EXPLORE VIETNAM & CAMBODIA
Day 1 Hanoi Arrival
Arrival and welcome at Hanoi airport. Transfer to the city for hotel check in. Free time in the afternoon to relax or explore the traditional streets of the Old Quarter and Hoan Kiem Lake vicinity. Meals on your own. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 2 Hanoi City Tour
Full day tour of Vietnam’s capital city, including Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum (outside), the traditional stilt house and the revered One-Pillar Pagoda. After that visit Vietnam’s first university, the thousand-year-old Temple of Literature. We continue our day with a journey to visit Vietnamese Women’s museum where you have the opportunity to learn and understand traditional culture, marriage customs, childbirth and family life, traditional women’s clothing and the role of women in the defense of the nation. Head off to West Lake in the late afternoon to enjoy gorgeous sunset and pay a visit to some typical Vietnamese places of worship Tran Quoc Pagoda, Quan Thanh Temple, along the shore of West lake if you wish. Meals on your own. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 3 Hanoi free day – Without guide nor vehicle
The whole day is free to explore the diversified architecture of Hanoi and its famous 36 streets of Old Quarter on your own. Meals on your own. Overnight at the hotel.
Option: Cooking class at a local family – Supplement: € 87 per person
A cookery lesson inevitably begins with a visit of a market. You will meet your host there who will guide you through the aisles and the multitude of fresh and sometimes surprising products. Once the shopping is done, you will join her in her beautiful house: a small haven of peace in Hanoi. She lives there with her husband and her children and welcomes you with open arms. Together you will savour a cup of the delicious lotus leaf tea that she makes herself. After this short interlude, it is time to cook! You will work at preparing 3 typical dishes of the region (which change according to the season) following her exact techniques and listening carefully to her know-how. These specialties can definitely be reproduced at home, so pay attention and know that one day you can make them at your house and impress your friends and future guests!
The dishes are ready; it is now time to sample them! Seated around a table you will have set together with conviviality, you will certainly enjoy your food and likely congratulate yourself for this delicious and beautiful work!
Day 4 Hanoi – Halong
In the morning, leave Hanoi for Halong Bay, a stunning UNESCO World Heritage site with its 3,000 islands of towering limestone dotting the bay and Gulf of Tonkin (180km – 3.5 - 4 hour driving). After arriving at noon, you will board a beautiful boat for an overnight cruise on Halong Bay with an excellent menu of fresh seafood. Lunch and dinner are served on boat. Overnight on board in the open air of Halong Bay.
Day 5 Ha Long – Hai Phong – Saigon
After breakfast on board there is some time for relaxing and cruising on the bay. Eventually, back at the pier you will disembark around noon. Transfer directly to Cat Bi Airport in nearby Hai Phong City (70km – a 2 hour drive) where you will take a brief flight to Saigon. Flight Hai Phong – Saigon. Be welcomed by your local guide on arrival and transfer to your hotel in for check in. Meals on your own. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 6 Cu Chi Tunnels – Saigon Sightseeing
This morning we will leave the city by private vehicle to visit the amazing tunnel network of Cu Chi. This incredible system, covering almost 250km in length was shelter to over 16,000 Vietcong guerrillas during the wars. Initially started in 1948 to provide shelter against the French air and ground sweeps, the network went on to serve as communication routes, storage facilities, hospitals and living quarters for Vietnamese fighters throughout the American war. If you are interested (and game) you can even descend into the tunnels to learn more about the harsh conditions faced by Vietcong guerrillas who lived there. Return to the city centre for lunch at a local restaurant.
In the afternoon set out on a tour of the former capital of French Indochina. Historic landmarks include the Old Saigon post office, Notre Dame Cathedral and the Opera House. Fill up your impression about Saigon by visiting the ethnic Chinese district of Cho Lon and Thien Hau Pagoda. Meals on your own. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 7 Saigon – Mekong Delta
Today, your driver will drive you from Saigon to Phong Nam in Ben Tre District, a journey of about 2 hours, where you will start your excursion into deep Mekong Delta area. Pick up at the Phong Nam brick kiln, where bricks are still painstakingly made by hand. Get on boat and will cruise along the Chet Say river (a branch of the Mekong) and stop off at various local workplaces to give you a picture of how the local economy works, including coconut activated charcoal factory where coconut shell is put into high heat kiln to produce coconut charcoal: a coconut processing workshop, where you can sample fresh coconut and see how every single part of this versatile nut is turned into food and other products. Then the boat will cruise through the small canal, discover the local life. The boat will then stop at a quiet village where you can have a short walk to experience real Delta village life, visit a mat weaving house, where straw mats are woven using a hand loom – you can even have a go at weaving yourself before boarding your xe loi (a kind of motorized rickshaw) or biking into the village where you can see farm, rice field and vegetable plan before stopping at a local house for a delicious and filling lunch, featuring such local specialties as elephant-ear fish and river shrimp, washed down with some cold drinks or beers. It’s time to board a sampan for a relaxing trip along narrow canals. Take boat back to Pier and return to Saigon in the late afternoon. Dinner on your own. Overnight at the hotel
Day 8 Saigon – Phnom Penh
Enjoy your last time in Saigon for shopping/ relaxing or further discover Saigon on your own (No guide, no vehicle).
We suggest you visit two complementary shopping areas of Saigon. The first, Ben Thanh market, is one of Saigon’s emblematic symbols. Located in the city centre, it is very interesting for its structure and layout and the nature of the goods on display. Almost anything can be found: from spices to food to clothes, as well as ironmongery and souvenirs. It is also an integral part of the everyday social life for so many of the residents of Saigon, with all its small street stall style restaurants offering local specialties and a chance to catch up with friends.
Thereafter, you will have the opportunity to browse in Le Cong Khieu Street, also known as the antiquarians’ street, where many antique objects can be found: old black and white pictures, antique wedding boxes, old Marelli fans along with old Western as well as Vietnamese furniture. This shopping excursion is the perfect opportunity to purchase all your gifts and souvenirs.
Check out your hotel around 12.00 then private transfer (no guide) to Saigon airport for a short flight to Phnom Penh. Welcome arrival and transfer to your hotel for check in. Meals on your own. Overnight at the hotel
Day 10 Phnom Penh – Siem Reap
Free at leisure until transfer (no guide) to the airport to catch the flight to Siem Reap. You will be welcomed by your guide then transfer to the hotel for check in. Meals on your own. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 11 Angkor Wat – Banteay Srei – Ta Prohm
Your day starts with a visit to Angkor Wat, a world heritage site with soaring towers and extraordinary bas reliefs. It is one of the most amazing man-made monuments in the world, erected in the 12th century in honour of Vishnu. In the afternoon, leave for Banteay Srei where a most impressive jewel of Khmer art exists. Erected in the 10th century, this small pink sandstone temple is known as the Citadel of Women. On the way back, visit the ancient Ta Prohm Monastery where immense branches have taken root in the stones – hence the nickname of the Jungle Temple. You will find some splendid sculpted Devatas and an atmosphere that is unique. Meals on your own. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 12 Angkor Thom - Siem Reap
In this morning, we will visit Angkor Thom (the Great City) beginning by the south gate and the famous Bayon of the 12th and 13th centuries, dedicated to Buddhism and composed of 54 gigantic towers featuring 216 smiling faces of Avalokitesvara. Then, visit the Elephant Terrace, which was used as a giant reviewing stand for public ceremonies and served as a base for the king’s grand audience hall; and the raised Leper King Terrace, built in the 12th century and which features many beautifully sculptured Apsaras. The balance of the day is free at leisure to discover Siem Reap on your own. Meals on your own. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 13 (Apr 25th 2014). Siem Reap – Departure
Free time until transfer (no guide) to Siem Reap Airport for departure flight. Room is at your disposal until noon only. Services end