Airport to hotel arrival transfer. Free time to explore.
Overnight in Hanoi.
Hanoi –Halong Bay
Early this morning we drive to the strikingly beautiful UNESCO World Heritage Site of Halong Bay, we board our traditional wooden junk boat and cruise the emerald waters studded with a thousand or so karst limestone islands. Later opt for a refreshing swim in one of the many sheltered coves before taking row boats to the picturesque waterway known as ‘Dark & Bright Lagoon’. Tonight, there’s a Vietnamese cooking demonstration held on the sundeck before an impressive seafood dinner is served.
Overnight in Halong Bay.
Halong Bay –Hanoi –Hue
Start the day with Tai Chi on the sundeck or a traditional massage. After exploring a lofty grotto hidden beneath towering cliffs we return to Hanoi.
Arriving to Hanoi mid afternoon an hour or so is spent exploring the labyrinth of streets, known as the ‘36 streets of the old quarter’. Each of the narrow lanes are named after various guilds of the city’s artisan who established themselves here centuries ago. On a hair raising cyclo (rickshaw ride) we’ll see the old quarter and the delightful Hoan Kiem Lake.
Tonight we board our overnight sleeper train (4 berth sleeper cabin, basic stanard) operating on the ‘Reunification Express’ railway line to Hue.
Overnight in sleeper.
Upon arrival to Hue we embark on a guided sightseeing tour of the 19th-century Nguyen empire capital. We visit the Thien Mu Pagoda, home to the oldest monastery in the city and the citadel. Within the citadel is the Imperial Purple Palace, an exact copy of the Forbidden City in Beijing, with its impressive ramparts, formal moats and imperial palaces, some of which lay in ruin.
After we drive into the countryside to see the elaborate mausoleums of the Nguyen kings. As the sun sets opt for a cruise in a long boat along the gentle Perfume River or enjoy some retail therapy at the ever lively Dong Ba Market, a minute’s walk from our hotel.
Overnight in Hue.
Today we take the scenic Hai Van Pass (Road of the Ocean Clouds), which offers magnificent views of beaches to one side and lush hills to the other, to Hoi An. En route we stop for a walk along My Khe beach, a beautiful stretch of coastline which was nicknamed ‘China Beach’ by the Americans during the war and famously featured in Francis Ford Coppola’s movie ‘Apocalypse Now’.Perhaps enjoy a refreshing swim in the sea before continuing our journey south along the coast to Hoi An.
Compact Hoi An with its cobbled streets, tiny shop houses and laid back restaurants and bars is a perfect place to relax a while. On a short walking tour of the enchanting historical town, we’ll visit the Chua Ong Pagoda, Chinese Assembly Hall, 200-year-old Tam Ky house, former merchants’ homes and the 400 year-old Japanese Covered Bridge.
Overnight in Hoi An.
On a bicycle ride to the local village of Tra Que we discover age old farming practises and learn about traditional medicine. It’s a hands on experience today where we’ll assist with tending the fields and gardens and cooking lunch.
Day 7 is free for you to independently explore Hoi An. Relax by the beach or pool, or take a day trip to the Cham Kingdom site at My Son or My Lai – where the massacre of civilians took place at the hands of Charlie Company during the Vietnam War.
Overnight in Hoi An.
Hoi An –Saigon
Fly to Saigon and drive to the Mekong Delta. The fertile Mekong Delta is famous for its abundant harvests of tropical fruits, flowers and rice, as well as its fantastic views while boating along the canals. Taking our sampan from Vinh Long we’ll cruise downstream from Cai Be through the maze of waterways watching the hubbub of daily life on the river. Passing colourful trading boats, house boats and children swimming we stop to visit some of the local cottage industries that produce popcorn, coco candies and paper along the way. Lunch is served today in a traditional wooden home on Dong Hoa Hiep Island.
Overnight in Can Tho.
Can Tho –Saigon
Can Tho – Saigon. Early this morning we visit the lively Cai Rang floating market and drive to Saigon. On a walking tour of the city we’ll visit the Notre Dame Cathedral, Old Post office and the sombering War Remnants Museum. Evening at leisure.
Overnight in Saigon.
Saigon – Phnom Penh
Saigon – Phnom Penh. This morning we visit the famous Cu Chi Tunnels, a sprawling underground network of tunnels and living quarters used by the Viet Cong during the war. Then we drive to the Cambodian border (crossing at Moc Bai/Bavet) and continue on to the capital of Phnom Penh. Today the nation’s capital offers a bustling mix of Asia’s past and present, a city quickly taking its place amongst the trendy capitals of the region with superb restaurants and a number of attractions.
Overnight in Phnom Penh.
Today we’ll enjoy a full day sightseeing tour of Phnom Penh starting at the National Museum of Fine Arts, a graceful terracotta building of traditional design housing the world’s finest collection of Khmer sculpture. We continue with the Royal Palace and Silver Pagoda, famed for its lavish decorations – the floors are paved with silver tiles and statues of Buddha are encrusted with thousands of diamonds.
We later come face to face with the horrors of the Pol Pot regime as we visit Toul Sleng (Security Prison – S21), a school that was gruesomely transformed into a torture chamber under the Khmer Rouge, and visit the Killing Fields where over 10,000 people were executed.
Overnight in Phnom Penh.
Phnom Penh –Siem Reap
Hotel check out and transfer to the airport for your included flight to Siem Reap. After time to freshen up we visit the Angkor National Museum – a fascinating archaeological museum dedicated to the collection, preservation and presentation of Angkorian artifacts and Khmer civilisation, with collections mainly dated from Khmer Empire’s Angkor period circa 9th to 14th-century.
This afternoon we explore incredible and iconic Angkor Wat, easily the most famous and best-preserved of all the temples within the Angkor complex. It is a massive three-tiered structure crowned by five lotus-like towers rising 65 meters from ground level. Believed to be the largest religious building in the world, Angkor Wat contains thousands of wall carvings and extensive bas-reliefs. Spend the evening at leisure. There are plenty of great bars and restaurants in the compact city centre which is easily navigated on foot.
Overnight in Siem Reap.
Early this morning opt to see Angkor Wat bathed in the spectacular golden light of sunrise. Later we drive out to see the well-preserved temples of Banteay Srei, stopping at an exotic butterfly sanctuary along the way. Considered by many to be the art gallery of Angkor with some of the finest stone carvings in the world, Banteay Srei is dedicated to Shiva and contains lavishly decorated libraries and stunning reliefs of divinities. This afternoon we return to the Angkor Temple Complex to explore the ancient city of Angkor Thom which was the last capital of the Great Khmer Empire and is home to the fascinating Bayon Temple, the Baphuon royal enclosure and the Terraces of the Elephants and Leper King. The last temple we visit is Tra Prohm, swallowed by the jungle, vast muscular roots envelop the crumbling towers and walls of the temple whilst the trees’ foliage dapples it in shade.
This evening you’re guaranteed to be entertained watching the incredible Phare Cambodian Circus. The Phare NGO circus project trains street kids to become very talented circus artists and the popular show blends circus skills with interpretations of modern life and issues in Cambodian society.
Overnight in Siem Reap.
This morning we drive to Kampong Phluk, a cluster of three villages of stilt house built within the floodplain of Tonle Sap lake about 16 km southeast of Siem Reap. We’ll see houses built on soaring stilts which hover over the Tonle Sap Lake whilst nearby, the petrified trees of a flooded forest are revealed whenever the water level drops. After a boat trip on the lake and lunch, we return to Siem Reap where the afternoon is free for you to spend at leisure. Perhaps pick up some last minute souvenirs at the central market or head down to lively Pub Street.
Overnight in Siem Reap.
Today marks the end of our memorable journey. Spend the morning at leisure before hotel check out and your departure transfer to the airport.
Hanoi – Hoan Kiem Lake and Old Quarter
Hue – ancient citadel, Imperial Purple City, Royal Tombs, Thien Mu Pagoda and monastery
Saigon – ‘Pearl of the Orient!. Notre Dame Cathedral, Old Post Office and War Remnants Museum
Cai Be waterways, cottage industries, mansion home and Dong Hoa Hiep Island
Cu Chi Tunnels – HQ of the Viet Cong
Siem Reap – Angkor National Museum and the temples of Angkor including Angkor Thom, Ta Prohm, Bayon Temple and Banteay Srei
Tonle Sap Lake and the floating villages of Kampong Phluk
Halong Bay – UNESCO Listed region with thousands of beautiful limestone peaks and islets
Hoi An – UNESCO Listed ancient town, famed for its beautifully preserved old city, tailors, handicrafts markets and nearby beaches
Mekong Delta – a maze of waterways, fertile farm land and floating villages
Can Tho – lively market town in the Mekong Delta and nearby Cai Rang floating market
Phnom Penh – Royal Palace, Silver Pagoda, Toul Sleng Genocide Museum and the Killing Fields
The Phare NGO circus project
14 breakfasts, 5 lunches and 2 dinner
1 night deluxe junk boat, 1 overnight sleeper train (train standard basic, 4 berth cabin. Junk boat, private cabin)
Guided sightseeing – Hanoi, Halong Bay, Hue, Hoi An, Mekong Delta, Saigon, Cu Chi, Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and the Temples of Angkor
Bicycle ride to Tra Que village and cooking demonstration
Boat trip on Tonle Sap Lake
All relevant transfers and transportation in private air-conditioned vehicles
Visa approval letter for Vietnam (excl. stamping fee required upon arrival)
12 nights 4 star and special class hotels
Economy class flights from Danang – Saigon and Phnom Penh – Siem Reap
Halong Bay Junk boat cruise – opt to swim, kayak and explore caves
Sampan boat trips in the Mekong Delta
Airport arrival transfer day 1 and departure transfer day 15
Escorted by an English speaking Vietnamese and Cambodian tour guides
International flights and visas. Vietnam visa letter included – stamping fee required upon arrival
Entrance Fees: USD$135-145, paid in USD
Tip for your tour guides. We recommend you allow USD$3 – 6 per day, per traveller. Tipping your guides is an entirely personal gesture
Tipping Kitty: USD$55-65, paid in USD