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Welcome to Vietnam. On arrival to Hanoi Airport transfer to your hotel. This evening enjoy a Welcome Dinner with your Travel Director and fellow guests.
Your exploration of Hanoi begins with a visit to Ho Chi Minh's Mausoleum, a monument built with marble and granite where the preserved body of 'Uncle Ho', one of Vietnam's great former leader's, resides. Afterwards visit Ho Chi Minh's House, a traditional stilt house where Ho lived occasionally from 1958 to 1969. Next visit 'One Pillar Pagoda' which was designed in the shape of a lotus flower. Seated on a tranquil pond this Buddhist temple is believed to have magical healing powers. Continue on to Hoa Lo Prison which was built in 1896 and is part of a vast prison complex. Built by the French to imprison Vietnamese political prisoners it is thought to have originally stood in the city centre to make an example to the Vietnamese agitators who were fighting for independence. Enjoy some free time this afternoon or choose to join an Optional Experience with a local foodie.
This morning depart for Halong Bay, a designated UNESCO World Heritage site with its breath-taking views of hundreds of islets scattered throughout the bay. It is believed that the Jade Emperor sent a dragon from heaven which sprayed thousands of pearls onto the sea to act as a fortress designed to protect Vietnam from invaders. Settle in and enjoy lunch on board your wooden junk boat while cruising amongst the 1600 islets en route to Bai Tu Long Bay. Later visit and explore the well hidden Thien Canh Son Cave with its incredible stalactites resembling natural hanging lamps. Perhaps take a swim before returning to the boat for a cooking demonstration by the Chef. Try your skills in the art of traditional Vietnamese cooking before dinner and later relax and enjoy the charm of the bay at night.
Enjoy the sunrise and rejuvenate your mind and body with a Tai-chi session on the deck followed by a visit to visit Vung Vieng, a floating fishing village. Discover the lifestyle and culture of the local people who live on the water. Later sail back to the pier and then drive to Hanoi for your flight to Danang. On arrival transfer to Hoi An for dinner in a local restaurant and your overnight stay.
This morning enjoy a walking tour around the lanes of Hoi An with its many atmospheric sights. See the 400-year-old Japanese Covered Bridge, first built in the 1590s by the Japanese community to link them with the Chinese quarters across the stream; the Assembly Hall of the Chaozhou Chinese Congregation with its intricate woodcarvings; and the colourful market with stalls brimming with local specialties of vibrant coloured silk, rich fragrant herbs and spices and exotic fruit and vegetables. Afternoon at leisure or choose to join an optional experience to discover more.
Today fly to the beach resort of Nha Trang, known for its year round sunny weather, turquoise water and white sandy beach. Upon arrival transfer to the hotel and spend the remainder of the day at leisure. This evening enjoy dinner in a local restaurant with its stunning beachfront location.
This morning take a leisurely cruise to Mun (Ebony) Island, so named due to the black rock formations and caves on the island. The island is home to incredible underwater coral reefs that attract tropical fish, sea turtles and other rare and beautiful marine life. Enjoy snorkeling (mask and a snorkel are provided on the boat) in the crystal clear waters of this protected maritime reserve before cruising to another island for lunch in a local restaurant. Return to the hotel and enjoy the rest of the afternoon at leisure.
Fly to Ho Chi Minh City, formerly known as Saigon it is the country's commercial centre whilst still retaining its connections with the past. This evening enjoy dinner in a traditional local restaurant where the meals are served on mam trays.
This morning drive to the Cu Chi Tunnels, a massive network of underground tunnels built in 1948 to protect the Viet Cong guerrillas from the French air and ground sweeps. On your visit gain a better understanding of the history, the hardship of life in the tunnels and the Vietnamese resilience during combat. Return to Ho Chi Minh City and take a tour around the various historical landmarks. See Notre Dame Cathedral, the Central Post Office and the former Presidential Palace. Later experience the local street coffee culture while having a brief language lesson before returning to the hotel.
Today spend the day at leisure or take the opportunity for further exploration of this great city at your own pace or alternatively choose to take an Optional Experience to the Mekong Delta.
This morning fly to Siem Reap, the gateway to the famous temples of Angkor. Upon arrival check-in to the hotel and later take a walk around Siem Reap Old Town. Visit the new and old markets on both sides of the river and later enjoy dinner in a local restaurant.
Visit Angkor Wat, a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the most important religious monuments in the world. Learn how the Khmer Empire prospered between the 9th and 13th centuries as you stroll through the intricately carved hallways that showcase hundreds of fine carvings. Later visit Angkor Thom which was once an entire walled city that served as the last capital of the Khmer empire. Explore the Bayon temple, the Terrace of the Elephants and the Terrace of the Leper King which houses almost perfectly preserved carvings. Return to your hotel for an afternoon and evening at leisure.
Enjoy a full free day to explore further or perhaps consider joining an Optional Experience.
Transfer to the Siem Reap International Airport for your onward flight.
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: $24
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: $30
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 corn fields. 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: $54
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: $56
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 which 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: $41
Visit the picturesque Ta Prohm, one of the famous temples of Angkor and a UNESCO listed site which 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: $51
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: $20
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: $29
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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