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Lively, welcoming and fun, you'll know you've arrived in Hanoi as soon as you see your first scooter carrying an entire family whizz by. This is a city that's constantly on the move, heartily embracing its new era of liberation and speeding towards the future with gusto. Yet while the modern world has very much arrived in Hanoi, the past is never far from sight. Glimpses of unique architecture give a nod to periods of French and Chinese occupation, whilst the streets of the Old Quarter are still reminiscent of Hanoi of old. On every street corner you're tempted by steaming bowls of pho or fragrant summer rolls, while the opportunity to re-caffeinate is never far away - coffee is a big deal in Hanoi, as it is in all of Vietnam. Arriving today you'll transfer to your hotel and this evening meet up with your Travel Director to learn the lay of the land and sample your first taste of Vietnam's cuisine at a Welcome Dinner. You'll get to know your fellow travellers and get a glimpse of what's to come on your Asia value tour.
Dive into Hanoi's complex history this morning on a guided sightseeing tour of the city's famous highlights. Starting off at Ho Chi Minh's Mausoleum, learn about the legendary 'Uncle Ho', Vietnam's revolutionary former leader who is embalmed and forever remembered here, then head on to visit his humble and traditional stilt house where he lived periodically from 1958 to 1969. Next up will be the beautiful One Pillar Pagoda, a stunning symbol of purity that has been masterfully designed to resemble a lotus blossom and is believed to hold magical healing powers. From here, you'll then head on to Hoa Lo Prison. Once nicknamed 'Hanoi Hilton' by US prisoners of war, the museum paints a vivid picture of how the French built prison was used up until the mid-1950's. Likely in need of an iced coffee after a busy morning, this afternoon will then be free to tailor your visit to Hanoi your way. Foodies, why not opt to join our walking tour of Hanoi's best bites. Led by a Local Specialist, you'll sample delights such as Pho Ga and Banh Duc while exploring the sights, smells and flavours of the Old Town.
Swapping concrete jungles for shimmering seas, today you'll travel to the UNESCO World Heritage site of Halong Bay. A true vision of beauty, the soaring limestone pillars, countless tiny inlets and dazzling emerald waters are arguably the biggest crowd pleasers in all of Vietnam, and for good reason. Boarding your traditional junk boat you'll set sail for Bai Tu Long Bay, the laid back neighbour of Halong Bay that is every inch as beautiful. Dropping anchor at Thien Canh Son Cave, just one of about 59 discovered caves in the region, you'll have time to admire the incredible stalactites that hang from the cave ceiling, then it will be back to the boat for an on-board cooking demonstration by the chef. School up on traditional Vietnamese cooking methods, then as your reward tuck into a fragrant dinner feast that will taste all the better given the backdrop of the bay twinkling under the night sky.
Waking up to the sound of gently lapping waves, you'll start today with a rejuvenating on deck Tai-Chi session. Feeling entirely refreshed and after a tasty breakfast you'll then visit the floating fishing village of Vung Vieng, one of four floating villages that lie in Halong Bay. Utterly charming, you'll take in the beauty of the boats, the smiles of the fishermen and the quiet culture of the community who live and work on the water. From here you'll journey back to Halong Bay and say a somewhat sad goodbye to your little junk boat home and friendly crew, before heading back to Hanoi to catch your flight to Danang. Landing here, you'll then transfer on to your home for the next 2 nights, the very peaceful, historic and beautiful Hoi An.
A far cry from the hustle and bustle of Hanoi, little Hoi An has a laid back, easy going vibe that's made all the better by its prime riverside setting. In the Old Town, Japanese merchant houses, Chinese temples and tea warehouses all add to the allure, whilst the lush countryside is within easy reach. You'll start off today with a guided sightseeing tour that will visit the pretty 400-year-old Japanese Covered Bridge, the Assembly Hall of the Chaozhou Chinese Congregation, and the colourful market. Here, you'll find all manner of fragrant herbs and spices, exotic fruits, bright silks and local products tempting you to buy! With an afternoon free for you to explore your way, perhaps get on two wheels and join our optional cycling tour to experience Hoi An's delightful countryside. Travelling along inland trails, you'll pass by quiet country villages, discover how local wooden boats are made and learn the art of weaving the traditional 'Hoi An' sleeping mats. Alternatively, if you are keen to further perfect your Vietnamese cookery skills, you could join our optional cooking class led by a local chef, where you'll shop for ingredients in the lively market then cook up a storm back at the school before sitting down to taste the fruits of your labour.
From one idyllic setting to the next, this morning you'll be jetting off to the golden sands, tropical islands and turquoise waters of Nha Trang. Surrounded by hills that frame the six kilometre arc of sweeping beach, this much-loved beach resort is busy enough to be constantly entertained, and big enough to find your own little patch of secluded sand. After settling in to your hotel the rest of your day will be entirely free to relax on the beach with a book and towel in hand or take a stroll along the promenade. This evening, tuck into dinner at a local restaurant while feeling happy and relaxed at your paradise beachfront location.
Pack your suncream and your sense of adventure this morning as you'll be heading out on a cruise to Mun Island, otherwise known as Ebony Island. This stunning island boasts a series of looming black rock formations that contrast perfectly against the turquoise ocean. But it's not just the rocks you're here to see; underneath the water's surface lives Vietnam's first Marine Protected Area where up to 1500 species of fish, sea turtles and other rare marine life can all be found. Grab a mask and snorkel from the boat crew and dive in to explore this beautiful underwater world, then cruise to a nearby island to enjoy a leisurely lunch at a local restaurant. Once back at Nha Trang, the rest of the afternoon is all yours to enjoy as you please - and will likely see you claiming a little patch of golden sand for an afternoon snooze.
Sneak in a final early morning dip this morning before catching your flight to the bright lights and big city antics of Ho Chi Minh City. Formerly Saigon, Ho Chi Minh is a place that throbs with life and gives you little option but to come along for the ride. In just one generation the city has purposefully moved on from its war torn past, emerging as a commercial capital that enthrals and delights visitors in equal measure. But as modern as Hoi Chi Minh is, you don't have to look far for glimpses of the past. Beautiful traditional pagodas and incense infused temples pepper the city while museums paint a vivid picture of past troubles. Upon arrival you'll settle into your hotel, then this evening head out with your fellow travellers for a tasty local dinner in a traditional restaurant.
Driving to the Cu Chi Tunnels this morning, you'll be given a real-life history lesson that moves the soul as you visit just a small portion of the 250km network of underground tunnels that were built by Vietnamese fighters in 1948. Incredibly, the tunnels you'll see have been widened from their original state, a fact that will become even more remarkable as you learn about the history of Cu Chi. Heading back to the city, your guided sightseeing tour will then tick off some of the most famous sights including the Neo-Romanesque Notre Dame Cathedral, the striking Central Post Office built in the French style complete with gorgeous tiled interiors, and the former Presidential Palace, a feat of classic 1960's architecture. Finishing up with a hit of Vietnamese caffeine and a quick language lesson to cover the basics, you'll head back to your hotel to enjoy a free evening to explore the city your way.
Today's your last day in Vietnam, so be sure to stock pile spring rolls and drink iced coffee whilst making the most of an entirely free day. History fans will find a visit to the War Remnants Museum utterly fascinating, where the atrocities of war and the long-lasting effects are told through stories, photos and exhibits. You could also pay a visit to the Jade Emperor Pagoda, one of the most atmospheric and beautiful temples in the city, while those looking to swap city scenes for lush rice paddies and sedate local life could choose to join our optional trip to the magical Mekong Delta. Pass by stilt houses and fish farms and taste locally made coconut candy, then hop on board a rowing sampan to slowly weave through the network of small canals. Lunch will also be included - a real feast of local specialities. Those keen to explore the unique charm and hidden secrets of Saigon can opt to join a morning trip to the old city, visiting former secret weapons chambers, meeting a local street-artist, enjoying coffee and French colonial-era architecture, and checking out a hidden restaurant accessed only by an antique elevator.
Wave goodbye to Vietnam and say hello to Cambodia this morning as you catch a flight to Siem Reap, the famous gateway town to the ancient city of Angkor Wat. Many people arrive here imagining Angkor Wat will be the main attraction, and while that is true, Siem Reap also caters to foodies, adventurers and art lovers in abundance, boasting a wealth of tasty restaurants and a lively cultural scene that will keep you entertained well after dark. After checking in to your hotel, head out to explore the lively market scene. We'll be making a bee line for the historic Old Market, located in the Phsar Chas that dates back to the 1920's. Browse the stalls selling textiles, paintings, carvings and sculptures, then head on over to the Made in Cambodia Market, where local artisans sell their own wares and will happily chat about their production process. This evening, enjoy your first taste of Cambodian cuisine as we tuck in to dinner at a local restaurant.
Today is the day! Few travel experiences on earth can match the first time you lay eyes on the UNESCO World Heritage listed Angkor Wat. A true expression of Khmer mastery, this inspired creation represents the very heart and soul of Cambodia and is one of the most important religious monuments in the world. Built in the first half of the 12th Century by King Suryavarman II using techniques that will have you scratching your head in amazement, you'll learn about the great Khmer Empire as you explore the intricately carved hallways and admire the impeccably preserved carvings, then head on to the walled city of Angkor Thom to explore the Bayon Temple, the Terrace of the Elephants and the Terrace of the Leper King. If your visit to the temples leaves you craving more, take the chance to join our optional trip to Bateay Kdei Temple in the afternoon, which ends with a golden hour cruise of the still waters of the moat surrounding Angkor Thom. Movie fans will be in for a treat as you have the chance to join our optional visit to Ta Prohm Temple, the UNESCO listed site that is perhaps best known as the filming location of Angelina Jolie's 'Tomb Raider'. Very much emulating the feeling of a lost city, many of the temples here are literally being swallowed by the surrounding jungle and are a real sight to see. Alternatively, with the afternoon all yours, a relaxing afternoon by the hotel pool could be on the cards after a truly memorable morning. In the evening, you can take in a show with a difference by attending the Phare Circus. Here, disadvantaged young people are given circus training and go on to perform dazzling shows with acrobatics, dances, juggling and more in a beautifully choreographed story of Cambodia.
Your last day in Cambodia is free to explore your way, so be sure to make the most of it! Perhaps head back to the markets for some last-minute gift shopping, sample the delicious street food offerings on pretty much every corner. Or get to know Siem Reap's artistic side on an optional tour of the town's best workshops and galleries including a visit to Artisans d'Angkor, where training and job opportunities are offered to disadvantaged young people who specialise in preserving traditional Khmer skills including silk making, wood carving and painting. Those looking to explore beyond Siem Reap could join our trip to Tonle Sap Lake, where you'll board a traditional wooden boat and cruise past floating villages, keeping an eye out for wildlife along the way. However you choose to explore today, you can celebrate your final night with our optional dinner and Apsara dance show. Enjoy a tasty dinner while watching this beautiful 7th Century dance bring to life the ancient Khmer culture before your eyes.
You've explored ancient temples, snorkelled in waters brimming with marine life, woken up surrounded by the enchanting beauty of Halong Bay and eaten lots of delicious Vietnamese food, but today your adventure holiday in South East Asia will finally come to an end. After saying your goodbyes to your new travel friends, you'll transfer to Siem Reap International Airport and travel on to your next destination.
Prices shown are per person based on two people sharing a twin room. To request a personalized travel quote, click "Request Quote" and a Travel Specialist will send your custom quote including airfare if requested.
Optional Experiences are subject to change. Your Travel Director will supply you with a final list of Optional Experiences available on your trip. Optional Experiences cannot be booked online; they can be purchased during your trip through your Travel Director.
Eating on the street is a very typical activity for Hanoians and makes up an important part of the city’s unique culture. Take a leisurely walk with a local foodie to the Old Quarter. Taste the national Vietnamese dish - Pho Ga (chicken noodle soup) and then wander around a local market to enjoy the sights, sounds and aroma from the numerous kinds of food on offer. Sample some Banh Duc – cooked rice powder with Vietnamese spices followed by a visit to a little shop selling many different types of traditional Northern cakes such as Com cake (young rice) which is considered to be a part of every Hanoians’ childhood. Continue to a small alley to get an idea of the typical “tube houses” of Hanoi and afterward stop at Banh My Lan On to try their famous bread with Pâté. Later enjoy some Vietnamese desserts and cap off your walk by tasting a cup of Vietnamese egg coffee.
Adult Price: $27
See the activities of northern Vietnam village life recreated by dance, acrobatics and bamboo props in the ‘My Village Show.’ It delicately illustrates the poetic Vietnamese village through its stunning ‘cirque’ approach and contains traditional Vietnamese folk games, dances and circus acts performed with traditional music playing in the background combined with artistic lighting. Traditional daily activities of villagers and festive celebrations are demonstrated by performers and musicians in farmers’ clothing. Transfers to/from your hotel are included.
Adult Price: $31
The flat, quiet roads around Hoi An are ideal for exploring by bicycle. Start your adventure with a short boat trip across the river from Hoi An – a great opportunity to take photographs of the many fishing boats and the country villages. On arrival, start cycling along quiet inland trails to discover how wooden river boats are made, learn the secret of weaving the colorful straw ‘Hoi An’ sleeping mats and the renowned Vietnamese basket boats. Take the boat back to Hoi An old town and continue cycling along quiet trails, passing water-coconut palm trees, fishing farms and rice paddies. Cam Thanh is a local fishing village with charming ocean views and many kumquat gardens and cornfields. Head to An Bang beach to enjoy a sunset cocktail with a light snack at an open bar by the beach. Relax on the beach for a while before transferring back to your hotel.
Adult Price: $69
Your Chef will meet you at Hai Café in the old town for a brief introduction and welcome drink before continuing to Hoi An’s central market to learn all about selecting the freshest produce, essential for Vietnamese cuisine. Wander around the market taking in the sights, sounds and aromas as you observe the locals doing their daily shop. Next, take a scenic boat trip along the river to the Red Bridge Cooking School with glimpses of local river life along the way. On arrival at the school, which is set in three acres of lush tropical gardens, visit the herb garden before taking part in a hands-on cooking class. After the lesson, sit down and enjoy your creations in the lovely restaurant overlooking the river.
Adult Price: $59
Exchange city scenes for lush rice paddies and fruit farms as you travel by coach towards the Mekong Delta. On arrival at the pier, embark on a fascinating boat trip past stilt houses, fish farms and scenes of countryside living. Arrive at Turtle Island, and sample freshly picked fruit and coconut milk while interacting with a local farming family. Visit a small family-run workshop that makes candy out of the Mekong Delta’s tasty coconuts. Explore more from a rowing sampan through a network of tranquil small canals and enjoy country hospitality as you sip a cup of honey tea while taking in a traditional folk song performance. A lunch of local specialties will be served before returning to Ho Chi Minh City mid-afternoon.
Adult Price: $42
Visit the picturesque Ta Prohm, one of the famous temples of Angkor and a UNESCO-listed site that was used as the location for the film ‘Tomb Raider.’ The temple site is overgrown with trees and has been swallowed by the jungle creating a haunting yet exotic atmosphere. Over the centuries the magnificent roots of the trees have merged with the temple’s remains giving the feeling of a ‘forgotten city,’ very much the way most of Angkor’s temples would have appeared when European explorers first stumbled upon them. Learn about the history of the temple and soak up the atmosphere while enjoying a walk through the ruins.
Adult Price: $53
Enjoy a wonderful dinner accompanied by traditional Apsara dancing at the Por Cuisine Restaurant. The restaurant owner Por has a rags-to-riches story having started out by opening a humble kiosk serving his traditional noodle creations in 1983 and is now the proud owner of a fine restaurant offering regular Apsara dance shows and serving traditional Khmer cuisine. Based on some stone temple carvings it is believed that Apsara dancing has a long history in Cambodia, dating back to the 7th century. According to Hindu mythology, beautiful Apsaras descended from heaven to entertain the gods and kings. Notice the symbolic and elegant finger gestures and the ornate silk costumes inspired by the wall carvings of the Angkor temples. Step back in time as the dancers and musicians bring the ancient Khmer culture to life while enjoying some local cuisine.
Adult Price: $22
Start the day with a transfer to Chong Kneas, a trading port of agricultural products on the edge of Tonle Sap Lake. Board a traditional and comfortable wooden boat for a relaxing and insightful cruise on the lake to discover the floating villages and some unique wildlife along the way. Enjoy a selection of soft drinks or beer during the cruise. Find out how communities live and work on the lake; see the floating schools, markets, and police stations among other structures and observe their daily lives. Note: This trip will not operate during periods of low water which normally occur from March to August but can vary each year.
Adult Price: $35
Discover the artistic side of Siem Reap with a visit to several of the best workshops and galleries. Artisans d’Angkor, our first stop, offers training and creates job opportunities for young disadvantaged people living in rural areas and is dedicated to the preservation of traditional Khmer skills such as silk-making, stone and wood carving, lacquerware, silverware and painting. Afterward, visit the house of Theam who at 11 years old was among the flood of Cambodian refugees who arrived in France in 1980. After receiving a sound artistic and technical education in interior design in Paris, Theam set aside his dreams and 15 years ago returned to Cambodia. He has converted his personal house into a real working space dedicated to the creation and promotion of Cambodian arts & crafts. Afterward, visit the McDermott Gallery, one of the best photo galleries in town. American photographer John McDermott first came to Angkor in 1995 to photograph the temples of Angkor under the light of a total eclipse of the sun. This moment inspired a long-term fine art project and he now lives in Siem Reap where he founded two galleries that exhibit the work of Cambodian artists and photographers working across Asia.
Adult Price: $20
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