This whirlwind fifteen day tour through two different countries' highlights begins in Hanoi, the Paris of the Orient. From there, new destination come at a break neck pace, ensuring that our travelers get a good sense of each city and town before moving on to the next stop. This is the perfect itinerary for travelers who know they are on a time budget, and want to get the absolute most out of their two week holiday. An overnight cruise on Halong Bay, two nights in the imperial city of Hue, and two nights in charming Hoi An all combine to offer a thorough understanding of northern Vietnam. Its culture, its history, its people and its food are all represented well. Next up is southern Vietnam as you fly into Ho Chi Minh City. This flip side of the same coin offers a different point of view on modern Vietnam. Spend time exploring the rural parts of the Mekong Delta. This itinerary isn't over yet, though. Jet off to Siem Reap, Cambodia, a perfect base from which to explore the world famous ruins of Angkor Wat, and the surrounding ancient temples.
Welcome to Vietnam! Upon arrival in Hanoi, you will be greeted at the airport by your driver and transferred to your hotel. (This service is on a private basis.)
Vietnam's capital is rich in a culture touched by French and Chinese influences over its 1,000-year-long history. One can spend days in the Old Quarter, where fashion houses, art galleries and coffee shops make up the city's most charismatic district. Hanoi features hundreds of serene lakes, great for people watching and strolling an afternoon away. Take an evening to dine at a modern, cosmopolitan restaurant and enjoy a night on the town, but don't forget to take an evening to enjoy the thriving street food scene, one of the city's primary attractions.
In the evening today, you’ll have tickets to watch a traditional Water Puppetry performance. This is an art form unique to northern Vietnam. The show will be a good, light-hearted introduction to the area's rural culture. (This service is on a group basis.)
You’ll have the whole day to explore Vietnam’s capital. Your guide will take you to the Temple of Literature, the first university in Vietnam dating back to the 11th century. It's a popular attraction, as is Ho Chi Minh’s Mausoleum, his simple stilt house where he lived and worked and the museum dedicated to his memory.
After lunch, you’ll call in at the serene Tran Quoc Pagoda, the oldest in Hanoi, on the banks of Hanoi’s Ho Tay (West) Lake. In the afternoon, you’ll visit the center of Hanoi, including Hoan Kiem Lake, the Ngoc Son temple and cruise ride around the Colonial and Old Quarters on a cyclo to discover the city’s architectural mixture of French colonial style, social realism (mostly public buildings - designed or influenced by the USSR), pagodas and communal houses with many features, merchants’ residences, ‘tube’ dwellings, modern buildings and vernacular houses. (This service is on a private basis.)
After an early breakfast, you'll leave by shuttle bus for Ha Long Bay, one of the most spectacular UNESCO World Heritage Areas and the world’s largest marine limestone ‘karst’ landscapes. After a 3.5 hour drive towards North East of Hanoi, you will arrive at the Hon Gai International harbor, to board Indochina Dragon’s Pearl Junk, one of the newest wooden boats on the Bay. A refreshing welcome drink will be served and you can check into your cabin.
As you settle into your cabin, the boat will set sail to the magnificent Bai Tu Long Bay, which covers an area of 2000 square meters. Lunch will be served in the restaurant, while you enjoy the amazing scenery. Around 3:00 this afternoon, you will explore the well-hidden Thien Canh Son Cave, located in the center of the World Heritage area, Bai Tu Long Bay. The Cave is a wild and mysterious beauty, so take your time to admire it. The pathway to get to the Cave is set below the forest canopy and a stone cliff, so as you make you're way up, it will feel as though you're climbing towards heaven.
Your next stop today will be on a white sandy beach at Hon Co Island, where you can enjoy swimming or kayaking. As the sun sets over the bay this evening, you will head back to the cruise and relax. A delicious dinner of local seafood will be served and if you're up for it, you can choose to enjoy a drink from the bar or experience squid fishing, before going to bed. (This service is on a group basis.)
Seemingly infinite, the towering islands of Ha Long Bay form a landscape unique to this world. Designated a World Heritage site in 1994, Ha Long Bay's spectacular scatter of islands, offers some of the most beautiful sights in all of Asia, either from the deck of your Chinese style boat, from your kayak, or from a private beach.
You’ll wake in the fresh air of the bay this morning with a swim or some relaxation on the sundeck. Enjoy breakfast and a cup of tea or coffee, while you admire the sights around you. After breakfast, you’ll continue your cruise to visit Vung Vieng Fishing Village where you’ll have an opportunity to explore the village and the hidden lagoon in a rustic rowing boat. Meet the local people and pass through the floating school and fish farms along the route. When you get back on the boat, lunch will be served, as you near the harbor.
At about noon, you will arrive back at the Hon Gai Harbor, where your shuttle bus will be waiting to take you back to your hotel in Hanoi. (This service is on a group basis.)
You will be getting back to your hotel in Hanoi around 4:30 or 5:00pm. You will meet your private driver and transfer to the airport in good time to board your domestic flight to Hue. Upon arrival in Hue, you will be picked up at the airport and transferred to your hotel to check in and relax, after a long, but exciting, day. (This service is on a private basis.)
The heart of imperial Vietnam's history, Hue is Vietnam's cultural capital. It's architecture calls back to a time when the Nguyen Dynasty built temples, pagodas and palaces across its landscapes. A calm, noble city lives on today, showcasing beautiful buildings that survived bombings during the American War. The easy-going local crowd enjoys a night out, and routinely interacts with foreigners. With a tradition for maintaining authentic recipes, Hue's chefs might be the best example of pure Vietnamese food that dates back to the country's imperial years.
Your morning will begin with a cruise along the Perfume River to visit to the Thien Mu Pagoda. You'll be able to see the praying monks this morning. From there, you’ll drive to the Royal Tombs of Emperor Minh Mang. After lunch, you’ll visit two more tombs, those of Emperors Tu Duc and Khai Dinh, after which you’ll return to your hotel.
Each Royal mausoleum reflects the personality of the Emperor it commemorates. The most majestic is that of Emperor Minh Mang, a staunch follower of Confucianism with many wives, concubines and a small army of children. Planned by the Emperor and built shortly after his death in formal Chinese style, it’s opulent and exotic, and a good example of classic Sino-Vietnamese architecture.
The tomb of Tu Duc, the ‘poet Emperor’, is set in an elegant garden with a magnificent lake and pavilion complex. The simplest of the actual tomb (a monument – he was buried elsewhere to thwart grave robbers) is at odds with the lavish opulence of his reign.
In complete contrast to Emperor Tu Duc’s stylish creation, the tomb of Emperor Khai Dinh is an unprepossessing concrete construction on the side of a wide valley. Its interest lies in the uneasy combination of Vietnamese and European features, the use of fragments of ceramics and glass for decoration, and the striking views from the courtyard in front of the mausoleum.
This morning after breakfast, your adventure continues onward to Hoi An. Led by your driver and guide, the journey passes through spectacular scenery along the National Highway 1. This route includes the breathtaking Hai Van Pass, which once formed the boundary between the kingdoms of Dai Viet and Champa and also forms a boundary between the climates of northern and southern Vietnam. The Hai Van Pass is the highest and longest pass in Vietnam, with the North-South National Highway zigzagging through it for almost 20 km. There will be plenty of photo opportunities along the drive, for you to get the perfect shot of the striking landscape of Lang Co Beach or the peaceful fishing vicinity.
From the pass, your drive continues to Da Nang, where you will stop to visit the Museum of Cham Sculpture, opened in 1915. After exploring the museum and admiring the sites, you will finish off the transfer to your final destination of Hoi An. Upon arrival, you will be lead on a walking tour of this charming small town. Decorated with hundreds of historic houses, congregation halls, pagodas and other structures, it is truly beautiful. The buildings and streets reflect the indigenous and foreign influences that have harmoniously blended together to produce this unique heritage site. There is plenty to see in this delightful town, some of which are the famous Japanese Covered Bridges, Pottery Museum, 200 years old Tan Ky House, Chua Ong Pagoda and the vibrant local market. During the tour, you can admire the many low tiled houses scattered along the small streets and assembly halls, which reflect the town's multi-cultural past. By the end of the day, you will be taken back to your hotel for a well deserved night's rest. (This service is on a private basis.)
There is a good reason we encourage first time travelers to Vietnam to visit Hoi An. After the hustle and bustle of the big cities, travel in Hoi An will feel easier. There is little modern motor traffic, and its shops and restaurants are mainly tailored for tourists. A romantic cafe culture lives on in French colonial buildings, along with a thriving art scene, can keep you busy (and shopping) for days. Hoi An is also a great base from which to enjoy a couple of beach days, or venture inland to meet with local farmers for a more authentic local experience.
This morning, you will embark on a Farming & Fishing Life Tour, which provides you with a close-up and intimate exposure to both the local farming and fishing communities. Accompanied by your tour guide, you will start the day cycling slowly along country roads and witnessing local Vietnamese rural life first hand. Keep an eye out for the rice paddy fields, water buffaloes, bamboo bridges and local farmers on their daily work, that you will pass along the way. You will stop to visit a beautiful organic vegetable village, where you will help water and plant vegetables, hoeing the soil with a local farmer in a rice paddy field. Have your camera ready, because these are memories you will want to capture!
Next, you will board an eco-tour boat for a river cruise to meet and engage with local fishermen and enjoy a hands-on experience of net fishing, catching fish in a traditional ‘Thung Chai’ basket boat. You will also experience paddling the unique Vietnamese bamboo basket boat along the waterways of coconut palm paradise. This tour provides you with a cultural window into the ways of life of both Vietnamese farming and fishing communities. After enjoying a fresh seafood lunch, you will be taken back to the hotel, where you can enjoy the rest of the day as you wish.
*Please note that the clothing and footwear used for today's activities are likely to get wet and dirty throughout the day. We suggest bringing a spare clothes and comfortable shoes. (This service is on a group basis.)
In the morning, you will be picked up at your hotel in Hoi An and transferred to the airport in good time to board your domestic flight to Ho Chi Minh City. Upon arrival in Ho Chi Minh City, you will be greeted at the airport by your driver and transferred to your hotel. (This service is on a private basis.)
While much of Vietnam is set in its traditions, and content to live life at a slower pace, HCMC is where the nation's urban warriors congregate to work hard and play harder. The city that some still call Saigon has been the driving force leading Vietnam into the 21st century, and the result is a whirlpool of activity that one cannot help but be swept into. Remnants of Vietnam's history pockmark the city, creating a charming contrast of old and new.
Today your driver will take you to visit the famous Cu Chi tunnels. The tunnels are 75 km northwest of Ho Chi Minh City, in an area that played an important role during Vietnam's wars for independence and reunification. More than 200 km of tunnels were built here by the Vietnamese guerrillas and are often the highlight of South Vietnam touring. You will be able to explore the bedrooms, meeting rooms, air-raid shelters, smokeless kitchens, and experience life underground in this extraordinary tunnel complex.
When the tour finishes, you will return to your hotel. Enjoy the remainder of the day free. (This service is on a private basis.)
After escaping from Ho Chi Minh City’s urban sprawl, you will travel to Cai Be where a Mekong River cruise will take you to visit the fruit orchards, a traditional family-run brick kiln, and some long established cottage industries. Later, a rowing boat will carry you through the maze of the Mekong Delta’s myriad channels to connect with the real life of local people, visiting a local house and listening to live music performed by local artists.
You will drive further into the Mekong Delta to Can Tho. Upon arrival you’ll call in at the Munir Ansay – an ancient Khmer style pagoda, renowned for its unique structural decorations. You’ll then drive to your hotel in Can Tho where you’ll spend the night.
Munir Ansay Pagoda has many statues and pillars with sophisticated decoration; the main gate was built in the shape of the towers illustrative of Angkor architecture.
Today, after breakfast, you will be driven to Cai Rang for a boat cruise to its floating market, one of the best on the Mekong Delta, with good views of the riverside lifestyle along the way. You will then journey back to Ho Chi Minh City. En route, you will call in at the beautiful and ancient Vinh Trang Pagoda, 3 km from My Tho center. You will arrive in Ho Chi Minh City in the late afternoon with time to freshen up in your hotel before the evening.
Vinh Trang Pagoda is renowned for its architectural mixture of Chinese, Vietnamese and Angkor styles. Located on a 2 hectare block with 5 buildings, 2 ornamental yards, 178 pillars and many valuable statues (especially the 18 arahants, wooden statues carved in 1907), the pagoda will give you a deeper look into the relationship between Vietnamese art and Buddhist beliefs.
In the morning, you will be picked up at your hotel in Ho Chi Minh City and transferred to the airport in good time to board your domestic flight to Siem Reap. Upon arrival in Siem Reap, you will be greeted at the airport by your driver and transferred to your hotel. (This service is on a private basis.)
Siem Reap is the best option for an international traveler's base from which to explore the Angkor temples. If not for the tourism boom brought on by the awesome sites around the city, Siem Reap might have been another sleepy Khmer village. Instead we find a bustling tourist town, complete with a well-named Pub Street, food vendors, luxury hotels, backpacking hostels, and the international travelers that drive it all. Sure, you'll probably want to spend most of your time outside the city, but don't underestimate the awesome opportunity to hit the town and mingle, bargain, eat, and drink your way through Siem Reap.
A novel way to discover the magnificent temples of Angkor is astride the back of an elephant! Enjoy an Emperor’s eye view with a 20-minute ride on these majestic and good natured animals, from the South Gate of Angkor Thom to the Bayon, or simply around the Bayon Temple. Your next visit will be to the Elephant and Leper King Terraces followed by the Baphoun Temple, which is now nearing the end of an eight-year multi-million dollar restoration program.
In the afternoon, you'll explore the most famous temple, Angkor Wat, the largest, and for many, the most impressive temple in this vast complex. Weather permitting; a sunset view from the top of Phnom Bakheng Hill will bring a pleasurable end to the day. If the Bakheng Hill is overcrowded by the exceeding visitors, we change to sunset view on Pre Rup Temple. Your overnight stay will be in Siem Reap.
After breakfast, visit the famous temple of Bantey Srey “the Citadel of Women”. This small pink sandstone temple (late 10th century) is considered the crown jewel of classical Khmer art with the delicate beauty of its carvings. Continue to Bantey Samre (mid 12th century), which has been admirably restored.
Afternoon, you’ll see Ta Prohm, strangled by massive tree roots and typical of the condition of the whole complex when it was discovered in 1860 by French naturalist Henri Mouhot. Your guide will then show you the Prasat Kravan (also known as the Cardomom Sanctuary) and Srah Srang Lake and landing terrace. The Srah Srang is less touristy and could be sunrise alternative to Angkor Wat. You’ll spend the night in Siem Reap.
Today, you will be picked up at your hotel in Siem Reap and transferred to the airport. (This service is on a private basis.)
Opened in May 2010, the well-known Hanoi Elegance Diamond Hotel is perfectly located in Hanoi’s historic Old Quarter, just a 2-minute walk from Hoan Kiem Lake (the Sword Lake). The hotel is perfect for value-conscious travelers, with a great location, nice clean rooms, and good service.
For your exciting onboard excursion, you'll board the Dragon's Pearl Junk, one of the newest wooden boats on the Bay. It’s based on the model of the old Chinese court vessels with two barge sails, a wide transom and a rectangular superstructure. The boat has eleven cabins, you'll have plenty space on board. All cabins are air-conditioned and have windows overlooking the bay. The floor area of each cabin is about 9 m2. The cabins are furnished with two twin beds or a double queen size bed. The interior paneling, floor and furniture are made of hard wood. The cabin has a wardrobe, pillows, white cotton sheets, and an en-suite toilet and shower with a good selection of toiletries. All meals, usually based on fresh seafood, will be provided on board. Kayaking is available and included in the price.
Within walking distance to Huong River and in the heart of Western Town, the location of The Moonlight Hotel Hue could not be more central or ideal for those wanting experience the popular attractions of Hue City. The Moonlight Hotel provides a wide selection of accommodation from Superior, Deluxe to Suites rooms. All 91 guest rooms and suites are equipped with luxurious, modern facilities and come with a river and city view. The hotel features Moonlight Restaurant which is on the highest floor with a spectacular river view and Lobby Bar offers a unique and sophisticated of wine, cocktails and dining options.
Hoi An's Ancient House Resort & Spa welcomes you into a unique fusion of traditional Vietnamese style and modern luxuries. The property offers you a genuine, simple and relaxing stay right at the doors of one of the most acclaimed Vietnamese UNESCO World Heritage wonders. Founded in 2003, the Hoi An Ancient House Resort & Spa is a local family-run property that offers a true replica of Hoi An’s Ancient Town architectural style with its clay-tiled roof houses, small streets and water ponds. The resort provides an utmost relaxing atmosphere, surrounded by lush garden, that borders the outdoor swimming pool and gives it an exotic feel.
The Saigon Hotel is perfectly located right in the commercial and tourist district of Ho Chi Minh City is a great choice of 3 star Hotel for both business and leisure travelers who want to experience the Saigon’s bustling life. The hotel's 86 well-furnished and spacious rooms and Suites, are designed with every convenience in mind offer you the most comfort and relaxation during your stay at our Saigon Hotel.
Here, every guest will enjoy a well-appointed room with plenty of space to live, to work, or just relax. The warm inviting atmosphere, congenial staff and host of fine services help to make every stay an enjoyable one. The staff's philosophy is to satisfy their guest in every possible way.
La Niche Boutique Hotel offers 36 rooms, decorated with a modern style, simple, natural and comfortable. The rooms feature private bathroom facilities. Most of rooms have terrace and views of the big beautiful swimming pool setting in the middle of a lush tropical garden. The open air restaurant with terrace offering a choice of traditional Cambodian cuisine and international dishes with local influences. The restaurant is set in a peaceful and relaxing atmosphere overlooking the garden and swimming pool. When you need to re-balance and rejuvenate your body in between daily routines, La Niche Spa is the perfect answer for a time and resource saving relaxation. A therapeutic health massage well suited to urban lifestyle, La Niche Spa provides professional massage to restore and enhance natural beauty from the inside Tune your body, mind and spirit.
*Pricing is based on two persons traveling together, based on availability, subject to change.