This evening you’ll be taken to the theater where the ancient and unique art form of water puppetry is enacted. The ‘stage’ is a pool of water in which the hidden puppeteer must stand (waist deep!) to skillfully maneuver the dancing puppets attached to bamboo poles on its surface. Each short skit in the performance relates to the daily life of the people, and featured are scenes such as ‘Returning from School After graduation’ and ‘Rearing ducks and chasing foxes’.
Breakfast, Lunch / Sofitel or Movenpick hotel
Day 2: HANOI
After breakfast at the hotel, depart with your guide for a private city tour of Hanoi.
Combine a morning tour of Ba Dinh Square including Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum, Museum and cottage, with an afternoon Hanoi highlights tour for a thorough exploration of this “Paris of the Orient”. Lunch is included at one of Hanoi’s superb local restaurants.
Visit Ba Dinh Square, where silent sentries guard the marble and granite mausoleum where Ho Chi Minh lies in state. See the simple cottage where Uncle Ho lived and worked. Visit the Ho Chi Minh Museum , a tribute in abstract form to the life of the father of the country and the evolution of Vietnamese independence.
You will also see the One Pillar Pagoda, and hear the legend of its construction, born from the love of an emperor in the 11th century. Enjoy an orientation of the tree-lined streets of Hanoi, with its French colonial architecture. including the recently restored Opera House. Pass by Hoan Kiem Lake, also known as Lake of the Restored Sword from the legend that surrounds it, en route to the Temple of Literature. Built in 1070 and then dedicated to Confucius, and later becoming Vietnam’s first university, it is a serene retreat from the bust streets outside.
After lunch, you’ll visit the interesting Museum of Ethnology, arguably the most informative museum in the country. Walk through an outstanding collection and array of artifacts and displays depicting life in the ethnic mountain areas of the country, and the traditions of the 54 different ethnic groups.
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner at Wild Ric / Sofitel or Movenpick hotel
Day 3: HANOI – HALONG BAY
9.00am Depart Hanoi in the morning for about 3.5 hours drive directly to Halong – the most favorite Vietnam travel destinations in Quang Ninh province. Upon arrival, get onboard of your private boat and start your cruise. While the junk passes many islets, rocks, caves, floating villages and beaches on Ha Long bay, your lunch will be served on board with fresh sea food. After lunch, we cruise to the inside of magical landscape of Dinh Huong island, Ga Choi Island, Dog Island, Binh Phong mountain, Sung Sot Cave, Round over Titov Beach. Enjoy sunset on the top of the Titov mountain or you take a bamboo row boat to discover a water tunnels with many coral reefs in a scenic lagoon. Continue to cruise to a secluded lagoon to anchor for overnight. Dinner is served onboard. After dinner, relax on deck, drink service is available onboard (at your own expenses)
Overnight on board of Bhaya Cruise (Deluxe private cabin with air-conditioner)
Breakfast, lunch, dinner
Day 4: HALONG – HANOI
Before breakfast, you may have an opportunity to view the sunrise over the bay. After breakfast, we cruise to the Bai Tho Mountain in the other beautiful Bai Tu Long Bay and we cruise back to the Halong dock. Disembark the boat for the drive back to your hotel in Hanoi. Lunch at Halong city or at local restaurant en-route
Breakfast, lunch / Sofitel or Movenpick hotel, Hanoi
Day 5: HANOI – Full day tour to Duong with lunch at local house
Depart Hanoi for a 1.5 hour drive to Duong Lam village, one of the few heritage protected villages in Vietnam . On arrival, a short walk brings us to the village communal house the village pagoda – fine examples of Northern Vietnam architecture. Then we journey an hour on a bicycle through the village and its never ending rice fields. From the small alleys of the old tow to the green of rice paddies surrounding the village, we have chance to appreciate the beauty in the simple life of Vietnamese farmer.
The bike ride brings you to Mia Pagoda, where tales tell of a Vietnamese Queen in 17th century and home to 287 Buddhist statues, more than any other pagoda in the country. The pagoda was built during the Tran Dynasty (1225-1406) and still preserves many ancient artifacts. Mia Pagoda is also initially called Sung Nghiem Tu.
Several years later, Lady Nguyen Thi Dong, also called Lady Mia, had the pagoda rebuilt and renamed. The pagoda has 287 statues of all sizes, among which are famous sculptures such as the statue of Buddha in the Himalayas and the statues of the Eight Vajra Deities. The largest one is the sculpture of Bat Bo Kim Cang located in the upper sanctuary. The pagoda preserves many ancient artifacts such as the great red bell made in 1743, the bronze gong (1846), and the Lady Mia stone tables, set up in 1632. After returning from our ride, we visit a 300 year old traditional house, where a friendly host will invite you to join in for lunch. After lunch, return to Hanoi airport to catch your flight to Hue. Upon arrival, transfer to your hotel for check-in.
Visitors to Hue are often taken aback to discover that this sleepy provincial town was once the religious, economic and cultural epicenter of Vietnam, the mighty Imperial headquarters, and the political capital of the country until 1945. That this glorious architectural masterpiece of a city should have been reduced almost completely to rubble as a result of war is indeed a tragedy in the truest sense of the word.
Thirteen Nguyen Dynasty Emperors ruled Vietnam from Hue. They built a fortress around the ancient city, the huge Imperial Citadel, with walls 30 feet thick, modeled on Beijing's Forbidden City. Hue today has regained its royal demeanor and is a calm, peaceful and relaxed place to visit. The remaining French colonial garden houses and villas, the quiet streets, the riverbanks, the outlying tombs and pagodas that escaped damage all give Hue a unique atmosphere of tranquility.
Breakfast, Lunch / Overnight: Hue
Day 06: HUE
Enjoy a leisurely boat ride down the Perfume River, stopping first at the iconic Thien Mu Pagoda, an elegant seven-tiered octagonal tower which has become Hue’s most widely recognized monument. Continue cruising into the countryside to the Imperial Tomb of Minh Mang, a majestic complex of courtyards, pavilions and temples in a beautiful, natural setting.
Then, a visit to the Dong Ba Market- a local market near the Imperial City, before visiting the Imperial City itself. Located in the heart of Hue, the Imperial City is a vast complex built in the early 19th century and modeled after the Forbidden City in Beijing. The original walls stretched for 10km and were surrounded by a wide moat. Today, most of the buildings have been destroyed during the Vietnam War, but the monuments that remain provide a fascinating glimpse into the court life of the Nguyen Dynasty.
Approaching the city, pass the striking Flag Tower, where a giant Vietnamese flag waves overhead, to the imposing Ngo Mon gate, the main entrance to the Imperial enclosure. Enter into an area of spacious courtyards and serene lotus ponds, and visit Dien Tho Palace, where the Queen Mother lived and Thai Hoa Palace, the magnificently decorated reception hall, the Halls of the Mandarins, and the original Nine Dynastic Urns, among other sites.
Breakfast / Overnight: Hue
Day 07: HUE – HOI AN
Today we depart by vehicle from Hue to Hoi An with sightseeing in Danang. Halfway between Danang and Hue lies the dramatic Hai Van Pass, the high dividing line between the climate zones of North and South Vietnam. As you continue southwards you’ll pass Lang Co, a lovely stretch of beach curving outwards between a clear blue lagoon and the South China Sea, and the large coastal city of Danang before arriving in Hue.
Arriving in Danang, tour the Cham Museum, an elegant colonial building which now houses the finest collection of Cham sculpture in the world, and briefly pass China Beach, a famous spot for American soldiers during the Vietnam War. Continue south to Hoi An, stopping en route to visit the Marble Mountains, five stone hillocks, once islands, that now rise sharply from the surrounding ricefields. Riddled with caves and shrines, they are said to each represent one of the five elements of the universe.
Victoria Hoi An Beach Resort is situated 3 miles (5 km) from the town of Hoi An, along a stretch of white sand beach. Recalling Hoi An’s history and mix of cultures, Victoria Hoi An Beach Resort is built like a traditional fisherman's village, with small streets and water ponds, small houses with clay-tiled roofs and round Chinese
Breakfast / Overnight: Hoi An
Day 8: HOI AN – DANANG – SAIGON
This morning enjoy sightseeing in Hoi An. This exquisitely preserved merchant town was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999. Its colorful cobbled stone streets are best explored on foot. In fact this is the only way to explore the city, as no cars are allowed to pass through Hoi An. Wander past low tile-roofed buildings, the bustling central market and the small harbor where colorfully painted boats are moored. Visit a private home, where members of the same family have lived continuously for centuries. See one of their family chapels built as centers for ancestral worship. Continue on to a typical Chinese-style communal hall on to the famous Japanese covered bridge.
This afternoon, transfer back to Danang to catch your flight to Saigon Upon arrival in Ho Chi Minh City, you will be met by our representative and transferred to your hotel.
Ho Chi Minh City is surely one of the most evocative place names in Asia and definitely one of the most extraordinary cities in the world. The most Western in atmosphere of Vietnam's cities, Ho Chi Minh City (to use its official name - although to residents and visitors alike it is universally and affectionately known as Saigon) has a population of 5 million, and a booming free-market economy. It is a city of amazing contrasts: elegant new international hotels, exclusive restaurants and trendy bars side-by-side with roadside noodle stalls, street children and vociferous cyclo drivers. Bustling, booming crowded, noisy – all words that barely scratch the surface of the addictive and often mesmerizing chaos that is Saigon. And yet there are the elegant colonial French boulevards and buildings, the riverfront, the quiet moments at a sidewalk cafe watching the world literally go by you at breakneck speed.
This evening is unscheduled. Perhaps visit the central Ben Thanh market, where vendors display a vast array of goods and handicrafts, appealing to every taste
Breakfast / Hotel - TBA
Day 9: SAIGON – SIEM REAP
This morning, journey out of Ho Chi Minh City to the Cu Chi tunnels, where you will visit the vast underground network of tunnels built first as a defense against the French, and later expanded during the American war. It was from here that the North Vietnamese waged their guerrilla warfare. See secret trapdoors, underground kitchens, living areas and meeting rooms.
The more adventurous may explore the deeper second, and even third level tunnels. For those preferring to remain above ground, there is ample opportunity to view excavated areas from above. Your guide will advise you of the length and level of difficulty of each tunnel before entering - some are easily accessed by stairs. We recommend good walking shoes and sun protection for this tour and advise you may get a little dirty!
This afternoon, transfer to the airport for flight to Siem Reap. When you arrive, pass through immigration (have your passport, extra passport photo and cash in hand) and customs into the arrivals hall, where our representative will await you, holding a signboard with your name on it. You will be transferred to your hotel
Breakfast, Dinner / Hotel - TBA
Day 10: SIEM REAP
This morning begin your private tour of the ancient city of Angkor, the 7th Wonder of the World. Angkor is much larger than most visitors realize – it occupies an area twice as large as Manhattan. There are more than 30 temples and ancient buildings in the Angkor area – the most famous of which is Angkor Wat. The entire area is sometimes referred to as "Angkor Wat," though that name correctly refers only to the one, principal temple.
All of the spectacular carved stone buildings were built between AD 800-1400, the height of the Khmer empire. The city was attacked and abandoned in the 1400s and then was lost for centuries until French archaeologist Henri Mouhot rediscovered the ruins in the mid 1800s. There's some debate about whether Mouhot was really the first Westerner to see the ruins, but his account of finding Angkor drew the most attention – therefore, he gets most of the credit today. Archaeologists worked for more than 100 years to restore and protect Angkor.
Despite their restoration efforts, the jungle has reclaimed parts of the ancient complex: Tree roots and vines are entangled with some structures, both supporting and destroying them. Angkor has also been subject to widely publicized looting, though what has been stolen and what has simply decayed naturally is not obvious to most visitors.
The largest temple in the world, this temple is the national symbol of Cambodia. Angkor impresses visitors both by its sheer scale and beautifully proportioned layout, as well as the delicate artistry of its carvings. To approach the temple, first cross the vast moat, continuing along a broad causeway lined with naga balustrades. As you enter the main building, ascend through a series of galleries and courtyard before reaching the central sanctuary, which offers beautiful views back over the causeway and across the surrounding countryside.
On the way, stop to enjoy the intricate stone carvings that adorn nearly every surface, with some 1,700 Apsaras (celestial dancers) sculpted into the walls. Along the outer gallery walls run the longest continuous bas-relief in the world, which narrates stories from Hindu mythology, including the famous Churning of the Ocean of Milk. In it, the Naga serpent is twisted by demons and gods to spurt out the elixir of life. Angkor Wat is stunning at any time of the day, but sunrise and sunset are especially beautiful times to watch the play of light on the stones. Enjoy sunset over Angkor Wat!
Breakfast, Lunch / Hotel - TBA
Day 11: SIEM REAP – LUANG PRABANG, LAOS
This morning visit the monumental magnificence of Angkor Thom - last capital of the Khmers, with its Elephant Terrace, the Terrace of the Leper King and the stunning Bayon temple. This 12th century masterpiece lies at the very centre of Angkor Thom and is an archaeological wonder of symmetry and grandeur. The exterior gallery walls have extensive bas-reliefs but the highlight is the “faces”, more than 200 of them, silent but with the famous half-smile playing on their lips. PJ de Beerski wrote of them; “godliness in the majesty and the size, mystery in the expression.”
Transfer to the airport to catch the flight to Luang Prabang, Laos.(e-tickets will be given to you in Hanoi)
Sabaidii….Welcome to Luang Prabang! Upon arrival at Luang Prabang Airport (arrival flight is not included), you will be met by our local guide and transferred to your hotel for check-in.
Surrounded by thickly forested mountains and situated at the confluence of the Khan and Mekong Rivers, Luang Prabang has a tranquil, old world charm rarely found in Asia today. This fascinating town was the capital of the Lane Xang (million elephants) kingdom until the mid-sixteenth century.
In colonial times it served as a provincial headquarters of the north. The legacy of the European presence here - well preserved French architecture gilded Buddhist temples to and careful street planning – has blended delightfully with more than 30 create a town rich in atmosphere and history. In 1995 UNESCO voted Luang Prabang as a World Heritage City.
This evening, if not raining, it is possible to take a stroll through Luang Prabang’s fabulous night market with your local guide where there is an overwhelming selection of handicrafts on display, much which is produced and sold by locals from the many small ethnic minority villages surrounding Luang Prabang town.
Dinner is on your own arrangement – Luang Prabang has a great range of dining options available to suit all tastes and budgets – your local guide can assist with recommendations or making reservations if required.
Breakfast / Hotel - TBA
Day 12: LUANG PRABANG
Elephant Trekking ~ Waterfall & Kayaking – Luang Prabang
After, breakfast you will be brought over to our Elephant Camp for a wonderful interaction with our own protected Asian Elephants. The Trek (Elephant ride) on the back of these huge animals will bring you out into nature and Nam Khan river and afterwards a small boat will bring you to the clear cascades of the Tad Sae waterfall (waterfall is dry between February and July), a special highlight.
Have lunch at the waterfall or in the lodge and relax on your veranda before you start your last nature activity: The scenic kayaking.
This 3-4 hours kayaking tour (unsinkable sit-on-top kayaks) tour with Grade 1-2 and only two small rapids, bring you back to civilization and into the UNESCO world heritage town of Luang Prabang. The last transfer will bring you back to your hotel.
Breakfast, Lunch, afternoon snacks / Hotel - TBA
Day 13: LUANG PRABANG
This morning start the day very early with one of the most memorable sights of Luang Prabang – the ‘Tak Bat’. At dawn hundreds of saffron robed monks move silently through the streets to collect alms (offerings of food). Your guide will explain the background behind this ritual which is still very much a part of everyday life and you will have the chance to make ‘merit’. It’s early but well worth!! Return to hotel for breakfast.
After breakfast it is time to begin the bicycle ride out of town Kuang Sii Waterfalls. The distance is about 30km and the cycle ride should take approximately 3 hour passing through very scenic Laotian countryside, with rice paddies and many ethnic minority villages along the way. It is possible to stop and visit the Khamu minority village of Ban Thapaene, or one of the H’mong villages along the journey. The ride is mostly undulating with some flat stretches and some steeper hilly sections. There will be an air-conditioned vehicle in support, so it’s also possible to take a rest and ride in the van if the going gets too tough!!
On arrival at Kuang Sii there is plenty of time to enjoy a local style lunch or picnic lunch and, if water levels permit, to enjoy a refreshing dip in the falls. These beautiful falls cascade over many calcified tiers and down several hundred feet into a series of cool, turquoise pools. The water here has a clear blue-green tint due to the high mineral content. Late in the afternoon it is time to begin the return journey to Luang Prabang town – the energetic can cycle back or there is the option of journeying back in your private air-conditioned vehicle.
Return to Luang Prabang town late in the afternoon. Transfer to the airport to catch your flight to Bangkok where you will be met and assisted with direction to the Novotel hotel.
Breakfast, Lunch / Novotel Hotel
Day 14: BANGKOK – HOME - Transfer to the airport to check in for your flight home.
CONTACT US FOR PRICING
- Private transfers
- Accommodation per itinerary
- Meals per itinerary
- Local English speaking guides in each city
- Halong Bay overnight junk cruise incl. meals
- Activities per itinerary incl. bike rental
- Entrance fees to all sites per itinerary
- Domestic flights and tax
- International flights and departure taxes
- Regional flights and airport taxes (Danang-Siem Reap-Luang Prabang-Bangkok)
- Meals and Drinks unless mentioned
- Travel insurance
- Items of a personal nature
- Visa processing:
- Vietnam: visa on arrival need 15 days + application form, scanned copy of passport+1photo
- Cambodia and Laos visa on arrival with cash, passport & 2 passport photos