All Over Vietnam & Beyond
On this small group tour (maximum 10 guests) travel from top to tail of Vietnam delving into the history of cities from Hanoi to Saigon. Private and exclusive experiences highlight your itinerary before finishing your journey in Cambodia's ancient Khmer Kingdom city of Siem Reap. Become intimate with the incredible temples that still stand today, providing a window into the country's past.
Day 1; Hanoi (D) Upon arrival, you will be met and transferred to your hotel. Enjoy beautifully decorated dishes of innovative Vietnamese cuisine at Cau Go Vietnamese cuisine restaurant - located on the top floor, which offers amazing view overlooking the Hoan Kiem lake. Transfer back to the hotel after dinner.
Day 2: Hanoi (B) Explore the charming city of Hanoi, often referred to as the 'Paris of the East', with its yellow ochre colonial buildings, tree-lined boulevards and scenic lakes. Visit the historic Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum, an imposing monument of marble and granite built to house the preserved body of beloved leader Ho Chi Minh, affectionately known to the Vietnamese as "Uncle Ho".
Visit the One Pillar Pagoda, a Buddhist temple built in 1049 of wood in the shape of a lotus blossom and set on a single stone pillar. Continue on to Ho Chi Minh's House nearby, a simple wooden house in a tranquil setting where Ho Chi Minh lived and worked. Some of his belongings are on display and visitors can walk up the steps to see his bedroom.
Next, visit the Temple of Literature, Vietnam's first national university built in the late 11th century. The picturesque temple is an example of well-preserved traditional Vietnamese architecture and is featured on the back of the 100,000 Vietnamese dong banknote.
In the afternoon, visit the fascinating Museum of Ethnology (closed on Mondays) which houses an extensive collection of traditional costumes and artefacts from Vietnam's 54 ethnic minority groups. Drive back to central Hanoi for a 1hr cyclo tour through the famed Old Quarter known for its '36 streets of 36 wares' named after the original 36 artisan guilds that date as far back as the 13th century. Explore the fascinating maze of back streets, fronted by narrow houses known as "tunnel" or "tube houses", built to avoid taxes based on the width of their frontage onto the street, a wonderfully eclectic glimpse into Hanoi street life.
Conclude the day by watching an entertaining water puppet performance, a uniquely northern Vietnamese art form said to have originated in the flooded rice fields of the Red River Delta. The show uses colorful wooden puppets to depict scenes of rural life and episodes of national history set to music.
Day 3: Hanoi > Halong Bay (B,L,D) Depart for a 3.5hr journey to Halong Bay stopping for a break at Dai Viet Center - the best place to stop and stretch your legs en route. On arrival in Halong Bay, board your deluxe junk, settle into your cabin and enjoy lunch on deck.
In mid-afternoon visit the mysterious Tien Ong Cave - a wide cave but short entrance which is said to resemble the shape of frog's mouth. In 2007 a team of Vietnamese archeologist conducted extensive research which led to the discovery of human bones and artifacts dating to 10,000 - 8,000BC, and then continue to Cua Van area. It was once the fishing village, however most of them have moved for their children's education. Head back to the boat, participate in a cooking demonstration with the chef or enjoy sunset on the top deck before dinner.
Day 4: Halong > Hue (B) Rise early and greet the day with another refreshing Tai Chi demonstration on the upper deck. Then it is time for an early morning swim - in the Bay. By tender boat we bring the guests to a natural white sandy stretch. Sporty ones can also climb up to a hill top to have a last view from above over Halong Bay before we return to the boat and cruise slowly back to Halong City. During our trundle breakfast is served before we arrive at the jetty in late morning. Disembark at Heritage Line Lounge in Tuan Chau New Marina.
Transfer to Hanoi airport for your onward flight to Hue. Upon arrival at Phu Bai Airport, your guide will come to meet you up and transfer you to hotel.
Day 5: Hue (B) Once the imperial capital of the Nguyen Lords from the 17th to the 19th centuries, Hue's splendid emperors' tombs, ancient pagodas and the remains of the Citadel contribute to its undeniable royal charm. Begin your exploration with a visit to the Thien Mu Pagoda, Hue's best-preserved religious monument. Built in 1601, the seven-storied tower pagoda, perched on top of on a hill overlooking the Perfume River, is one of Vietnam's most recognizable icons.
Next, choose to explore one of the following two sites: (1) The Imperial Citadel at the center of the Complex of Hue Monuments inscribed by UNESCO as a World Heritage site. Enter through the towering main gate and appreciate the magnificent architecture and gardens while your guide explains the events and the intrigue surrounding the former royal court. Despite being heavily bombed during the Vietnam War, there are some incredibly well-preserved sections intact and others which are being carefully restored;
or (2) The Royal Tomb of Minh Mang. The second Nguyen Emperor, Minh Mang ruled from 1820-1841 and was known for his isolationist and conservative Confucian policies. He designed his tomb himself, but died before it was complete. His son and successor finished the tomb which is renowned for its symmetry and grandeur, situated in a picturesque forest setting.
In the afternoon, take a short drive into the Hue countryside to the village of Duong No, best known for being where a young Ho Chi Minh lived and studied. Walk along the river to the ornately decorated Thanh Toan Covered Bridge, with its Chinese and Japanese features and rare squared timber arch speckled with ancient ceramics. Note the calligraphy inscription in ancient Vietnamese and Chinese script. Return to your hotel.
Day 6: Hue > Danang (B) This morning is free until time you meet your guide at the hotel lobby to transfer to Danang. The regular check-in time is at 14.00; early check-in is NOT included and subject to availability. This afternoon will transfer to Hoi An for your discovery.
Between the 15th and 19th centuries, Hoi An known then as 'Faifo', was a prosperous trading port, attracting Chinese, Japanese, Dutch, Portuguese and Spanish ships amongst others. Today, this World Heritage ancient town is recognized for its well-preserved architecture, pedestrian-only streets and distinctive local cuisine, allowing visitors a glimpse of its illustrious past.
Hoi An's narrow lanes are ideal for a guided walking tour of its many atmospheric sights including: old merchant houses with influences from Chinese, Japanese and Vietnamese architecture; 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 colorful market with stalls brimming with local specialties including silk, which can be turned into fashionable garments within a day or two.
Enjoy an hour-long boat trip on the Thu Bon River for up close views of fishing boats and country villages before returning to your hotel.
Day 7: Hoi An > Saigon (B,L) Let your culinary and artistic appetites be fulfilled as you enjoy a private cooking class and dinner at Ancient Faifo restaurant. Ancient Faifo is set in an ancient house that once inhabited and inspired two generations of prominent Hoi An artisans. The restaurant owns and displays the original collection of the family's heirloom ceramics and traditional furnishings. The cozy alfresco cooking venue offers tranquility & nostalgia where you can join the chef in an intimate hands-on experience learning how to prepare some tasty traditional dishes which you can enjoy with your meal at the end of the class.
Then transfer to Danang airport for your onward flight to Saigon. Upon arrival at Tan Son Nhat airport your guide will come to meet you and transfer you to hotel.
Day 8: Saigon (B,D) With over eight million inhabitants and four million motorbikes, Saigon is truly a city that never sleeps. Despite its modernity, Saigon maintains a strong link to the past and our city tour takes in some of Saigon's most historic landmarks including the Notre Dame Cathedral, a red brick edifice with twin spires constructed from materials imported from France (entrance is only permitted when no services are being performed). Then head across the square to the Central Post Office, completed in 1891. A short drive away is the former Presidential Palace, the headquarters of the Saigon Government during the American War.
Continue to the War Remnants Museum for a vivid perspective of the American War through the eyes of the Vietnamese (Please note that some of the displays are very graphic). Experience Saigon's famed street coffee culture while your guide provides a brief language lesson as well as insights into daily life of a Saigonese before returning to your hotel.
In the evening, follow our trail through an alley dotted with colonial era mansions until you reach a gate, behind of which an enchanting home awaits. The US Ambassador to South Vietnam in the 1960s, Henry Cabot Lodge, lived in this stylish residence from '60 - '65 and today it has been restored to its former glory. A sophisticated Vietnamese meal will be served in the magnificent dining room and is accompanied by live music to create a memorable atmosphere.
Day 9: Saigon > Siem Reap (B) From Saigon, take a 2hr drive northwest to the famous Cu Chi Tunnels, an immense network of connecting underground tunnels started in 1948 to protect the Viet Cong guerrillas from the French air and ground sweeps. The tunnels also served as living quarters, communication and supply routes, and housed hospitals, food and weapons caches. Touring the underground compounds will provide a better understanding of the history of the tunnels, the hardship of life in the tunnels and the Vietnamese resilience during combat.
Transfer to the airport for your onward flight to Siem Reap. Upon arrival meet your guide, who will be waiting outside the arrival terminal. Transfer from airport to your hotel.
Day 10: Siem Reap (B) Wake up early and transfer by private vehicle to the West Gate of Angkor Wat from where the sunrise can be best observed. Enter the temple complex. Angkor Wat (early 12th century) is surrounded by a 190 meter wide moat 1.5 kilometers by 1.3 kilometers and is claimed to be the largest religious building in the world. It is certainly one of the wonders of the ancient world.
You will be amazed by the sheer size of the temple, which took 30 years to construct & used the labors of up to 300,000 workers. Angkor Wat was built as the earthly representation of the universe with its' central tower symbolizing Mt Meru which, Hindus believe, is at the center of the Universe. Return to your hotel for breakfast.
Then drive to visit Banteay Kdei built between the 12th and 13th centuries. The ruined condition of the temple in no way detracts from the grandeur of this walled temple. Banteay means fortified monastery and refers to the double wall surrounding it. Continue to Ta Prohm, this beautiful temple, built in 1186 as a Buddhist temple dedicated to the mother of Jayavarman VII, is one of Angkor's jewels and is overgrown with fig trees, giving a haunting yet exotic atmosphere. The magnificent roots of the trees have merged over the centuries with the temple's huge stone blocks, creating a 'forgotten city' feeling. Pause at Ta Keo, which would have been the finest temples in Angkor had it been completed. A short distance further are the twin temples of Chau Say Tevoda and Thommanon.
This afternoon, drive to Angkor Thom, not a temple, but an entire walled city of 9 sq km and served as the ancient royal Capital of the Khmer Empire from approx. 1181. With a probable population of 1 million, it was far bigger and grander than any city in Europe at the time. Your guide will take you to the Terrace of the Elephants and the Terrace of the Leper King. The centre piece of Jayavarman VII's Capital is the Bayon temple and, as you approach, you will notice the 216 giant, enigmatic, smiling faces looking into every direction.
Return to the South gate where you will board a small, private boat out to Prasat Chrung Temple to watch the amazing sunset.
Day 11: Siem Reap (B,D) Depart this morning for Banteay Srei temple, the only major temple that was not built by a monarch.
It was constructed in the 10th century and was dedicated to the Hindu god - Shiva. Banteay Srei translates to "Citadel of the Women" and is one of Angkor's most significant structures as its walls are decorated with elaborate carvings which have been preserved remarkably well.
After a refreshing drink (own arrangements) at Prasat Banteay Srei Restaurant, head to the Banteay Srey Butterfly Center, an interactive butterfly farm nestled in a luxurious tropical garden. Morning is the best time of the day to spot as many butterflies as possible. Thousands of free flying Southeast Asian species will surround you. You will also be able to learn more about their life cycle, feed them and support knowledgeable local farmers.
Finish this morning with a visit to the Cambodia Landmine Museum, a dive into the turbulent past of the country. Opened in 1999, it is home to a large number of unexploded ordnance (UXO) and shows maps and videos of demining activities. Learn more about the stories that can be confronting but important in understanding Cambodia's recent history. Then transfer back to town.
Tonight, we take you to one of the few places in town where you will savour delicious Khmer cuisine and have the privilege to watch a live Apsara Dance Performance by the top Apsara dancers of Siem Reap. Situated in the serene gardens of the most iconic hotel in Cambodia, enter the Apsara Terrace by way of traditional Cambodian boundary stones with imposing wooden gates and enjoy a majestic performance with Cambodian dances and Khmer martial arts. The performance is viewed with a selection from the pan-Asian barbeque cuisine At Raffles Grand Angkor.
Day 12: Siem Reap (B) This morning is free at leisure until time you meet your guide at hotel lobby and transfer to airport for your onward flight to back home.
• 9 nights 4 and 5 star hotel accommodation (inclusive of hotel tax and service charges) • 2 nights aboard Jasmine junk (Shared cruise/private cabin) • Group transfers and transport on tour • Sightseeing with Local English speaking guides (one guide in each city) • Entrance fees and boat rides • Water puppet show • Airport assistance services upon arrival in Hanoi & Siem Reap • Cambodia visa on arrival • Meals as specified • Airfares: HAN - HUI/ DAD - SGN/ SGN - REP (Economy class with airport tax) • Cold towels and water on sightseeing days • Welcome pack
Pricing (per person) $NZD
2018 March 19
Booking conditions Maximum group size of 10 guests. Minimum of 5 guests.
Maximum group size of 10 guests. Minimum of 5 guests.
Not included • Vietnam visa
• Drinks/water at included lunches and dinners
• Personal expenses
• Travel insurance
• Vietnam visa • Drinks/water at included lunches and dinners • Personal expenses • Travel insurance • Gratuities