage location near Ho Dong Tien or Luon Cave. Enjoy the magnificent sunset from the sundeck or while swimming. In the evening enjoy a scrumptious dinner on board while soaking in the peaceful setting of the bay.
Overnight: Pelican Junk, Ha Long Bay (1 night) (B, L, D)
Day 03: Ha Long Bay/Hanoi (Drive)
This morning we board a small boat, which will be taking us to visit Luon Cave. Back on board for lunch before arriving at the pier. Return drive back to Hanoi. The rest of the day is free at leisure..
Overnight: Sunway Hotel, Hanoi (1 night) (B, L)
Day 04: Hanoi/Hue (Flight)
Enjoy a city tour of Hanoi to include visit to the Ethnology Museum (closed on Monday). Return to Hanoi downtown. Stop at Hanoi Opera House. Take a walk to Hoan Kiem Lake. Take photos at Hanoi Post Office, City Hall, Flower Garden & Ly Thai To Statue. Visit St. Joseph Cathedral, a striking neo-Gothic cathedral noteworthy for its square towers, elaborate altar and colorful stained-glass windows. Take one-hour pedicab ride around the Old Quarters of Ha Noi. Visit Bach Ma Temple and Ma May Ancient House. Last stop at Hang Da Market.We are transferred to the airport for a short flight to Hue. Upon arrival we are met and transferred to our hotel.
Overnight: Gerbera Hotel, Hue (2 nights) (B)
Day 05: Hue
A jaunt to Tu Duc Tomb, once the Royal Palace of Tu Duc, begins today’s tour. Constructed between 1864 and 1867, its pavilions are framed in a tranquil setting of forested hills and lakes. The Khai Dinh Tomb, the last monument of the Nguyen dynasty, sits magnificently on the slopes of Chau E Mountain in Chau Chau Village and houses a long staircase flanked by dragons and decorated with stunning ceiling murals and ceramic frescoes. Located just outside of Hue on the bank of the Perfume River, Thien Mu Pagoda was a hotbed of anti-government protests during the early 1960s. The Emperor Minh Mang Tomb complex built in 1840, is known for its magnificent architecture, military statuaries and elaborate decorations. It is perhaps the most beautiful of Hue's pagodas and tombs, a fitting end to a spectacular day.(B)
Day 06: Hue/Danag/Hoi An (Drive)
Drive to Danang where we visit the Cham Museum. Founded in 1915 by the Ecole Francaise d'Extreme Orient, it has the finest open-air collection of Cham sculptures in the world. The Marble Mountains consist of 5 stone hillocks made of marble and each is said to represent one of the five elements of the universe. The largest and most famous, Thuy Son, has a number of natural caves, in which Buddhist sanctuaries have been built over the centuries. We continue to Hoi An, a picturesque riverside town south of Danang. Known as Faifo to early western traders, it was one of South East Asia's major international ports from the 17th to 19th centuries.
Overnight: Boutique Hoi An Resort, Hoi An (2 nights) (B)
Day 07: Hoi An/Tra Que/Hoi An
One of the keys to the flavor of Cao Lau, the famous dish of Hoi An is fresh vegetables grown from Tra Que village, located on the banks of a lagoon. Here we will have a chance to become a local farmer joining the farm works among the villagers in Tra Que vegetable garden, learning how they grow and prepare vegetables. Then visit a local home for a cooking demonstration. Learn how to cook and prepare some of Hoi An specialty dishes such as Bánh Xèo (crepe filled with shrimp, meat and bean sprouts), Cao Lầu (a local specialty of noodle soup), and Tam Hửu (rice rolls filled with steamed shrimp and pork). Of course, the best part is that we get to savor the dishes we have made. Afternoon, enjoy a walking tour of the enchanting port town of Hoi An to visit the ancient structures comprising the 400 year-old Japanese Covered Bridge, residential houses, assembly halls, historic and ancient pagodas, shops offering silk lanterns, paintings and high quality ready to wear clothing. (B, L)
Day 08: Hoi An/Danang/Saigon (Drive/Flight)
Drive back to Danang to take a short flight to Saigon, one of Vietnam’s largest cities. We have an afternoon city tour to explore some of the most interesting sites, including the beautiful neo-Romanesque Notre Dame Cathedral, the Central Post Office, the Opera House also known as “Saigon Concert Hall’, the Jade Emperor Pagoda with its colorful and mysterious ambiance, the Reunification Palace and Ben Thanh Market.
Overnight: Grand Hotel, Saigon (1 night) (B)
Day 09: Saigon/Cai Be/Vinh Long/Can Tho (Drive)
Visit Binh Tay Market and Thien Hau Pagoda, one of the most active in Cholon. Drive to Cai Be. Start a boat ride on the Mekong River to Binh Hoa Phuoc Islet. Here we will have a chance to mingle with local peasants, learn the secrets of their bonsai gardening, visit local homes where the families produce tiles and ceramics, visit rice-paper kiln, coconut-candy kiln and observe daily country life. A typical Vietnamese lunch at a local home will also be arranged. Afternoon leave Vinh Long for Can Tho. On arrival, visit the 130-year old house and Binh Thuy communal house in Binh Thuy ward, 5 km from downtown Can Tho.
Overnight: Victoria Hotel, Can Tho (1 night) (B, L)
Day 10: Can Tho/Chau Doc
Morning take a boat ride to Cai Rang floating market, the biggest wholesales market of fruits and vegetables in the Mekong Delta. Here the photo opportunities are end-less as we will be witnessing typical daily activities of the local people who are selling, buying, bargaining and serving breakfast on boats. On the way to the car, a stop will be made at a local farmer's house to visit his orchard, which is followed by a 30-minute break for drinking tea and enjoying fruits. On arrival in Chau Doc if time permits a visit will also be made to Thoai Ngoc Hau Temple and Tay An Pagoda.
Overnight: Victoria Hotel, Chau Doc (1 night) (B)
Day 11: Chau Doc/Phnom Penh (CAMBODIA)
Today we will be taking a speed-boat ride along the Mekong River to Phnom Penh (Cambodia). Sohm swaakohm! (Welcome in Khmer) We arrive in Phnom Penh, the Cambodian capital, located at the confluence of the beautiful Mekong, Bassac and Tonle Sap rivers. The city is considered to be the loveliest of the French-built cities of Indochina and was founded as a small monastery in 1372 by a rich Khmer woman by the name of Penh after she found four Buddha statues in a tree trunk on the bank of the Mekong. She set up the monastery at a nearby hill or “Phnom”.
Overnight: Sunway Hotel, Phnom Penh (2 nights) (B)
Day 12: Phnom Penh
We start the day with a visit to the Wat Phnom temple, where the first pagoda was built. Later we explore Wat Ounalom, built in 1443 to house a single hair of Buddha and comprised of 44 structures facing the Silver Pagoda. Next we tour the National Museum containing a fine collection of Khmer art including a beautiful 6th century bronze statue of Vishnu. The Tuol Sleng Museum (Museum of Genocide) became the Khmer Rouge’s main torture and interrogation center and was known as Security Prison 21. We culminate the day with a visit to the Central Market, distinguished by its central dome and filled with shops selling jewelry, fabrics and all kinds of souvenirs making it a great place for shopping. (B)
Day 13: Phnom Penh/Siem Reap (Flight)
This morning we take a short flight to Siem Reap where we tour the majestic Angkor Wat. This temple was constructed over a period of 30 years and illustrates some of the most exquisite examples of Khmer and Hindu art. In 1992, the monuments and the city of Angkor were declared a World Heritage Site. Our next stop is at the Angkor Thom, a fortified Royal City (10 square kilometers/4 square miles) encircled by a moat 100 metres/109 yards wide with five monumental gates. In the center of the walled city are the most important monuments including the Baphuon, the Terrace of Elephants and the Bayon - Jayavarman VII’s temple mount standing at the center of Angkor Thom. This is one of the most popular and interesting of Angkor’s monuments with its narrow corridors, steep flights of stairs and an amazing collection of towers.
Overnight: Prince d’Angkor Hotel, Siem Reap (2 nights) (B)
Day 14: Siem Reap
We spend another day at Siem Reap and visit more interesting sites. Banteay Srei, built late in the 10th century, is a square Hindu temple with entrances on the east and west. We also visit the three central towers decorated with male and female divinities and beautiful filigree relief work. Banteay Samre, Ta Keo and Ta Prohm. One of the most popular attractions of Angkor, Ta Prohm looks very much as most of the Angkor monuments would have appeared when European explorers first stumbled across the site. Pre Rup and Eastern Mebon wrap-up an extraordinary day of sightseeing. (B)
Day 15: Depart Siem Reap
This morning we are transferred to the airport for the flight out. Check out time is by 1100 hrs. (B)