THE BEST OF VIETNAM CAMBODIA & THAILAND
THE BEST OF VIETNAM, CAMBODIA & THAILAND
Overview: Hanoi – Halong - Danang – Hoi An – Saigon – Siem Reap- Bangkok- Samui- Koh PhaNgan.
Day 1 Depart Cork
Day 2 Hanoi Arrival
Arrival and welcome at Hanoi Airport. Transfer to your hotel for check in. Your room is available anytime from 14.00. Early check in subject to room availability. After that, free at leisure to relax or explore the diverse architecture of Hanoi and its famous 36 streets of the Old Quarter on your own. Meals on your own. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 3 Hanoi Sightseeing (B)
After breakfast, enjoy half day tour of Vietnam’s capital city, including Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum (Outside), the traditional stilt house and the revered One-Pillar Pagoda. Keeping your journey to the thousand-year-old Temple of Literature to have a glimpse at this Vietnam’s first university. The balance of the day is free at leisure to explore Hanoi’s Old Quarter, also known as the ‘36 streets’. This bustling area of narrow streets and alleys is home to literally thousands of small businesses and shopkeepers. It's a great place to explore with plenty of photo opportunities all around you. Meals on your own. Overnight at the hotel.
Remarks: Ho Chi Minh Mausoleum closed on Mondays. Visiting outside will be arranged.
Day 4 Hanoi – Halong Bay (B, L, D) – Local guide on board only & Joining transfer by shuttle bus of cruise company.
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 where will offer you numerous of chances to take the pictures (180km – 3.5 to 4 hours 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.
Day 5 Halong Bay – Hanoi – Danang (B) – Overnight train to Danang
Wake up early in the morning to enjoy aquamarine water of the bay at its best. After tea break, the boat continues to cruise quietly through spectacular limestone formations of Halong Bay. Enjoy this more isolated bay’s spectacular and unique islands of the bay. Return to Halong harbor around noontime. We’ll head back to Hanoi, passing a vast expanse of rice fields of the Red River Delta. You will see scenes of farmers working in the fields, children going to school, and even little pigs being brought into town on motorbikes.
The shuttle bus will drop off you at a 3* hotel near Hanoi Railway Station for relaxation or have a shower before catching overnight train to Danang. Afterwards, driver and private vehicle will pick up you at the hotel and take you to Hanoi Railway Station. Meals on your own. Overnight on board (4 berths/ cabin).
Day 6 Danang - Hoi An (B)
Arrival in Danang around noon time. Be welcomed by your local guide upon arrival and transferred to your hotel in Hoi An Town (30 km – 45 minute driving) for check in. Your room is available from 14.00 Early check in subject to room availability. Meals on your own. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 7 - 8 Hoi An beach stay (B) – 2 nights without guide nor vehicle
Spend the whole day freely at leisure to explore Hoi An Town, an enchanting little old town of Vietnam. Its timeless charm has survived through all ravage of war and time and still shining in its quiet lanes lined with colorful lantern rows or relaxes on the beach. Meals on your own. Overnight at the hotel.
Option 1: Biking to Duy Vinh weaving villages – Supplement: + € 48 per person
You will depart from the pier located in the old city of Hoi An on a local boat (bac), the only means of transport to sail to the island of Cam Kim. After the crossing of a few minutes, you will reach the village of Kim Bong, and then visit M. Huynh Suong’s workshop, a famous sculpting artist who will teach you about his art.
You will then ride your bikes towards the mat weaving village of Duy Vinh. Over the 13-km route, you will enjoy landscapes of rice fields, bamboo fields and shaded paths. Once in the village, you will discover its traditions and special know-hows, which have been passed on from generation to generation. If you are there in May or August (rush harvest), the various stages of mat making will no longer bear any secrets for you as you learn how to slice the rush stems, dye them and dry them. During the other months, the villagers will show you how they actually weave the mats. After this initiation, you will cross a small dam to reach the fishing village of Duy Vinh. Finally, you will once again board the boat to return straight to Hoi An town then back to your hotel. Meals on your own. Services end.
Option 2: Explore Hoi An Ancient Town – Supplement: + € 33 per person
After your breakfast, enjoy a walking tour in Hoi An town, recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage site because of its unusually well-preserved ancient streets and homes. Set out to explore the quaint cobblestone streets of the town with more than two-century-old Chinese houses. Sites include the Japanese Bridge, the Chinese Temple, and Phung Hung Chinese-trading house. Then free time for shopping and exploring Hoi An at your own pace. Meals on your own. Overnight at hotel.
Option 3: Jeep tour to My Son - The most important Cham archaeological site in the center of Vietnam – Supplement: + € 97 PP
08.00 Jeep and guide meet you at your hotel, where we start our jeep tour through the countryside, stopping at the busy fish market on the outskirts of town for some great photo opportunities. Your drive continues the 50 kms to My Son, passing breath taking scenery, rural villages and a bustling town, where we take a brief stop for a real Vietnamese coffee.
We continue our jeep tour to My Son and arrive to the haunting sound of Cham music, where we stop to take in the vibrantly dressed dancers enjoying a traditional dance performance. Your walking tour begins with a short ascent up to the Cham ruins. Walking along a track bordered by jungle. As we reach the top, the magnifi cent Cat’s Tooth mountain, which borders the ruins comes in to view and we progress on to the fi rst of many Cham sites where your guide will explain the history of the religious site which served as a burial place for the Cham monarchs many centuries ago. Visit the onsite museum of relics before returning to the jeep drive back Hoi An. Meals on your own. Services end.
Day 9 Hoi An - Danang – Saigon (B)
Breakfast and free time at the hotel. In the afternoon, transfer no guide to Danang airport for your flight to Saigon.
Upon arrival, transfer no guide to your hotel for check in. Saigon is Vietnam’s biggest city with 7 million inhabitants and 2.5 million motorbikes. As soon as you get out of the airport, you will be struck by the bursting energy of youth and the flow of motorbikes ready to start at each traffic light. Meals are on your own. Overnight at hotel.
Day 10 Saigon – Cu Chi Tunnels (B)
This morning we will leave the city by private vehicle to visit the amazing tunnel network of Cu Chi (70 km – 1.5 hours driving). 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 (your expense).
The rest of the day is free at leisure (No guide, no vehicle) to 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, City Hall. You could also visit China Town, bustling area in Saigon where offer you the real felling about energetic Saigon. Your discovery of Cholon will invariably take you to one of the traditional pharmacopeia boutiques, to the Thien Hau pagoda, the most majestic in the city, as well as Binh Tay market. This market is located in a vast ochre-coloured building designed by a French architect and financed by a Chinese merchant. It is famous for being the most impressive in Vietnam, with its thousands of stalls and its great variety of goods. It truly is the temple of commerce in Saigon. Meals on your own. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 11 Saigon free day (B) – No guide no vehicle
The whole day is free at your leisure. Meals on your own. Overnight at the hotel.
In the morning or afternoon set out on a half day tour of the former capital of French Indochina. Historic landmarks include the Old Saigon post office, Notre Dame Cathedral and the Opera House. Continue your tour by visiting the Reunification Palace which was used as the headquarters of the Saigon Government during the American war in the 60s. After that visit the War Remnants Museum which contains a comprehensive and somewhat distressing array of documents and photos about the long Vietnam-American War. Be aware that your visit to the museum will provoke strong emotions. Afterwards, return to your hotel.
Option 2: Phong Nam day trip (L) – Supplement +€ 96 per person
In the morning, transfer to Ben Tre (105 km – 2.5 hour driving). 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 transfer back to your hotel in Saigon. Dinner on your own. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 12 Saigon – Siem Reap (B)
Free time until transfer no guide to Saigon airport for a short flight to Siem Reap on flight VN3825 (12.00 – 13.00). Welcome arrival and transfer no guide to your hotel for check in. Meals on your own. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 13 Angkor Wat – Ta Prohm – Angkor Thom (B)
Meet your guide this morning and leave by tuk-tuk for the marvellous temple of Angkor Wat, a world heritage site featuring the most extraordinary towers and bas-reliefs. This is one of the most astonishing monuments ever conceived by mankind, and was erected in the 12th century (1112-1152) in honour of Vishnu. Keeping your journey to visit the smaller temple of Ta Prohm which has been left in its natural, un-restored state, with giant tropical trees bursting through the ruins, their roots clinging like vast tentacles across the walls and roofs.
In the afternoon, visit the Great City of Angkor Thom beginning at the south gate and the famous Bayon temple of the 12th and 13th centuries. Dedicated to Buddhism, Bayon consists of 54 gigantic towers featuring 216 smiling faces of Avalokitesvara. Then, cross to the Elephant Terrace which, at 350m long, used as a giant reviewing stand for public ceremonies and served as a base for the king’s grand audience hall. After, move to the raised terrace of the Leper King, from the 12th century, which bears many beautifully sculptured Apsara statues. Meals on your own. Overnight at the hotel.
Day 14 Siem Reap free day (B) – Without guide nor vehicle
Enjoy the whole day freely to discover Siem Reap by your own space. Meals on your own. Overnight at the hotel.
Option 4: Half day trip to Tonle Sap (L) – Supplement: + € 70 per person
In the morning, you venture to a more remote and less visited area of the massive Tonle Sap Lake where you will visit by boat the Kompong Kleang floating village. Here all the houses are on stilts offering an exceptional natural environment offering breathtaking views of floodplains, rice fields and water views as far as the eye can see. Afterwards, travel by boat over the canals to a large lake where Vietnamese people live when they are displaced from their homes because of the seasons. Return to the village and have a picnic lunch in a villager’s home. Head back to your hotel in Siem Reap in the early afternoon. Check in your hotel then free.
Option 5: Half day trip to Beng Melea – Supplement: + € 35 per person
In the morning, transfer to visit the Temple of Bang Melea in the jungle. Bang Melea was built during the reign of Suryavarman II, in the middle of the twelfth century. Far from the bustle of Angkor Wat it gives the visitor the impression of being the first explorer to the temple. Then back to your hotel in the late morning. Meals on your own.
Option 6: Half day cycling to Roluos group – Supplement: + € 84 per person
We will spend time to discover one of the most ancient sites of the region: the Roluos group. Begin your visit with the impressive Bakong Temple, a 9th century temple, then Preah Ko and Lolei which today houses a small monastery. This is an ideal introduction to Angkor because it allows you to understand how the Khmer City was structured. Take a bicycle ride around Bakong and the surrounding countryside where you will be served an aperitif. Return to the hotel. Meals on your own.
Day 15 Siem Reap – Bangkok (B) – Without guide
Enjoy your last time in lovely Siem Reap town before transfer no guide to airport where you take flight back to your home or next destination. Room is at your disposal until noon time only. Meals on your own. Arrive Bangkok transfer to hotel. Overnight in Bangkok
Day 16 (Jul 5th 2015) Bangkok (B) – Without Guide
Day at leisure. Overnight in Bangkok.
Day 17 (Jul 6th 2015) Bangkok (B) – Koh Samui - Without guide
Transfer to airport. Flight to Koh Samui. Transfer to hotel. Rest of day at leisure. Overnight in Samui
Day 18 (Jul 7th 2015) Koh Samui (B)- Without guide
Day at leisure. Overnight in Samui.
Day 19 (Jul 8th 2015) Koh Samui (B) - Without guide
Day at leisure. Overnight in Samui.
Day 20 (Jul 9th 2015) Koh Samui (B) - Without guide
Day at leisure. Overnight in Samui.
Day 21 (Jul 10th 2015) Koh Samui (B) – Koh Pha Ngan Without guide
Transfer to Koh Phangan hotel by ferry. Rest of day at leisure. Overnight in Koh PhaNgan
Day 22 (Jul 11th 2015) Koh Phangan (B) – Without guide
Day at leisure. Overnight in Koh Phangan
Day 23 (Jul 12th 2015) Koh Phangan (B) – Without guide
Day at leisure. Overnight in Koh Phangan
Day 24 (Jul 13th 2015) Koh Phangan (B) – Cork Without guide
Transfer to Samui Airport. Flight to Cork via Kuala Lumpur and London.
Day 25 (Jul 14th 2015) Cork
Transportation by private vehicle with A/C
Local English speaking guide(s)
Breakfast and other meals mentioned in the program B: Breakfast, L: Lunch, D: Dinner.
Accommodation in the category chosen or similar
Boat and bike rental as mentioned
All entrance fees where mentioned
Non - Private junk cruising in Ha Long Bay
Overnight train Hanoi – Danang (4 berths/ cabin)
Internal/ Regional flights– Danang – Saigon – Siem Reap in economy class
Drinks during the meals
Meals not mentioned
Tips and personal expenses
Any service not mentioned in the program
Express visa upon arrival to Hanoi airport (€100 per person),
Visa stamp fee at Siem Reap airport (US$ 30 per person)