Day 1: Home - Hanoi. Depart for Hanoi.
Day 2: Hanoi. Arrive in Hanoi. You will be greeted and escorted to your hotel, and assisted for check-in. You will be provided with orientation for your tour in Vietnam.
Day 3: Hanoi. Although it is the modern-day capital of Vietnam, Hanoi still retains the mystery and charm of past centuries. Narrow lanes and traditional shophouses invite an exciting exploration by walking, while its many beautiful public spaces such as lakes, parks, tree-lined boulevards and monuments give the city an air of elegance and harmony with nature unique among Asian capitals. Begin your day visiting the Temple of Literature, a peaceful series of walled courtyards and graceful gateways, and one of the best serving examples of traditional Vietnamese architecture. Founded in 1070 and dedicated to Confucius, this was also the site of Vietnam’s first university.
Continue to the miniature One Pillar Pagoda. Next, visit the vast Ho Chi Minh Memorial Complex, a lovely park setting which is home to Ho Chi Minh’s final resting place. Continue to the Museum of Ethnology (closed on Mondays and Vietnam’s New Year), which brings tolife the astonishing ethnic diversity in Vietnam, with art and artifacts from the 54 different ethnic groups that inhabit the country. In the afternoon, visit Hoan Kiem Lake, Ngoc Son Temple, the magnificent Opera House and St. Joseph’s Cathedral. You will enjoy Water Puppet Show, a fantastic arm form originated in the northern Vietnam. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 4: Hanoi - Halong Bay - Hanoi. Depart from Hanoi in the morning for scenic Halong Bay. Arriving at the pier around noon, board your charming traditional wooden junk for cruising through the Bay. Lunch will be served while boat cruising through the bay. Cruise by rock formations with such names as Stone Dog, Incense Burner, and Flighting Cock. At the core of the islets, there are two wonderful caves and grottoes to visit as Thien Cung (heavenly Residence Grotto), Dau Go (Drifwood Grotto) before returning to Halong pier. Disembark at Halong pier at around 4:30 pm and return to Hanoi. Includes: (B), (L).
Day 5: Hanoi - Hue. After breakfast, you are transferred to airport and fly to Hue. Upon arrival in Hue, enjoy a tour of this Old Imperial City. Located in the heart of Hue is the Imperial Citadel, a vast complex built in the early 19th century and modeled after the Forbidden City of Beijing. The original was stretched for 10 km (6.5 miles) and were surrounded by a wide moat. Today most of the buildings have been destroyed due to bombings during the last war, but the monuments that remain provide a fascinating glimpose into the court life of the Nguyen Dynasty. Drive past the Flag Tower, Ngo Mon Gate, and arrive at Dien Tho Palace, where the Queen Mother lived. Visit Thai Hoa Palace, the Halls of the Mandarins, and the original Nine Dynastic Urns. Visit Dong Ba Market, a local market near the Imperial City, before checkin in to your hotel. Overnight in Hue. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 6: Hue - Hoi An. Enjoy a leisurely boat ride down the Perfume River, stopping first at the iconic Thien Mu Pagoda, and elegant seven-tiered octagonal tower which has become Hue’s most widely recognized monument. Continue cruising into the countryside to the Imperial Tomb of Minh Mang, a majestic comlex of courtyards, pavilions and temples in a beautiful natural setting. Then drive to Hoi An with sightseeing in Danang. Journey from Hue over scenic mountainous roads with spectacular views over the coastline. Halfway between Danang and Hue lies the dramatic Hai Van Pass, the high dividing line between the climate zones of north and south Vietnam.
Continue southwards passing Lang Co, a lovely stretch of beach curving outwards between a clear blue lagoon and the South China Sea. After arriving in Danang, tour the Cham Museum, an elegant colonial building which now houses the finest collection of Cham sculpture in the world and briefly pass Non Nuoc Beach, a famous spot for American soldiers during the Vietnam War. Continue south to Hoi An, stopping enroute to visit the Marble Mountains, five stone hillocks, once islands, that now rise sharply from the surrounding ricefields. Riddled with caves and shrines, they are said to each represent one of the five elements of the universe. Overnight in Hoi An. Includes: (B), (L), (D).
Day 7: Hoi An - Danang - Saigon. Hoi An is a picturesque riverside town south of Danang. Known as Faifo to early western traders, it was one of South East Asia’s major international ports during the 17th , 18th and 19th centuries. Now, this beautifully preserved historic city is best seen on foot. The walking tour includes: Japanese Covered Bridge Pagoda, Sa Huynh Museum, Tran Family Chapel, Phuoc Kien Assembly Hall, and Lantern Making Workshop.Then transfer to Danang airport and fly to Saigon. Includes: (B), (L).
Day 8: Saigon. A vibrant metropolis, Saigon teems with energy, activity and motion. Everywhere you look, you see the meeting of traditional and modern life. The emerging modern skyline stands check by jowl with colonial buildings and traditional temples. Begin your tour of the exciting city with a tour of the historic center, strolling along Dong Khoi Street, formerly known as the Rue Catinat, the main shopping thoroughfare and heart of old colonial Saigon. Pass by the ornate City Hall, the old Opera House, and pay a quick visit to the Notre Dame Cathedral and the Central Post Office.
Afterwards the tour visits the Reunification Palace. Continue to the historic center to visit Emperor of Jade Pagoda. In the afternoon, head out to Cholon (Chinatown). Explore the highlights of this fascinating area, beginning with a brief visit to Binh Tay Market, the vast wholesale market. Continue to Thien Hau Pagoda, and end the tour at the central Ben Thanh Market. Includes: (B).
Day 9: Saigon. From Saigon, drive to My Tho, a bustling town in the rich agricultural region of the Mekong Delta, and visit the Vinh Trang Pagoda, a beautiful temple which is splendid with the harmonious fusion of Asian and European architectural styles. Afterwards board a boat to explore the Mekong River Islands, stopping at a fruit orchard to enjoy fruit and tea while listening to local music on Thoi Son Islet. The trip also includes a brief sampan ride through the tiny waterways that thread the island. Includes: (B), (L).
Day 10: Saigon - Siem Reap. Transfer to airport and take a morning flight to Siem Reap, the home of Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom, and Angkor Prohm. After you drop off your luggage, have a tour the fortified city of Angkor Thom that covers an area of 10 square km. Enclosed by a wall and wide moats, the city includes many of Angkor’s most popular sights. Enter by the monumental South Gate over a causeway lined on either side by statues of demons and gods, each carrying a giant naga. Continue to the Terrace of the Elephants and the Terrace of the Leper Kings, former spaces for public ceremonies, both adorned with dramatic bas reliefs.
Visit the ruined Baphuon, Royal Enclosure and Phimeanakas before continuing to the mysterious Bayon Temple. In the temple, one of the most popular and compelling in Angkor, explore the galleries of beautifully preserved bas reliefs and ascend narrow stairs to reach the central sanctuary, where you will find giant stone faces smiling enigmatically down at you from every angle. Watch the sunset over the Cambodian countryside from the upper terraces of an ancient Angkorian temple. Includes: (B), (L).
Day 11: Siem Reap. The crowning jewel of Khmer architecture, Angkor Wat is the national symbol and highlight of any visit to Cambodia. The largest, best preserved, and most religiously significant of the Angkor temples, Angkor Wat impresses visitors both by its sheer scale and beautifully proportioned layout, as well as the delicate artistry of its carvings. To approach the temple, first cross the vast moat, continuing along a broad causeway lined with Naga Balustrades. As you enter the main building, ascend through a series of galleries and courtyards before reaching the central sanctuary, which offers beautiful views back over the causeway and across the surrounding countryside. On the way, stop to enjoy the intricate stone carvings that adorn nearly every surface, with some 1,700 Apsaras, or celestial dancers, sculpted into the walls.
Along the outer gallery walls run the longest continuous bas-relief in the world, which narrates stories from Hindu mythology, including the famous Churning of the Ocean of Milk. Angkor Wat is stunning at any time of the day, but sunrise and sunset are especially beautiful times to watch the play of light on the stones. Ta Prohm, one of the most popular attractions of Angkor as much of the jungle has not been cleared and it looks very much as most of the Angkor monuments would have appeared when European explorers first stumbled across them. Seemingly miniature in comparison to the other Angkor temples, Banteay Srei is considered to be the jewel of classical Khmer art. Includes: (B), (L).
Day 12: Siem Reap. This morning, enjoy an excursion to Kampong Kleang with boat trip. Kampong Kleang is located about 50 km (31 miles) from Siem Reap town. The place is situated northeast shore on the edge of Tonle Sap Lake. The road to the site is good but rather narrow. This boat trip will explore the floating fishing villages that live at the edge of the lake, passing submerged forests and fishing farms. Upon returning to Siem Reap, visit the Cambodian Cultural Village that is a unique open air museum with exhibits that represent the various ethnicities and cultures in Cambodia. Exhibits include replicas of important buildings and building styles, traditional apsara dances, ethnic performances and demonstrations of traditional Khmer rituals. Includes: (B), (L).
Day 13: Siem Reap - Home. You will be transferred to airport for departure. Includes: (B).
Note: Daily departure year-round.
Also see tour packages in:
Asia Vietnam Cambodia Local Culture Cultural Journey