Day 1: Hanoi arrival
Upon arrival at Hanoi Airport you will be met and transferred to your hotel. Spend the remains of the day at leisure.
Day 2 Cooking class in Hanoi
Begin your holiday, the traditional Vietnamese way, with a bowl of steaming Pho at one of Hanoi’s most popular eateries. After enjoying the national dish it is time move on to Hoan Kiem Lake for a morning stroll. This central lake is focal point for many of the local residents who live close to the lake and gather there each day to practice Tai Chi, play badminton and do aerobics. Then it is time for a fun cooking class at one of the best schools in Hanoi, with a renowned local chef to teach and assist you. The cooking class begins with a trip to a local market to shop for the produce that you will need for the class. Then, it is back to the cooking centre for a fun hands-on experience. At the end of the lesson, you can enjoy your delicious creations! On your return home you can impress your friends with some authentic Vietnamese recipes.
Spend the afternoon at leisure. Perhaps take stroll along the ancient streets of the exotic old quarter and immerse yourself in the sights and sounds of Vietnam’s enchanting capital.
Day 3 Halong Bay cruise
This morning transfer from your hotel in Hanoi to Halong City, the drive takes about 4 hours and you will stop off for a refreshment break en route. Upon arrival meet the crew of the traditional Junk boat at the dock and cruise to the famous islands of UNESCO Listed Halong Bay and on to Bai Tu Long Bay. Aside from the cave visit and swimming, there is a chance to explore this stunning area by sea kayak. Return back to the Junk for a scrumptious dinner and watch an incredible sunset over the bay.
Day 4 Halong Bay – Hanoi – Night train to Hue
Wake up to the fresh air, gentle breeze and amazing views of the bay this morning. Cruise through Bai Tu Long and visit the floating fishing village of Vong Vieng – where you can learn about the daily life. Enjoy lunch on board before returning to the main harbour and travelling back to Hanoi, arriving late afternoon.
There is a chance to freshen up at a hotel before you transfer to the train station for the overnight journey on the Reunification Express railway line south to Hue in central Vietnam
Day 5 Hue is attractive
Upon arrival in Hue, transfer directly to the hotel. Hue was the Vietnamese capital during the Nguyen Dynasty 1802-1945 and ruins of the city’s regal past can still be seen inside the Citadel and the Imperial City. Created in the 19th century, the Imperial City was modeled on the Forbidden City in Beijing and holds many palaces and temples inside its giant walls. Many of the buildings were damaged by French aerial bombing and the Tet Offensive in 1968. Now it is slowly being restored thanks to generous funding by UNESCO.
Your tour begins after breakfast with the ancient walled Citadel containing the former Imperial Palace. Spend the morning wandering through the enclosure before lunch and a trip into the surrounding countryside to see the final resting place of the Emperors at two of the most impressive Royal Tombs. This evening enjoy a scenic cruise along the Perfume River. Overnight in Hue
Day 6 Hue to Hoi An
This morning, continue south to the picturesque riverside town of Hoi An. The five hour drive takes you along the South China Sea coastline with breathtaking views particularly as the road winds its way up Hai Van Pass (“Pass of the Clouds”).
From the 16th to 18th centuries, Hoi An was a thriving international commercial port for Chinese, Dutch, French, Japanese, Portuguese and Arab merchants. Today, Hoi An is a quaint riverside town, renowned for its silk and popular with tourists for its eclectic architecture, tailors shops and numerous cafes. Some of the buildings in the narrow streets have remained unchanged for more than a century and much of the town is now heritage-listed. This afternoon enjoy a half day walking tour through the narrow winding streets of the Ancient Quarter visiting Chua Ong Pagoda, Assembly Hall, 200-year-old Tam Ky house and the Japanese Covered Bridge. Overnight Hoi An
Day 7 + 8 Hoi An: Tra Que Village
Today enjoy a full day tour which gives you an insight into the lives of the farming and fishing communities in this beautiful region of Vietnam. Begin your adventure by cycling out into the countryside through emerald green rice paddies. After a short ride you will arrive at the village of Tra Que. This charming little settlement, on the edge of Hoi An, is famous for its sweet scented green vegetables that spice up Hoi An’s famous delicacies such as Cao Lau and Mi Quang. On arrival learn about the history of the village and the cultivation of the vegetables. Continue with a walk around the vegetable garden and join the farmers in preparing the land and planting some crops. Finish off your village experience with a fun cooking demonstration.
Later, return to Hoi An and board the Eco Tour boat for a river cruise to meet and engage with local fisherman. You’ll also have the opportunity to experience river net fishing with the locals and paddle a unique bamboo basket boat, known as a coracle, as you explore the area’s coconut palmed waterways. Spend day 8 at leisure, relaxing in Hoi An.
Day 8: Spend a free day at your own leisure
Day 9 Flight to Ho Chi Minh city
Transfer to the airport in Danang this morning and catch the flight to Saigon. Upon arrival, you will be met by your guide and transferred to your hotel.
Ho Chi Minh City, or Saigon as the city is still referred to by all except officals, is Vietnam’s largest city. It is a fast-paced metropolis full of contrasts, with street vendors selling fruit and vegetables next to glitzy western-style bars and boutiques. Amazingly, the city’s history dates back only 300 years. In 1859 the city was captured by the French and became the capital of Cochin China. From 1956 until April 1975 it was the capital of the US-backed Republic of Vietnam. Today, Ho Chi Minh City is very much the heart of Vietnamese business and entrepreneurial activity. The French left their mark with some fine colonial-era buildings such as the Notre Dame Cathedral and the Central Post Office.
Enjoy a guided tour of the city this afternoon. Highlights include the Notre Dame Cathedral and Old Post Office. Dong Khoi Street, which is home to many boutiques and fine restaurants, the Opera House and the beautiful Peoples’ Committee Building. The War Remnants Museum, Formerly known as the Museum of American War Crimes, this is a poignant display of the futility of war and the Reunification Palace which is one of the most important buildings in the city. Here on 30 April 1975 the ‘American War’ officially ended when a North Vietnamese Army tank crashed through the gates of what was, at the time the residence of the President of the Republic of Vietnam.
Day 10 Can Tho – Mekong Delta
Enjoy a cruise on the Mekong Delta today! Sightseeing begins with a visit to Cai Be’s colourful floating market and a visit to some local home factories such as rice paste making, rice pop corn, coco candies, and longans drying processing. Known as the ‘Rice Bowl’ of Vietnam, the Mekong Delta is a beautiful fertile region with lush rice paddy fields and fruit plantations. Soak up the riverside views as you cruise along the Mekong canals to Dong Hoa Hiep Island. Discover beautiful landscapes, observe typical Mekong delta rural life on the remote islands and enjoy a tasty lunch at a superb Indochine style resort. Spend the night in the Mekong Delta city of Can Tho for an overnight stay.
Day 11 Can Tho to Chau Doc
Get ready for an early morning boat trip to the extraordinary floating market at Cai Rang. Observe boats jostling for position as the locals engage in frenetic trading and be sure to have your camera ready for some great photo opportunities. Return to Can Tho before driving to Chau Doc for an overnight stay
Day 12 Chau Doc to Phnom Penh
After breakfast, take a speed boat from Chau Doc to Phnom Penh, arriving at midday. Located on the banks of the Mekong River, Cambodia’s energetic capital is noted for its beautiful colonial architecture and historic sites. See the highlights of this bustling, vibrant city on a guided tour this afternoon, including the fascinating Royal Palace, the Silver Pagoda, and the National Museum. You can climb the hill to Wat Phnom, the city’s main temple, where you’ll find throngs of worshipers and troops of monkeys.
Day 13 Flight to Siem Reap – visit Angkor Thom
Spend time at leisure this morning before your flight to Siem Reap. Upon arrival you will be met and transferred to your hotel. With its picturesque riverside location, colonial and Chinese-style architecture and leafy tree lined boulevards, Siem Reap is an ideal base to explore Cambodia’s legendary Angkor Temple complex over the next two days.
This afternoon, ride a Tuk Tuk to visit 12th century Angkor Thom, the last capital of the Khmer Empire. Starting at the South Gate, take a walk along the ancient city wall to see the lost temple of Prasat Chroung. Continue on to the spectacular Bayon temple, where you are surrounded by the smiling faces of numerous Buddhas. Also visit the Terrace of the Elephants, the Royal Palace and the Terrace of the Leper King.
Day 14 Guided tour of Angkor Wat
Time to explore more of the Angkor Temple Complex, undoubtedly one of the world’s greatest archaeological sites! Rise early this morning to avoid the crowds and travel by Tuk Tuk to visit the incredible jungle enveloped temple of Ta Prohm, which featured in the film ‘Tomb Raider’. Next, visit the spectacular Angkor Wat temple – the world’s largest religious building and Cambodia’s number one attraction! Enjoy a guided tour around this huge structure and learn about the glories of the Kingdom of Angkor before returning to the hotel for a late breakfast and a rest.
Continue sightseeing this afternoon with a visit to the temple of Banteay Srei or ‘Citadel of the Women’. On your way back to Siem Reap, enjoy the sunset from the top of the pyramid-shaped temple of Pre Rup.
Day 15 Tonle Sap lake
This morning take a Tuk Tuk to the edge of Siem Reap and enjoy a fun buffalo cart ride through the countryside until you reach the Cambodia’s largest freshwater lake; the Tonle Sap. Board a boat and spend the rest of the morning at one of the largest floating villages on the lake which is called Kompong Phluk. In the village you will witness the fascinating daily lives of the local people who live on the water. The boat service is provided by local people, and the profit goes directly back to the community. The rest of the day is at leisure.
Day 16 Siem Reap Departure
End of the trip, transfer to the airport for departure flight.