Airport arrival transfer and hotel check in. Spend the afternoon and evening at leisure.
Overnight in Vientiane.
After breakfast we explore the charming capital on a city tour. Highlights include Wat Si Saket – the oldest Buddhist monastery temple in the country, the former royal temple of Haw Pha Kaeo, Pha That Luang monument and the Buddha Park with its incredible array of Hindu and Buddhist sculptures. We also visit to the COPE Centre, a charity working with victims of unexploded bombs and mines. End the day with a spectacular sunset dinner besides the Mekong River.
Overnight in Vientiane.
This morning we journey north through breathtaking scenery to Vang Vieng. Along the way we visit Ban Keun, famous for its salt extraction plant and a village of local Lao rice wine whiskey distillation. A next stop is the busy and colourful market of Thalat market, where local hill tribes come to trade and shop and the 11th century archaeological site of Vang Xang. Upon arrival in picturesque Vang Vieng, spend the remains of the day at leisure or opt to explore the local caves, take a scenic bike ride or go tubing along the river.
Overnight in Vang Vieng.
Vang Vieng –Luang Prabang
We explore the famous caves of Tham Jang this morning and visit Ban Huai Ngai village before travelling north to the enchanting Luang Prabang.
Overnight in Luang Prabang.
Consider rising early this morning to view the daily ritual of saffron-clad monks and their procession down the streets of Luang Prabang collecting alms from the residents. Then a morning tour, taking in the highlights of Luang Prapang – the fabulous UNESCO Listed former royal capital. Sightseeing includes the ancient temples of Wat Visoun and Wat Aham, the Ock Pop Tok weaving centre and the beautifully ornate former Royal Palace. In the afternoon we stop at ethnic minority villages before arriving at the beautiful Khouangsi waterfall.
Overnight in Luang Prabang.
Luang Prabang –Hanoi
On the morning of day 6 we head out of town to a local farm to learn about the production of rice. After lunch we cruise up the Mekong River to visit the incredible Pak Ou caves crammed with Buddha images of all shapes and sizes, stopping Ban Xanghai village en route to sample local rice wine. Later we return to Luang Prabang stopping along the way at Ban Phanom village – known for its hand weaving, before boarding our evening flight to Hanoi. The following day offers free time for you to explore Vietnam’s gracious capital. Lively markets, beautiful lakes, ancient pagodas and the thriving, historic city are all easily navigatable by foot.
Overnight in Hanoi.
Hanoi – Haylong Bay
A scenic drive early this morning leads us to the stunningly beautiful UNESCO World Heritage Site of Halong Bay. Boarding our traditional wooden junk boat we cruise the emerald waters soaking up the panoramic vista of the thousand or so karst limestone islands that stud the bay.
Later opt for a refreshing swim in one of the many sheltered coves before taking row boats to the pristine 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 a Tai Chi class on the sundeck or a traditional massage. After exploring a lofty grotto hidden beneath towering cliffs, we return to port.
Arriving to Hanoi mid afternoon an hour or so is spent exploring the quixotic web of streets, known as the ‘36 streets of the old quarter’ by cyclo (rickshaw). The motorbike swarming narrow lanes are each named after various guilds of the city’s artisan who established themselves here centuries ago. There is Silver Street, Silk Street, Comb Street, Paper Street and more. We explore the maze of rambling streets framed by narrow front tube houses and may have a chance to sample the exotic fruits, sizzling noodle dishes and delightfully sticky snacks being offers by the pavement vendors. After time to freshen up we board our overnight train (4 berth sleeper cabin, basic standard) on the ‘Reunification Express’ railway line to Hue.
Overnight in Sleeper Train.
Arriving into 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, whose 21m high tower has become something of a symbol for Hue 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.
In the countryside lies the Royal Tombs of the Nguyen kings, here we’ll view the elaborate mausoleums of Emperors Tu Duc and Khai Dinh. As the sun sets opt for a cruise in a long boat along the gentle Perfume River, beautifully illuminated at night.
Overnight in Hue.
Overnight: Hue | Breakfast, Lunch
Hue –Hoi An
Hue – Road of the Ocean Clouds – Hoi An. 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. En route we stop for a walk along China beach, featured in Francis Ford Coppola’s movie ‘Apocalypse Now’. Perhaps enjoy a refreshing swim in the sea before continuing our journey along the coast road to Hoi An.
The charming, old-world trading port of Hoi An with it cobbled streets, traditional homes and tiny shop houses is a perfect place to lose yourself in a by gone era. Boutique restaurants, hip cafes along the waterfront, delightful craft shops and artisans including some of Asia’s best bespoke tailors (whose services come at a nominal price), all can be found here.
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.
A bicycle ride into the countryside, leads us to Tra Que village. Here,we discover age old farming practices 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.
Overnight in Hoi An.
A free day for you relax or further sightsee. You may wish to take a relaxing rowboat journey along the river or spend the day lazing by the beach or hotel pool. It’s also possible to take an optional excursion to the most holiest and evocative of Vietnam’s Cham sites, My Son or to Quang Ngai, the site of the My Lai massacre memorial. The massacre was a significant turning point in the Vietnam War and the story is told through photo presentation on a walk through the village.
Overnight in Hoi An.
Hoi An – Saigon
Early morning flight to Saigon. Drive to the Mekong Delta. Often referred to as the ‘rice bowl’ of Vietnam, the fertile Mekong Delta is famous for its abundant harvests of tropical fruits, flowers and rice, as well as it fantastic views while boating along the canals. Taking our sampan from Vinh Long we’ll cruise Cai Be’s maze of waterways visiting 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
Early today we visit colourful Cai Rang floating market and drive to Saigon. Once called the Pearl of the Orient, modern Saigon is a thriving metropolis on the move. Sleek sky scrapers, gourmet restaurants, designer malls and swanky bars and spas are scattered between ancient pagodas, colonial era landmarks and lively street markets. Our walking tour of Saigon includes visits to the Notre Dame Cathedral, Old Post office and the sombering War Remnants Museum. Evening at leisure.
Overnight in Saigon.
Today offers free time in Saigon till your departure transfer to the airport. Opt for a relaxing foot massage, shop for souvenirs at Ben Thanh Market or visit the grand Independence Palace, with its secret bunker and military command centre beneath!
If extending your stay consider joining us on a day trip to the Cu Chi Tunnels. Here you can go underground to explore the vast network of tunnels and hideouts used by Viet Cong guerrilla fighters, see booby traps, trap doors or test your skill with an AK 47 at the firing range.
T RIP HIGHLIGHTS:
Vientiane – capital of Laos, Wat Sisaket, Wat Prakeo, the COPE Centre, That Luang Stupa, Patuxay Monument and the Buddha Park
Vang Xang – an 11th century archaeological site
Luang Prabang – the UNESCO Listed former royal capital, Temples of Visoun, Ahan and Sene, a weaving centre, the former Royal Palace, superb views from Mount Phousi
Hanoi – Hoan Kiem Lake and the Ancient Quarter
Hue – ancient citadel, Imperial Purple City, Royal Tombs, Thien Mu Pagoda and monastery
Saigon – Notre Dame Cathedral, Old Post Office and War Remnants Museum
Cai Be waterways, cottage industries, mansion home and Dong Hoa Hiep Island
Thalat Market and ethnic minority villages
Vang Vieng – a picturesque riverside village, Tham Jang Caves, Ban Huai Ngai village
Pak Ou Caves – crammed with Buddha statues and Khouangsi Waterfall
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
15 breakfasts, 5 lunches and 3 dinner
Economy class flights Luang Prabang – Hanoi and Danang – Saigon
Bicycle ride to Tra Que village and cooking demonstration
Airport arrival transfer day 1 and departure transfer day 16
Escorted by an English speaking Laotian and Vietnamese tour guides
Visa approval letter (excl. stamping fee required upon arrival)
13 nights 4 star and special class hotels, 1 night deluxe junk boat and 1 overnight sleeper train (Junk boat: private cabin, Sleeper train: basic, 4 berth cabin)
Halong Bay Junk boat cruise – opt to swim, kayak and explore caves
Sampan boat trips in the Mekong Delta
Guided sightseeing – Vientaine, Vang Vieng, Luang Prabang, Hanoi, Halong Bay, Hue, Hoi An, Mekong Delta and Saigon
All relevant transfers and transportation in private air-conditioned vehicles
International flights and visa. Vietnam visa letter included – stamping fee required upon arrival
Entrance Fees: USD$50-60, 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$45-55, paid in USD