Vang Vieng Holidays

Sample Itinerary - REF SOUTHEAST ASIA 288

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Day 1: Vientiane

Welcome to Laos! Airport arrival transfer and hotel check in. Spend the afternoon and evening at leisure.

Day 2: Vientiane

After breakfast explore this 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.

Day 3: Vientiane - Vang Vieng

This morning journey north through breathtaking scenery to Vang Vieng, stopping en route at the vibrant Thalat market where local hill tribes come to trade and shop. A stop is also made at 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.

Day 4: Vang Vieng - Luang Prabang

Explore the famous caves of Tham Jang this morning and visit Ban Huai Ngai village before travelling north to the enchanting city of Luang Prabang. Spend the rest of the day at leisure.

Day 5: 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 Prabang, 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.

Day 6: Luang Prabang

Discover more of Luang Prabang’s holy sites with a morning visit to Wat Sene and the magnificent Wat Xieng Thong. Then set sail on a scenic cruise up the Mekong River to visit the incredible Pak Ou caves, which are crammed with Buddha images of all shapes and sizes, stopping at villages en route to sample local rice wine and shop for local handicrafts.

Day 7: Luang Prabang - Hanoi

Today offers free time for you to relax by the swimming pool or further explore Luang Prabang. Elephant rides, cycling and kayaking can be arranged locally. Late this afternoon fly from Luang Prabang to Hanoi in Vietnam.

Women practising Tai Chi by Hoan Kiem Lake

Day 8: Hanoi

Today offers free time for you to explore Vietnam’s gracious capital. Lively markets, beautiful lakes, ancient pagoda’s and the thriving, historic old city, are all easily navigated on foot.

A street in the Old Quarter of Hanoi

Day 9: Hanoi - Halong Bay

A scenic drive early this morning leads us to the stunningly beautiful UNESCO World Heritage Site of Halong Bay. Boarding a traditional wooden junk boat 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.

A junk sailing past a limestone peak in Halong Bay

Day 10: Halong Bay - 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). After time to freshen up we board the overnight ‘Reunification Express’ railway to Hue.

The Perfume River in Hue

Day 11: Hue

Arriving into Hue have a hotel breakfast before embarking on a sightseeing tour of the 19th-century Nguyen empire capital. Visit the Thien Mu Pagoda, home to the oldest monastery in the city, and the Imperial Purple Palace, an exact copy of the Forbidden City in Beijing with its impressive ramparts, formal moats and imperial palace, some of which lay in ruin. In the countryside lies the Royal Tombs of the Nguyen kings, here you’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.

Women trading at Dong Ba Market by Tormod Sandtorv

Day 12: Hue - Hoi An

Today take the scenic Hai Van Pass with stops for a walk along China beach and a visit to the peaks of the Marble Mountain. Reaching the summit of Thuy Son Mountain enter the naturally formed grottoes-cum- Buddhist sanctuaries. Onward 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. On a short walking tour 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

Men sitting on the street in Hoi An in conical hats

Day 13: Hoi An

A bicycle ride into the countryside, leads us to Tra Que village. 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.

A bridge in Hoi An

Day 14: 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.

A local man in front of an ancient building in Hoi An

Day 15: Hoi An - Can Tho

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 its fantastic views while boating along the canals. Taking a sampan from Vinh Long cruise Cai Be’s colourful and lively floating markets and continue downstream through the 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.

A woman rowing a boat to Can Tho floating markets

Day 16: Can Tho - Saigon

Early today visit 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.

Ho Chi Minh's Notre Dame Basilica Cathedral at night

Day 17: 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.

Day 18: Phnom Penh

Today 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. 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. 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.

Day 19: Phnom Penh

Hotel check out and transfer to the airport for your included flight to Siem Reap. After time to freshen up visit the last capital of the Angkorian Empire – Angkor Thom. This monumental fortified city is encircled by a 100m wide moat and famed for the huge statue heads that glare down from every angle. Continue to the monastic complex of Preah Khan before heading to the mother of all temples – Angkor Wat. This breathtaking monument of man’s devotion to his gods is believed to be the largest religious building in the world and contains thousands of wall carvings and extensive bas-reliefs. In the evening enjoy a walking tour of the old market in Siem Reap.

Day 20: Phnom Penh

Early this morning opt to see Angkor Wat bathed in the spectacular golden light of sunrise. Later head out to Banteay Srei temple, considered by many to be the art gallery of Angkor with some of the finest stone carvings in the world. Cut from stone of a pinkish hue, the Hindu temple contains lavishly decorated libraries and stunning reliefs of divinities. The temple expedition continues with visits to Banteay Samre, East Mebon, Pre Rup, Preah Khan, Banteay Kdei and the atmospheric Ta Prohm. Swallowed by the jungle, vast muscular roots envelop the crumbling towers and walls whilst the trees’ foliage dapples the temple in shadow.

Day 21: Phnom Penh

This morning visit the Roluos group of temples (Bakong, Lolei and Preak Ko), the earliest large and permanent temples built by the Khmers. The monuments mark the dawn of Khmer classical art, dating from the late 9th century, with elaborate inscriptions in the ancient Hindu language of Sanskrit. Later visit the floating village of Kompong Pluk. Houses built on soaring stilts hover over the Tonle Sap Lake whilst nearby, the petrified trees of a flooded forest are revealed whenever the water level drops. Afternoon and evening at leisure.

Day 22: Phnom Penh

Today marks the end of our memorable journey. Lap up the hotel facilities this morning before hotel check out and included departure transfer to the airport.