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Arrival transfers for Brian and Barbara Mulhern, Maureen Coldicott and Audrey Heal.
Arrival transfer for Janet Prosser, Florence Kendall, Lauranan and Kenneth Unklesbay, Sandy and Mary MacDonald.
Today we start your touring in Vietnam. Known as the ‘Paris of the Orient’, Hanoi is the charming capital and cultural heart of Vietnam. Enjoy at day at leisure before enjoying a traditional water puppet show this evening.
This morning head to Hoan Kiem Lake which is the very heart of the city. Residents of Hanoi congregate around the lake early each morning to partake their excercise. You can join in, before enjoying a traditional Vietnamese breakfast (Pho). This half day cooking tour in Hanoi will provide you with a hands-on lesson on how to shop for and cook authentic Vietnamese food. At midday sit down and enjoy your creations and receive recipes cards to take home. Later enjoy a guided city tour of Hanoi. This includes the Museum of Ethnology and the Temple of Literature. This evening, approx 9pm, board an overnight express sleeper train from Hanoi to the border town of Lao Cai.
The train pulls into Lao Cai at approximately 6.00am this morning and we transfer to Sapa for breakfast. Located 1500m above sea level, Sapa is a former French hill station, nestled in the rugged Tonkinese Alps and surrounded by lush valleys and verdant rice paddy fields. This morning take a light trek to the hill tribe villages of Cat Cat, Ta Van and Cau May. Walking to the villages nestled in the valley below Sapa, you meet some of the local ethnic minority people on their way to and from Sapa. These minority people, including the Red Zao, Hmong and Tay people, walk to Sapa to trade at the markets. Tonight you spend the night at the hotel in Sapa town.
Start your morning with a hike to a beautiful waterfall before continuing on to a picturesque Red Dao village. Red Dao women wear giant red scarves around their heads and their clothing is embellished with colourful red embroidery and coins. Spend the afternoon at leisure in Sapa before returning to Lao Cai to board the overnight train back to Hanoi. Overnight - Sleeper Train (4 berth shared cabin).
Upon arrival in Hanoi, you have time to 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 in time for lunch 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 seafood dinner and a memorable night in beautiful surrounds.
Wake up to see a spectacular sunrise over the bay! This morning cruise through Bai Tu Long and visit the floating fishing village of Vung Vieng - where you'll gain a fascinating insight into local life. Enjoy a buffet Brunch on board. Cruising back to the dock arrive into Halong City around noon then transfer back to Hanoi airport for your flight to Da Nang. Upon arrival in Da Nang, you will be met and transferred to your hotel in Hue (approx. 2 hours). Remarks: Cruise itinerary is subject to change depending on weather, tidal conditions.
Hue was the Vietnamese capital during the Nguyen Dynasty 1802-1945 and ruins of the city’s regal past can still be seen inside the Citadel and the Imperial City. Today we will visit the ancient Imperial Citadel, begun in 1805 and the greatest legacy of the Nguyen emperors. Continuing with boat trip on Perfume River to visit Thien Mu pagoda. After lunch, we visit the Tombs of King Tu Duc and King Khai Dinh. Tu Duc had the longest reign of any Nguyen monarch from 1848 to 1883 and his tomb is the best preserved of all of the Nguyen monarchs' tombs. Finally, we will visit Dong Ba Market and where you have free time for exploring and shopping.
This morning, we continue south 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”). En route there is the option to stop at China beach to take a walk. In the late afternoon, enjoy a 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. Some buildings in the narrow streets have remained unchanged for more than a century and much of the town is heritage-listed.
Free day at leisure. You may try having clothes made by one of the expert, inexpensive tailors that Hoi An is famous for. In the evening, you might want to stroll Hoi An's romantic, silk latern lit streets and dine in one of its fantastic riverside restaurants.
Today, we start with a leisurely bicycle ride to a local farm in Tra Que village. Enjoy an introduction to the history of the village, the cultivation of the vegetables as well as discovering about the use of vegetables in traditional Vietnamese medicine. You will take a walk around the vegetable garden and join the farmers in preparing the land and fertilizing it with seaweed from the local lake. The rest of today is free at your leisure.
Free day. In the afternoon transfer to the airport in Danang and fly to Da Lat. Upon arrival, you will be met and transferred to your hotel.
Drive to Tuyen Lam lake where we take a boat cruise along the lake to the Fairy Rock, a picnic recreational area. There are various activities available today including hiking up the hill, fishing, rowing small wooden boats and sightseeing the beautiful scenery of Tuyen Lam Lake. After lunch, enjoy a 5 km elephant ride to the camp of Mount Elephant. On the way we visit the small ethnic village of Da ra Hoa. Here you have free time to explore the beauty natural jungles surroundings. For dinner, you have the option to sit around a bonfire to taste the regional specialities: drinking "Can" wine with roasted meat (payable locally).
Enjoy the morning fresh air during your breakfast and free time before transferring to the airport for your flight to Saigon.
Early morning transfer to Cai Be where you board the Cai Be Princess for your cruise on the Mekong. First stop is the colourful floating market at Cai Be. Then visit the local home factories to discover traditional rice paste making, rice pop corn, coco candies, and longans drying processing. The cruise continues along the Mekong canals to Dong Hoa Hiep Island where you can observe the typical Mekong delta rural life. Lunch awaits you at Le Longanier restaurant, a superb Indochina style feast before a short walk along the beautiful canal and returning to Ho Chi Minh City. (Sandy will be transferred to the airport this evening).
Today take a morning excursion to the Cu Chi Tunnels, north west of the city. This immense network of connecting underground tunnels, were used by the Viet Cong and one of the famous battle grounds in the Vietnam War. Explore the maze of tunnels, accompanied by the guide. Also on display are various mantraps and the remains of an American tank as well as numerous bomb craters made by 500-pound bombs from B52 bombers. Returning to Ho Chi Minh City at around 2pm, we stop for a lunch break before visiting some of the city's major attractions including the Reunification Palace, Notre Dame Cathedral and the War Remnants Museum.
Free Day. (Janet transferred to the airport this morning. Jeanette with be sharing with Mary for the remainder of the trip).
After breakfast and hotel check out, Jeanette, Brian, Barbara, Maureen, Audrey, Nan, Kenneth and Mary transfer to the airport for your flights to Siem Reap where you meet the local guide and driver. Today we visit Angkor Thom, a 3km two walled and moated royal city. Before lunch, we visit Preah Khan, a huge and highly explorable monastic complex full of carvings, passages and photo opportunities. This afternoon, we visit the visually, architecturally and artistically breathtaking Angkor Wat. It is a massive three-tiered pyramid crowned by five lotus-like towers rising 65 meters from ground level. This evening enjoy a walking tour of the Old market.
We drive out off Siem Reap to Banteay Srei temple. Built at a time when the Khmer Empire was gaining significant power and territory, the temple was constructed by a Brahmin counselor under a powerful king, Rajendravarman and later under Jayavarman V. On the way back, visit Banteay Samre, East Mebon, Pre Rup and Ta Prohm. This quiet, sprawling monastic complex is only partially cleared of jungle overgrowth. Intentionally left partially unrestored, massive fig and silk-cotton trees grow from the towers and corridors offering some of the best ‘tree-in-temple’ photo opportunities at Angkor.
We spend final day in Siem Reap to visit Rolous Group temple (Bakong, Lolei, Preak Ko). The afternoon is at leisure before your transfer to the airport for departure flights.