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Welcome to Laos! Upon arrival, you will be met and transferred to your hotel. Vientiane is a fascinating capital, with a fusion of Lao, Thai, Chinese, Vietnamese, French, and American influences. This charming and easygoing city will provide a smooth introduction to Laos. After a short rest, an orientation walk of Lao Capital is a pleasant way to spend the day, strolling around some of the city’s most historical sites and seeing some of the French colonial architecture. We observe the sunset by the Mekong Riverside until the late evening and experience the city lifestyle of the local Lao people.
After breakfast, we see the major sights of the capital; including the oldest Wat Sisaket, the temple with thousands of miniature Buddha statues and the former royal temple of Wat Prakeo. We then continue to visit the COPE centre. In the afternoon we transfer out to see the Buddha Park. There are approximately 200 religious images dating back over 500 years. Transfer to the airport for flight to Luang Prabang. Upon arrival, pick up and transfer to hotel and check in.
This morning we enjoy a short-guided tour seeing the city’s oldest temple of Wat Sene. We then board a cruise upstream on the Mekong River, which also gives us a panoramic view of the tranquil countryside. In the afternoon, we visit the Khouangsi Waterfall, en route, we visit local villages of Lao ethnic minority groups at Ban Ouay, Hmong Village, Ban Ou, Laoloum Village and Ban Thapene, Khmu Village, then drive to the beautiful Khouangsi Waterfall. We return to Luang Prabang by late afternoon and continue to Ban Xangkhong, a village well known for silk hand weaving and for traditional Saa Paper making.
An optional early start gives you the fantastic opportunity to participate in the daily morning rituals of saffron-clad monks collecting offerings of Alms (ubiquitous sticky rice) from the faithful residents. This tradition is very unique in Laos, being the only Buddhist nation still preserving the procession. This is a real highlight of the tour prior to saying goodbye to this charming city. Transfer to the airport for flight to Hanoi. Upon arrival, pick up and transfer to hotel and check in .
This morning a scenic drive 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 floating fishing village of Vong Vieng. Tonight, there's a Vientnamese cooking demonstration held on the sundeck before an impressive seafood dinner is served.
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 sail back 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’. The motorbike swarming narrow lanes are each named after various guilds of the city’s artisan who established themselves here centuries ago. Our tour of the area is undertaken by a cyclo(rickshaw). A little time will be given to freshen up before boarding the our train (4 berth sleeper cabin) on the ‘Reunification Express’ railway line to Hue.
Arrive to Hue and collection from the train station to your hotel (check in if rooms are available). Breakfast at hotel. Then enjoy a guided tour the ancient walled Citadel containing the former Imperial Palace. Afternoon drive into the countryside to see the impressive Royal Tombs . Enjoy a cruise on the Perfume river at sunset.
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 and visit peaks of the Marble Mountain. Late afternoon we enjoy a quick walking tour of Hoi An: the Ancient Quarter visiting Chua Ong Pagoda, Assembly Hall, 200-year-old Tam Ky house and the Japanese Covered Bridge.
Transfer to the airport for your flight to Saigon. Upon arrival, pick up and transfer to the City where we explore on a guided tour. The tour includes: The Reunification Palace, The War Remnants Museum, The Notre Dame Cathedral and Old Post Office, Dong Khoi Street, the Opera House and the Peoples’ Committee Building.
Transfer directly to Cai Be where you embark on Cai Be Princess boat, to explore the Mekong. The tour will start with the visit of Cai Be colorful floating market, cruising among local sampans coming from all provinces of the delta full of fruits and vegetables. Your sampan will proceed to Dong Hoa Hiep island located between Vinh Long and Cai Be. After a short walk along a beautiful canal, the excursion will end at approx. 3.30pm at Ba Bon Bridge where your own private transportation vehicle will await you. Transfer back to Ho Chi Minh City.
Breakfast and onward departure transfer to the airport.