Phonsavan Holidays

Sample Itinerary - REF SOUTHEAST ASIA 720

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Ho Chi Minh's Notre Dame Basilica Cathedral at night

Day 1: Saigon

Welcome to Saigon, the largest and busiest city in Vietnam. You will be greeted at the airport and transferred to your hotel. The rest of the day is at your leisure. Later we visit the Reunification Palace (also known as Independence Palace), one of the most fascinating sights in Saigon and once the symbol of the South Vietnamese government. Nearby is the famous Notre Dame Cathedral and the War Remnants Museum, where we can learn more about the "American" War as it is referred to in Vietnam.

A street trader in Saigon

Day 2: Saigon

We travel overland through beautiful countryside of Mekong Delta to Vinh Long province. On arrival, we take a boat ride to visit a local orchard and the Cai Be floating market, a famous place in Mekong Delta. Everyday, approximately 400-500 boats filled with fruits, vegetables and other local products anchor along the banks of the River, waiting for traders and customers. Here we can see local people being selling, buying, and exchanging goods from their boats. Leave Cai Be, we visit a local family producing coconut candy, a speciality of the region. Lunch with local delicacies served in a bonsai garden. We then transfer back to Saigon for overnight.

Day 3: Saigon - Hoi An

In the morning, we depart for Cu Chi Tunnel, an underground maze, which became legendary during the 1960s for its role in the Vietnam War. Located about 75 km northwest of Saigon, the tunnels were part of an underground network that zigzagged from the southern tip of the Ho Chi Minh trail near the Cambodian border to the Saigon River. We then fly to Danang, arriving here we drive you to your hotel in Hoi An.

Men sitting on the street in Hoi An in conical hats

Day 4: Hoi An

In the morning, enjoy a guided walking tour through the narrow winding streets of the Ancient Quarter visiting Chua Ong Pagoda, Assembly Hall, 200-year-old Tam Ky house and the Japanese Covered Bridge. The afternoon allow free time to relax and enjoy your tranquil surrounding.

A bridge in Hoi An

Day 5: Hoi An - Hue

This morning, we head in land to the riverside town of Hoi An. The five hour trip hugs the coastline along the South China Sea with breathtaking views particularly as the road winds its way up Hai Van Pass (“Pass of the Clouds”). Arriving into Hue, sit back and relax at the hotel.

The Perfume River in Hue

Day 6: Hue - Hanoi

Your tour begins after breakfast with the ancient walled Citadel containing the former Imperial Palace. Spend the morning wandering through the enclosure before lunch and a trip into the surrounding countryside to see the final resting place of the Emperors at two of the most impressive Royal Tombs. This afternoon, take a scenic boat cruise along the Perfume River. Tonight you will travel on the sleeper train to Hanoi.

A junk sailing past a limestone peak in Halong Bay

Day 7: Hanoi - Halong Bay

Upon arrival in Hanoi, freshen up before driving to Halong City (approx 4 hours), stopping for refreshments en route. At UNESCO Listed Halong Bay limestone peaks and forest clad islets, hidden coves and beautiful beaches await discovery! Board your Junk boat and cruise to the famous islands of Halong Bay and onto Bai Tu Long Bay, stopping to visit a cave and swim in the warm waters. There is a chance to explore more this stunning area by sea kayak. Return to the Junk boat for a tasty dinner and a memorable night in beautiful surrounds.

Halong Bay at sunset

Day 8: Halong Bay

Enjoy the on board the Junk Boat taking in the wonderful scenery and stops for swimming not to mention the incredible food served on board.

A street in the Old Quarter of Hanoi

Day 9: Halong Bay - Hanoi

Wake up to see a spectacular sunrise over the bay! This morning cruise through Bai Tu Long and visit the floating fishing village of Vong Vieng - where you'll gain a fascinating insight into local life. Cruising back to the dock arrive into Halong City around noon. Spend the afternoon exploring the charming city of Hanoi at your leisure.

Day 10: Hanoi - Luang Prabang

This morning we catch a flight to Luang Prabang. Upon arrival you will be greeted by your guide and driver at the airport and transferred to your hotel. Today we walk the 328 steps leading to Phousi Hill. Mount Phousi cuts a distinctive figure in the centre of Luang Prabang skyline. The hill, with spectacular 360 degree views, is a popular as a place to watch the sun rise or set. This evening we wander around the Prabang Night Market, where you can find an array of handmade textiles made by local villagers and the hill tribes of the area.

Day 11: Luang Prabang

This morning we explore Luang Prabang by bicycle to visit the impressive stupa of Wat Visoun, a peaceful temple featuring the much-photographed Watermelon Stupa; Wat Aham, the site of Luang Prabang's most important spirit shrine; Wat Xieng Thong. We then explore the Traditional Arts & Ethnology Center before walking in Phone Say village, and then Ock Pop Tock weaving centre, run by an organization that offers local weavers the chance to earn a decent income with their weaving skills. You also visit Ban Xang Khong known for hand woven silk and traditional Saa Paper making.

Day 12: Luang Prabang

The exploration of Luang Prabang would be not complete without a visit to the National Museum, which is our first stop this morning. Then we drive out through beautiful landscapes of rice fields, hills and villages. You will stop to visit an ethnic minority village. Then at Kuang Si Waterfall, a short walk brings you down to the abrupt waterfall where you will have time for a swim or simply relaxing. Heading back to town we visit Hmong village of Ban Namai and a lowland Lao village of Ban Ou.

Women practising Tai Chi by Hoan Kiem Lake

Day 13: Luang Prabang - Phonsavan

Today you'll be driven over the mountains toward Xieng Khouang, the province best-known for having been heavily bombed during the Indochina War, and famous for the Plain of Jars. Along the 8 hr journey, you will stop at some villages to see the local people, including ethnic minorities such as the Hmong. Arrival in Phonsavanh, the capital of Xiengkhouang province and check into your hotel.

Day 14: Phonsavan

Today we spend time exploring the Plain of Jars, an impressive archaeological site where hundreds of large stone jars are scattered across a plateau. We then visit Muang Khoun, the capital of Xieng Khuang before its total destruction during the war.

Day 15: Phonsavan - Vang Vieng

Today you will travel by road to Vang Vieng. The journey takes you through stunning landscapes of steep terraced fields and hill villages. Today we explore the famous Tham Jang Caves, once used by the local people as a hideout from Chinese invaders.

Day 16: Vang Vieng - Vientiane

This morning we drive to Vientiane and visit the COPE educational centre, a heartbreaking but compelling place that teaches us about Laos’ Hidden War. Later, take a tuk-tuk tour of Vientiane visiting - Wat Sisaket, one of the oldest temples and home to thousands of miniature Buddha statues, and also visiting the former royal temple of Wat Prakeo. En route to Lao’s national icon, That Luang Stupa, we pass the Patuxay Monument, known as Vientiane’s own Arc de Triumph.

Day 17: Vientiane - Siem Reap

After breakfast, say good bye Laos and fly to Siem Reap Cambodia. Arriving here, the day is spent with our expert guide exploring many areas of Angkor Wat, including Angkor Thom, Bayon Temple, Angkor Wat complex.

Day 18: Siem Reap

This morning we set off to visit the Ta Prohm Temple, unlike most other Angkor temples, has been left just it was when rediscovered. We have a picnic lunch here in the center of the complex, which makes for a magical experience. We then spend the afternoon exploring Banteay Srey, one of the most unusual temples of Angkor, Cambodia. This evening we explore the NGO Phare Ponleu Selpak (PPS). PPS was founded in 1994 and is dedicated to taking care of vulnerable and disadvantaged children in the Battambang community.

Day 19: Siem Reap - Phnom Penh

After breakfast visit Beng Mealea Temple, a spectacular jungle temple around 60 Kms drive to the north east of Siem Reap. It is one of the "new" highlights of Cambodia; having only been cleared of mines at the end of 2003. Late afternoon you a head out to the airport for flight to Phnom Penh. Upon arrive guide escort to check in the hotel.

Day 20: Phnom Penh

This morning we explore the Royal Palace, the incredible solid silver-floored Silver Pagoda and the National Museum, a treasure chest of Angkorian and pre-Angkorian artefacts before ending our city tour with a visit to Wat Phnom pagoda and shopping at the Russian market. In the afternoon we visit the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum then walk the steps up a small hill to see Wat Phnom Temple, the birthplace of Phnom Penh.

Day 21: Phnom Penh

Sadly your time with us has come to an end, we will transfer to the airport in time for your flight home.