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Welcome to Hanoi! You will be met at the airport for transfer to your hotel in Hanoi. The rest of the day is free. Renowned as the ‘Paris of the East’, Hanoi is one of Asia’s most fascinating cities. Rich in culture and history, this diverse city draws on its influences from both French and Chinese culture. In the evening, enjoy dinner before attending a performance of a traditional theater art unique to Vietnam, Water Puppetry.
In the morning, commence your exploration of Hanoi by visiting the Temple of Literature, Vietnam’s first university dating to 1070. The excursion continues on to Ho Chi Minh’s humble “stilt house” before visiting the French colonial Governor’s Palace and the 11th century One-Pillar Pagoda. Afterwards, there is a 30min drive to Van Giang Village to attend a cooking demonstration given by a local family. After the cooking demonstration, join the Vietnamese family in their home for a delicious lunch before driving back to Hanoi for a fascinating Cyclo ride to explore the bustling Old Quarter and the 36 “Guild streets”. The evening is free.
Depart in the morning for the scenic three-hour drive through the countryside to Ha Long Bay, a natural wonder with thousands of islands rising out of the water. On arrival, embark on one of the vessels for an overnight cruise through the 3,000 limestone islands, many punctuated by caves and grottoes. Savor a delicious Vietnamese buffet lunch as the cruise heads to Bai Tu Long Bay passing the towns of Hon Gai and Cam Pha, Oan Lagoon, Mat Quy (Monster Head) and Am Tich (Teapot) Islets. Take a row boat to visit the Vung Vieng fishing village. Enjoy a range of fantastic recreation or relaxation activities onboard: a cooking demonstration, traditional massage, swimming, kayaking etc.
Start the day with calming Tai Chi on the Sundeck while complimentary tea & coffee are served. The cruise weighs anchor to cruise through the Bay passing beautiful spots like Trong (Drum), Trinh Nu (Virgin) and Me Cung Caves, Coc Ngoi (Toad) Islet, etc. Explore the Surprise Cave (Sung Sot). A buffet brunch is served onboard. The vessel cruises leisurely back to Ha Long harbor. From Ha Long Bay, transfer to Hanoi airport for the short flight down to Hue. On arrival, you will be met at the airport for the transfer to your hotel.
In the morning, take a boat ride along the romantic Perfume River. Stop off at the Thien Mu Pagoda on the banks of the river to see the 7-storey Stupa. Continue on to visit the mausoleum of Emperor Minh Mang (1791-1841), built between 1841 and 1843. The Emperor’s mausoleum complex consists of 40 constructions (palaces, temples, pavilions etc.) designed on a symmetrical axis. Lunch is a special vegetarian meal with the nuns of Dong Thuyen Pagoda. In the afternoon, visit the Imperial Citadel and Forbidden City, created in the 19th century for the Emperors of the Nguyen Dynasty. Enjoy some “retail therapy” at Dong Ba Market before transferring back to the hotel.
After breakfast at the hotel, visit the mausoleums of the Emperors Tu Duc (1829-1883) and Khai Dinh (1885-1925). On the way down to Danang, stop off for a refreshment break at Lang Co beach, one of the World’s most beautiful bays. Continue on to Danang to visit the Cham Museum. Afterwards, head to the World Cultural Heritage Site of Hoi An Ancient Town. Check-in to your hotel. Enjoy some free time on a walking tour through the narrow lanes of the town, lined with century-old buildings and illuminated at night by hundreds of colorful lanterns. Discover the traditional shop-houses and temples, and the iconic Japanese Covered Bridge.
In the morning, take a half-day excursion to My Son Sanctuary. My Son is s religious site dating back to the Kingdom of Champa, and also a burial place of Cham royals and national heroes. The My Son temple complex is one of the foremost remaining examples of Hindu influence in South East Asia and is the most prominent heritage site of this nature in Vietnam. Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant. This afternoon is free in Hoi An Ancient town. For something different, you can join in a fun cooking class, head to the nearby Cua Dai beach or observe local life on a sunset cruise on the peaceful Thu Bon River (book/pay locally for optionals).
In the morning, transfer to Danang airport for the flight to Saigon, Vietnam’s vibrant southern metropolis. In the afternoon, discover the city’s most attractive sites, taking in the Notre Dame Cathedral and the Central Post Office before ending the day with a visit to Chinatown. In the evening, have dinner at local restaurant
In the morning, travel overland into the beautiful countryside of the northeastern Mekong Delta and Vinh Long province. On arrival, take a boat ride to visit a local orchard and the famous Cai Be floating market. Approximately 400-500 boats loaded to the gunnels with fruit, vegetables and other local produce anchor or moor along the banks of the river every day waiting to offload their goods to wholesale traders or local customers. Leaving Cai Be, visit a local family producing coconut candy, a regional delicacy. After a lunch of local delights, drive on to Can Tho, the hub of the Mekong Delta and its largest city.
After breakfast, cruise some of the narrow and picturesque canals and waterways by small boat. Visit the Cai Rang-Phong Dien floating market with its hordes of small vendor boats. Take in the sultry scenery and witness the daily activities of the locals who live along these Mekong canals. After lunch, drive back to Saigon. Transfer to the airport for onward flight to Vientiane, upon arrival you will be bet and transferred to your hotel.
After breakfast we explore the charming and laid-back capital of Laos with a city tour. We visit the oldest Buddhist monastery temple in the country - Wat Si Saket – and the former royal temple of Haw Pha Kaeo, built to house the famed Emerald Buddha. We also stop to view the imposing Patuxay monument - Vientiane’s own Arc de Triomphe. Later in the afternoon enjoy time exploring the hundreds of Hindu and Buddhist sculptures scattered throughout Buddha Park. End the day with a sunset dinner besides the Mekong River.
We leave the capital early and journey north through lush countryside to Vang Vieng. Along the way we will stop at the colourful market of Thalat, where local hill tribes come to trade and shop and also visit the archaeological site of Vang Xang that dates back to the 11th century. Arriving at Vang Vieng, nestled on the banks of the Nam Song River is our delightfully rustic and rural hotel. The remainder of the day offers free time, perhaps opt to explore the local caves, take a bicycle ride through the surrounding countryside or go tubing along the river.
This morning we explore the famous caves of Tham Jang once used by the local people as a hideout during Chinese invasions. We observe the lifestyles of the local people at Ban Huai Ngai village before making our way further north to the UNESCO World Heritage listed city of 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. After we commence our sightseeing tour of this enchanting city, starting with a visit to the oldest temple in Luang Prabang, Wat Visoun, and the banyan tree graced grounds of Wat Aham, we stop at the Ock Pop Tok weaving centre. Later we marvel at the former Royal Palace, now a national museum and home to gilded rooms and Buddha artifacts. In the afternoon we stop at ethnic minority villages before arriving at the beautiful Khouangsi waterfall. Dip in the turquoise pools or take a walk along the forest trails. Tonight there is the option to learn to cook tasty local cuisine at a local restaurant.
Discover more of Luang Prabang’s holy sites with a morning visit to Wat Sene and the magnificent Wat Xieng Thong. Sit back and enjoy the views of tranquil countryside as we cruise upstream on the Mekong River to reach the mysterious Pak Ou caves. Crammed with Buddha images of all shapes and sizes, these two caves stand in the lower part of a limestone cliff overlooking the river. Along the way sample local rice wine at the village of Ban Xanghai and shop for local handicrafts at the village of Ban Phanom, known for its hand weaving.
Spend the morning further exploring this delightful city before hotel check out and included departure transfer ot the airport.