Day 1: Vientiane. On arrival at Wattay Airport, you are met by our guide and transferred to hotel. The charming and fascinating capital of Laos, Vientiane is a small city conjuring up exotic images, with the curious mix of Lao, Thai, Chinese, Vietnamese, French influences. We start our half day city tour with Wat Sisaket, the oldest temple still standing in Vientiane. This amazing structure features remarkable frescoes and Buddha statues. Close to this masterwork is the former royal temple of Haw Pha Kaew which previously housed the famous Emerald Buddha Image. Afterwards we continue driving to Patouxai. This imposing monument standing in Lane Xang Avenue, is well known as Vientiane's own Arc de Triomphe and provides a stunning views of the city. We round off our day with a visit to the great sacred masterpiece and symbol of Laos, That Luang Stupa. Overnight in Vientiane.
Day 2: Vientiane-Luang Prabang. The vibrant central market in the heart of Vientiane, sells a wide away of local treasures. We include this famous trading center in a walking tour around the town center before we board a flight to Luang Prabang. The royal capital of the former Lane Xang Kingdom, Luang Prabang with its gleaming temple roofs, fading colonial architecture and stunning mountain backdrop, retains an unique charm rarely found in all Asia. There are plenty to see in this delightful town, some of which are the impressive stupa of Wat Visoun, the Srilankalese styled temple of That Marko, the shrine of Wat Aham and the five tiered roof Wat Mai. We visit these sites in a half day guided tour and embark on a climb up to Phousi Hill for a beautiful panorama view from the town center to the mighty Mekong River. There are 329 steps leading us on zigzag way past various temples to the sacred, gilded stupa of Wat Phousi at the summit. Overnight in Luang Prabang. Includes: (B).
Day 3: Luang Prabang-Pakou Caves-Luang Prabang. Today we continue seeing this charming town with the famous Wat Xieng Thong, which nestles at the meeting of the Mekong and the Nam Khan River. The temple structures are decorated in various ways with gilded stuccoes, doorways and marvelous tree life mosaic pattern on an outer wall, representing the ancient temple architecture of Luang Prabang. We board a boat for a leisurely trip on the Mekong River, stopping en route at Ban Xang Hai to visit the distillation of potent local rice wine. Upon leaving this riverside village we wave our way through the stunning mountain landscape to the mysterious Pak Ou Caves. They are crammed with thousands of gold lacquered Buddha statues of various shapes and sizes, all brought there by devout villagers. We explore these famous grottos and cruise back to Luang Prabang Town. On arrival we catch a short drive to Ban Phanom, a well known weaving village of the Tai Lue people who used to make royal silk weaving textiles for the Lao former royal family. Overnight in Luang Prabang. Includes: (B), (L).
Day 4: Luang Prabang-Hanoi. The exciting exploration of Luang Prabang would not be complete without a visit to the national museum. This interesting structure at the ground of the former Royal Palace, displays a lovely collection of treasures and artifacts reflecting the richness of Lao culture dating from the days of the early kings right through the last sovereign. We spend our time to see this museum and wander around the nearby old quarter streets before taking a flight to Hanoi. On arrival at Noi Bai Airport, you are met by our guide and transferred to hotel. The capital of Vietnam, Hanoi is a stylish and gracious city that retains an unique old world charm and some Asia ‘s most striking colonial architecture. The many lakes and parks make for relaxing atmosphere. If time permits we enjoy a cycle ride through the bustling old quarter streets named after the specific goods once offered for sale at these places. Overnight in Ha Noi. Includes: (B).
Day 5: Hanoi. Today we spend a full day exploring the charming Hanoi City. The first stop is Ho Chi Minh Complex containing the mausoleum of the nation's founder Ho Chi Minh, the Presidential Palace and the Ho Chi Minh's house on stilts. Close to this complex is the One Pillar Pagoda, whose origins date back to the foundation of city. We follow it with a visit to the Temple of Literature, which is well known as the first university of Vietnam and the History Museum with an excellent collection of artifacts illustrating the Vietnamese history. The sightseeing also includes the outlaying Ethnological Museum, dedicated to Vietnam's 54 ethnic groups. Afterwards we drive back to the town center, stopping at the Tran Quoc Pagoda and Quan Thanh Temple. They are some major highlights set by the beautiful West Lake. We see these sights before continuing to the peaceful lake of Hoan Kiem with its sacred temple. In front of this lake is the famous water puppet theater where we will see a fantastic performance. Overnight in Ha Noi. Includes: (B).
Day 6: Hanoi-Halong. The legendary Halong Bay is truly one of Vietnam's most impressive scenic sights. Heading out of town we make our way to this nature wonder and embark a traditional boat for a five hour trip around Halong Bay. The exciting cruise provides us a fantastic view of the picturesque scenery blending with the sky and some 3,000 limestone islands rising amazingly from the clear and emerald water. These limestone karst formations are littered with beaches, grottoes and beautiful caves. We have a huge seafood lunch served on board and continue sailing out. Along the way we will anchor for a leisurely swim in a secluded cove and an enjoyable visit to one of the many hidden grottoes beneath towering cliffs. Overnight in Halong Bay. Includes: (B), (L).
Day 7: Halong-Hue. Upon leaving Halong Bay we embark our vehicle and drive past the scenic rural landscape to Hanoi Airport for a short flight to Hue. On arrival, you are greeted by our guide and transferred to hotel. The small and quiet Hue City is widely known for magnificent architecture, pagodas and royal tombs laid in many small villages and surrounding hills. We spend this afternoon to visit Hue with the massive citadel, containing the Imperial City and the Purple Forbidden City. This royal residence was all but destroyed during the 1968 Tet Offensive, however it is still fascinating to walk among the ruins. The sightseeing continues with a walk to the bustling Dong Ba Market that sells a wide variety of local goods and handicrafts. Along the way we pass many fantastic eating spots, all ideal for visitors to sample some local delicacies. Overnight in Hue. Includes: (B).
Day 8: Hue-Hoi An. The beautiful riverside Thien Mu Pagoda is one of the oldest ancient architectural structures for religious work ship in Hue. We include this in a half day cruise on the Perfume River which also gives us a taste of the scenic countryside and an enjoyable visit to the mausoleum of Emperor Minh Mang in a tranquil setting of gardens and lakes. This impressive landmark reflects the beautiful architecture, intricate decor and mysterious statues. Afterwards we make a short drive though the rolling hill to see the elaborate royal tomb of Emperor Tu Duc. By mid afternoon we depart for Hoi An with stopover in Lang Co Beach for a leisurely swim. The winding road begins as we make our way up the spectacular Hai Van pass. A view from the top of the pass is one of Vietnam’s most impressive panoramic scenes. We also have a chance to see on our way the China Beach and the Marble Mountain, whose peaks represent the five elements. Overnight in Hoi An. Includes: (B).
Day 9: Hoi An-Danang-Ho Chi Minh. The ancient architecture in place is a fascinating combination of Vietnamese traditional characters with Chinese and Japanese influence. There are plenty to see in this delightful and tranquil town, some of which are the famous Japanese Covered Bridges, the Pottery Museum, the 200 years old Tam Ky House, the Chua Ong Pagoda and the vibrant market. We visit these on our morning walking tour past many low tiled houses scattered along the small streets and assembly halls which reflect the town's multi-cultural past. We take a short drive to Danang and visit the famous Cham Museum which boasts the largest collection of Cham treasures in Vietnam. The following destination is Ho Chi Minh via a short flight to Danang. On arrival you are greeted and driven to hotel. This metropolis, contradiction of its northern counterpart, is crowded with bikes and motorbikes, excited by numerous shopping areas and sidewalk cafés. If time permits we stroll around the down town to explore the different local ways of life. Overnight in Ho Chi Minh. Includes: (B).
Day 10: Ho Chi Minh-Cu Chi-Ho Chi Minh. The incredible underground network in Cu Chi stretched over 200 kilometers and became legendary during the American war. The extensive tunnels have been specially constructed with living areas, storage facilities, weapon factories, filed hospitals, command centers, plus accommodation. Today we have an excursion to Cu Chi Tunnels to visit an exposition hall and a widened section of the tunnels to get a feel of the underground life. There are also possibilities to fire off rounds from an AK47 or MK16 at the nearby rifle range. The following program is a sightseeing of major sights in Ho Chi Minh City. We drive past many lively streets on our way to the Reunification Palace. This mansion was the former residence of the President of South Vietnam until end of April 1975. Close to the palace are some striking French colonial structures including the Notre Dame Cathedral and the Old Sai Gon Post Office. We see these before going to the Jade Emperor Pagoda and the War remnant exhibit. The final stop is Ben Thanh Market where anything and everything is for sale. Overnight in Ho Chi Minh. Includes: (B).
Day 11: Ho Chi Minh-Mekong Delta-Ho Chi Minh. Heading out of town, we travel by roads to the Mekong Delta. This plain region boasts the largest rice bowl of Vietnam. On arrival in My Tho we board a boat navigating around the intricate small canals, which is a great way to observe the local lifestyle close-up and catch a view dotted by many islands. The exciting river trip will pass by the lush green vegetation towards the famous Unicorn Island where we have a chance to stroll around an orchard, taste many seasonal fruits and see farmers at work. We navigate some narrower canals using small rowing boats to Ben Tre Province for an interesting visit to some local industries. The extra enjoyment is a lunch at one of the famous local eating spots. We drive back to Ho Chi Minh, stopping off en route to see the beautiful Ving Trang Pagoda and the Saigon's Chinatown, locally named Cho Lon. This bustling area is crammed with sacred temples and mysterious, narrow lanes. Overnight in Ho Chi Minh. Includes: (B), (L).
Day 12: Ho Chi Minh-Phnom Penh. The exciting combo journey continues to Phnom Penh via a short flight from Ho Chi Minh. On arrival at Po Chen Tong Airport you are greeted and driven to hotel. The capital of Cambodia, Phnom Penh lies near the confluence of the Mekong and Tonle Sap Rivers. This riverside town still maintains considerable charm despite its recent turbulent history. An afternoon city tour acquaints us with some major sights of Phnom Penh. The private quarters of the Royal Palace are now home to the royal family and are therefore very close to the public. At the northern area of the palace grounds is Silver Pagoda, the most sacred temple in the country. We visit both structures as well as the National Museum for an appreciation of the splendor of Khmer history. The sightseeing completes with a walk uphill to visit the legendary Wat Phnom and catch a fantastic view over the surrounding areas. Overnight in Phnom Penh. Includes: (B).
Day 13: Phnom Penh-Siem Reap-Angkor Temples. This tranquil town of Siem Reap is our base for exploring the world famous temples of the ancient city Angkor, which was the capital of the powerful Khmer Empire from 802 AD to 1350 AD. Today we get a short morning to Siem Reap. On arrival you are met by our guide and transferred to hotel. The sightseeing tour begins with a short drive to the archaeological area where we spend our time to visit the most striking structures. They are the South Gate of Angkor Thom which is famous for its series of colossal human faces carved in stone, the impressive Bayon Temple, the Royal Enclosure, Phimeanakas, the Elephant Terrace, the Terrace of the Leper King and the architectural masterpiece of Angkor Wat. We stroll around this massive monument, exploring the many galleries with columns, libraries, pavilions, courtyards and ponds full of water reflecting the towering temple. Overnight in Siem Reap. Includes: (B).
Day 14: Siem Reap-Angkor Temples. Today we continue exploring the wondrous Angkor Complex with the jungle covered temple of Ta Prohm. There are enormous fig trees and gigantic creepers which embrace themselves in the stone foundations of this structure giving the impression of man's creation being reclaimed by the powerful forces of nature. We visit this masterpiece and some nearby temples including Banteay Kdei, Sra Srong, Ta Keo, Thommanon and Chau Say Tevado. They almost belong to the small circuit according to the archaeologists’ division. Upon leaving this area we see various famous temples of the grand circuit such as Preah Khan, Kravan, Neak Pean, Krol Ko, Ta Som, East Mebon and Pre Rup. We round off our exciting day with a walk up to Phnom Bakheng Hill to admire the spectacular sunset over these sandstone monuments. Overnight in Siem Reap. Includes: (B).
Day 15: Siem Reap-Departure. The temple exploration is not only activity in Siem Reap. We visit the famous Tonle Sap Lake on a boat trip out. This shallow lake boats the largest natural fresh water body in Southeast Asia and flows into the Tonle Sap River which joins the Mekong River in Phnom Penh. The traditional boat navigates along a small river towards the giant lake, giving us a chance to explore floating village, local life style, friendly children in small boats and fishermen pulling in morning catch close up. This excursion is all depending on your departure time. The trip ends after your transfer to Siem Reap Airport for departure. Includes: (B).
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Asia Vietnam Laos Cambodia Local Culture Cultural Journey
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