The Mekong Delta Holidays

Sample Itinerary - REF SOUTHEAST ASIA 567

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Women practising Tai Chi by Hoan Kiem Lake

Day 1: Hanoi

Xin Chao! Welcome to Hanoi, one of Asia’s most enchanting cities, full of culture and history. You will be met at Noi Bai airport by our local guide and learn a bit about this fascinating country on the way to your hotel.

A street in the Old Quarter of Hanoi

Day 2: Hanoi

Today we commence our exploration of Hanoi by visiting the Ho Chi Minh complex, starting at the President’s Mausoleum. We continue to his humble “house on stilts”, see the French colonial Presidential Palace and the 11th century One-Pillar Pagoda. Afterwards we visit the Temple of Literature, the first Vietnam University dating to 1070. After lunch we go to the Museum of Ethnology, which is an excellent museum containing the ethnic costumes of the various minorities of Veitnam, as well as relics, tools and even full size replicas of their homes and buildings. We then take a Cyclo tour through the Old Quarter and enjoy a walk around the Hoan Kiem Lake before attending a famous Water Puppet show.

A junk sailing past a limestone peak in Halong Bay

Day 3: Hanoi - Halong Bay

Early this morning journey north to Halong Bay (approx 4 hours drive), stopping for refreshments en route. UNESCO-listed Halong Bay is undoubtedly one of Vietnam's most spectacular regions. Thousands of karst limestone and jungle covered peaks and isles rise dramatically out of the emerald waters of the bay. Spend the day cruising around the islands onboard a traditional Junk boat, stopping to explore caves and coves and to swim in the emerald waters. There is also the option to Kayak. Enjoy a scrumptious dinner and overnight onboard.

Halong Bay at sunset

Day 4: Halong Bay - Hue

Enjoy fresh air and the gentle breeze of the bay this morning as you relax onboard the Junk. Cruise through Bai Tu Long and visit the floating fishing village of Vong Vieng where you can gain a fascinating insight into the daily life of the local people before disembarking at Halong Bay dock around noon. Transfer back to Hanoi airport for your flight to Hue in central Vietnam. Upon arrival in Hue, you are met and transferred to your hotel.

The Perfume River in Hue

Day 5: Hue

Enjoy a full day tour of Hue including a boat trip on Perfume River (Huong River) to Thien Mu Pagoda and Minh Mang tomb. Thien Mu Pagoda is an octagonal tower of seven tiers that rises majestically over the Perfume River. Minh Mang tomb is perhaps the most majestic of all Hue’s tombs. This tomb is well known for its harmonious blend of architecture and natural landscape, and it's the ideal location for a picnic lunch. After lunch venture to Emperor Tu Duc and Khai Dinh’s tomb.

Women trading at Dong Ba Market by Tormod Sandtorv

Day 6: Hue - Hoi An

This morning journey overland to Hoi An via spectacular Cloudy Pass and stop in Danang to visit the Cham Museum, once centre of the ancient Cham civilization. UNESCO-listed Hoi An is a former merchant trading post, famed for its beautifully preserved Chinese, Japanese and European architecture. Picturesque Hoi An has managed to retain its traditional character and charm, with its cobbled streets, markets and row upon row of tailors shops. This afternoon, enjoy a walking tour around the cobbled streets of this ancient town, which was once one of the busiest trading ports in Asia.

Men sitting on the street in Hoi An in conical hats

Day 7: Hoi An

This morning take a bike downtown and stop at Hoi An’s colourful central market. Here you will have the opportunity to interact with the local sellers and learn about the ingredients to be used in your cooking lesson later today - make sure your camera is handy. We then bike to Tra Que vegetable village. Enjoy a welcome drink and walk through the vegetable gardens where local farmers work on their fields using the traditional methods of hundreds of years ago - no electrical machinery here. You'll then learn the traditional ways of preparing and cooking Vietnamese food and enjoy what you've prepared.

A bridge in Hoi An

Day 8: Hoi An - Nha Trang

Enjoy the day free at leisure in Hoi An - perhaps visit a local tailor for a perfect suit. Later this afternoon we tranfer you to the airport for the flight to Nha Trang. Upon arrival, you will be met and transferred to hotel and free for the rest of the day.

Day 9: Nha Trang

Spend today at leisure in Nha Trang. The resort is ideal for scuba diving, snorkelling or simply relaxing on the sandy beach. Sample some of the delicious seafood in some of the many restaurants and perhaps enjoy a spot of retail therapy at Cho Dam Market.

Day 10: Nha Trang - Saigon

This morning we transfer you to the airport for your flight to Saigon. Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon) is Vietnam's most lively, modern and cosmopolitan city. This afternoon enjoy an orientation tour of the city, visiting the former Presidential Palace which is now preserved as a museum, and the History Museum. Then continue to Notre Dame, an impressive neo-Romanesque Cathedral, Hotel D’ville and Dong Khoi Street, formerly the centre of haute couture is Saigon. This evening consider sampling some of Ho Chi Minh's acclaimed gourmet restaurants and bars.

Ho Chi Minh's Notre Dame Basilica Cathedral at night

Day 11: Saigon

It's an early start this morning as we head out on a great day trip to see a mixture of culture and history. A morning excursion takes you to the Cao Dai Temple in Tay Ninh, a colourful temple combining Buddhism, Taoism, Confucianism, Christianity and Islam. The trip is combined with a visit to the amazing Cu Chi Tunnels where we learn first hand how the Viet Cong survived the extraordinary underground existence during the Vietnam war.

A street trader in Saigon

Day 12: Saigon - The Mekong Delta

This morning we transfer to Cai Be to board a Basaac boat. Enjoy a welcome drink and meet the crew. As the vessel cruises to Cho Lach on the Tien Giang river, enjoy lunch before visiting a village on the banks of river Mang Thit. This is a great opportunity to appreciate the way of life and hospitality of the local inhabitants with time to walk amongst local orchards and rice fields. The remainder of the day is spent back on board with dinner served as the ship continues downstream to anchor close to the little Tra On floating market for the night.

Day 13: The Mekong Delta - Chau Doc

This morning the Basaac boat heads back to Cai Be where you'll disembark and transfer onto a smaller boat for a visit to Cai Rang floating market. We'll then transfer to Chau Doc for the night in preparation for the early morning boat ride to Cambodia tomorrow.

Day 14: Chau Doc - Phnom Penh

We start early today as the boat leaves Chau Doc at 07:30am for its journey to Phnom Penh, the capital of neighbouring Cambodia. Arriving around noon you'll be met by our local representative and transferred to your hotel where the remainder of the day can be spent at leisure.

Day 15: Phnom Penh

Our first site to visit today is the Royal Palace and the incredible solid silver-floored Silver Pagoda and home to the biggest golden Buddha statue. We'll also visit the National Museum, a treasure chest of Angkorian and pre-Angkorian artefacts. Next proceed to the 15th century Wat Phnom pagoda sat on a small hill crowned. Our last destination of the day is Toul Sleng which was once Tuol Svay Prey High School but now a frightening reminder of the horrors of the Pol Pot regime. The school was used as a torture chamber and it was believed that 16,000 people died here. In the evening, enjoy an hour's boat cruise on the Mekong River to see the riverbanks come to life at night.

Day 16: Phnom Penh - Siem Reap

Hotel check out and transfer to the airport for your included flight to Siem Reap. After time to freshen up we visit the last capital of the Angkorian Empire – Angkor Thom. This monumental fortified city is encircled by a 100m wide moat and is famed for the huge statue heads that glare down from every angle. We 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 we enjoy a walking tour of the old market.

Day 17: Siem Reap

Today we head to Banteay Srey, built largely of red sandstone and covered with elaborate and deeply carved decoration. En route, we stop at Banteay Samre. Ta Prohm Temple is the highlight of the day. Unlike most of the other Angkor temples, Ta Prohm has been left just it was founded - the photogenic and atmospheric combination of trees growing out of the ruins and the jungle surroundings have made it one of Angkor's most popular temples with visitors. We'll also visit Banteay Kdei, a sprawling, largely unrestored, monastic complex. If time permits, we take time to visit a local orphanage centre and support poor students by providing some study equipment.

Day 18: Siem Reap

This morning we 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 19: Siem Reap

Today marks the end of your incredible adventure with On the Go Tours in SE Asia. After breakfast and hotel check out we will transfer you to the airport in time for your onward departure flight.