The Mekong Delta Holidays

Sample Itinerary - REF SOUTHEAST ASIA 710

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Women practising Tai Chi by Hoan Kiem Lake

Day 1: Hanoi

Welcome to Hanoi! Airport to hotel arrival transfer.

The Huc Bridge

Day 2: Hanoi

This morning enjoy a half day city tour of Hanoi’s essential sites. Sightseeing includes the Museum of Ethnology, which is widely acknowledged as the best in the country, containing an extensive display of life-size structures dedicated to Vietnam’s 54 ethnic minority peoples. Also visit Ngoc Son Temple on Hoan Kiem Lake in the heart of the city - the temple has a fascinating history dating back to the 13th century. Then enjoy a one-hour cyclo tour through the narrow, chaotic streets of the Old Quarter - a must for any visitor to Hanoi! Rest of the day is free.

A street in the Old Quarter of Hanoi

Day 3: Hanoi - Halong Bay

Early this morning we drive to the strikingly beautiful UNESCO World Heritage Site of Halong Bay, we board our traditional wooden junk boat and cruise the emerald waters studded with a thousand or so karst limestone islands. 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 Vietnamese cooking demonstration held on the sun deck before an impressive seafood dinner is served.

A junk sailing past a limestone peak in Halong Bay

Day 4: Halong Bay - Hue

Start the day with Tai Chi on the sundeck or a traditional massage. After exploring a lofty grotto hidden beneath towering cliffs we return to Hanoi. Arriving to Hanoi mid afternoon an hour or so is spent exploring the labyrinth of streets, known as the ‘36 streets of the old quarter’. Each of the narrow lanes are named after various guilds of the city’s artisan who established themselves here centuries ago. Tonight we board the overnight ‘Reunification Express’ railway line to Hue - 2 berth cabin.

The Perfume River in Hue

Day 5: Hue

Arriving to Hue enjoy 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 impressive ramparts, formal moats and imperial palaces, some of which lay in ruin. Later drive into the countryside to see the elaborate mausoleums of the Nguyen kings. As the sun sets opt for a cruise in a long boat along the gentle Perfume River or enjoy some retail therapy at the ever-lively Dong Ba Market, a minute's walk from our hotel.

Women trading at Dong Ba Market by Tormod Sandtorv

Day 6: Hue - Hoi An

Today take the scenic Hai Van Pass (Road of the Ocean Clouds), which offers magnificent views of beaches to one side and lush hills to the other. Stops are made at China Beach and the Buddhist sanctuaries of Thuy Son Mountain on the way. Arrive at Hoi An. With its cobbled streets, tiny shop houses and laid back restaurants and bars is a perfect place to relax. On a short walking tour of the enchanting historical town 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. Overnight - Deluxe Garden room at the Ancient House Riverside

Men sitting on the street in Hoi An in conical hats

Day 7: Hoi An

On a bicycle ride to the local village of Tra Que discover age old farming practices and learn about traditional medicine. It’s a hands on experience today where you’ll assist with tending the fields and gardens and cooking lunch. Overnight - Deluxe Garden room at the Ancient House Riverside

A bridge in Hoi An

Day 8: Hoi An

Enjoy a free day in Hoi An. Relax by the beach or pool, or take a day trip to the Cham Kingdom site at My Son or My Lai where the massacre of civilians took place at the hands of Charlie Company during the Vietnam War. Overnight - Deluxe Garden room at the Ancient House Riverside

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

Day 9: Hoi An - Saigon

Fly to Saigon and check into the hotel. Enjoy a walking tour of the city visit the Notre Dame Cathedral, Old Post office and the War Remnants Museum. Evening at leisure.

A woman rowing a boat to Can Tho floating markets

Day 10: Saigon - The Mekong Delta

Early morning we head to Cai Be and embark Le Cochinchine cruise. 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. We will cruise to Tra On, through the maze of waterways visiting cottage industries along the way. (OVERNIGHT Le Cochinchine cruise)

Day 11: The Mekong Delta - Saigon

Enjoy cruising from Tra On to Can Tho today we stop to explore Cairang, one of the most bustling floating markets in Mekong. We go for a walk along the canals and the palm-shaded creek to see local houses and green orchards, ship building yards, rural and water activities in full swing. Disembarking we return to Saigon and check into your hotel.

Ho Chi Minh's Notre Dame Basilica Cathedral at night

Day 12: Saigon

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. Rest of the day is free.

A street trader in Saigon

Day 13: Saigon - Siem Reap

Free day until we transfer you to the airport for the flight to Siem Reap. On arrival we will check you into the hotel.

Day 14: Siem Reap

Time to 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 15: Siem Reap

Today we head tour to visit huge Tonle Sap Lake, the largest freshwater lake in south-east Asia and lifeblood of Cambodia. In the wet season, the Lake swells to 12,000 km² but during the dry season, it shrinks to a fraction of that size. A short drive (15km) south of Siem Reap is followed by a boat tour of the floating villages and surrounding wildlife.

Day 16: Siem Reap - Phnom Penh

Transfer to the airport for flight to Phnom Penh. Upon arrival, pick up and transfer to hotel. Rest of the day at leisure.

Day 17: 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 18: Phnom Penh

This morning we head out to Phnom Chisor temple, dating back to the 11th Century. Climb the 500 steps to the top and enjoy fabulous views over the surrounding countryside. Continue south to the quiet town of Takeo, where we board a speedboat for an exhilarating journey along the 19th century canal, through the rice paddies. Visit the intimate, intriguing museum at Angkor Borei and enjoy a picnic in the park. Later, explore the Pre-Angkorian temple of Phnom Da, dating from the Chenla period (8th century), before returning to Phnom Penh.

Day 19: Phnom Penh

Today marks the end of our memorable journey. We will transfer you to the airport in time for your departure flight.